The Generation Project: 1980 - 1984

© Mark Verma 2005


 

1980

 

POPULATION

 

GENERAL

*World population is 4.4 billion.

 

URBANISATION

*39% of the world’s population now lives in cities.

 

 

POLITICS

 

WORLD

*The Brandt Commission (see 1977) issues a report entitled North-South A Program for Survival, which concludes that global peace and security can only come from addressing non-military issues (such as poverty), in addition to traditional notions of military defence, so as to improve the basic conditions necessary for peaceful relations among nations. Additionally, the report’s linking of economic equity to development marks the beginnings of the concept of ‘sustainable development’ (development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs). Finally, the report promotes the ideal of global identity as a plank in the notion of collective security in the future:

World development is not merely an economic process, [it] involves a profound transformation of the entire economic and social structure…not only the idea of economic betterment, but also of greater human dignity, security, justice and equity…The Commission realises that mankind has to develop a concept of a “single community” to develop a global order.#

*Former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme is appointed to head the UN Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security (aka the Palme Commission), which is charged with the task of examining alternatives to the present global security order: collective security ensured by the superpowers for the constellation of affiliated nations (albeit with the ever-present danger of nuclear Armageddon) (see 1982).

*UN Security Council Resolution 465 determines Israel’s measures to change the status of the occupied territories have no legal validity and Israel’s policy of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in these territories constitutes a flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions.

*UN Security Council Resolution 476 reaffirms the overriding necessity to end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including (East) Jerusalem.

*The US (+ 64 other nations) boycott the Moscow Olympics because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (see 1979, below).

 

ISRAEL & THE MIDDLE EAST

*Israeli Knesset passes the Basic Law establishing a complete and unified Jerusalem as capital of Israel (a move condemned by UN Security Council Resolution 478). Egypt ends negotiations with Israel on Palestinian autonomy.

*Israel announces it will commence the revival of the Jewish community in Hebron (abandoned after riots in 1929).

*Israel and Egypt establish full diplomatic relations.

*Iraq, alleging Iranian artillery bombardment on frontier towns, abrogates the Algiers Accord and attacks Iran. It is later revealed that US President Carter had given Iraq the ‘green light’ to attack Iran, using Saudi Crown Prince Fahd as an intermediary (see below).

*Jordan pledges support for Iraq. Syria masses troops on Jordanian border and Syria-backed Palestinian groups break off ties with Jordan. The PLO, in turn, boycotts an Arab summit in Amman.

 

EUROPE

*The success of last year’s European Parliamentary elections spur Altiero Spinelli (see 1941) and eight others to found the Crocodile Club (named it after the restaurant where they meet in Strasbourg), which aims draft a new treaty for European Union - the next step beyond the Treaty of Rome. In the name of the Parliament’s newly created Committee on Institutions, Spinelli and the others will spend the next four years drafting a treaty. The draft, accepted by the Parliament in 1984 (which aims, along with the Commission, to increase its powers, proposes expanding the European Commission to become an actual political executive body (with the Parliament involved in appointments to the body), shifting responsibility for legislation from the Council to Parliament and fostering “supranationalization” in relation to new political spheres.

*The Stormont Constitutional Conference: A conference on the future of Ulster opens but gets nowhere and is adjourned indefinitely two months later.

*The unrest in Poland (see below) and a massive build-up of Soviet forces along the border sparks a warning from NATO for the Soviets to stay out of Polish internal affairs, saying that intervention (like that of Czechoslovakia – see 1968) will effectively destroy the détente between East and West. Moscow, already under pressure after it’s invasion of Afghanistan (see 1979) has been overwhelmingly condemned by the UN General Assembly (in a 104-18 vote), will not militarily intervene.

*West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt wins re-election after a his policies aimed at stimulating growth succeed (following a downturn in 1978). However, the relief to the economy is only temporary, and economic problems soon return (see 1982).

 

NORTH AMERICA

*Quebec votes against independence in a referendum.

*Ronald Reagan, former actor and onetime Governor of California, is elected US President, defeating Jimmy Carter. His victory ushers in the era of Reaganomics, which sees a winding back of welfare programs, tax cuts for the wealthy (‘trickle down economics’ – see 1975) and massive increases in defence spending (the latter funding a massive arms build-up designed to ‘outspend the USSR to death,’ as Reagan will ditch the policy of Détente in favour of one of strategic opposition to communism (see 1982), which will incorporate the Reagan Doctrine: military and financial support for anti-communist resistance movement opposed to leftist regimes in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia and Nicaragua). Reagan will also declare his allegiance to born again Christianity like his predecessor, albeit with some notable differences (see below).

 

SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA / THE CARRIBEAN

*The Cocaine Coup: Following elections in 1978, 1979 and 1980 that are inconclusive and marked by fraud, the Bolivian government is toppled in an army coup (see below) aided by mercenaries led by notorious Nazi war criminal (and former Gestapo chief in Lyons) Klaus Barbie (1913 – 1991), who has been in hiding in the nation since 1955 (see 1983). New dictator Luis García Meza (1932 - ) leads a brief 14-month regime notorious for human rights abuses, economic mismanagement and at least 1000 ‘disappearances.’ Under his tenure, the government engages in wholesale narcotics trafficking such that Bolivia becomes a centre for the illegal international drugs trade. Meza is later extradited from Brazil (where he flees after losing power), convicted of numerous offences and jailed for 30 years.

*El Salvador and Honduras sign a peace treaty.

*Edward Seaga becomes Prime Minister of Jamaica after a violence-ridden poll in which 800 are killed against a background of claims of electoral fraud. He proceeds to privatise state enterprises and distance Jamaica from Cuba. In return, the US grants the Seaga government substantial aid.

*The Suriname government is toppled in an army coup (see below). Although the new regime is initially accepted by the Dutch, aid to their former colony is cut in 1982 after political opponents of the military government are murdered. Democracy is reinstalled in 1987.

 

ASIA

*The Eastern Pact: China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia (under Vietnamese control) enter into an alliance (modelled on the Warsaw Pact, albeit with a looser arrangement) as a bulwark against both Soviet and American influence in Asia (although primarily the former, as Sino-Soviet relations have continued to deteriorate in the 1970s and 1980s). Laos (in return for Chinese aid) and Mongolia join in 1981 and Angola does so in 1982 (as part of a plan to expand the Pact outside of Asia). The Pact is dissolved in 1985 with the relaxation of tensions between China and the USSR (under Mikhail Gorbachev [1931 - ]).

*Moderate reformer Hu Yaobang (1915 – 1989) succeeds Hua Guofeng as Communist Party Chairman. Hua loses his last post the next year, when Deng Xiaoping ally Zhao Ziyang (1919 – 2005) becomes Premier.

*The Gang of Four, scapegoats for the Cultural Revolution, are tried and sentenced in nationally-televised court proceedings. They all receive life imprisonment (although Jiang Qing initially receives the death penalty before it is commuted to life).

*In a rebuff to the Soviets, the US announces its intention to sell arms to China.

*In India, Indira Gandhi and the Congress Party return to power in general elections.

*Chun Doo-hwan (1931 - ) takes charge of the South Korean military and, after a crackdown on elements of the army allegedly involved in the murder of former president Park Chung Hee, declares martial law. Later in the year, President Choi Kyuha resigns and Chun becomes president.

*General Prem Tinsulanonda (1920 - ) gains power in Thailand after a coup (see below) and begins a transition to democracy (with free elections in 1983).

 

AFRICA

*Robert Mugabe wins elections in Zimbabwe Rhodesia and becomes the Prime Minister. The name of the country is also shortened to Zimbabwe (20,000 killed to date under his regime).

 

AUSTRALASIA & THE PACIFIC

*Vanuatu gains its independence from France and Great Britain.

 

 

CONFLICT

 

NATION STATES

*War between Iran and Iraq (500,000 killed; lasts until 1988) (see above).

 

CIVIL WAR

*Rebels initiate an anti-government insurgency against Uganda’s military regime (lasts until 1987; 300,000 killed).

*A split between rival Zimbabwean black nationalist groups sees Joshua Nkomo leave the government for exile in Great Britian and his ZANU troops begin guerrilla activities against the Mugabe regime (lasts until 1987).

*Shining Path guerrillas, a radical Maoist group, begins anti-government insurgency in Peru (70,000 killed by 2000 – 30,000 by the rebels and another 40,000 in a government crackdown; continues to date).

 

COUPS

*Coup in Turkey.

*Coup in Bolivia (see above).

*Coup in Suriname (see above).

*Coup in Thailand (see above).

*Coup in Guinea-Bissau.

*Coup in Liberia.

*Coup in Rwanda.

*Coup in the Maldives.

 

CIVIL UNREST & ETHNIC CLASHES

*In Saudi Arabia, 63 Muslim fanatics are beheaded for their part in the siege of the Great Mosque in Mecca last year.

*After a failed attempt to assassinate Syrian President Assad by the Muslim Brotherhood, Assad sends the army to crush them.

*Large-scale labour unrest in Poland following food price hikes sees striking workers occupy shipyards; ultimately, the Solidarity Movement emerges, whose aim is democratic reform.

*After the Christian Campesino Unity Committee occupies the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala to draw world attention to the plight of the country’s poor peasants, troops set fire to the building, killing 39.

*Kwangju Uprising: Massive anti-government demonstrations in South Korea following the declaration of martial law (see above) result in a government crackdown - hundreds are killed.

*Several hundred people are killed after a failed army revolt in Libya (partly organised by the French secret service, whose head resigns in the wake of the failure).

*Religious riots in Nigeria (4000 killed).

*The Ugandan Army initiates a reign of terror in those parts of the country which had provided the ethnic base for former dictator Idi Amin’s support (lasts until 1985).

 

 

TERRORISM

 

ISRAEL & THE MIDDLE EAST

*Christian militiamen shoot down Palestinian terrorists attempting an attack on Israel from Lebanon in hot air balloon.

*Four Iranian hijackers are killed when Turkish security forces storm a hijacked Turkish airliner after it lands in Turkey. One of the 155 hostages is killed by the terrorists.

 

EUROPE

*Failed Iranian attempt to assassinate the Shah’s last prime minister, Shahpour Bakhtiar (1914 – 1991), in Paris, sees two people killed. Five terrorists captured by police.

*Palestinian bomb attack on synagogue in Paris kills four Jews and injures 12.

*Bologna railway station in Italy devastated by a bomb planted by the Nucleai Armati Rivoluzionari (Armed Revolutionary Nuclei) right wing terrorists linked to rogue elements in country’s intelligence services; 85 killed and 300 injured.

*A British SAS officer is killed in gun battle with IRA in Belfast.

*Islamic terrorists seize the Iranian Embassy in London, killing two hostages, before the SAS storms the building and kills 5 of the 6 terrorists - the remainder of the hostages are released unharmed.

*Terre Lliure (Free Land) Catalan guerrilla group begins terrorist activites in Spain (mainly bombings) – 6 Spanish policemen killed in an ambush near Bilbao, Spain (continues to date).

*A Neo-Nazi bomb attack on October beer festival in Munich leaves 13 dead and 72 wounded.

 

NORTH AMERICA

*A US airliner is hijacked by seven Cubans and flown to Cuba, where they release their hostages and are taken into custody. Six US airliners are hijacked to Cuba over the next month. All passengers are freed without harm, but three are killed when Cubans hijack an aircraft in Peru and demand to be flown to US.

*The president of United Airlines is injured in a bomb attack in Chicago that is blamed on the Unabomber.

 

SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN

*Colombian terrorists seize 56 hostages in Dominican Republic Embassy in Bogota and demand release of 311 prisoners. Eventually, terrorists are given sanctuary in Cuba after they release the hostages.

 

ASIA

*Nine Manila buildings are bombed by the April Six Movement in Philippines.

 

AFRICA

*The African National Congress bombs strategic oil-from-coal plants in South Africa causing US$7m damage.

 

 

ESPIONAGE & SECURITY

 

ISRAEL & THE MIDDLE EAST

*Operation Eagle Claw: A US attempt to rescue the Iranian Embassy hostages led by a Delta Force counter terrorist unit fails when a Marine Corps helicopter crashes into a transport aircraft at a forward refuelling site in central Iran, killing eight and injuring five.

 

NORTH AMERICA

*The Carter Doctrine: In his State of the Union address, President Jimmy Carter declares that the US will use military force to maintain access to Middle Eastern oil reserves (in a clear linkage to changed military strategy taking in energy security – see 1978). Carter also asks for Congressional permission to ration gasoline, in the wake of price hikes by Arab oil-producing nations. By the end of the year, a de facto oil embargo will be in place (see below, 1981).

 

Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.

 

 

ECONOMICS, COMMERCE & CONSUMERISM

 

GENERAL

*Against a backdrop of soaring inflation, the lira is replaced by the shekel as Israel’s basic unit of currency. Also, exports surpass US$10b for the first time and number of tourists arriving annually exceeds a million.

*The US Monetary Control Act forces all banks and depository institutions to be subject to the Federal Reserve System’s reserve requirements. However, it also permits them to borrow from the Federal Reserve and to use services provided by the Fed, such as check clearing, electronic funds transfer, and securities safekeeping - hence, the liquidity of the entire banking system is increased (which helps set in motion the economic boom of the 1980s – more liquidity meaning more money available for loan and investments) (see below). Banking deregulation helps US banks grow but not sufficiently in the next several years to match the growth of Japanese banks (see 1990), although Japan’s economic woes in the early 1990s will see this situation change (see 2004).

*As the Chinese economy begins to expand thanks to export growth, in the countryside, peasants earn more than ever before and use newfound liquid capital to buy televisions, fans and refrigerators. The first markets in decades open to sell surplus produce.

*This decade, Japan’s economic growth is such that it powers past the USSR as the world’s second largest economy. By 1981, Japan is the world’s biggest automotive manufacturer (producing 30% of all cars two years later). By 1982, 90% of all VCRs and 70% of all computers are made in Japan. By the mid-1980s, it has cornered the market in electronic cameras, radios, quartz watches, TVs, calculators, VCRs, stereo equipment, computers, silicon memory chips, and genetic engineering. Consequently, its success begins to be perceived as a threat in the US, the world’s biggest economy – initially muteerings by right-leaning congressman and commentators, eventually reaching the stage of economic measures against the Japanese (see 1987).

*Thailand begins to grow economically and becomes a significant industrial power, with manufactured goods such as computer parts, textiles and footwear overtaking rice, rubber and tin as the country’s leading exports.

*Tourism and apparel manufacturing became huge industries on Saipan (in the Marianas Islands). Foreign contract workers begin to outnumber the locals.

 

TRADE

*The US imposes economic sanctions on Iran in the wake of the hostage crisis (see 1979).

*The Lagos Plan of Action: The Organisation of African Unity initiates a plan of action to achieve a common African market by 2000. The plan fails to get off the ground although it does lead to the establishment of the Economic Community of Central African States in 1985, comprising Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africam Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe and Zaire. However, lack of funding prevents the bloc from achieving much.

*The Southern African Development Community: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabawe form a trtading bloc to counter the regional influence of South Africa. Congo, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, and post-apartheid South Africa later join.

 

CORPORATISATION & NATIONALISATION

*President Carter authorises legislation giving US$1.5b in loans to bail out Chrysler Corporation.

*Amgen is founded. It pioneers the development of novel products based on advances in recombinant DNA and molecular biology, an innovation that enables it to become the world’s largest biotechnology company (using cellular biology and medicinal chemistry to target cancer, nephrology, inflammatory disorders, and metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases, its leading drugs tackle anaemia and arthritis). It has a market cap of US$74.5bn by 2004.

*Honda announces that it will build Japan’s first US passenger-car assembly plant (in Ohio).

*Starwood Hotels & Resorts (later Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide) is founded in the US. It expands through acquisitions (notably the Sheraton [founded 1937] chain) and becomes one of the world’s largest hotel and resort operators (controlling the aforementioned Sheraton chain as well as Four Points, Luxury Collection, Saint Regis, W Hotel and Westin brands – all up, 730 properties in 80 countries). It has a market cap of US$12.4bn by 2004.

 

MARKETING & CONSUMPTION

*US Congress removes the Federal Trade Commission’s power to stop “unfair” advertising.

*As the Baby Boomer generation reaches their 40s, a desire to preserve youthful vitality sparks a fitness craze, reflected in marketing this decade (which incorporates physical well-being and an anti-ageing ethos in advertising) (see below).

*After the depictions of a 14-year old object of adult desire in Lolita (1962) and a child prostitute in Taxi Driver (1976), sexualisation of children in advertising/media begins in earnest with a 15-year old actress/model Brooke Shields (1965 - ) appearing in Calvin Klein ads cooing the line: “You know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” A ban on the ad by CBS propels it to national notoriety. Later ads toss homoeroticism into the mix with young, scantily-clad, muscled models and celebrities (Klein’s own, carefully tended sexual ambiguity – wink – being part of the show).

*Philip Morris pays US$42,000 to show the Marlboro logo 22 times in the movie Superman II. Lois Lane gets a Marlboro pack on her desk and begins chain smoking. But in 40 years of Superman comics, Lois Lane never smoked. In one part of the movie, a character is tossed into a van with a large Marlboro sign on its side. In the final fight scene, Superman fights through a maze of Marlboro billboards. When he flies off, just one taxi with a Marlboro sign on top is left (see also 1983).

*Rollerblades.

*Rubik’s cube (widely marketed although devised six years earlier).

 

CONSUMER PROTECTION

*The US Infant Milk Formula Act imposes nutritional requirements for infant formula.

*Consumer Reports starts a television department and a magazine for kids called Penny Power (later Zillions).

 

CREDIT & DEBT

*Britain moves to credit card ‘duality,’ with banks issuing both VISA and Access cards. Subsequently, the Access consortium begins to break-up, and disappears as a brand as MasterCard gains recognition locally. Affiliating to the international brands brings world-wide acceptance to the British-issued cards.

*Poland is unable to meet its debt obligations. A few members of the Soviet bloc, like many Third World countries, are affected by the developing international debt crisis. Poland’s creditors agree to a rescheduling of its debt obligations but Western bankers rapidly withdraw funds from other eastern European countries.

*The US is the world’s largest creditor nation (owed more money by private investors and other governments than any other nation). But, following the advent of Reaganomics (see above, 1981), this position will radically change.

*The US federal debt (i.e. the public debt – the amount of money the federal government owes to creditors who hold treasury securities, government bonds, bought by the creditors who receive back the principal plus interest when the bonds reach maturity – added to the money owed by states, corporations, individuals, and that owed to social security beneficiaries in the future) reaches US$1 trillion (having grown from US$43bn in 1940 to US$257bn in 1950, US$290bn in 1960 and US$389bn in 1970) (see also 1986).

*The deregulation of the US banking industry (see above) (later imitated by several other nations in the wave of financial deregulation that arrives this decade), eliminates the limit on the interest rate a lender can charge a borrower (primarily as a move to help struggling banks, losing money partly because the inflation rate has outstripped the rates they can charge on interest to credit card users). With banks now able to charge as they please, credit cards become a significant product in the banking game (and banks now have a greater incentive to issue cards – part of the general change in the posture of banks to extend credit, whereas previously it has been a difficult process to acquire such credit). Later, US states also liberalise usury laws and Congress deregulates savings rates and lending standards (see 1982). Over the next decade, the number of credit cards more than doubles, credit card spending increases more than five-fold and the average household credit card balance rises from US$518 to nearly US$2700. With the cost of money sinking and average balances climbing, profits soar.

*Third World Debt Crisis: With many developing countries having borrowed large sums since the early 1970s (see 1973), when interest rates rise in the industrial world in an effort to curb inflation (due to the Second Oil Shocksee 1979), the debts of many developing countries start to rise beyond their capacity to repay them. The poor countries see exports fall, oil import prices rise and interest payments skyrocket. Mexico is the first to feel these effects (see 1982), which quickly spread throughout the developing world (wiping out decades of hard fought economic gains were wiped out – e.g. from 1980 - 1988, the real income of Mexican workers falls by 40% and foreign debt reaches US$100bn due to the collapse of oil prices earlier in the decade – see 1982). By 1988, 15 countries have debts greater than their GNP. They range from Mozambique with debts of 399.7% of GNP to Mali whose debts are 100.8% of its GNP. The crisis worsens entering the 1990s and ultimately activists will put pressure on First World governments to consider writing off debt. The Crisis will see the IMF strengthened considerably in the next two decades (with more funding from First World nations to help deal with the situation) however with strings attached: namely, use of the mechanism of conditionality (where aid is given in return fro structural reform of an economy along Anglo-American neo-liberal lines), particularly after the collapse of communism in the 1990s (when such nations can no longer rely on aid from the Soviet bloc).

 

ENERGY & RESOURCES

 

---AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK & FISHERIES

*The Green Revolution begins to fail, in part: Farmers and agricultural labourers begin noticing the consequences of overexposure to agricultural chemicals. In Asia, groundwater supplies are being depleted or contaminated, salinisation and waterlogging of productive soils rise occurring at an alarming rate, and flora and fauna are disappearing as farmers push into new lands. Critical voices are raised for the first time about the Revolution, on economic and environmental grounds. Critics point out that storage facilities often do not exist to handle the food bounty; farmers often do not have timely access to markets; pests and post-harvest losses often destroy some of the increased food production. And even as food supplies rise, food does not reach everyone in need. Those who cannot afford to buy food or the inputs necessary to grow it stay hungry. And while the Green Revolution provides farming and non-farming jobs, these are not enough to keep pace with population growth. Poverty remains pervasive (and more so in Africa [soon to be threatened by disastrous droughts – see 1984] and Latin America [whose economies, like many African nations, are suffering under crippling debt – see above], where the Revolution cannot, in its existing form, be widely implemented – see 1970). Over-farming has also led to land degradation (among other negative outcomes – see 1944). As a consequence of it all, the Revolution loses some steam: Many developed and developing countries turn away, in part, from agricultural innovation. Bilateral and multilateral assistance to agriculture begins to decline. Many developing countries cut their spending on agriculture and reduce their previously strong support for agricultural research. Nevertheless, despite the slowdown, by 1990 there are 150m fewer hungry people than two decades earlier and 1.5bn more people are being fed.

*The Livestock Revolution: Beginning this decade, a new agricultural revolution occurs with the widespread implementation to industrial farming methods with regard to livestock (especially chickens). More a demand-driven development (in contrast to the supply-side nature of the Green Revolution (see 1944, 1968, above), global poultry production rises 300% over the next two decades. China, especially, reflects the change, with the nation becoming the world's largest consumer of most meats as its consumers switch from grain-based diets to greater consumption of animal protein. Chinese poultry imports rise from 68,000 tonnes in 1990 to 900,000 tonnes in 1997. It begins importing soya for the first time in 2005 to feed its own growing livestock sector. Brazil, one of the main agricultural suppliers to the EC by century’s end, increases its output of chicken meat from 2m tonnes in 1989 to 5m tonnes in 2001. Its poultry exports more than triple, and its feed industry grows dramatically too. Thai exports of chickens processed for fast food and ready meals double between 1997 and 1999. By the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, 50bn animals (the majority chicken) are consumed globally per annum. By then, Britons are eating five times as much chicken as at the start of this decade (accounting for half of all meat consumed in Britain), with 9000 birds processed in factory farms every hour (and in the US, 24m birds processed every 24 hours). Although driven primarily by a gradual shift away from grain-based diets and towards more meat consumption in developing nations (especially those that are industrialising and seeing rising living standards for local populations, such as China), the Revolution is facilitated by both rapid technological change in industrial farming as well as economica globalisation – notably from the 1990s (wherein an ongoing change emerges in the status of livestock production from a multipurpose activity with mostly nontradable output to food and feed production in the context of globally-integrated markets). Two consequences of the Revolution are a) it fuels more animal rights activism (with demonstrators concerned by the perceived cruelty to livestock via industrial farming methods), and b) it establishes the dynamic whereby viruses that cross species and threaten humanity are more of a threat in a world where large volumes of livestock are shipped across the globe (e.g. the avian influenza / bird flu – see 1997, 2003).

*European grain and animal exports become more competitive with US products.

*Global fish catch is 70m tons.

 

---OIL, GAS & FOSSIL FUELS

*Remaining proven world recoverable oil reserves is put at 648bn barrels (see 1990).

*World oil discoveries this decade: 200bn barrels.

*The influence of OPEC begins to wane this decade as oil production by Mexico, Britain, Norway, and other non-OPEC countries (as well as supplies in Alaska) increase and cuts are made by companies to official prices of oil from these regions (in a bid to raise market share). Consequently, OPEC’s share of world output quickly falls by 27% and revenues plunge after 1981. Saudi Arabia, the largest OPEC producer, sees its oil revenues fall from US$113.2bn in 1981 to just US$20bn in 1986.

*Tunisian oil production peaks.

 *The Carter Doctrine: President Jimmy Carter declares that the US will use military force to maintain access to Middle Eastern oil reserves. Carter also asks for Congressional permission to ration gasoline, in the wake of price hikes by Arab oil-producing nations. By the end of the year, a de facto oil embargo will be in place (see above, 1981).

 

---WATER

*Iran diverts water to flood Iraqi defence positions during the Iran-Iraq conflict.

 

---RENEWABLE ENERGY

*First flash geothermal plant (wherein geothermal fluid is found as a hot pressurised liquid brine which is pumped into a chamber where it drops to atmospheric pressure, boils and produces steam that drives a turbine) in California.

*First solar-cell power plant is opened in Utah. The US$3m photovoltaic system has 266,029 solar cells mounted in 12 long rows producing a 100-kilowatt output. The plant supplies electrical current for staff residences, maintenance facilities, a water sanitation system and a visitor centre.

*US government and private industry groups assist several thousand Navajo and Hopi Indians in Arizona and New Mexico supplement their passive solar homes with photovoltaic power this decade.

*Thousands of wind turbines were set up in California this decade such that, by 1991, total private investment in wind energy in California amounts to US$3.2bn.

 

EMPLOYMENT

*First national strike against a Conservative government in Britain as steelworkers down tools. They demand a 17% pay increase (as the inflation rate is 20%) and win but are forced to accept large job cuts as a trade-off.

*The emergence of the non-state Solidarity union in Poland ultimately contributes to an emerging dynamic that erodes communist rule in Poland and all of Eastern Europe (see above).

 

POVERTY, AID & CHARITY

*The Third General Conference of UN Industrial Development Organisation is held in New Delhi, India results in the New Delhi Declaration and the Plan of Action on Industrialization of Developing Countries and International Cooperation (against the opposition of the industrialised nations which are outvoted 83-22). The Plan outlines new forms of assistance to the least developed and land-locked countries, islands and most seriously affected countries, the Palestinian and Namibian people. New activities included the integration of industry with agriculture, rural industrialization, development of alternative forms of energy and technology acquisition. There is even a US$300b Global Fund for the stimulation of Third World industry (suggested by Cuban leader Fidel Castro). The Declaration will largely come to nought (see 1975).

*Underclass: With 27m Americans in poverty, the proportion of the poor (12.4%) is approximately the same as for 1965. However, its character has changed, going from mostly rural and white to urban and non-white (i.e. in the main, black ghettos). The increase in volume and violence of crime in inner urban areas initiates a debate on what to do to address the needs of this new ‘underclass’ (a term first coined by Nobel-winning economist Gunnar Myrdal and popularised in a book by journalist Ken Auletta in 1982. As with other demographic trends, underclasses appear throughout the West after having first emerged in the US.

 

 

SOCIOLOGY

 

CRIME, PUNISHMENT & INTERNATIONAL LAW

*The International Court of Justice calls for the release of US embassy hostages in Tehran (see 1979).

*The US prison population, having been static for four decades, begins to rise greatly due to tougher mandatory sentences – especially for drugs). It doubles by decade’s end (500,000 to 1m) while the total population only rises 11%. By 1992, expected punishment per crime rises from 10 prison days to 17 days, a 70% increase; yet expected punishment in the 1990s remains far below the 29 days of 1960 and the 50 days of 1950. The harsher approach to criminality pays off with crime rates declining in the next decade.

*Vanuatu abolishes the death penalty (last execution was in 1937).

 

DRUGS, TOBACCO & ALCOHOL

 

---NARCOTICS

*Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney (1940 - ) is jailed in Tokyo for 10 days on marijuana possession.

 

---NICOTINE

*Philip Morris makes US$10bn in profits this year (up from US$1bn in 1968).

 

ACTIVISM & ADVOCACY

*The World Without Arms organisation is established, to promote a vision of a world based on the rule of international law rather than force and free from fear of weapons of mass destruction (it later becomes the Alternative World Foundation and then the Fourth Freedom Forum in reference to President Roosevelt’s Fourth Freedom – from fear of weapons and war).

*Mothers Against Drunk Driving is formed in the US to lobby government to pass harsher penalties for drunk driving (especially causing death and injury). They succeed in influencing President Reagan to set up a presidential task force on drunken driving. Branches of the group will be set up all over the world in the next two decades.

*Seven republican Maze prisoners begin a hunger strike in support of demands such as right to wear their own clothes (on the premise they are political prisoners and not common criminals).

 

SUICIDE & EUTHANASIA

 

---SUICIDE

*Suicide begins to become felt in children and younger adolescents. In US over the next 15 years, suicide rates among children aged 10-14 increase 100%.

*Suicide rates among older people begin to rise markedly. The rate for seniors has always been higher  than for the general populace (senior suicide is often prompted by emotional distress due to the death of a partner and loneliness or extreme self-pity at illness or some other incapacitation due to poor health and/or not wanting to be a burden to extended family members). However, with more people living longer, more attempt and succeed at killing themselves. The number of senior suicides in the US increases 36% in the next 15 years (figures questioned by some who claim the overall incidence of such deaths is under-reported due to qualms about an official finding of suicide by surviving family). In addition, while suicide attempts by younger people may be more a cry for help than a genuine attempt to kill oneself, older people tend to succeed in committing suicide on the first attempt (the ration of attempted to actual suicides for those aged 15-24 is estimated at 100:1 in the mid-1990s versus almost 1:1 among those aged 55+).

 

---EUTHANASIA

*The World Federation of Right to Die Societies is formed in Oxford, England. It comprises 27 groups from 18 nations. Congresses are regularly held thereafter: By 2005, consists of 38 right to die organisations from 23 countries (mostly in Europe).

*Pope John Paul II issues Declaration in Euthanasia, opposing mercy killing but permitting the greater use of painkillers to ease pain and the right to refuse extraordinary means for sustaining life.

*The Hemlock Society is founded in California by Derek Humphry (1930 - ). It advocates legal change to euthanasia laws and distributes information on how to die painlessly. The group singlehandedly launches the modern campaign for assisted dying in America. Hemlock’s national membership grows to 50,000 within a decade. Right to die societies also form the same year in West Germany and Canada.

*Famed US national advice column Dear Abby publishes a letter from a reader agonising over a dying loved one, generating 30,000 advance care directive requests (see 1973) to the Society for the Right to Die.

 

RACE RELATIONS

*Budding media entrepreneur Robert L. Johnson (1946 - ) founds Black Entertainment Television (BET), a US cable network targeted toward African American audiences. Starting as a two-hour broadcast on USA Network and featuring mostly older movies and music videos, BET expands to 24 hour programming in 1983. It develops into an urban equivalent of eventual corporate sibling MTV (see 1981) (BET is eventually purchased by Viacomsee 1973) as most of its programming comprises of hip-hop and R&B music videos as well as religious programming, public affairs programs, and urban-oriented movies and series. In 1990, BET becomes the first black-controlled company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

 

WOMEN, MARRIAGE & DIVORCE

*The World Conference of the UN Decade for Women in Copenhagen sees a report wherein domestic violence is mentioned for the first time in a UN publication: the document calls on all nations to enact legislation aimed at preventing domestic and sexual violence against women and allowing victims to be treated fairly in all criminal procedures. A recurring theme at the forum is the emerging signs of disparity beginning to emerge in several nations between rights secured and women’s ability to exercise these rights.

*Third World Feminism: Feminists in non-Western countries will begin to critique First World feminist discourses this decade, primarily accusing Westerners of imposing a homogenous ideal of women onto the women’s movement, based on the perspectives of middle-class white Western women.##

*Feminist Sex Wars: As a reaction against anti-porn feminists, growing numbers of other American feminists begin to champion the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component of women's freedom. As such, these ‘sex-positive feminists’ oppose legal or social efforts to control sexual activities between consenting adults (including porn), whether these efforts are initiated by the government, other feminists, opponents of feminism, or any other institution. The early part of this decade touches off a series of acrimonious debates between the two groups and the feminist movement overall ends up deeply divided as a result.

*Changes to the Swedish Act of Succession makes Victoria of Sweden (1977 - ), Crown Princess over her younger brother.

*Jeanne Sauvé (1922 – 1993) becomes first woman Speaker of Canada’s House of Commons.

*The Emergence of Feminist Spirituality: After movement towards the development of a distinct, matriarchal version of the Judeo-Christian tradition throughout the 1970s (see 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978), feminist theologians begin to initiate rituals, chants and other neo-pagan practices to express a new feminist spirituality this decade. Focus of this new spirituality is on the figure of the Goddess (see 1968), variously identified with Sophia (the expression of divine wisdom in the Gnostic tradition – see 1958), the ancient Egyptian deity Isis, and Diana of the Roman/Wiccan milieu, in contrast to the traditional, patriarchal ‘male’ God of the Bible (see 1984, 1986). New liturgies are developed to sing praises to the Goddess. New religious myths are created, often invented apocryphal tales (as creativity and imagination are matriarchal ways of being, in contrast to the strict rationalism of patriarchy), tales that recast orthodox versions of biblical stories (e.g. the Fall casting the Serpent and Eve as hero and heroine – in the Gnostic vein – and Adam and God as fools), not necessarily to repudiate the traditional versions but to ‘reconceptualise’ them (in a mould more conducive to radical religious feminism). The female body is celebrated in the new spirituality (in poetic rituals that leave little to the imagination and, to conservative’s ears, border on pornographic). And witchcraft and spell-casting are incorporated as tools to project divine feminine power (see 1993). Feminist theologians also continue to agitate for change (that advances the divine feminine) in wider circles, with onetime evangelical (see 1975) Virginia Mollenkott sitting on the committee that produces an inclusive-language lectionary which addressed God in feminine terms for the National Council of Churches (see also 1983).

 

DISABILITIES

*Disabled Peoples’ International is founded in Singapore. This network of national organisations or assemblies of disabled people is established to promote human rights of the disabled through full participation, equalisation of opportunity and development. By 2000, it has member groups from 110 countries (mostly in the developing world).

 

CHILDREN & YOUTH

*Children Out Of Wedlock: In developed Western nations, the number of children born out of wedlock trebles over the next three decades, rising from 11% to 33%. In some areas where manufacturing has collapsed, the rate hits 70%. Studies show children raised in broken homes learn less at school, are more likely to drop out and earn less later on than children from intact ones. They are also not very good at forming stable families of their own.

*Child Sexual Abuse: This decade debate arises as to the incidence of child sexual abuse. Numerous child health and medical professionals begin to ascribe to the theories propounded by Roland Summit (see 1978) or likeminded researchers that follow in his wake. Consequently, accusations of widespread sexual abuse (often linked to pseudo-religious rituals) sweep the US. Part of the hysteria is fuelled by the concept of recovered memory syndrome, a controversial idea that adults repress memories (even from their time as babies) of sexual abuse by parents or others, memories which can be ‘recovered’ in sessions with therapists. Critics counter that the human mind is very open to suggestion and clinicians seeking to uncover such memories (in the minds of adults with various neuroses, for instance, by way of explaining why such neuroses exist) can plant such ideas in patient’s minds. By the late 1980s and into the 1990s, a media frenzy focusing on the allegations and cases arising from prosecution of parents (based on recovered memories) spark political and police investigations. Although no widespread ritual abuse is uncovered, the lasting legacy of the panic is threefold:

- Doubts about the findings of no large-scale abuse persist in significant sections of the community (fuelled by the conspiracy subculture – which continues to allege powerful elites in numerous Western nations engage in organised child abuse rings, protected by their minions in the police and judicature). An actual police exposure of a large paedophile ring (involving senior figures in government and the like) in Belgium in the late 1990s reignites the suspicions (see 1996).

- The panic focuses the wider public on the issue of (genuine) child sexual abuse (hitherto, the child abuse debate has focused primarily on physical abuse – see 1961, 1962, 1968, 1990).

- Also, the panic helps fuel the rise of a victim culture in the US (and slowly spreading to other Western nations) in the 1990s, a culture that is fodder for a newly booming self-help industry (see 1992).

 

EDUCATION

*Television In The Classroom: The availability of cheap VCRs makes video learning common.

*Computers In The Classroom: Later this decade, computers begin to appear in classrooms (and become ubiquitous by the mid-1990s).

*Community colleges and ‘tech’ schools become popular; they are the ideal institutions for people who desire advanced education without the need to enrol in universities/colleges.

*The UN establishes the University for Peace in Costa Rica, a higher education institution with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress. Hence, the main focus of this university is on programs relating to peace in the world.

*The University of Phoenix, a for-profit university, is the first to receive official accreditation.

 

SEX & SEXUALITY

 

---GENERAL

*A conservative socio-political backlash in the US (responsible for the rise of the Reaganism – see above) ultimately leads to abstinence being incorporated into sex education in public schools.

 

---HOMOSEXUALITY, TRANSVESTISM & TRANSGENDERISM

*Scotland decriminalises homosexuality.

*The Democratic Party becomes the first major political party in America to endorse a gay rights platform plank.

*The Human Rights Campaign is established in the US. It quickly becomes one of the biggest gay rights organisations in the country, lobbying politicians to advance the basic rights of homosexuals “at work and in the community.”

*Gay Christian activist John Boswell publishes Christianity, Social Tolerance, & Homosexuality, in which he asserts that challenges the scholarly consensus concerning notions of sexual orientation only emerging a century or so ago, instead claiming a vibrant (and tolerated) gay subculture (with an awareness of sexual identities) existed in Roman times and only subsided with its demise. Boswell also asserts early Christians were not intolerant of homosexuality but, rather, harsh religious Judeo-Christian persecution of homosexuals was a product of the superstitious and extremist Medieval Christian faith that emerged out of the Dark Ages (and, hence, is unconnected to the Bible). Several authors criticise the work and take issue with what they see as distortions of biblical texts.

 

 

ECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENTALISM

 

GENERAL

*World Conservation Strategy: The UN Environment Programme, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, and the World Wildlife Fund publish a strategy they recommend should inform conservation efforts around the globe. The Strategy promotes a holistic approach to conservation and highlights the importance of using natural resources sustainably. Subsequently, 50 nations formulate and initiate their own national conservation strategies based on the recommendations. A simplified version, How to Save the World, is subsequently published in several languages.

*Biodiversity: US President Jimmy Carter authorises a study which leads to the Global 2000 report, which recognises biodiversity (later defined as “the variability among living organisms from all sources, including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”) for the first time as critical characteristic in proper functioning of the planetary ecosystem. It further asserts the robust nature of ecosystems is weakened by species extinction.

*Earth First! is set up by radical environmentalist Dave Foreman (1947 - ); the group mixes innovative publicity (e.g. rolling a plastic ‘crack’ down Glen Canyon Dam) with far-reaching wilderness proposals that go far beyond what the mainstream environmental groups are willing to advocate, and peddle conservation biology research from a biocentric perspective (wherein, it is believed, all life, or even the whole universe living or otherwise taken as a whole, is equally valuable and humanity is not the centre of existence - hence, humanity is no more valuable than say, bacteria – see 1972). By the 1990s, the group is informed by an anarchist political philosophy and pursues direct action to further its agenda, through targeting, for sabotage, logging activities, dam building and other development perceived as threatening to destroy wildlife habitats or despoil the wilderness.

 

POLLUTION, DEFORESTATION & DESERTIFICATION

 

---POLLUTION

*Exponential Growth of Global Carbon Emissions: Global carbon emissions from industry worldwide begin to rapidly accelerate over the next 25 years, as populous nations such as China (see 1978) and India (see 1991) industrialise and Third World nations begin to more generally adopt energy-inefficient methods of developed nations (e.g. growing reliance on relatively inefficient cars, electricity production through burning fossil fuels like coal, etc) in order to grow their economies and improve quality of life for their citizens. Emissions are growing at 1% annually now but increase to 2.5% per annum in 25 years (see also 2005).

*The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (also known as Superfund) is passed in response to the discovery in the late 1970s of a large number of abandoned, leaking hazardous waste dumps in the US. Under Superfund, the Environmental Protection Agency identifies hazardous sites, takes appropriate action and sees that the responsible party pays for the cleanup.

*The US National Security Act is passed by Congress, mandating all gasoline be blended with a minimum of 10% grain alcohol (aka ‘gasohol’). Also, the Gasohol Competition Act is passed to stop oil companies’ discrimination against sales of gasohol at their pumps. The legislation is subsequently scuttled by the Reagan Administration (which is far more pro-business and sceptical of environmentalism than its predecessor).

*The National Academy of Sciences calls leaded gasoline the greatest source of atmospheric lead pollution.

*Major Oil Spill: The tanker Irenes Serenade spills 36.6m gallons of oil in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Greece.

*Major Oil Spill: A production well ruptures in Libya spilling 42m gallons of oil.

*Oil Spill: The tanker Juan Antonio Lavalleja spills 11m gallonsof oil off the coast of Algeria.

 

---DEFORESTATION

*In the US, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act over 100m acres of new national parks, refuges, monuments, conservation areas, recreation areas, forests, and wild and scenic rivers in the State of Alaska, for the preservation of “nationally significant’ natural resources.”

 

WEATHER & CLIMATE

*It later transpires, according to one set of statistics, that glaciers worldwide lose, on average, 30cm of their ice per year for the next 20 years (see 1985, 2000). However, other geologists later assert that there is an advance of more than 55% of the 625 mountain glaciers under observation by the World Monitoring Group in Zurich (versus 70-95% of these glaciers being in retreat from 1926 to 1960). Such information as this eventually causes a minority opinion to arise in the latter half of the first decade of the new millennium that a new ice age is on the way (flying in the face of the global warming movement).

*A heatwave in the US kills 10,000.

*A cyclone kills 200 in the Caribbean and US.

 

ANIMAL WELFARE

*People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): Inspired by Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation (see 1976), environmental activists Alex Pacheco and Ingrid Newkirk (1949 - ) establish an animal rights organisation which focuses its attention on the four areas in which its founders perceive the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in laboratories, in the clothing trade and in the entertainment industry. PETA will also work on a variety of other issues including the killing of beavers, birds and other ‘pests’ and the abuse of backyard dogs. Somewhat controversially, it will also advocate members and supporters euthanising animals ‘rescued’ from agricultural use or scientific research that are considered in a dire physical situation for which mercy killing is the kindest option (in their humble, lay opinion). Consequently, cases of animal cruelty will, ironically, be instituted against PETA activists on occasion. It becomes the largest animal rights group in the world with 850,000 members by 2004.

 

 

MAJOR DISASTERS

 

NATURAL

*A series of earthquakes in southern Italy kills 4800.

*Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington State killing 57 and causing US$3bn in damage (see below).

 

MAN-MADE

*Total number of aviation-related deaths globally this decade: 11,558.

*A Saudi airliner in difficulty makes a safe landing but a fire breaks out and passengers are unable to escape the plane; 301 killed.

*An Italian airliner crashes near Sicily; 81 killed. In 1999 it is reported a fight by warplanes led to the crash and cover-up charges are filed against Italian military officials.

 

 

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT

 

GENERAL

*The Globalisation of Research & Development: This decade, US technology producers begin collaborating more with colleagues around the world. Private industry finds that R&D has become too costly and risky for a single lab at a large company to undertake alone. Instead, cutting-edge companies begin to cooperate with a wide network of other firms, universities and industry-government consortia to develop new products. Such activity flourishes in places such as Silicon Valley, the Route 128 corridor in Boston, and in Austin, Texas - hothouses of innovation, where scientists, venture capitalists, and technology managers meet and share information. The result is a shift in the locus of innovation from individual corporate labs to networks of technology firms, capital markets, and research universities. Into the 1990s, cheaper communications technologies also allow US companies to operate more globally, dividing production into discrete functions, contracting out to producers in different countries, and transferring technological know-how to foreign partners. By the mid-1990s, the attraction of emerging technology clusters in places such as Shanghai, China, Bangalore, India, and Hsinchu, Taiwan, is at first based on their cheap labour supply. But as local technology companies develop, new research institutes are founded and scientists and engineers from such countries will even begin to return home after training and working in the US; hence, these hubs start supporting innovation of their own.

*US astronomer Carl Sagan, inspired by such landmark documentaries as Civilisation and Ascent of Man (see 1969), produces (and hosts) the science series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. The 13-part program covers a wide range of subjects including the origin of life and a perspective of our place in the universe. It subsequently screens in 60 countries to 500m people to date and is one of the single most successful efforts on the part of the scientific community to popularise their discipline to a mass audience.

 

PHYSICS & MATHEMATICS

*Scientist Louis Brus discovers quantum dots (aka nanocrystals), very small, roughly spherical, crystalline particles of semiconductors (such as silicon) which have one fundamental, defining, and very odd, feature: their optical behaviour depends on their sizes For instance, in ultraviolet light a 2.3nm cadmium selenide dot glows turquoise, whereas a 5.5nm dot of the same material glows orange. This feature is seen as important because the light-emitting powers of quantum dots can, in theory be put to good use in smart, luminescent materials (i.e. materials that can be significantly altered in a controlled fashion by external stimuli – hence, materials composed of such a material can be made to change accordingly), providing a reliable way can be found to make dots of a particular size and therefore colour (see 1993).

*Physicist Alan Guth (1947 - ) proposes the idea of cosmic inflation: that the early universe passed through a phase of exponential expansion immediately prior to the Big Bang.

 

NUCLEAR ENERGY, WEAPONRY & BALLISTIC MISSILES

*A UN report entitled General and Complete Disarmament: Comprehensive Study on Nuclear Weapons: Report of the Secretary-General estimates that in total there are approx. 40,000 nuclear warheads in existence with a total yield of approx. 13,000 megatons of TNT. By comparison, when the volcano Tambora erupted in 1815 it exploded with a force of roughly 1000 megatons of TNT.

*Falling fossil fuel prices gradually make nuclear power less economically competitive during the rest of the decade.

*The British government circulates a pamphlet to the general populace entitled “Protect and Survive,” containing advice on how to act in the event of nuclear war.

*US nuclear energy generates more electricity than oil (although it falls behind in later years due to the eventual levelling off of new reactors after the Three Mile Island incident).

*The West Valley Demonstration Project Act directs the US Department of Energy to construct a high-level nuclear waste solidification demonstration at the West Valley Plant in New York. The only commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the US, the West Valley Plant recovers uranium and plutonium from spent nuclear fuel from 1966-1972. Nearly 600,000 gallons of high-level nuclear waste are stored at the plant.

*The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act is passed, making US states responsible for the disposal of their own low-level nuclear waste, such as from hospitals and industry.

*China launches its first intercontinental ballistic missile.

*Nuclear reactors worldwide: 245

*Worldwide stockpile of nuclear warheads: US – 23,764, USSR – 30,062, Great Britain – 350, France – 250, China – 280.

*American/Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles: US – 1054, USSR – 1338.

 

CONVENTIONAL ARMS

*The UN General Assembly adopts the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, which prohibits/restricts signatories from using weapons that employ non-detectable fragments, mines and booby-traps, incendiary devices and blinding laser weapons.

 

ASTRONOMY & SPACE EXPLORATION

*Voyager 1 space probe returns photos of Saturn and six new moons.

*The Multi-Element Radio-Linked Interferometer Network (MERLIN) begins operating.  It consists of seven radio telescopes distributed across Great Britain whose data are gathered at Jodrell Bank.

*The Very Large Array (VLA) aperture-synthesis telescope is constructed in Socorro, New Mexico. It consists of 27 movable dishes mounted on a railway.

*Total eclipse in Africa, India, Burma and China.

*Alan Guth (1947 - ) proposes an ‘inflationary’ theory of the early Universe in which, during the first split second of creation and before the standard model of the Big Bang, the Universe expanded exponentially (i.e. ‘supercooled’) and then, in a phase change, went to a less energetic state.  In this phase change, huge numbers of pairs of particles were created and re-heated in the Big Bang. The hypothesis obviates the problems of the Universe’s homogeneity and its flatness: “The ultra-rapid expansion stretches out any primordial ‘wrinkles’ in the curvature of spacetime, rendering the Universe almost smooth and isotropic (or similar in all directions) on the scale we can observe.”

 

ARCHAEOLOGY & PALAEONTOLOGY

*The City of David Archaeological Project rediscovers Warren’s Shaft, a vertical well that formed part of the waterworks for Jerusalem from before King David’s time. Once cleaned out, the shaft provides access to the entire early waterworks.

*Italian archaeologists discover the bodies of hundreds who died at the shore of the sea, destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79BC.

*Luis Alvarez (1911 – 1988) and others publish their asteroid impact theory of dinosaur extinction after finding in a layer of clay near Gubbio, Italy, a high concentration of ‘iridium,’ abundant in meteorites, which they hypothesise is residue from an asteroid of 10 to 14km in diameter. The clay supposedly dates to the end of the Cretaceous era (and so they link it to the dinosaur extinction). The theory will not gain widespread acceptance among scientists for several years (notably after the clay layer is found to exist worldwide).###

*Peter E. Wheeler argues that, with the supposed evolutionary shift to bipedalism (walking on two legs rather than four), whole body cooling (retaining only head hair and developing sweat glands) released a physiological constraint on brain size in later hominids and early humans.

 

GEOSCIENCES

*The eruption of Mount St. Helens (see above), apart from being the most deadly and economically destructive volcanic eruption in the history of the US, is also a boon for vulcanologists, who are able to study an active volcano in the lead-up to, during and after an eruption (although its sudden full eruption kills several). It is also highly useful to biologists and environmentalists who study the subsequent rejuvenation of flor and fauna around the volcano over the next two decades.

 

PSYCHOLOGY

*Post-Jungian Schools: Over the next two decades, several followers of Carl Jung (see also 1940) will develop new schools of post-Jungian thought – notably the developmental school (seeking to build a bridge between Jungian ideas and object relations theory, devised by Sigmund Freud [see 1943] as the notion that bodily drives satisfy their need through a medium, an object, on a specific locus) and the archetypal school (which gives each of Jung’s archetypes equal value not merely the self). Jung’s ideas will find favour with many advocates of the emerging new spirituality (see 1990).####

 

ANTHROPOLOGY & LINGUISTICS

*Anthropology & Power: Owing to the influence of Antonio Gramsci and Michel Foucault, anthropology becomes taken up more fully with the concept of power and hegemony and post-colonial inequalities across the globe. Also, reflecting Critical Theory’s (see 1965) influence, the discipline begins to grapple with issues of gender and sexuality (see 1990).

 

HEALTH & MEDICINE

*Third World Obesity: The number of overweight and obese adults in the developing world has almost quadruples to around 1bn over the next three decades, particularly in countries where incomes were rising, such as Egypt and Mexico. Much of this change is due to changing diets and a shift from eating cereals and grains to the consumption of more fats, sugar, oils and animal produce.

*The World Health Organisation announces the eradication of smallpox, three years after the last reported case.

*The ‘Return’ of Tuberculosis: The decline in the incidence of tuberculosis (thanks to antibiotics – see 1943) comes to an end as drug-resistant strains emerge this decade. By 1997, there are 16m existing and 8m new cases of the virus globally (the global fatality rate is 23% and the rate in some African countries with high HIV incidence is 50%). Britain has 7000 new cases in 2001 (versus 5500 in 1987 and 55,000 in 1955).

*Attention Deficit Disorder: Childhood hyperactivity is officially dubbed Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It is renamed Attention Hyperactivity Deficit Disorder (ADHD) in 1987.  ADHD is one of the most common medical disorders diagnosed in children (and is later found in adults – Adult Attention Deficit Disorder or AADD), although a significant minority of medical opinion remains sceptical about the disorders existence (some seeing unruly behaviour by children as just that) (see 2004).

*An experiment with an artificial heart implant sees a calf live for 222 days (see 1982).

*Foetal Ultrasound Diagnostic Testing: Dr. Frank Manning leads a team in developing a biophysical profile for use in prenatal ultrasound testing. With refinements, it soon becomes the most common antepartal surveillance test used to prevent and reduce foetal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. Over the course of the 1980s and 1990s, prenatal ultrasound will develop in parallel with improvements in understanding maternal biochemistry, revolutionising the use of ultrasound for screening genetic diseases (see 1956, 1962, 1970).

 

CHEMISTRY, BIOLOGY & GENETICS

*The Rise of the Biotechnology Industry: The US Supreme Court rules that “live human-made micro-organism is patentable matter.” The decision leads to a rush to fully commercialise the biotech industry by Genentech and other companies (there are 1300 such American firms by 2000). By 2005, 500,000 patents on genes have been issued worldwide (with 40,000 in the US).

*Researchers successfully introduce a human gene - one that codes for the protein interferon - into a bacterium.

*David Botstein (1943 - ) and others show how ‘restriction fragment length polymorphisms’ can be used to find human disease genes.

*Marvin Carruthers devises a way to synthesise strands of DNA of any desired base sequence 9and later builds instruments capable of performing the task automatically).

*Allan M. Maxam (1926 - ) publishes the ‘chemical method’ of gene sequencing in which an electric current causes the gene fragments to pass through a gel which, when exposed to X-ray film, permits the DNA code to be read.

*Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (1942 - ) and Eric Wieschaus (1947 - ) describe genetic mutations affecting the body plan of the fruit fly Drosophila, and identify genes controlling the basic body plans of all animals.

 

ENGINEERING

*This decade, materials engineers develop ‘rare earth metals’ such as iron neodymium boride, which can be made into magnets of high quality and permanency for use in sensors, computer disk drives, and automobile electrical motors. Other rare earth metals are used in colour television phosphors, fluorescent bulbs, lasers, and magneto-optical storage systems with a capacity 15 times greater than that of conventional magnetic disks.

*The bionic ear is developed by researchers in Australia.

*Heinrich Rohrer (1933 - ) develops the ‘scanning tunneling microscope,’ which brings “a very tiny metal tip within one nanometer (or .001 microns or 4 atoms) of the surface under observation. A small voltage causes electrons to flow from the tip to the surface, creating the tunnel through which feedback to the microscope creates scans of it.” Magnification is 1,000,000X (compared with 100,000X for the most powerful electron microscopes).#####

*The St. Gothard Tunnel opens in Switzerland as the world’s longest highway tunnel at 10.14 miles (16.32km) stretching from Goschenen to Airolo.

 

AVIATION, TRANSPORT & SHIPPING

*Pan Am’s China Clipper is the first commercial flight between the US and mainland China since 1949.

*Cathay Pacific begins a Hong Kong-London service. The next year it commences a weekly New York-Beijing service.

*The 1000th production Learjet is delivered.

*The Birth of Modern Drone Warfare: At a time when the US military has nearly given up on developing robot drones (at the time its most promising drone, the Aquila, needs 30 people to launch it, flies for just minutes at a time and crashes on average every 20 flight hours.), Israeli-born aviation designer Abe Karem (who led a team of developers in building a decoy drone - in just one month - that was used by the Israeli Air Force to target enemy radar systems at the time of the Yom Kipuur War - see 1973) builds a new drone, dubbed the Albatross, in his California garage and effectively initiates a new era in modern warfare. Karem's plane, which only requires a team of three to operate, flies safely at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah for 56 hours. The successor model, the Amber, flies 650 hours' worth of tests, crashing just once and the entire cost of a single model is US$350,000, less than the cost of running an Aquila UAV for a single hour! Karem's invention goes through two more iterations before becoming the Gnat 750, which is called upon for use by the US military due to the rising conflict in the Balkans (see 1991). By 1994, satellite links are incorporated into the Gnat 750, now dubbed the Predator, giving the US a platform that can loiter over a target area for days, provide infra-red and optical surveillance in all weathers—and, with the addition of Hellfire anti-tank missiles in 2001, launch a devastating attack without warning  (see also 1960).

 

COMMUNICATIONS

*The US, USSR, France and Canada set up SARSAT (search and rescue satellite) to locate people in distress in places, boats or land vehicles, for international rescue.

*France starts Minitel, an experimental telephone inquiry system consisting of terminals placed in homes. The system will soon be established throughout France and offer a large number of online services.

*Cable & Wireless transmits 219m words by telegraph (less than in 1929) and provides 176m minutes of outgoing telephone traffic.

*The last (to date) international fax standard is set; it allows facsimile messages to be transmitted at about one page per minute or faster.

*The Sing Tao Daily, Hong Kong’s second largest Chinese language newspaper, pioneers satellite transmission of its content and becomes the first newspaper available on opposite sides of the world on the same day. It is followed by the first English-language paper to be available across the globe on the same day, the International Herald Tribune (see below).

 

COMPUTERISATION & AUTOMATION

*There are now 1m computers in the US.

*Hypermedia: A number of experimental hypertext and hypermedia programs (see 1960, 1967, 1977), many of whose features and terminology are later incorporated into the World Wide Web (see below, 1990), are developed in the first half of this decade although none achieve widespread success or name recognition with consumers. Guide (developed 1982, marketed 1984) is the first hypertext system for PCs and the first such system to be sold commercially but it is not a success and is superseded in 1987 by Apple’s HyperCard (which allows users to organise their files in a virtual hyperlinked filing cabinet). However this and all other hypertext systems are eventually overshadowed by the success of the World Wide Web.

*Whilst working as an independent contractor at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (the world’s largest particle physics laboratory), Tim Berners-Lee (1955 - ) proposes a project based on the concept of hypertext (see above), to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers (but not the general public, as with his later similar project) (see 1990).

*IBM achieves 91% accuracy with a voice recognition system using an IBM System/370 Model 168 computer. It has a 1000-word vocabulary and can process the words at a normal speaking pace and display the spoken words on a screen.

*British designer Clive Sinclair (1940 - ) develops a minimalist and cheap computer, the ZX81, which uses a television receiver as a monitor. It goes on sale the next year and eventually sells 1m units.

*Commodore Business Machines (founded 1954) releases the Commodore VIC-20, the first microcomputer to sell a million units. The machine's external design is later utilised for the company's Commodore 64, which is released in 1982 and becomes the best-selling single PC model of all time.

*dBase II, a database software package including a programming language is derived from Vulcan I (a database program developed for mainframes at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories in the late 1960s). It will become the principal electronic filing system for personal computers during the 1980s.

*This decade, with the improved availability of microcomputers, a market emerges for lower-end machine translation systems, spurring widescale research into the field in the trilateral region to resume after a decade-long hiatus (see 1990).

*The Pac-Man video game is released: it shatters the popular conventions set in the field by Space Invaders (see 1978) abandoning the shoot-’em-up style in favour of a unique, humorous, largely non-violent format that appealed to girls as well as boys (and thereby expanding the possibilities of video gaming).

*The landmark science program Cosmos (see above) makes groundbreaking use of special effects, which allow host Carl Sagan to apparently walk through environments that were actually models rather than full-sized sets.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

*Explorer Ranulph Fiennes (1944) leads an expedition on the first polar circumnavigation of the globe (travelling around the globe via the Poles circling the earth on longitude 0, the Greenwich Meridian). The journey will take three years.

*Polish climber Krzysztof Wielicki (1950 - ) is the first man to ascend Mt. Everest in the winter.

 

 

ARTS & CULTURE

 

GENERAL

*Life Coaches: This decade, as part of a wider trend aimed at maximising the abilities of employees (which takes in the incorporation of New Age practices in group training sessions – see below), large corporations begin to offer tope executives ‘executive coaching’ – literally corporate advisors/trainers to help them improve their performance, drawing inspiration from disciplines like sociology, psychology, and career counselling). Over the course of the decade, executive coaching becomes more widely accepted. In 1988, Thomas J. Leonard (1955 - 2003) establishes a course entitled ‘Life Creates Your Life’. Leonard codifies ‘personal coaching’ (as he calls it) into a curriculum to teach people how to be a coach and that can be taught globally (including via telecommunications and so not requiring face to face training). The next year, Steven R. Covey (1932 - ) publishes The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, a self-help book [see 1969] in which the author argues that effectiveness is achieved by aligning oneself to what he calls “true north” principles of a character ethic that he believes to be universal and timeless (the book goes on to sell 15m copies and is translated into 37 other languages). In the early 1990s, business coaching spreads to smaller companies and deeper into organisational hierarchy, while personal coach training schools (from 1992) and associations (from 1994) begin to appear. Appreciation of the benefits of personal coaching (dubbed ‘life coaching’ in 2002) becomes entrenched across the business sector such that, by the mid-1990s, individuals begin to realise the full potential of coaching for their whole lives (not merely their careers). Life coaches also later begin to operate e-coaching, not simply delivering advice face to face/by telephone. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century there are possibly 50,000+ life coaches in the US alone.

*The Dark Side of Celebrity Culture: A deranged music fan shoots dead former Beatle John Lennon in New York in a tragic irony (given Lennon’s inadvertent ‘announcement’ of the arrival of celebrity culture some 14 years before – see 1966). Incidences of celebrity stalking (i.e. being stalked by disturbed fans) and even murder will occur in coming years.

*Fitness Culture: The rise of health warnings about cholesterol, smoking and the like since the 1960s and the fact Baby Boomers (who have grown up with a Cult of Youth that lauds image and appearance) are now reaching their forties, combine to see the emergence this decade of a health and fitness subculture. Participation in gyms grows (numbers of gyms expand) as do the volume of people involved in activities such as cycling and jogging and also home exercise regimens (which become popular following the release of actress Jane Fonda’s Workout video in 1982). By the 1990s, the subculture has evolved into a wider cultural norm (in the US and in most Western nations) (see above).

 

PHILOSOPHY, POLITICAL SCIENCE & HISTORY

*Middle East Anti-Americanism: The rise of extremist Islam following the Iranian Revolution (see 1979) begins to feed into virulent anti-Americanism across the Arab Middle East. The US itself adds to the fuel over the next two decades, engaging in some 15 direct military operations in the Middle East, all of them directed at Muslims. There are also an equal number of non-military actions such as imposing punitive embargoes, threats through military build-up, policies in support of some regional states against others, support of selected opposition groups, and providing weapons (sometimes secretly), all in addition to ongoing strong support for Israel. Such hatred of the US government and American foreign policy on the part of the Arab street skyrockets after the invasion of Iraq (see 2003).

*Posthumanism: A conference on the philosophy of Jacques Derrida (see 1967) in Cerisy-la-Salle, France, entitled “Les fins de l’Homme” (“The Ends of Man”), after a 1968 essay by the French philosopher######, is held to discuss his anti-humanist concepts (i.e. that post-Renaissance humanism is no longer tenable due to the post-structuralist – see 1967 – critique of it). Moving beyond classical humanism, this ‘posthumanism’ (‘tranhumanism’ in the US) as it is later called, no longer sees humanity as the centre of the universe, relegating humans to just another one of the many natural species of living things (hence, with no inherent rights to destroy nature or set themselves above it in ethical considerations a priori). Thereafter, in literary and critical theory, posthumanism comes to govern dialogue, later spawning much talk about the end of history or humanity in the sense it has been known for centuries and even framing debate about the implications for humanity of advances in genetics and computer sciences (see 1991, 1992, 1999, 2003).

*Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan hires political scientist Jeanne Kirkpatrick (1926 - 2006) as his foreign policy advisor. Later US Ambassador to the UN, Kirkpatrick will develop a new foreign policy, the Kirkpatrick Doctrine, wherein a strong anti-communist stance serves as a backdrop for a pragmatic tolerance of right-wing dictatorships (or “moderately repressive regimes,” as she calls them) and a rejection of social revolutions as illegitimate (hence, the overthrow of leftist governments, even if replaced by right-wing dictatorships, is acceptable and at times essential because they serve a s a bulwark against the expansion of Soviet interests). The Doctrine will underline strong support by the Reagan White House for such regimes as Pinochet’s in Chile and Marcos’ in the Philippines. However, according to the Doctrine, this support is primarily based on the regimes’ usefulness, which can at times be impaired by their undemocratic nature (and so the US is free to turn against them if circumstances change – as in the case of the Philippines – see 1985). This is the first major influence of the school of neoconservatism on US politics (see 1972), as traditional conservatives have believed America’s allies should be defended at all costs, no matter what the nature of their regimes (whereas neoconservatives, reflecting their liberal origins, are more supportive to the idea of regime change to make countries more compatible and reflective of US values). Although Reagan does not move to any protracted, long-term interventions to stem social revolution (that his neoconservative advisors favour), he does support small, quick interventions such as the attacks on Grenada (see 1983) and Libya (see 1986), whose successes heighten the sense of post-Vietnam triumphalism among Americans (which, along with victory in the Gulf War – see 1990 - set the stage for the neoconservative domination of foreign affairs in the post-September 11th White House of George W. Bush – see 2001 – after a fallow period under Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, who both favour multilateral arrangements to cement security in the post-Cold War era).

*Alvin Toffler publishes The Third Wave, in which he argues that human development has passed through two types of societies and is now experiencing a transition to a third. Each society is based on the idea of a wave crashing onto the banks of history and washing the older societies away. The first wave was represented by the agrarian revolution which displaced the first hunter-gatherer cultures. The second wave is represented by industrial society, “based on mass production, mass distribution, mass consumption, mass education, mass media, mass recreation, mass entertainment, and weapons of mass destruction. You combine those things with standardization, centralization, concentration, and synchronization, and you wind up with a style of organization we call bureaucracy.” The main components of this wave are the nuclear family, a factory-type education system and the corporation. Toffler asserts that since late 1950s most countries are moving away from a second wave society into call a new, third wave. In this post-industrial society, there is a lot of diversity in lifestyles (“subcults”). Adhocracies (fluid organisations) thrive in the new environment because they adapt quickly to changes. Information can substitute most of the material resources and becomes the main material for workers (cognitarians instead of proletarians), who are loosely affiliated. Mass customisation offers the possibility of cheap, personalised, production catering to small niches. The gap between producer and consumer is bridged by technology as new “prosumers” are able to fill their own needs.

*German biochemist Frederic Vester (1925 – 2003) publishes Neuland des Denkens (New Ground of Thinking), in which he argues that the linear approach to thinking and problem-solving bequeathed to the Western world by Aristotle is actually the cause of many of humanity’s problems. He posits that instead humanity should adopt cybernetic thinking (the mode in which machines work, composed of the transfer of information, and circular relations [feedback] that result in emergent phenomena such as self-organisation), which is radically different from traditional concept of cause and effect in straight lines. Cybernetic thinking operates in circular motions or ‘closed control loops’ where causes becomes effects and effects causes and where one can enter the loop from any entry point. Reasoning in this paradigm takes place not in logical, linear fashion but through a series of links and a multitude of connections, juxtapositions and adjacencies.

 

VISUAL ARTS & SCULPTURE

*Art Market Explosion: Hitherto seen as a domain of connoisseurs, collectors who are akin to saints for supporting contemporary art (as well as savvy in buying things for fifteen hundred dollars that are later worth millions), the art market heats up this decade and transforms into one of investors rather than purists. Although the signal event for the phenomenon has occurred as far back as 1973 (an auction at Sotheby’s of works from the collection of taxi-fleet entrepreneur Robert Scull [1919 - ], in which - at a time when one faction of the avant-garde was trying to subvert the market by making deliberately uncollectible installations, performances, and Earthworks - two pieces by Robert Rauschenberg [1925 - ] originally bought for US$3400 sold for US$175,000), that has proved an anomaly and it has taken a while for the implications of the investment viability of edgy contemporary art to sink in (e.g. it is only in 1979 that Citibank establishes an Art Advisory Service to help art collectors secure big loans with their art collections as collateral). This decade, the fact that banks can open themselves to art mutates the contemporary art world into one where money is no longer of secondary importance but primary, and a corporate mentality soon reigns supreme. The number of players in the art world expands and, as it commercialises, galleries, dealers and artists begin selling works more to museums and corporate or wealthy collectors. More aspiring artists enter the scene as colleges also churn out thousands of art graduates looking for market validation (many taking such a non-avant-garde attitude with them into the lowbrow movement – see 1979). Sotheby’s itself is bought by a shopping-mall magnate in 1983 (see also 1984).

*Guerrilla Art: This decade, a small underground movement emerges wherein the surreptitious, and often sudden, creation or installation of unauthorized public art, often with the purpose of making an overt political statement, occurs (involving spray paint, text and images, film projections projected on walls of buildings, etc – the most famous example of such art is Charging Bull by Arturo Di Modica [1941 - ], a 7000 pound sculpture of a bull the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity made in the aftermath of the 1987 stockmarket crash as a testament to the artist’s belief in the unceasing vitality of American capitalisml; impounded by the police as an illegal sculpture, a public outcry forces it to be re-installed several blocks from the original location in front of the New York Stock Exchange). By the 1990s, stencils and poster art become increasingle influential in this movement.

*Sculpitecture: Anthony Caro (see 1958) devises ‘sculpitecture,’ the intersection between sculpture and architecture wherein large sculptures - sculpture that the viewer enters and explores internally).

 

LITERATURE & LANGUAGES

*Megasellers: Mass market publishing is by now big business, from popular espionage titles by the likes of Robert Ludlum (1927 - 2001) and Tom Clancy (1947 - ) to legal thrillers by Scott Turow (1949 - ). Of 13 books which sell over 1m copies in the US, Clancy, horror/fantasy writer Stephen King (1947 - ) and romance author Danielle Steele (1947 - ) write ten. Notable megaselling authors of the following decade include John Grisham (1955 - ) and Michael Crichton (1942 - ).

 

THEATRE

*Broadway Revivals: A combination of nostalgia, a paucity of quality new material and the increasing cost of mounting Broadway productions sees producers play if safe with revivals of past hits such as West Side Story and Anything Goes.

 

CINEMA

*The Digital Age: The VCR revolution (see 1977), sees a shift in entertainment akin to the 1950s, as patrons increasingly favour watching videos on their VCR to going out to see a movie. After a failed legal effort to ban home ownership of VCRs as a violation of copyright, the studios admit defeat, but this ironically proves fortunate as the ubiquitous use of VCRs by the 1990s (see 1992, 2003) sees the sale and rental of movies on home video become a significant source of revenue for the movie companies.

 

MEDIA

 

---GENERAL

*The UNESCO General Conference in Belgrade, reacting to the MacBride Report (see 1978), sees the G-77 demand the adoption of such items as “the right of peoples...to comprehensive and true information,” “the right of each nation” to inform the world about its affairs, and “the right of each nation to protect its cultural and social identity against the false or distorted information which may cause harm.” However, Western delegates manage to negotiate the removal of such demands from a final generalised statement saying it is possible to define a new information order and that UNESCO should play “a major role in the examination and solution of problems in this domain.”#######

 

---PRINT

*News & Entertainment: The growing power and influence of television (in essence, an entertainment medium which has since the 1960s developed more entertaining formats for news coverage – not merely in the manner of graphics and other visuals but also in content, with more features about celebrities), as well as the rise of modern tabloid media culture (see 1969) will begin to strongly impact on non-tabloid press and magazines. In the next two decades, to compete with television and tabloid newspapers, ‘quality press’ newspapers incorporate lifestyle sections and celebrity ‘news’ will creep into early pages and occasionally even the front page (and the prestigious broadsheet The Times will even go tabloid in format [in 2004]). Also, upmarket current affairs magazines such as TIME will incorporate more entertainment features and undergo a general ‘loosening’ of hitherto wholly serious-minded editorial approaches (see also 1982).

*The Decline of Afternoon Newspapers: The ubiquity of mass media (and the growth of the 24/7 news cycle) sees the global afternoon newspapers market decline markedly by the 21st century.

*Hong Kong’s Sing Tao Daily becomes the first newspaper available on opposite sides of the world on the same day care of the use of satellite transmission of its content (see above).

 

---TELEVISION

*24/7 News Cycle: CNN, 24-hour news channel, begins broadcasting. In time, it will become the most watched source for news globally, helping to fuel the 24/7 news cycle that develops over the next two decades (see 1990).

*US broadcasters petition the US Federal Communications Commission to rescind the Fairness Doctrine (see 1967, 1987).

*Significant expansion in the titles available for rental sees 10m VCR units sold by the end of the year globally. By 1990, there are more than 200m units in homes around the world (predominantly Europe and North America, although Third World markets expand from the late 1980s).

 

MUSIC & POP SUBCULTURES

 

---POP / ROCK

*Alternative Rock: As something of a US counterpart to early British New Wave (see 1977), several alternative music scenes develop this decade; shut out by the mainstream (not that they care, given their anti-mainstream postpunk sensibility), such groups dominate college radio (see 1960). As with Punk and New Wave, alternative rock encompasses various styles but the disparate groups share the same attitude and approach (hence, it covers the 1960s fashion-wearing and jangly-guitar-sounding Paisley Undergound groups like The Three O’Clock, Rain Parade and Dream Syndicate, the folk-punk of the Violent Femmes, the retro-garage of the Lyres, and even punk novelty acts such as the Dead Milkmen). The most renowned such group is REM, which goes onto huge mainstream success in the early 1990s.

*The Rise of Global Club Culture: The spread of modern dance clubs from the US to Europe (see 1977) combines with the spread of one-nighters (see 1978) and the ongoing evolution of dance music this decade, taking in influences as diverse as dub (see 1971), electronic music (see 1974), rap (see 1979), and, later, world music (see 1987), and throwing up techno (see 1981, 1988), house (see 1983), Hi-NRG (see 1984), acid jazz (see 1988), and the rave subculture (see 1987) (which itself partly contributes a rock-inspired street credibility to dance music – see also 1983, 1991), transforms the dance scene into a more international global club culture, with DJs emerging in the 1990s as veritable rock stars (see 1995), some clubs having become akin to rock stadiums like Wembley and Shea, such as London’s Ministry of Sound (whose sound system is devised by the legendary DJ Larry Levan – see 1970, 1977) and Fabric, Ibiza’s Pacha and Space, and Tokyo’s Club Yellow, and large dance festivals held across the world (see 1989).

 

BEAUTY & FASHION

*Beauty With A Purpose: After a decade and a half of various controversies (see 1960), Miss World repositions itself with the slogan ‘beauty with a purpose.’ The contest adds tests of intelligence and personality and affiliates itself with Variety Clubs International to raise funds for world charities, in the process turning around the decline in its popularity. By the 1990s, it is reaching 2bn viewers from almost every country in the world. However, by then it is seen as old-fashioned and rather un-PC in its native Britain and, despite the global appeal, by the early 21st century, it has not been broadcast on any major terrestrial British network for several years.

* The combination of First Lady Nancy Reagan’s (1921 - ) elegance and Princess Diana love of fashion, stimulate a return to opulent clothing styles. The miniskirt enjoys a major revival and denim is important (albeit non-flared and, for a time, in acid wash texture). Film and music continue to inspire various looks – Flashdance (1983) features characters in tank tops, tight-fitting pants or torn jeans, and leg-warmers (which all become popular, as do the vinyl creations sported by hip hoppers – see 1985). Teens not wearing designer clothes opt for Michael Jackson’s (1958 - ) single white glove or Madonna’s fishnet stockings, leather and chains. The triumph of image over all else (see 1966), especially this decade (due to the rise of the MTV culture – see 1981 – which sees Britain’s haircut bands initiate a trend to more ornate and expensive hairstyles in reaction to the long and less-sophisticated 1970s style), even sees such things as designer underwear for men (as designer fashion becomes a byword of hip).

*Chinese fashion begins to noticeably change. With styles freeing up after Mao’s death (moving away from the regulation universal grey tunic suits and caps), Western suits and casual stylings become popular with businessmen and the young respectively.

*Indicative of the gradual globalisation of world fashion, a steady stream of Japanese designers enjoy major couture success (such as Issey Miyake [1935 - ] and the more avant-garde work of Rei Kawakubo [1942 - ] which incorporates warped asymmetry, distressed fabrics and a monochromatic palette).

 

TOURISM & TRAVEL

*Global annual tourist arrivals: 286m. The rate grows 4.8% annually through 1990.

*Backpacking: Throughout this decade, the phenomenon of long-term international budget travel gradually begins to grow, with regions such as Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, becoming increasingly popular. By the 1990s, millions of backpackers (especially from Europe) are significant factors in the tourist dollar of numerous countries.

 

SPORTS & HOBBIES

*The Olympic Games are held in Moscow, USSR but the US (+ 64 other nations) mount a boycott due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (see above). Some governments, like those of Great Britain and Australia, support the boycott but allow individual athletes to decide for themselves whether to go to Moscow. During the closing ceremony, Misha the bear, the Games’ mascot, appears with a tear in its eye.

*In Poland, a plane crashes during an emergency landing near Warsaw, killing a 14-man American boxing team and 73 others.

*Rosie Ruiz (1954 - ) wins the Boston Marathon but is stripped of her winning medal after being exposed as a cheat (it is surmised she caught a subway to travel most of the course).

 

 

RELIGION & BELIEF

 

GENERAL

*Global breakdown of major religions: Christians (33% of the world population; evangelicals 6%); Muslims (17%); Buddhists (6%); Hindus (13%).

*This decade, sociological studies of religion begin to note that patterns of religious observance in a pluralist society resemble those of consumption in the marketplace. People are attracted to strong brands that protect their identity; they enjoy products that suspend the boring reality of everyday life; and they demand near-infallible standards of professionalism.

*US philosopher Mortimer Adler publishes How to Think About God: A Guide for the 20th-Century Pagan (i.e. “one who does not worship the God of Christians, Jews, or Muslims”), in which he seeks to present a modern rational argument for the existence of a supernatural deity (although he claims it dies not give “certitude” it can be demonstrated “”beyond reasonable doubt”). His “propositions that constitute the premises of a truly cosmological argument” are that: The existence of an effect (the currently existing cosmos) requiring the concurrent existence and action of an efficient cause implies the existence and action of that cause. The existence of the cosmos as a whole is radically contingent, which is to say that, while not needing an efficient cause of its coming to be, since it is everlasting, it nevertheless does need an efficient cause of its continuing existence, to preserve it in being and prevent it from being replaced by nothingness. He asserts the cosmos is everlasting/infinite because “the cosmos which now exists is only one of many possible universes that might have existed in the infinite past, and that might still exist in the infinite future.” If other universes are possible, then this one also is merely possible, not necessary. This postulate can be inferred from the cosmos manifesting chance and random happenings as well as lawful behaviour. And “whatever can be otherwise than it is can also simply not be at all.” That is, a cosmos which can be otherwise is one that also can not be. A merely possible cosmos (of infinite potential cosmoses) cannot be an uncaused cosmos. Additionally, the cosmos needs an efficient cause of its continuing existence to prevent its annihilation, and this cause must be a supernatural being, supernatural in its action, and one the existence of which is uncaused; in other words, the supreme being, or God. Adler, himself a pagan (although he will later convert to Christianity), asserts that the notion that a cosmos that is radically contingent in its existence needs a cause beyond itself ascribes to Occam’s Razor (about the most simplistic cause of something being the most likely) because, “we have found it necessary to posit the existence of God, the supreme being, in order to explain what needs to be explained - the existence here and now of a merely possible cosmos.”

*Christian Buddhism: Liberal Christian writer Don Cupitt (1934 - ) publishes Taking Leave of God, in which he advocates a spirituality that is Christian in content but Buddhist in form. Cupitt considers Buddhism to involve nirvana, meditation, and self-reliance in contrast to the heaven, prayer, and dependency in Christianity. He is pessimistic about the ability of Christianity to go it alone, and argues for a “Christian Buddhism” which does not make “unnecessary and unprovable doctrinal claims.” Such a postmodern and syncretic mix-and-match approach to religion and spirituality becomes popular the following decade, with Zen Buddhism and Christianity being the usual traditions pilfered for their concepts and cosmologies.

*Professor of Religion at the University of Denver Carl Raschke publishes The Interruption of Eternity: Modern Gnosticism and the Origins of the New Religious Consciousness, in which he argues that Westerners are becoming neo-Gnostics (see 1941, 1945, 1971, 1977). He singles out mainline Christian denominations in the US as exemplifying this, noting they are regaining spirituality (the application of faith to daily life) through a revival of Gnostic practices and beliefs without returning to Christian orthodoxy (see also 1946).

 

CHRISTIANITY

*A fundamental demographic shift occurs this year, with evangelicals outside the West edging past numbers in Western nations. The shift in the centre of Evangelical Christianity from North America and Europe to Africa, Asia, and Latin America has come about due to the far greater growth in the global south (overall, evangelicals grew outside the West from 29m in 1960 to 208m in 1990 while at the same time the church in the West has only grown from 58m to 96m).

*In the most notable episode of Latin American juntas persecuting the post-Liberation Theology (see 1968) Catholic Church, Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917 – 1980) is murdered by a death squad (see 1979) in his San Salvador cathedral in El Salvador during a mass, after calling on the US to cease aiding the ruling junta.

*Lord Robert Runcie (1921 - 2000) is appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. Runcie will preside over a breaking down in traditional ties between the church and the ruling Conservative Party (the church having been previously derided as the “Tory Party at prayer”). Friction is caused by the Thatcher government’s aggressive support of individualism and money-making and statements by the Prime Minister to the effect that “there is no such thing as society” (seen as uncaring by Runcie and the church hierarchy). Also, 1985 report, Faith in the City, will criticise the government’s handling of social problems in British inner-city areas, precipitating one minister to openly call for the disestablishment of the church as the official state religion (reasoning institutions affiliated to the British State should not express overtly partisan political views). Runcie also officiates at the wedding of Prince Charles (1948 - ) and Lady Diana Spencer despite holding private misgivings about the union (thinking the pair ill-suited and the marriage doomed). And, although unthinkable in the open, after his retirement Runcie acknowledges that he knowingly ordained practicing homosexuals as priests.

*The election of Ronald Reagan as US President will see a man elevated to the office who is not just open about his Christian faith (like Jimmy Carter) but, for the first time, an office holder whose brand of Christianity takes in the prophetic and assumes knowledge of God’s will.#######

*In the wake of the Charismatic Renewal (see 1960), large interdenominational meetings of Christians become commonplace this decade across the globe (e.g. this year’s Washington For Jesus Rally in Washington, DC; the Jesus ‘81 Rallies around the world, Amsterdam ‘83 in the Netherlands, etc).

*Third Wave of the Holy Spirit: Theologian C. Peter Wagner (see 1972) coins the term “Third Wave of the Holy Spirit” to refer to what he asserts to be a new spiritual wave in the Church (involving Christians who have received Pentecostal-like experiences but who do not identify with existing Pentecostal or Charismatic traditions (such as his own ministry and the Vineyard movement). Critics claim there is little difference between this ‘new wave’ and the Charismatic Renewal although the fact some in the former revive beliefs from the Latter Rain movement (see 1947) serves to differentiate them (as well as see conservative Pentecostals reject it). The most potent expression of this ‘new wave’ comes in the form of the Toronto Blessing, a series of unusual behaviours on the part of worshippers at the Toronto Vineyard church starting in 1994 (and spreading throughout many Pentecostal and Charismatic congregations across the globe), including ‘holy laughter,’ physical spasms or jerks, and making animal noises. Proponents of the Blessing posit that it is a time of refreshing for the Church, preparing it for a major spiritual revival. Critics counter that the ‘fruit’ of it (c.f. deep divisions in many denominations) is indicative of the Blessing being not so much an inspiration of the Holy Spirit but in fact a satanic counterfeit.

*East Asian Christian Revival: From this decade, Christian adherents in East Asia grow exponentially. The ‘opening up’ of society in post-Mao China (including, in 1979, the re-opening of churches – all of which were closed during the Cultural Revolution) clears the way for rapid expansion of Christianity in that country. The closing of church buildings during the Cultural Revolution saw the small minority of Christians become used to gathering in totally clandestine situations - in homes, fields, forests. Because the government was so overtly hostile to religion, Christians took the view that the best response was open and energetic evangelism wherever and whenever they could. This has seen the rise of a strong house church network in many parts of the country (ready to evangelise and disciple the many new adherents). In spite of ongoing persecution, with government officially tolerating only ‘official’ churches (seen by many Christians as diluting aspects of the faith), house churches continue to thrive (and official intolerance begins to wane slightly over time). Also, the more open society sees large numbers of Chinese students travel to the US and other Western nations for tertiary education, where many become Christian thanks to evangelism efforts of churches and parachurch groups in those nations. Many return and meet up with colleagues of similar professional attainment who are holding private Christian meetings. These scientists and intellectuals, the rising new post-Mao Chinese elite, begin a dialogue in which a consensus is reached that Christianity ‘works,’ that people who are Christian are genuinely concerned for each other’s welfare and that prayers often produce remarkable physical healings from difficult illnesses. They also perceive that the remarkable historical primacy of Western civilisation around the world is based on its Judeo-Christian roots. They see the core religious principles of the West (Christian ethics and the dynamism of a faith based on a profound hope in the future and a belief that history is not cyclical, as Buddhism and even Confucianism proclaim, but linear, and with a specific end goal) as enabling it, time and again, to correct itself rather than plunge into cyclical and eventually permanent decline. This dialogue fuels acceptance of Christianity among the many of the Chinese elite and the (post-economic reform) growing middle class. In South Korea (see 1950), the church grows rapidly after taking a stand on human rights against the dictatorial government (such that by the late 1990s, seven of the10 largest Evangelical congregations in the world are in Seoul, a city where, 100 years previously, there was not a single congregation). However, the coming of democracy (see 1988), which makes Christians a part of the establishment as never before, leaves many believers feeling that the church has become a victim of its own success, as freedom and prosperity lead to widespread complacency and a loss of the churches’ ‘cutting edge.’ Church growth tapers off, for the first time in decades. But in the early years of the 21st century, many Christians gain a renewed determination to evangelise the nation, with the bold goal of establishing the Korean Peninsula as a bastion of Christianity on the Asian mainland (such a vision necessarily encompasses North Korea). In addition to China and South Korea, Christian adherents among overseas Chinese (and Indonesia’s Javanese) are estimated at 50m by 2000, with the Singaporean church having become the most missionary-minded church in the world (in terms of the number of missionaries sent out for every 1000 Christians).

*Post-Critical Hermeneutics: Inspired by Karl Barth (see 1939, 1975), biblical scholars increasingly seek to go beyond the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation and ‘return’ to the text (so as to engage in deep respect and love for scriptures as well as scholarship and exegesis).

*John Boswell publishes Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century, in which he challenges the scholarly consensus concerning notions of sexual orientation only emerging a century or so ago, instead claiming a vibrant and tolerated gay subculture (with an awareness of sexual identities) existed in Roman times and only subsided with its demise. He asserts early Christians were not intolerant of homosexuality but, rather, harsh religious Judeo-Christian persecution of homosexuals was a product of the superstitious and extremist Medieval Christian faith that emerged out of the Dark Ages (and, hence, is unconnected to the Bible). Boswell later dies of AIDS (see 1981).

*Jacques Ellul publishes La foi au prix du doute (Living Faith: Belief and Doubt in a Perilous World), in which he draws a distinction between belief and faith:

Belief is reassuring. People who live in the world of belief feel safe. On the contrary, faith is forever placing us on the razor’s edge. Though it knows that God is the Father, it never minimizes His power. “Who then is this, that even wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:41). That is faith’s question. For belief things are simple: God is almighty. We normalize God. We get comfortable with God’s power. It is faith alone that can appreciate the immensity of God, and His true nature. The doubt that constitutes an integral part of faith concerns myself, not God’s revelation or His love or the presence of Jesus Christ. It is doubt about the effectiveness, even the legitimacy, of what I do and the forces I obey in my church and in society. Furthermore, faith puts itself to the test. If I discern the stirrings of faith within me, the first rule is not to deceive myself, not to abandon myself to belief indiscriminately. I have to subject my beliefs to rigorous criticism. I have to listen to all denials and attacks on them, so that I can know how solid the object of my faith is. Faith will not stand for half-truths and half-certainties. It obliges me to face the fact that I am nothing, and in so doing I receive the gift of everything. Belief relates to things, to realities, to behaviors that are raised to the status of an ultimate value that it worthy dying for. Belief transforms next-to-last human realities into ultimate, absolute, foundational realities. It turns everything that belongs to the order of the Promise, of God's Word, of the Kingdom into epiphenomena, into sweet pious words, ways of making life easier, and a process of self-justification. Faith runs totally counter to this.

To begin with, faith acknowledges the Ultimate in all its irrefragable [i.e. indisuptable] truth, and so it depreciates and attaches little importance to whatever offers itself as a substitute for that Ultimate. It is not a matter of looking to some external ultimate reality; the Kingdom of heaven is (at present) in you or among you. As of now it is you who constitute it. Faith is the demand that we must incarnate the Kingdom of God now in this world and this age. One never moves from belief to faith, whereas faith often deteriorates into belief. You can’t get to faith by way of any old religion, or belief, or some vague spiritual exaltation, or aesthetic emotions. It is not “better” from a Christian viewpoint to “believe” than not to believe, to “have religion” than not to have it. There is no road from belief to faith. You can’t transform a conviction of the value of rites into the act of standing alone in the presence of God. The reverse is true: every belief is an obstacle to faith. Beliefs get in the way because they satisfy the need for religion, because they lead to spiritual choices that are substitutes for faith; they prevent us from discovering, listening to, and accepting the faith revealed in Jesus Christ.

*Malcolm Muggeridge publishes The End Of Christendom, But Not of Christ, in which he contends that Christendom, or organised Christian religion, is fast coming to an abrupt end as a result of God’s judgement, but that Christ will continue. By this, he means not only that Jesus Christ will exist forever (as The Bible declares), but that the true followers of Christ will survive the disintegration of organised religion and fulfil the Church’s biblical calling to act as leaven, a sacrament of the coming Kingdom of God, in the contemporary world. He asks: “How, in the shambles of a collapsed Christendom, stands Christ?” And the answer, of course, is that Christ’s Kingdom is unscathed. His Church is marching on, and the Gospel will continue to shine more and more brightly as darkness covers the earth. He likens the demise of Christendom with the fall of ancient Rome:

[A]s for the decadent practices of Roman citizens such as the Corinthians - a general immorality so very reminiscent of today - these…pertained to the dying world of paganism. Christians who had been reborn into the Kingdom proclaimed by Christ, a kingdom whose fulfilment they awaited with confidence, were not to contaminate themselves with the moral squalor of the pagan world. Now we see Christendom likewise sinking. But the true point I want to make is this: that Christ’s Kingdom remains. Indeed, it can be seen more clearly and appreciated more sharply by contrast with the darkness and depravity of the contemporary scene.

 

ISLAM

*The Iran-Iraq conflict (see above) helps shore up support for Iran’s Islamic regime, uniting the people in a cause against an existential threat and allowing the conservative Islamic elements of the revolution to hold sway (see 1981).

*Aligned against Iran for the decade, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iraq co-operate in convening congresses of those Muslim figures who are prepared to sanction their own policies in the name of Islam. Existing organizations such as Saudi Arabia’s Muslim World League (see 1962) and Egypt’s Academy of Islamic Researches (see 1964) expand their cooperation. Saudi Arabia and Egypt also combine with Iraq in 1983 to establish the Baghdad-based Popular Islamic Conference, which mobilises Muslim support for Iraq’s war against Iran. When the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (see 1990) turns Iraq and Saudi Arabia from allies into enemies, both sides simultaneously convene the Popular Islamic Conference in Baghdad and Mecca, where each passes a resolution condemning the other.

*Islamic non-governmental groups in Africa, many backed by Gulf oil cash, grow from 138 this year to 891 in 2000, more than twice the rate of increase in the total number of African non-governmental organisations in the same period.

 

ATHEISM, SECULARISM & HUMANISM

*Over the next 25 years, atheists and others who are radically anti-religious will decline as a percentage of world population as will the number of agnostics and those who are indifferent to religion. By 2005, atheists will comprise 2.5% of the global populace and agnostics 11.5%. Spurring this trend will be the fact religious people have higher birth rates (and invariably pass on their religious beliefs to their children). The trend increases markedly after the collapse of Communism and the end of the Cold War (see 1991) and the resultant loss of faith in (atheistic) communism (also accentuated by China’s rejection of socialist central planning in favour of capitalism – see 1978, 1992, thereby undermining pure Marxist dogma). However, the numbers of atheists and agnostics in the First world will rise (see 1990).

*Free Inquiry magazine is launched; it quickly becomes the world’s largest-circulation, most influential English-language humanist publication.

 

NEW AGE, SPIRITUALITY & CULTS

*New Religious Movements: This decade, sociologists begin to use the term ‘new religious movement’ for those groups hitherto deemed ‘cults,’ primarily because the latter term has acquired a pejorative sense in the negative media exposure of various cults in the 1970s and is often now used indiscriminately for any kind of non-mainstream religion (see 1990).

*The New Age & The Corporate Sphere: This decade, large corporations (starting in the US) begin to incorporate the New Age model of transformation training sessions (partly based on the Large Group Awareness model – see 1971) to employee education and development (see 1950). The training sessions are intended to transform the corporate culture of a company by releasing untapped creativity and enabling participants to develop new ways of seeing problems. Initially, the stress felt by employees and executives in the business sphere sees such sessions developed but they quickly become (seen as) means to developing an edge on the competition in the cut-throat corporate world. In 1984, Richard Watring, former personnel director of the Budget-Rent-a-Car Corporation in Chicago, surveys businessmen and finds that 45% have “seen or used” one or more ‘psychotechnologies of consciousness-raising.’ Two years later, California Business magazine reports that a survey of 500 company owners and presidents shows that more than half have used some form of “consciousness-raising” technique. That same year, The New York Times reports that representatives of some of the nation’s largest corporations, including IBM, AT&T, and General Motors, have met to “discuss how metaphysics, the occult and Hindu mysticism might help executives compete in the world market.” In 1987, one major petrochemical company begins to provide regular workshops in stress management for its employees and hires a faith healer to read auras of ailing employees and run her hands over their fields of energy. By the late 1980s, it is commonplace for firms such as Merrill Lynch, Ford, Westinghouse, RCA, Boeing, Scott Paper, and Calvin Klein and others to send employees to seminars conducted by groups like Innovation Associates, Lifespring, Energy Unlimited, and Transformational Technologies (a 1984 spinoff of Werner Erhard’s est – see 1971). And courses such as ‘Creativity in Business’ (taught at Stanford University’s prestigious Graduate School of Business, and incorporating Zen, yoga, tarot cards, chanting, and ‘dreamwork’) are increasingly popular with long waiting lists. By the end of the decade, 1m American workers and managers have taken transformational training sessions, but the New Age infiltration of business is not without controversy (see 1987). Following publication of John Heider’s The Tao of Leadership: Leadership Strategies for a New Age (which popularises the teachings of 5th century BC Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu [600BC - ???BC]), business books imbued with New Age spirituality appear on the market. In 1999, the Dalai Lama’s Ethics for the New Millennium outsells popular books for executives by the likes of Bill Gates.

*The New Age & The Military: As with the corporate sphere (see above), the US military begins to incorporate New Age ideology and practices into its training. Although projects on such fare as meditation, alternative medical approaches and remote viewing (see 1970) and other psychic phenomena have been undertaken in the 1970s by higher education institutions as well as the military (see 1979), in the early part of the 1980s, officers at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, conduct a study aimed at creating a New Age Army, envisaging training of soldiers in meditation, extrasensory skills, magic, and ‘neuro-linguistics,’ a hypnosis technique. The program is later cancelled, but in 1982, the military contracts Sportsmind (see below) to shape up listless troops. The US$50,000 eight-week program, which replaces traditional calisthenics with holistic stretching-warm-up-aerobics-cool-down routines and an exercise in which soldiers practice visualising their combat tasks, run at Fort Hood, Texas, is later parlayed into a year-long US$350,000 program to train Green Berets (which includes the teaching of meditation techniques so soldiers can spend long hours hidden in enemy territory). In both instances, morale shoots up and sick calls plunge. The Army’s Organizational Effectiveness School will also use New Age-oriented curricula in some of its programs. And no less a New Age personality as Marilyn Ferguson (1938 - ) (see below) is called on to lecture at the U.S. Army War College (see also 1994).

*The New Age & Sports: Former antiwar protestor Chris Majer (1951 - ) establishes Sportsmind, a management training company that specialises in helping athletes reach their full human potential. The company aims to aid athletes “retouch the spiritual foundation within themselves” through use of relaxation exercises (to ‘focus energy’) adopted from Eastern practices (such as ‘centreing’) as well as motivation training via outdoor simulation games and modified martial arts. The success of the company (8000 graduates in six years, including the national skiing and rugby teams) draws the interest of the military (see above) and also corporate America (winning a US$4m, contract with AT&T to train 3000 managers how to achieve peak human performance, in 1987) (see also above).

*Marilyn Ferguson (see above) publishes The Aquarian Conspiracy, a self-styled counterculture manifesto in which she defines the movement as the conscious embracing of irrationality - from rock and drugs to biofeedback, meditation, “consciousness-raising,” yoga, mountain climbing, group therapy and psychodrama, and calls on the 15m Americans involved in the counterculture to join in bringing about a “radical change in the United States” in winning cultural dominance over secularism and traditional religion with their alternative spirituality. She notes that the peculiar form of the New Age movement, with its atypical leadership, the patient intensity of its adherents, their sharing of strategies, linkage, and recognition of each other by subtle signals, has resulted in the participants not merely cooperating with one another but colluding in the manner of a conspiracy:

There are legions of conspirators. They are in corporations, universities, and hospitals, on the faculties of public schools, in factories and doctors’ offices, in state and federal agencies, on city councils, and the White House staff, in state legislatures, in volunteer organisations, in virtually all arenas of policy making in the country.

*Barbara Marx Hubbard (1929 - ) publishes The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millennium, in which she asserts that an inner ‘voice’ (the Cosmic Christ spirit – see 1948) has given her a revelation for humanity, prophesying a transformative planetary change involving the global consciousness of humanity reaching a “critical mass.” This violent “Planetary Birth Experience” will see the “ancient defect of consciousness…corrected forever” and at this point “when enough of you are attracted and linked,” Christ will return albeit in spirit not person, drawing all people into an ultimate Universal Humanity. Hubbard also places a New Age spin on the biblical book of Revelation, observing that while ¾ of humanity is either “electing to transcend,” willing to do so, or else resistant to ‘election’ but at heart good, a quarter is destructive and must be removed from the rest of the human race, by means of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Hubbard goes on to establish the Foundation for Conscious Evolution to promote the world view the ‘voice’ promotes: the ability humans have to shape their own evolution through conscious effort (proactively engaging in ethical behaviour, applying positive, life-enhancing initiatives and insights in every field to the overriding project of social change) (see also 1998).

 

PARANORMALISM

*Crop Circles: Although strange patterns have appeared in crops in Britain and Scandinavia dating back centuries, starting this decade far more complex geometric shapes begin to appear of considerable size. Thousands of such circles appear into the 21st century in disparate locations including, in addition to Britain, the US, Canada, Japan and parts of the former USSR. In the early 1990s, hoaxers come forward and reveal they are behind crop circles in the US and Britain.

 

 

 

#

The report warns that

At the beginning of the 1980s the world community faces much greater dangers than at any time since the Second World War. It is clear that the world economy is functioning so badly that it damages both the immediate and the longer-run interests of all nations...

...[A major redesigning of the economic relationships between the developed and developing countries, among other changes, is needed to avert a] serious breakdown of the world economy in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s.

The lack of action on its proposals will see the Commission issue a second report in three years (see 1983).

 

##

Chandra Talpade Mohanty (1955 - ), in “Introduction: Cartographies of Struggle, Third World Women and the Politics of Feminsim,” published in Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (1991), says that Third World women feel mainstream feminism bases its understanding of women on “internal racism, classism and homophobia.”

 

###

CRATERS

A number of researchers, most notably Eugene Shoemaker (1928 – 1997), one of the founders of the discipline of planetary science, conducted detailed studies of craters that provided clear evidence that they had been created by impacts, identifying the shock-metamorphic effects uniquely associated with impacts.

Armed with the knowledge of shock-metamorphic features, Carlyle S. Beals (1899 – 1979) and colleagues at the Dominion Observatory in Canada, and Wolf von Engelhardt of the University of Tuebingen in West Germany began a methodical search for “impact structures.” By 1970, they had tentatively identified more than 50.

Their work remained controversial, but the American Apollo Moon landings, which were in progress at the time, provided evidence of the rate of impact cratering on the Moon. Processes of erosion on the Moon are minimal and so craters persist almost indefinitely. Since the Earth could be expected to have roughly the same cratering rate as the Moon, it became clear that the Earth had suffered far more impacts than could be seen by counting evident craters.

 

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Sigmund Freud’s most famous disciple was the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. In some ways, Jung is the bridge between Freudian psychology and New Age spirituality, the point where Freud’s science of the unconscious mind moves towards less-reductionist / more transcendent concepts.

Jung was seen for a time as Freud’s heir, but he broke with the Austrian neurologist over the latter’s ‘narrow’ view of the libido. Jung’s structure of the human mind was different from Freud’s. He agreed that the conscious part of the mind was the ego. He also believed in the existence of the id-like ‘personal unconscious,’ which contained everything not presently conscious in an individual (including memories easily retrieved as well as those suppressed), although he did not see the entire scheme of the libido as, in essence, sexual, as Freud did, believing, instead, that there were multiple paradigms at work in the deepest recesses of human consciousness. But it was the final part of the structure of the Jungian mind set his theories apart. This was the ‘collective unconscious.’ C. George Boeree (1952 - ) in his eponymous essay on Carl Jung (1997) describes it thus:

You could call it your “psychic inheritance.” It is the reservoir of our experiences as a species, a kind of knowledge we are all born with. And yet we can never be directly conscious of it. It influences all of our experiences and behaviors, most especially the emotional ones, but we only know about it indirectly, by looking at those influences.

There are some experiences that show the effects of the collective unconscious more clearly than others: The experiences of love at first sight, of deja vu (the feeling that you’ve been here before), and the immediate recognition of certain symbols and the meanings of certain myths, could all be understood as the sudden conjunction of our outer reality and the inner reality of the collective unconscious. Grander examples are the creative experiences shared by artists and musicians all over the world and in all times, or the spiritual experiences of mystics of all religions, or the parallels in dreams, fantasies, mythologies, fairy tales, and literature.

A nice example that has been greatly discussed recently is the near-death experience. It seems that many people, of many different cultural backgrounds, find that they have very similar recollections when they are brought back from a close encounter with death. They speak of leaving their bodies, seeing their bodies and the events surrounding them clearly, of being pulled through a long tunnel towards a bright light, of seeing deceased relatives or religious figures waiting for them, and of their disappointment at having to leave this happy scene to return to their bodies. Perhaps we are all “built” to experience death in this fashion.

Jung was wholly concerned with the function of symbols in the unconscious lives of his patients. Central to his theories was this ‘archetype,’ a kind of unconscious template he believed was innate in human consciousness (i.e. the collective unconscious was populated by these archetypes). The “psychic inheritance” that saw every human being possess these archetypes developed through the evolutionary process. Not only were they reflected in various mythologies and religions throughout history, but they continued to act as the primary influence on how an individual viewed the world and, accordingly, negotiated life.

Boree describes the operation of archetypes:

The archetype has no form of its own, but it acts as an “organising principle” on the things we see or do. It works the way that instincts work in Freud’s theory: At first, the baby just wants something to eat, without knowing what it wants. It has a rather indefinite yearning which, nevertheless, can be satisfied by some things and not by others. Later, with experience, the child begins to yearn for something more specific when it is hungry - a bottle, a cookie, a broiled lobster, a slice of New York style pizza.

The archetype is like a black hole in space: You only know its there by how it draws matter and light to itself...The mother archetype is a particularly good example. All of our ancestors had mothers. We have evolved in an environment that included a mother or mother-substitute. We would never have survived without our connection with a nurturing-one during our times as helpless infants. It stands to reason that we are “built” in a way that reflects that evolutionary environment: We come into this world ready to want mother, to seek her, to recognise her, to deal with her.

So the mother archetype is our built-in ability to recognise a certain relationship, that of “mothering.” Jung says that this is rather abstract, and we are likely to project the archetype out into the world and onto a particular person, usually our own mothers. Even when an archetype doesn’t have a particular real person available, we tend to personify the archetype, that is, turn it into a mythological “story-book” character. This character symbolises the archetype.

The mother archetype is symbolised by the primordial mother or “earth mother” of mythology, by Eve and Mary in western traditions, and by less personal symbols such as the church, the nation, a forest, or the ocean. According to Jung, someone whose own mother failed to satisfy the demands of the archetype may well be one that spends his or her life seeking comfort in the church, or in identification with “the motherland,” or in meditating upon the figure of Mary, or in a life at sea.

Jung listed numerous archetypes but some of the more common ones are:

* The Persona - the public image we project to the world (the view of ourselves we prefer others to hold).

* The Anima / Animus - for men, the feminine aspect of their psyche (anima); for women, the masculine aspect of their psyche (animus).

* Family archetypes - mother, father (authority figure), child (conveying rebirth and the future).

* The Shadow - the repressed ‘dark side’ of the psyche.

Jung described the psyche as operating on a ‘principle of opposites,’ wherein every wish simultaneously suggests its opposite. Akin to the Chinese concept of the yin and the yang, Jung believed humans are holistic creatures of black and white. A positive thought immediately incites a negative one (e.g. a desire to buy a nice gift for a loved one may cause a person to experience a sudden momentary angst at parting with the amount of money required to fulfil the desire). Jung believed this inherent opposition within a person powered the libido.

 

#####

The electron microscope was invented in 1931.

 

######

Derrida, in typical deconstructionist fashion, had written that a certain apocalyptic stream had always appeared in philosophy since time immemorial, but rather than speak of an end (singular), it was more appropriate to talk of many possible and co-existing ends:

In the thinking and the language of Being, the end of man has been prescribed since always, and this prescription has never done anything but modulate the equivocality of the end, in the play of the telos and death. In the reading of this play, one may take the following sequence in all its sense: the end of man is the thinking of Being, man is the end of the thinking of Being, the end of man is the end of the thinking of Being. Man, since always, is its proper end, that is, the end of its proper. Being, since always, is its proper end, that is, the end of its proper.

 

#######

The Belgrade assembly also agreed on a number of guidelines for a New International Information Order:

1. Elimination of the imbalances and inequalities which characterise the present solution;

2. Elimination of the negative effects of certain monopolies, public or private, and excessive concentrations;

3. Removal of the internal and external obstacles to a free flow and wider and better balanced dissemination of information and ideas;

4. Plurality of sources and channels of information;

5. Freedom of the press and information;

6. The freedom of journalists…a freedom inseparable from responsibility;

7. The capacity of developing countries to achieve improvement of their own situations, notably by providing their own equipment, by training their personnel, by improving their infrastructures and by making their information and communication means suitable to their needs and aspirations;

8. The sincere will of developed countries to help them attain these objectives;

9. Respect for each people’s cultural identity and the right of each nation to inform the world public about its interests, its aspirations and its social and cultural values.

 

########

In 2004, David S. Domke of the University of Washington analysed inaugural and State of the Union messages by every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. Historically, he found, presidents have spoken of God from the position of a petitioner, asking for His guidance or blessing, with two exceptions: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Their message comes from a prophetic stance, as though describing God’s intentions from a position of knowledge. It is the difference between “May God bless the United States” and “God has blessed the United States,” a common refrain in Bush’s speeches. Domke found that five of 12 addresses by Reagan and Bush explicitly linked freedom to God’s will. By comparison, only four of 61 addresses by all the rest of the presidents made such claims.

Additionally, Reagan, on the odd occasion, also discussed his belief in biblical prophecies concerning Armageddon, the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

1981

 

POLITICS

 

WORLD

*The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States, which states that no nation or group of nations has the right to intervene or interfere in any form or for any reason whatsoever in the internal and external affairs of other nations.

*UN Security Council Resolution 487 condemns Israeli bombing of Iraqi nuclear reactor (see below) and Resolution 497 condemns Israel for annexation of Golan Heights (see below).

*Javier Perez de Cuellar (1920 - ) of Peru becomes the Secretary-General of the UN.

*The UN designates the third Tuesday in September as International Peace Day.

 

ISRAEL & THE MIDDLE EAST

*The Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional grouping aimed at fostering cooperation in scientific and technical areas and formulating similar regulations in various spheres (e.g. economic, tourism, etc), is created between Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

*The USSR floats a proposal to end the Arab-Israeli conflict based on UN Security Council Resolution 242 (assuring Israeli sovereignty) but also endorsing Palestinian right to self-determination, statehood and role for PLO. It is welcomed by all Palestinian factions and acknowledged in the 15th Palestinian National Council.

*Menachem Begin launches his ‘Iron Fist’ policy in the occupied territories - heavy restrictions on Palestinian universities, newspapers and expressions of cultural or national identity; banning all contact with PLO and indefinite postponement of municipal elections.

*Israeli Knesset ratifies Golan Heights Law extending Israeli law to the territory.

*A Memorandum of Understanding between US and Israel on strategic cooperation is signed. The main objective is to stop the Soviet threat in the Middle East. Provisions include joint military exercises and joint readiness activities.

*Assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat by Muslim fundamentalist rebel troops (members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad) who machine gun the reviewing stand Sadat is standing in at a military parade in Cairo - 7 others are killed and 28 wounded (The assassins are later executed). Hosni Mubarak (1928 - ) succeeds to the Presidency.

*US and Iranian officials sign an agreement to release 52 American hostages after 14 months of captivity (they are released minutes after Ronald Reagan takes the presidential oath).

*Israeli bombers attack and destroy an Osiraq nuclear plant near Baghdad, Iraq, in a pre-emptive action to stop the development of nuclear bombs (targeting the Jewish state) (see below).

*Extensive Israeli bombardment of Lebanon amidst continuing Palestinian artillery shelling of northern Israel (29 Israelis have been killed from such shelling since 1978). Israel then launches attack on Beirut PLO headquarters, killing 150 civilians and 30 PLO members. PLO moves to create a peace plan and ceasefire negotiated by US in southern Lebanon.

*Gulf of Sidra incident. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi sends two fighter jets to intercept two US fighters over the Gulf of Sidra. The American jets down the Libyan planes.

*Saudi Arabia releases a peace plan: Israel withdraws from occupied territories, Palestinian State established in West Bank after period of UN supervision, international security guarantees to all States. Shimon Peres denounces it as PLO initiative; Menachem Begin describes it as attempt to destroy Israel. It is welcomed by Yasser Arafat, though under Iraqi, Syria, Libyan & PFLP pressure, he is forced to retract (despite his suspected role in drafting it). Saudi Arabia announces its dismay at Palestinians.

 

EUROPE

*The Colombo-Genscher Plan for a draft European Act is floated.#

*The Kangaroo Group of European MPs is founded in opposition to the Crocodile Club (see 1980), composed of less federalist proponents and supported by business groups, it focuses on European integration through liberalisation of the internal market.

*Francois Mitterand (1916 - 1996) is elected the president of France. He is the first Socialist to win the office and the founder of the French Socialist Party becomes a herof of the left (who return to government for the first time in 23 years). However, Mitterand will steer away from classical socialist ideology during his tenure, focusing on a more internationalist agenda (notably, advancing the cause of the EC). He will, though, retain the French welfare state and one of his first decisions is to abolish the death penalty. Parliament also imposes a wealth tax early in his first term. Mitterand will also embark on a series of large-scale architectural projects (e.g. the Louvre pyramid) which transform the Parisian skyline. He wins re-election in 1988.

*The British Nationality Act redesignates the remaining colonies as “British Dependent Territories.”

*Lady Diana Spencer (1961 – 1997) marries Charles, Prince of Wales (1948 - ). The wedding re-ignites interest in British royalty, bringing glamour back to the monarchy (see below).

*Greece joins the EC. With Portugal and Spain joining in 1986, this troika of nations had all been under military dictatorships for some time in the recent past and their inclusion in the Community was explicitly intended to help consolidate their newly regained democratic regimes. In exchange, the nine member states were prepared to make substantial material sacrifices.

*Pope John Paul II is seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in Rome by Turkish “Grey Wolves” terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca (1958 - ). It emerges he was trained by a number of Middle East terrorists groups and had links to the Soviet intelligence services. In 2005, documents discovered in the files of the former East German Stasi intelligence services confirm the plot was hatched by the KGB (concerned over the Pope’s potential influence on inciting revolt in Eastern Europe, in the wake of the Solidarity Movement) and assigned to Bulgarian agents, who, in turn, handed the execution of the plan over to Turkish extremists (see below). The Pope, on a visit to Bulgaria in the late 1990s, claims not to believe the rumoured Bulgarian connection (later confirmed by the Stasi files).

*Martial law is declared in Poland in a crackdown on the Solidarity Movement (see 1980) (100+ killed). The government bans Solidarity and arrests and harasses several of the movement’s leaders.

 

NORTH AMERICA

*President Ronald Reagan is seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in Washington DC by a deranged lone gunman (see below).

*The US closes the Libyan Embassy in Washington, accusing Libya of subverting African regimes, sponsoring international terrorism and assassinating its US-based opponents. Bans are enacted on US travel to Libya and restrictions are placed oil imports. Support is also offered to clandestine Libyan groups.

 

SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN

*Antigua and Barbuda gains its independence from Great Britain.

*Belize gains its independence from Great Britain and joins the UN under protests from Guatemala.

*Roberto Suazo Cordova (1927 – becomes President of Honduras, leading the first civilian government in more than a century, although the army retains considerable power. Indeed, growing political unrest in coming years will see army chief Gustavo Alvarez order the detention of trade union activists and left-wing sympathisers; death squads will also be used to eliminate subversive elements (and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will later find the Honduran government guilt of the ‘disappearances’ of numerous Honduran citizens between 1981 and 1984). In exchange for agreeing to become a base for an 15,000 Nicaraguan Contras (see 1980), providing logistical and intelligence support, and joining the US military in joint manoeuvres, American military and economic aid to Honduras increased (US$31m to US$282m), although development aid falls from 80% of the total to 6%, with 70% of the nation’s children suffering malnourishment as a result.

*Assassination of former Panamanian dictator Omar Torrijos, when a bomb, allegedly planted by US interests, explodes on his plane. Although having officially retired in 1978, Torrijos still wields power and had planned on a return to full civilian authority for Panama in 1984.

*St. Kitts and Nevis gains its independence from Britain.

 

ASIA

*Assassination of Bangladeshi President Ziaur Rahman (1936 – 1981) in a failed coup attempt.

*Assassination of Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Javad Bahonar (1933 – 1981), killed along with 70 others when the Legislature is bombed. The subsequent election of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (1939 - ) to the presidency in a landslide election win sees the first cleric to ever serve in the post take the presidential oath.

*Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad (1925 - ) assumes power in Malaysia following the retirement of Hussein On (1922 – 1990). Mahathir will expand economic reforms begin a decade previously and oversee the nation’s transition to full modernisation (see below). He also initiates a number of large-scale public works projects to create a national architectural icons and a sense of civic pride (particularly among Malays) such as Kuala Lumpur International Airport (built at a cost of US$3.5bn in 1998) and the Petronas Towers (also finished in 1998 and the tallest buildings in the world until 2003). However, during Mahathir’s long tenure (he only retires in 2003), political culture will become increasingly authoritarian, culminating in the dismissal and imprisonment on trumped-up charges of Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (1947 - ) in 1997 after an internal dispute within the government.

*Filipino elections are easily won by President Marcos, who faces little opposition due to a widespread boycott of the poll by most parties (due to corruption tainting the previous vote [see 1978]).

 

AFRICA

*The Organisation of African Unity adopts the Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which asserts universal human rights for the citizens of Organisation member states.

*South Africa invades Angola (see below).

 

AUSTRALASIA & THE PACIFIC

*Palau gains its independence from the US.

 

 

CONFLICT

 

NATION STATES

*Israeli bombers attack and destroy an Osiraq nuclear plant near Baghdad (see above).

*Border clashes between Ecuador and Peru.

*Leftist guerrillas initiate an armed insurgency against the right-wing Honduran regime.

*Libya invades Chad once more although it withdraws its forces the following year.

*US warplanes shoot down two Libyan jets off the Libyan coast.

*Operation Protea: South Africa invades Angola with 11,000 troops to destroy SWAPO bases operating from Angolan territory (see above).

 

CIVIL WAR

*Leftists groups begin anti-government insurgency in Honduras (lasts until 1990).

*Contra rebels, heavily funded by the CIA (to the tune of US$300m), initiate an insurgency against the Nicaraguan left-wing Sandinista government. The pro-US Honduran government allows the Contras to base themselves on its territory (see above) although there is some unease over this in certain quarters (lasts until the electoral defeat of the Sandinista regime - see 1990 - 75,000 killed).

 

COUPS

*Coup in Bangladesh.

*Coup in the Comoros Islands.

*Coup in Ghana.

*Coup in the Seychelles.

 

CIVIL UNREST & ETHNIC CLASHES

*Widespread riots occur in Brixton, South London - rioters throw petrol bombs, attack police and loot shops.

*El Mozote Massacre: Salvadoran troops kill 900 civilians.

 

 

TERRORISM

 

ISRAEL & THE MIDDLE EAST

*Secret talks begin between the PLO and the US are held.

*Palestinian terrorists attempt an attack on Israel from Lebanon in a hot air balloon but Israeli air defences shoot it down, killing all the crew.

*First major instance of suicide terrorism: Suicide bomb destroys the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut killing 27 and injuring 100+. Syrian intelligence is blamed (see below).

*French Ambassador in Beirut shot dead in his car. Carlos the Jackal suspected of involvement.

 

EUROPE

*The head of the Austria-Israel Society is shot dead by an Abu Nidal terrorist in Vienna.

*Armenian terrorists storm Turkish Consulate in France, killing one guard, wounding the vice consul, and taking several hostages. The hostages are later released and the Armenians surrender.

*Terrorists assassinate Israeli attache at Israel’s Embassy in Paris.

*Palestinian terrorists attack a travel agency in Greece, killing two.

*US Army Brigadier General James Dozier is kidnapped from his home in Verona by Red Brigades terrorists and held for 45 days, until Italian special forces rescue him.

*Car bombing of synagogue in Antwerp kills two and injures 90.

*Sir Norman Stronge (1895 – 1981), former speaker of Stormont Parliament, and his son are shot and killed by IRA during an attack on their home in Northern Ireland.

*The IRA bomb outside army barracks in London kills two and injures 40. A week later another bomb injures a senior Royal Marines officer outside his London home.

*The Red Army Fraction bombs USAF base in Ramstein, West Germany, injuring 20.

*The Red Army Fraction mounts an unsuccessful rocket attack on the car of the US Army commander in West Germany.

 

NORTH AMERICA

*An unexploded bomb defused at US university. Unabomber linked to the attack.

 

SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN

*In response to growing anti-government guerrilla activity, paramilitary death squads begin operating in Guatemala, killing 11,000 over the coming years.

 

 

ESPIONAGE & SECURITY

 

NORTH AMERICA

*Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine: Nine months into his first year in office, new President Ronald Reagan extends his predecessor’s pledge (see 1980) concerning national energy security and military doctrine to cover not just external but intraregional threats to US access to global oil reserves: “…there is no way…that we could stand by and see [Saudi Arabia] taken over by anyone that would shut off the oil” (see below, 1989).

*The seeds of the Iran-Contra Scandal are sown: Ronald Reagan signs the top secret National Security Decision Directive 17, giving the CIA the authority to recruit and support Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

 

 

ECONOMICS, COMMERCE & CONSUMERISM

 

GENERAL

*The monetarist focus of macroeconomics in Great Britain and the US this decade (which helps give birth to what is later dubbed the Anglo-American free market liberal model), while reining in inflation, will prove less successful in regulating (or even measuring) the money supply.

*Reaganomics: Based on the idea of supply-side economics (see 1975, below), President Reagan institutes large tax cuts (scaled to the wealthy). However, he also embarks on a huge military defence build-up but claims the tax cuts (reducing the top personal rate from 91% to 50%) will stimulate so much demand they will more than pay for themselves. Further tax reform follows in his second term (reducing the top rate to 28%), wherein the tax code is simplified and tax loopholes eliminated). Combined with liberalisation policies begun under Jimmy Carter (e.g. deregulation of the airlines industry) which stimulated competition, the significant improvements to the economy (GDP averaging 2.6% in 1981-89 versus 1.6% under Carter and unemployment and inflation significantly falling), the Reagan philosophy of reducing state involvement in the economy will gain wide currency. Alongside Thatcherism (see 1979), the idea that economies should be left to the free markets (or the Asian variant wherein government intervention seeks to maximise the efficiency of the free market) will eclipse Keynesian ideas (as well as socialistic statism after the collapse of communism in the 1989-91 period).

*Chile privatises its social security as part of widespread economic reforms. Economic woes continue, however, such that capital controls are imposed in 1982 as well as a minimum permanence period for foreign capital of ten years.

*Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir establishes several agencies for intervention in the economy (in general finance, petrol, heavy industry) which employ large numbers of Malays and create new technical and administrative jobs which are preferentially allocated to Malays (thereby meeting a long-term government goal of shifting economic power to Malays – whose equity in the economy rises from 1.5% in 1969 to 20% in 1990). Although Chinese remain disproportionately powerful in Malaysian economic life, by 2000 the distinction between Chinese and Malay businesses will have largely faded as many new corporations, particularly in growth sectors such as information technology, are owned and managed by people from both ethnic groups.

*Former Nixon speechwriter George Gilder publishes Wealth and Poverty, which examines supply-side economics (see 1975, above) and proposes the approach to economics as something the US should adopt. Gilder asserts that the public has been misled by prevailing popular (Keynesian) economics (see 1939), as it relates to how we increase wealth and curtail poverty. He fulminates about how misguided policy has undermined the true source of wealth that is to be found in such non-material forces as creativity, technological adventure, and the motivation to strike out for new territory in economic enterprise. Hence, the blunting of incentives and the efforts to redistribute the wealth in a just fashion (through over-regulation) only serve to keep the poor in poverty. He contrasts this with his description of the true capitalist as one who invests energy and money today for a return he may or may not receive in the future. Supply-side economics, in freeing up capital to investors through tax cuts, is, thus, the way forward. Gilder also defends capitalism against leftist critiques of it as promoting greed and contributing to the world’s ills. He argues this stems from the idea that the source of wealth comes from sinful, anti-Judeo-Christian avarice, that it supposedly comes from “taking,” and therefore the way to combat poverty is to “take” it back and redistribute it. But as Gilder explains, the essence of capitalism is “giving.” Capitalists “give” of themselves without a predetermined return. That is to say, they make investments without a predetermined return; and a gift is not something given necessarily without any return (e.g. alms given in the biblical manner to the poor in the hope of, say, a blessing). Also, the mechanism of the market neutralises greed because selfish individuals are forced to find ways of servicing the needs of those with whom they wish to exchange. And unlike socialism, capitalism recognises several necessary conditions for the kinds of voluntary relationships it recommends. One of these conditions is the existence of inherent human rights, such as the right to make decisions, the right to be free, the right to hold property, and the right to exchange what one owns for something else. Further, in order for socialism to work, it requires a class of omniscient planners to forecast the future, to set prices and control production. This stagnates enterprise in socialist economies and sets the individual on the road to losing their political freedom as what is to be produced does not depend on the demands of consumers, but on the independent decisions of government planners; production, therefore, is more likely to serve the purposes of planners, of the state, than those of a consumer (as the sole producer and employer, the socialist state finds it easy to restrict political freedom that could be used to replace centralised powers). But capitalism is consistent with the biblical view of human nature in recognising the weaknesses of human nature and the limitations of human knowledge (as no one can possibly know enough to manage a complex economy and so no one should ever be trusted with this power). Even milder socialism in the form of the welfare state fuels such weaknesses, for instance driving husbands from homes by aiding single mothers (in effect, the modern state continually releases people from their duties to their next of kin - their familial duties - at the same time it increases their duties to total strangers, who wreck the lives of the welfare-dependent through provision for them). The book becomes a bestseller, advancing a practical and moral case for capitalism during the early months of the Reagan Administration and introducing the ideas of supply-side economics to a wide audience.

*Hazel Henderson publishes The Politics of the Solar Age, in which she forecasts the end of what she calls “flat earth economics” and the bankruptcy of macroeconomics (she asserts that post-Keynesians – see 1979 - are no improvement over their predecessors. She examines the contrast between nuclear energy versus solar energy as symptomatic of a paradigm shift from a disposable society to a renewable resources society. Henderson also claims that economics is not merely a tool used for policy-making, but has becomes politics itself (likening economist apologists to snake-oil salesmen). In the transition to the new era, Henderson declares that rather than struggling more diligently against the present problems as they are currently defined, what is required is a re-conceptualisation of the problems (acknowledging future technologies that will come into play – she predicts a new scientific and technological revolution away from hardware toward software – and also contextualising oneself as part of a globalising world: “Think globally and act locally”).

 

TRADE

*The US and other Western nations impose economic sanctions on Poland and the USSR in response to a Russian military build-up on the Polish border.

*US over-the-counter derivatives were born with the first currency ‘swap’ (see 1972).

*The Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa: Angola, Burundi, Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe signa  preferential trade agreement. In 1993, it evolves into the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (with the goal of a common market and eventual economic union).

*The South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Agreement: Australia and Nez Zealand and the smaller markets of Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Western Samoa sign a preferential trade agreement.

 

CORPORATISATION & NATIONALISATION

*Corporate Salaries: President Reagan’s supply-side tax cuts see corporate salaries skyrocket, with the disparity between executives and the average factory worker nearly tripling to a ratio of 93 to 1 by 1989 (with executive pay comprising 61% of corporate profits as against 22% in 1953), figures not seen since the early 1910s, when imposition of income tax – in 1913 – had seen US society trending toward ever-greater economic equality (such that the top 1% of Americans earned 19% of national income in 1929 but only 7.7% in 1946; and J. Paul Getty [1892 - 1976], the richest American of the 1970s, was worth about US$2bn or 1/20th of what his fellow oil magnate John D. Rockefeller [1839 - 1937] had been worth in 1914). By 1995, corporate executives average 14% pay rises compared to 2% for workers, with the ration of transnational CEO salaries to employees reaching 187 to 1.

*US business uses 850bn pages of paper.

*Du Pont acquires oil company Conoco (founded 1875) for US8bn in the largest merger in history to date, nearly doubling its overall assets and revenues.

*Harley-Davidson (founded 1901), one of only two US motorcycle companies to survive the Great Depression (and then thrive thanks to wartime production for the US army and a revived civilian market post-war), adopts Japanese management techniques in the face of long-term declining sales (in the face of a Japanese marketing onslaught). Having just bought the company in a leveraged buyout, new chairman Vaughn L. Beals Jr. (1928 - ) and his management team realise that Japanese motorcycle makers are easily dominating their US counterparts primarily due to production processes. To beat them, they join them, adopting such techniques as “just-in-time” inventory control. Just-in-time eliminates the high and costly inventory levels that require elaborate handling systems. Other US major manufacturers, like General Motors, soon follow. The change becomes all pervasive, transforming industry throughout the West (see 1970). Harley-Davidson, having nearly gone bankrupt, turns itself around and cashes in on a vogue for ‘retro’ designs from the late 1980s on, eschewing attempts at innovation (and ceding this ground to the Japanese). It has a market cap of US$14.1bn by 2004.

*Infosys Technologies is founded in India. It later becomes the first Indian company to list its shares in the US.

 

MARKETING & CONSUMPTION

*The launch of MTV (see below) will change the advertising industry, as many later television ads (especially from the late 1980s onwards) adopt the soon-to-be-ubiquitous MTV style (of rapid-fire jump-cut images and, more often than not, quirkiness, irreverence and self-deprecating humour that is usually ironic in some manner).

*Lean Cuisine frozen dinners are introduced.

 

ENERGY & RESOURCES

 

---AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK & FISHERIES

*The amount of grain produced per person in Africa, having remained steady at 140-160kgs since 1960 (lower than the overall world increase rising to a record level in 1984 – see – sue to the scarcity of arable land on the continent and the ineffectiveness of the Green Revolution there – see 1970), now falls to the lower band of 120-140kgs over the next two decades, due to the nutrient depletion of soils and the steady shrinkage in grainland per person from population growth and the loss of adults to AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, which depletes the rural work force and undermines agriculture (see 2001).

*Due to Hindu tradition forbidding the eating of beef, India has half the world’s cattle, with eight cows for every 10 Indians.

 

---OIL, GAS & FOSSIL FUELS

*Saudi Arabia floods the global market with inexpensive oil in response to non-OPEC competition (see 1980), forcing unprecedented price cuts by OPEC members. President Reagan lifts all remaining domestic petroleum price and allocation controls.

*Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine: Nine months into his first year in office, new President Ronald Reagan extends his predecessor’s pledge (see 1980) concerning national energy security and military doctrine to cover not just external but intraregional threats to US access to global oil reserves: “…there is no way…that we could stand by and see [Saudi Arabia] taken over by anyone that would shut off the oil” (see above, 1989).

*No new oil refineries will be built in the US after this year, even as existing refineries will close every year during the same time period. Refining capacity from 1981 to the mid 1990s also drops drastically (by approx. 6m barrels per day) (see 1994).

*Chile’s oil production peaks.

*Morocco’s oil production peaks.

 

---WATER

*The UN launches the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, an extensive program which succeeds in improving water supplies for an additional 1.7b people, with hundreds of millions gaining access to better sanitation facilities (although 1.4b people still lack access to a safe and adequate supply of water by the decade’s end, and an even greater number lack adequate sanitation).

 

---RENEWABLE ENERGY

*The UN Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy is held in Nairobi, Kenya. Delegates agree that to push the global development of renewable energy, an intergovernmental body, secretariat support, coordination within the UN system, regional and subregional action, cooperation among developing countries, and the mobilization of financial resources for such energy sources is needed. However, it is only after the Rio Summit (see 1992) that renewable energy issues began to feature more prominently on the international environment and development agenda.

*First successful test of binary geothermal technology (which involves heating and cooling of geothermal fluid).

*The first electricity is generated from geothermal resources in Hawaii.

*The Solar Challenger, the first solar-powered aircraft, flies and crosses English Channel.

 

EMPLOYMENT

*The British Conservative government passes anti-union laws, outlawing solidarity strikes and picketing, outlawing unions from engaging in political action, allowing employers to sack and selectively redeploy workers, and sequestrating unions’ assets if they break industrial laws.

*13,000 US air traffic controllers go on strike despite a warning from President Reagan they will be fired. Most of the controllers defy Reagan’s order to return to work within 48 hours and are fired, in a watershed moment that signals the days of union militancy in the US are over.

 

POVERTY, AID & CHARITY

*The UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (known as LDCs) is held in Paris. (The LDCs are a group of 49 countries considered to be the world’s poorest due to very low levels of capital, human and technological development [e.g. Bangladesh].) The Substantial New Programme of Action is adopted, containing guidelines for domestic action by the LDCs to be complemented by international support measures. However, despite the many reforms preformed by the LDCs to carry out a structural transformation of their domestic economies, their economic situation will not improve during the 1980s (see 1990).

*Robert McNamara retires as World Bank President. His presidency has seen Bank loans rise to $13b/year (from US$1b), staff increase fourfold, administrative costs triple and US$100b in loans raised on national money markets.

*The Downwardly Mobile. Measured in terms of buying power, the wages of manufacturing, retail-trade and other service-industry employees in the US this decade will fall far short of their parents’ and grandparents’ earnings. It now requires two incomes for most families to come up with a larger down payment on a house and meet higher monthly mortgage and tax payments. The fall in purchasing power for the poorest group of Americans continues into the 1990 such that while a store clerk in 1952 had to work two hours to pay for 100 postage stamps, in 1991, a store clerk has to work six hours to do the same.

*In an official Message to the Senate Transmitting the Constitution of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (whose constitution as a specialised agency – see 1979 – has been signed by the US in 1980), President Reagan, seeking to assuage any doubting senators, says:

While the Constitution refers to the objective of helping establish a new international economic order, the United States has made clear its view that this does not refer to any preconceived notion of such an order as outlined in some UN resolutions to which the United States has taken exception.

The Senate ratifies the measure.

*Amartya Sen publishes Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, in which he demonstrates that famine occurs not from a lack of food, but from inequalities built into mechanisms for distributing food. Famines can occur even if the food output is sufficient in a region, for example in a situation when certain groups of people become richer and purchase more food leading to a steep rise in the prices, while the poor find the food increasingly unaffordable. Sen’s treatise leads to a sea change in how Third World activists and bureaucrats in the World Bank alike think about issues of famine and world hunger.

 

 

SOCIOLOGY

 

CRIME, PUNISHMENT & INTERNATIONAL LAW

*Cape Verde abolishes the death penalty (last execution was in 1835).

*France abolishes the death penalty (last execution was in 1977).

*Llad Phillips publishes “The Criminal Justice System: Its Technology and Inefficiencies” in the Journal of Legal Studies, in which he calculates that, on average, about 15 crimes are eliminated for each additional prisoner locked up, saving social costs estimated at US$53,900 - well in excess of the US$30,000 it costs annually to incarcerate a prisoner. Phillips later argues that each year of prison, in effect, prevents 187 crimes per year.

 

DRUGS, TOBACCO & ALCOHOL

 

---NARCOTICS

*The War on Drugs: Nixon’s war on narcotics (see 1971) is scaled up by President Reagan, who appoints an anti-drugs advisor to help oversee the fight. Congress amends the Posse Comitatus Act (1878), which forbids the armed forces to enforce civil law, so that the military can provide surveillance planes and ships for interdiction purposes – by 1985, the Pentagon will be spending US$40m on interdiction efforts (although the General Accounting Office later proposes that the military’s efforts have had little discernible impact on the flow of drugs). Later in Reagan’s tenure, anti-drug laws are significantly toughened, stipulating mandatory minimum sentences for narcotics violations, sentencing guidelines (wherein prison time is determined mostly by the weight of the drugs involved in the offence) and introduction of the federal death penalty for ‘drug kingpins.’ As a result, the US prison population skyrockets in the next two decades. First Lady Nancy Reagan also will also oversee a much criticised and lampooned Just Say No to drugs campaign in schools.

 

---NICOTINE

*The Federal Trade Commission finds that US health warning labels (see 1965) do not stop people from smoking.

 

ACTIVISM & ADVOCACY

*The Council for National Policy is set up in the US as a somewhat secretive forum for leading US conservative political leaders and financiers and leaders of the religious right.

*Maze IRA prisoner Bobby Sands (1954 - 1981) begins a hunger strike in support of political status. He wins the Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election before dying on the 66th day of his fast. Riots follow on both sides of the Ulster border and 100,000 attend his funeral. Later in the year, all Maze prisoners are allowed to wear their own clothes (see 1980).

 

CENSORSHIP

*After a period of a liberalised climate for publishing following the Islamic revolution (see 1979), the war against Iraq (see above) and subsequent battles between conservatives and liberals within the Islamic Republic, gives the government the opportunity to introduce strict censorship. When the war ends (see 1988), censorship becomes monopolised by traditional extremists eager to purge the Iranian society of freedom-seekers and dissenters. The Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution issues limitations of publishing (and with the aid of the revolutionary courts, offenders are regularly charged with propaganda against the Islamic Republic and the desecration of public morals, often resulting in executions).

 

SUICIDE & EUTHANASIA

 

---SUICIDE

*Suicide Bombings: The age of suicide bombings begins (see above). Although used sporadically this decade, the rise of militant Islam around the globe will encourage its regular use from the 1990s on (as devotees, believing they are serving the cause of their faith, give credence to imams preaching that they will be rewarded for dying for the cause). The phenomenon is helped along by the cult of martydrom established under the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, wherein tens of thousands of boys and young men volunteer for the war with Iraq (see 1980) and their training sees their adolescent sensuality and religious fervour transformed into aggression and a desire for self-sacrifice, with thousands of the young soldiers competing for the opportunity to clear minefields with their bodies or similar fare (e.g. those who allow themselves to be shot by Iraqi snipers so as to expose the position of Iraqi troops to Iranian soldiers). Suicide bombing is also perceived as extremely effective in asymmetric warfare against militarily stronger foes (e.g. it is held up as a large reason for the US to abandon its troop presence in Lebanon – see 1983 – and for the Israelis to abandon Gaza – see 2005). Over the next 25 years, 21,000+ people are killed and another 50,000 injured by suicide bombings around the world.

 

---EUTHANASIA

*The Hemlock Society publishes a how-to suicide guide entitled Let Me Die Before I Wake, the first such book on open sale.

 

RACE RELATIONS

*A South African rugby union tour of New Zealand is met by anti-Apartheid protests which polarise the country.

*The Australian government (and a state legislature) hand back title of 100,000+ sq. kms of land to an Aboriginal tribe.

 

MEN

*Men’s Rights: Earlier failed efforts to set up activist groups promoting men’s rights notwithstanding, this decade sees the emergence of such organisations in the wake of perceived anti-male discrimination throughout society arising from the successes of second wave feminism (see 1963) – in family courts, child custody and divorce cases, abortion/adoption without the father’s consent, etc (i.e. the wholesale reversal of the prior situation – until the late 1960s and 1970s – wherein the male was in the dominant position from the point of view of the judicature and legislature). Growing disgust with such a perceived situation coalesces into the formation of numerus organisations (most prominently the National Congress for Men this year, a coalition of several hundred small fathers’ and men’s rights groups across the US) that add an anti-feminist plank to masculinism (see 1974) in seeing the excessive gains of feminism as much to blame for men’s problems as traditional societal male roles. One major catalyst is the situation shortly after the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment (see 1972), passing the deadline for its ratification in 1982 with insufficient states supporting it. At this time, many men begin to question the tactics of feminists and their supposed support for equality of sexes - the National Organisation for Women, for instance, refuses to support joint custody legislation, taking the position that such support would erode women's power base (see 1990, 1993).

 

WOMEN, MARRIAGE & DIVORCE

*The World Health Assembly, the supreme decision-making body for the World Health Organisation, adopts the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in order to encourage breastfeeding, and in so doing diminish the threats to infant health.

*The Netherlands liberalises its abortion laws.

*Sandra Day O’Connor (1930 - ) is the first woman judge appointed to the US Supreme Court.

 

DISABILITIES

*The UN launches the International Year of Disabled Persons. During the year, governments are encouraged to sponsor programs bringing people with disabilities into the mainstream of their societies. It later expands the Year into the International Decade of Disabled Persons, to last from 1983 to 1992.

 

EDUCATION

*Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamad Mahathir greatly expands the number of secondary schools and universities throughout the country, and enforces a policy of teaching in Malay rather than English. This has the effect of creating a large new Malay professional class. It also creates an unofficial barrier against Chinese access to higher education, since few Chinese are sufficiently fluent in Malay to study at Malay-language universities. Chinese families therefore send their children to universities in Singapore, Australia, Britain or the US – by 2000, for example, 60,000 Malaysians hold degrees from Australian universities. This has the unintended consequence of exposing large numbers of Malaysians to life in Western countries, creating a new source of discontent. Mahathir also greatly expands educational opportunities for Malay women – by 2000 half of all university students are women.

 

SEX & SEXUALITY

 

---MEDICAL

*This decade, AIDS (see below) and genital herpes enter into the public consciousness as VDs that cannot be cured by modern medicine.

*The Global AIDS Epidemic: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that five homosexual men in Los Angeles, California are have a rare form of pneumonia seen only in patients with weakened immune systems (these are the first recognised cases of what will be dubbed Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) (see below). Arguably, the epidemic helps lead to the cultural acceptance of homosexuality in the West through the later public health campaigns targeting high-risk behaviour associated with homosexuals (such as sodomy). In addition to placing gay activities and lifestyle in the mainstream media (see 1986), these campaigns also target public ignorance that stigmatises sufferers (see 1985), a by-product of which (some would argue subtext) is the distastefulness of intolerant cultural behaviour generally to marginalised groups such as homosexuals. Also, the rise of safe sex public health campaigns entrenches widespread liberal acceptance of pre-marital sex (contrasting markedly with, for instance, VD campaigns before WWII which promoted traditional moral views of sexuality).##

 

---PROSTITUTION & THE SEX INDUSTRY

*Several US states will impose harsher penalties for prostitution this decade here a prostitute is knowingly HIV-positive.

 

---HOMOSEXUALITY, TRANSVESTISM & TRANSGENDERISM

*Norway becomes the first country in the world to enact a law to prevent discrimination against homosexuals.

*Toronto Bath House Raids: Police raid four gay bath houses in Toronto, arresting 300 men (the largest mass arrests in the country since 1970). The raid galvanises the country’s gay rights movement, with large protests being held (which eventually evolve into Gay Pride Week, one of the world’s largest Gay Pride festivals).

 

 

ECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENTALISM

 

GENERAL

*The US Coastal Barriers Resources Act designates various undeveloped coastal barrier islands for inclusion in the new Coastal Barrier Resources System; areas so designated were made ineligible for direct or indirect Federal financial assistance that might support development, including flood insurance, except for emergency life-saving activities.

*Ocean Arks International is founded by biologists concerned with disseminating the ideas and practices of ecological sustainability throughout the world. It becomes a global leader in the field of ecological water purification.

*Paul Ehrlich publishes Extinction, in which he writes:

The notion that only the short-term goals and immediate happiness of Homo sapiens should be considered in making moral decisions about the use of Earth is lethal, not only to nonhuman organisms but to humanity.

 

POLLUTION, DEFORESTATION & DESERTIFICATION

 

---POLLUTION

*2500 people from settlements along Poland’s Baltic coast march to demonstrate against the pollution of Gdansk Bay by oil and chemical industries which have forced the closure of 20 resorts and devastated the local fishing industry. The governor of Gdansk district declares that “the state of the local water pollution has all the symptoms of the first phase of ecological catastrophe.”

*Leaflets handed out at a Solidarity Congress in Poland warn:

One third of the country’s food is poisoned, one fifth of the population is seriously endangered by air pollution, one third of Polish rivers are completely dead, the Baltic is dying, while 78% of lakes have levels of pollution that far exceed any acceptable standard.

*Vice-President George Bush’s Task Force on Regulatory Relief proposes to relax or eliminate US leaded gas phase-out, despite mounting evidence of serious health problems caused by lead in gasoline.

*The Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste (later the Center for Health, Environment and Justice) is set up to help local citizens and organisations come together and take an organised, unified stand to hold industry and government accountable and work toward a healthy, sustainable future.

*Major Oil Spill: Storage tanks rupture in Kuwait spilling 31.2m gallons of oil.

 

ANIMAL WELFARE

*Laboratory Animals: Activists for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (see 1980) break into a lab and discover experiments on monkeys designed to find if paralysed people can be taught to reuse limbs that had no feeling (involving the surgical severing of the simians’ forelimbs). Equating animal suffering with human suffering, the activists draw attention to the poor sanitary conditions of the lab, resulting in the head researcher being charged with animal cruelty (most charges are dropped after it is revealed the experiments were fully sanctioned by the National Institutes of Health and that the animals were not being criminally mistreated). Nevertheless, the incident gives wide exposure to the activists and their organisation and places the issue of supposed animal cruelty in laboratory experimentation on the environmental agenda (critics would argue the environmental agenda for animal rights extremists).

 

 

MAJOR DISASTERS

 

NATURAL

*An eruption of Mt. Semeru in Indonesia kills 200.

 

MAN-MADE

*A Yugoslav airliner crashes in Corsica, killing 178.

*Seven coaches of an overcrowded passenger train fall off the tracks into the River Kosi, in Bihar, India - about 800 die in the world’s worst rail disaster to date.

*The US submarine George Washington collides with the Japanese freighter Nissho Maru whilst surfacing in open waters off Japan’s coast. However, rather than attend to the Japanese crew’s safety (two crew also having died), the submarine’s commander chooses to tend to the nuclear missiles on board his own vessel and not risk publicity that a US ship is introducing nuclear weapons into Japanese waters. The Japanese survivors subsequently spend 18 hours adrift before being rescued.

 

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT

 

NUCLEAR ENERGY, WEAPONRY & BALLISTIC MISSILES

*The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Prevention of Nuclear Catastrophe, which states that and statesmen that resort first to the use of nuclear weapons will be committing the gravest crime against humanity.

*In Geneva, US and Russian officials try to negotiate intermediate-range nuclear weapons reductions in Europe but talks stall after two years (see 1983).

*Worldwide stockpile of nuclear warheads: US – 23,031, USSR – 32,049, Great Britain – 350, France – 275, China – 330.

*American/Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles: US – 1054, USSR – 1368.

 

ASTRONOMY & SPACE EXPLORATION

*Astronomers discover in a sky survey concentrated in the direction of the constellation Boötes that there is a giant void 300m light-years across that contains no observable matter at the time of discovery.

*The first space shuttle (Columbia) is launched, a craft capable of re-use (up to 100 times).

*Total eclipse in the USSR.

*David Atkatz and Heinz Pagels explore a model of cosmogenesis in which “the Universe originated as a tunnelling event from a classically stable, static spacetime configuration.” (They propose the original nothingness from which the universe emerged was a spatially closed, compact empty space devoid of matter, with a geometry like a 2-D surface of a sphere.) The tunnelling led to a “fireball state...analogous to a single radioactive decay, on a huge scale,” and particle creation, which ceased as the expansion continued and the post-Big Bang scenario began. It is the first non-singular model for the quantum origin of the universe (challenging origin theories that focus on the emergence of matter from a point of singularity such as the Big Bang).

 

ARCHAEOLOGY & PALAEONTOLOGY

*Evidence of human habitation in northern Siberia supposedly dating back 30,000 years is discovered (and, years later, dated to 300,000 years ago).

*A team of anthropologists and archaeologists describe their discovery of the supposed first known religious sanctuary, in El Juyo Cave in the Cantabrian Mountains of northern Spain, purportedly dated at about 12,000bC. It includes an apparent altar with remains of sacrifices and placed before the altar an image that archaeologists think is half a human face combined with that of a lion or leopard.

 

PSYCHOLOGY

*There are now an estimated 260,000 psychologists in the world (compared to a few thousand at the turn of the century). This decade, psychological consultation becomes popular in Asia, notably China, and also grows exponentially in South America, notably Brazil. By decade’s end, there are 5000 psychologists in Japan and 4000 in India and by 2000 there are 100,000 psychologists in Brazil.

*Jo Loudin publishes The Hoax of Romance, in which she traces the roots of romantic love to 12th century France and argues romantic fantasies and illusions lead to problems in love, especially for people who use such feelings as a basis for marriage.

 

ANTHROPOLOGY & LINGUISTICS

*Derek Bickerton (1926 - ) publishes Roots of Language in which he argues that, in Hawaii, “the first Creole generation produced rules for which there was no evidence in the previous generation’s speech.” The implication of this is that the children made up these rules out of their genetic endowment.

 

HEALTH & MEDICINE

*AIDS is first diagnosed in the US although it is only called that the following year (as most of these early patients are homosexual men, the diseases is initially known as the Gay-Related Immune Deficiency) (see above).

*The first vaccine for Hepatitis B is developed.

*The first successful heart-lung transplant is performed.

 

CHEMISTRY, BIOLOGY & GENETICS

*Congressman (and future Vice President) Al Gore (1948 - ) holds a series of hearings on the relationship between academia and commercialisation in the arena of biomedical research. He focuses on the possible adverse effect that the potential for huge profits from intellectual property and patent rights could have on the research environment at universities. MIT professor Jonathan King, speaking at the Gore hearings, reminds the biotech industry that “the most important long-term goal of biomedical research is to discover the causes of disease in order to prevent disease.”

*West German chemical company Hoechst gives Massachusetts General Hospital, a teaching facility of Harvard Medical School, US$70m to build a new Department of Molecular Biology in return for exclusive rights to any patent licenses that might emerge from the facility.

*The first American test-tube baby is born.

*Chinese scientists are the first to successfully clone a fish – a golden carp.

*The term ‘transgenic’ is coined to refer to an animal or plant that contains one or more genes that have been added from another type of plant or animal (see below).

*First transgenic (mammalian) animal – a mouse (see 1983, 1986), by means of DNA microinjection (which involves the direct microinjection of a chosen gene construct (a single gene or a combination of genes) from another member of the same species or from a different species, into the pronucleus of a fertilized ovum). Later, other methods are developed including embryonic stem cell-mediated gene transfer (insertion of the desired DNA sequence into an in vitro culture of embryonic stem cells) and retrovirus-mediated gene transfer (wherein the transfer is mediated by means of a carrier or vector, generally a virus).

*James Lovelock (1919 - ) builds a computerised simulation, Daisyworld, in which the biological and physical worlds are tightly coupled such that the biota ensures optimal physical conditions for itself.  Using only conventional evolutionary rules and by increasing solar radiation a few degrees, a pattern of equilibrium is punctuated by a rapid proliferation of species.

*Stanley B. Prusiner (1942 - ) isolates the infectious protein which causes scrapie in sheep and goats and spongiform encephopathies (or Creutzfeldt-Jakob / ‘Mad Cow’' disease) in people.  Both are transmissible and heritable degenerative diseases of the nervous system, presumably occasioned by misfolded proteins which catalyse other proteins to a similar misfolded state. Prusiner calls this particle a ‘prion’ and, noting its small size, determines that it has no genes. Years later, it transpires that many genetic diseases are caused by misfolding proteins.

 

ENGINEERING

*The Humber Bridge (spanning the Humber estuary in the north of Great Britain) opens. Until 1997, it is the world’s longest suspension bridge (1410m span).

*Australian scientists develop a solar desalination system for use in remote areas.

 

AVIATION, TRANSPORT & SHIPPING

*Japan Air Lines is the first airline to use a computerised flight simulator to train its crews.

 

COMMUNICATIONS

*Sweden opens its modern cellular phone network. It has 50,000 subscribers in a year.

*TIME develops a multi-channel teletext service to be distributed via satellite, the first of its kind.

 

COMPUTERISATION & AUTOMATION

*Computer chips produced by the Japanese with 64 kilobits (65,536 bits) of memory capture the world market for computer memory.

*The term ‘snail mail’ is coined.

*There are 213 ARPANET hosts (services that provide users with online systems for storing information – and later images, video, etc - or any content accessible via the interlinked networks).

*Packet Video Protocol: A set of extensions to the Network Voice Protocol (see 1973) are developed consisting of mostly of a data protocol for transmission of video data (see 1982).

*Osborne builds the first portable computer in which disk drives, video monitor, and processor unit are mounted in a single box; it is about the size and weight of a fully packed suitcase, and when smaller portables are made, this one is reclassed as “luggable.”

*The first IBM PC is released.

*Programmers at Microsoft develop a computer disk operating system, MS-DOS.  It is the first popular operating system for the IBM PC.

*Xerox introduces the Star 8010, the first computer with a graphical interface (using icons) and a mouse. Priced at US$16,000 and unable to use any but its own software (the program codes are not public), it is a commercial failure, but an inspiration to other computer designers.

*Visicorp develops the first integrated software package, Vision, which combines a word processor, spreadsheet and database.

*The first Nintendo home video game is released.

*The first all-video game magazine, Electronic Games, is released.

*There are 21,000 industrial robots in use in Japan (6000 in US).

 

 

ARTS & CULTURE

 

PHILOSOPHY, POLITICAL SCIENCE & HISTORY

*Jean Baudrillard publishes Simulacres et simulation (Simulacra and Simulation), in which he moves beyond Umberto Eco’s ideas about hyperreality (see 1973) to assert that (social) reality is no longer in existence, displaced by simulacra (copies of copies so completely and thoroughly absorbed by a culture – through constant repetition - that they have ceased to be copies and stand alone with no model). A world of symbols and signs is now the only ‘real’ we know. A specific analogy that Baudrillard uses is a fable derived from the work of Jorge Luis Borges (1899 - 1986). In it, a great Empire creates a map that is so detailed it is as large as the Empire itself. The actual map grows and decays as the Empire itself conquers or loses territory. When the Empire crumbles, all that is left is the map. In Baudrillard’s rendition, it is the map that we are living in, the simulation of reality, and it is reality that is crumbling away from disuse (see also 1939, 1968, 1970).###

*Urban Legends: English professor Jan Harold Brunvand (1933 - ) publishes The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends & Their Meanings, the first notable work to address the concept of urban legends: a kind of folklore, in effect modern tall tales, consisting of stories often thought to be factual by those circulating them. Brunvand uses his collection of legends to make two points: first, that legends, myths, and folklore do not belong solely to so-called primitive or traditional societies (the stories may be thoroughly modern in their particulars, but they dramatize timeless facets of human nature: our wishes, foibles, and fears); and second, that one can learn much about urban and modern culture by studying such legends.

*British philosopher Alasdair Macintyre (1929 - ) publishes After Virtue, in which he asserts that the state of modern moral discourse is bleak as it fails to be rational as well as admit to being irrational. Macintyre claims the language of morality in the West today is in grave disorder and this failure encompasses the work of many significant Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment moral philosophers such as Kierkegaard and Kant. Specifically, he says the Enlightenment's abandonment of Aristotelianism, and in particular the Aristotelian concept of teleology, is to blame: Ancient and medieval ethics, argues MacIntyre, relied wholly on the teleological idea that human life had a proper end or character, and that human beings could not reach this natural end without preparation. Renaissance science rejected Aristotle's teleological physics as an incorrect and unnecessary account, which led Renaissance philosophy to make a similar rejection in the realm of ethics. But shorn of teleology, ethics as a body of knowledge was expurgated of its central content, and only remained as, essentially, a vocabulary list with few definitions and no context. With such an incomplete framework on which to base their moral understanding, the philosophers of the Enlightenment and their successors were doomed from the beginning. MacIntyre illustrates this point through an example of a people who, he argues, experienced a similar incoherence in their own moral and ethical tradition: the Polynesian people of the South Pacific and their taboos. One monarch removed the taboos of the people in order to modernise their society and met little if any resistance. The Polynesians had no issue with abandoning their long-standing cultural traditions and MacIntyre claims this is because the taboos, though once meaningful to the islanders, had been shorn over the centuries of their underlying spiritual and didactic purpose, becoming a set of arbitrary prohibitions. The fact that the monarch could abolish them so easily and without opposition is evidence, MacIntyre argues, of their incoherence. A similar incoherence, he argues, bedevils the ethical project since the Enlightenment.

*Journalist Claire Sterling publishes The Terror Network: The Secret War of International Terrorism, in which she presents evidence of what she claims is a large-scale clandestine attempt by the USSR and its allies to undermine the West by providing weapons, training and sanctuary for international terrorist groups (that has been in operation since the late 1960s).

 

VISUAL ARTS & SCULPTURE

*Figuration Libre: Arising in reaction to abstraction in art, a new generation of figurative artists emerge (whose paintings are clearly derived from real object sources, but are not necessarily representational, as with earlier modes of Modern art). Contemporary references to comic strips, rock music, punk, urban/hip hop, graffiti, etc, abound. A notable exponent is Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960 – 1988).

 

THEATRE

*European Mega-Musicals: The Andrew Lloyd Webber (1948 - ) musical Cats, based on poems by T.S. Eliot, premieres in London. It will become the longest-running musical in both Broadway and London history (and longest-running show musical or non-musical in the former). The play is the key work by the composer who single-handedly revives the moribund genre of the stage musical, updating it for the postmodern age.

 

CINEMA

*Sequels & Remakes: Steven Spielberg’s summer box-office hit Raiders of the Lost Ark is a breathlessly-paced throwback to cliff-hanging, non-stop action/adventure films of the past. Costing only US$23m, it makes more than US$200m and significantly contributes to the demand for bigger blockbusters (see 1975), especially after ET: The Extra Terrestrial (1982) smashes all box-office records, as such films premiere on ever larger numbers of screens and are increasingly marketed with a view to global markets (see 1990). As movies become more expensive, studios grow more conservative and favour the tried-and-true over the adventurous and new. Sequels are the order of the day (because of their pre-existing audiences), especially after the Star Wars trilogy (and Raiders itself will spawn two sequels). Critics lambast the development as demonstrating the paucity of creativity in modern Hollywood, criticism that escalates when, in the 1990s and beyond, a veritable remake orgy descends on Tinseltown (old movies – especially horror, adaptations of old television series and even adaptations of genre ‘world cinema’ such as The Ring [2002]).

*The disco film Can’t Stop the Music (1980) ‘wins’ the First Golden Raspberry Awards - a recognition given to the most banal and awful ‘turkey’ film of the year.

 

MEDIA

 

---GENERAL

*UNESCO establishes the UN International Programme for the Development of Communication to strengthen the means of mass communication in developing countries, by increasing technical and human resources for the media, by developing community media and by modernising news agencies and broadcasting organizations.

*Some 100 representatives of print and broadcast organisations from the US and 20 other nations meet in the French Alps, where they adopted the Declaration of Talloires, calling on UNESCO to “abandon attempts to regulate news content and formulate rules for the press” (see 1980). Little will occur with the New Information Order, although a meeting of the MacBride Round Table on Communication in 1994 will acknowledge that the same problems that existed in 1980 (concentration/hegemony of mass media in the West) are still present.

*The emergence of Princess Diana in the public eye following her engagement and wedding (see above) will see her become fodder for the paparazzi hounds who oil the engine of the modern cult of celebrity. The media interest in Diana will dwarf similar interest in celebrities of the past as fame will grow as a form of cultural opiate (not, perhaps, coincidentally with the demise of religion as a lynchpin of Western belief systems) in the emerging mediascape world of the 24/7 news cycle (see also 1966).

 

---TELEVISION

*MTV (‘Music Television’) is launched in the US, a 24-hour television channel devoted solely to music video clips (although special programs are later incorporated into the schedule); it quickly transforms the music industry and popular culture with a focus on image and marketing over music (while only 2.5m US homes can receive it, by 2001, it is reaching a billion household across the globe). The new emphasis on videos over songs removes the need to see the artist performing. Subsequently, it creates an industry dynamic whereby record companies market and package bands to a much greater degree than before. Pre-packaged boy- and girl-group bands will later thrive in the musical culture that follows. Additionally (and, perhaps, more significantly), MTV’s visual style, with hand-held cameras and quick-cut editing creating a frenetic stream of images, is adopted by television (with shows such as cop series Miami Vice adopting the look of rock videos), such that most American tele-visual culture is almost wholly in the mould of this MTV style by the end of the decade: a jump-cut stew critics assert is high on stylishness and light on substance, eye candy that generates cheap audiovisual stimulation but offers little that is challenging or entertaining in any lasting, meaningful sense. The station also plays a key role in helping establish the celebrity culture of the 1990s and beyond and its irony, quirkiness and playful irreverence helps postmodernism move firmly from academia into the cultural mainstream.####

 

MUSIC & POP SUBCULTURES

 

---GENERAL / TECHNOLOGY

*A proposed set of technical standards for compact disc recording and playback established in 1980 by Sony, Philips, and PolyGram is accepted worldwide, paving the way for introduction of compact discs commercially (see 1983).#####

 

---POP / ROCK

*The advent of MTV (see above) initiates a new era in popular music of style over substance, effecting the general culture beyond music, inspiring the rise of a alternative rock scene (guitar-based in contrast to the synth-leaning mainstream pop music of the decade) and ultimately a culture-wide backlash (see 1991).

*The Seeds of Techno: The decline of disco (see 1973) has seen producers (the ‘artists’ of the genre) continue to experiment with sound and technique back in the musical underground. The ‘Belleville Three’ – Juan Atkins (1962 - ), Derrick May (1963 - ) and Kevin Saunderson (1964 - ), having been inspired by “Midnight Funk Association,” an eclectic, five-hour, late-night radio program hosted on various Detroit radio stations since the late 1970s, begin organising parties featuring deliberately eclectic groups of DJs with an emphasis on electronic sounds. Eventually, a short-lived club is set up called the Music Institute, which becomes famed for its all-night sets its sparse white rooms, and its juice bar (the Institute never serves liquor). Meanwhile in Hamburg, Germany, avant-garde electronic music composer Manuel Göttsching (1952 - ), in need of some music for his Walkman (see 1979), records an idea he has been working on. Recorded in one take, with Göttsching improvising keyboards and noodly guitar over its insistent synthesizer patterns and metallic percussion – a process made possible by the recent advent of the microcomputer-based digital sequencer (see 1971) his pievce, dubbed ‘E2-E4’, distils the essence of classical minimalism into an electronic groove. The piece is later played in dance clubs like the Paradise Garage (see 1977) and becomes highly influential to techno-minded DJs. Relatively quickly, ‘techno,’ as this new electronic dance music form comes to be dubbed, is seen by many of its originators and up-and-coming producers as an expression of Future Shock post-industrial angst. Consequently, it soon takes on increasingly high tech and science-fiction oriented themes (see 1988).

 

---WORLD MUSIC

*Ambient pioneer Brian Eno (see 1975) and Talking Heads’ (see 1977) lead singer David Byrne (1952 - ) record the album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, the first non-rap (see 1979) release to make extensive use of sampling – in this instance seamlessly incorporating the voices of singers, radio DJs, and an African exorcist ceremony. Fearlessly melding electronics, ambience and Third World music, the album foreshadows the turn toward synthesising world music in pop albums by some artists (see 1982, 1986) as well as the ‘birth’ and huge popularity of World Music (see 1987).

 

SPORTS & HOBBIES

*The first million dollar horse race is run.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

*Paint ball is developed.

 

 

RELIGION & BELIEF

 

GENERAL

*The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, which asserts the universal right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (unhindered by state or other discrimination).

*The Center for World Thanksgiving (see 1961) holds a series of Convocations of World Thanksgiving with various religious leaders around the globe. The meetings culminate in the first annual Declaration of World Thanksgiving (affirmed by a dozen international religious leaders, including the Pope and the Dalai Lama).

 

CHRISTIANITY

*Pope John Paul II is seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in Rome by Turkish Grey Wolves terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca (1958 - ). It emerges he was trained by a number of Middle East terrorists groups and had links to the Soviet intelligence services (see above). The Pope will see his survival as a miracle from God and a sign he has been spared for a special purpose: participating in the defeat of Communism. He will also visit Agca in prison in 1983 and forgive the would-be assassin.

*Pope John Paul II issues encyclicals on the divinely-inspired role of work (Laborem Exercens) and the primacy of marriage and family life (Familiaris Consortio) in the affairs of humanity.

*Like the Pope, President Reagan will see his survival in an assassination attempt (see above) as a sign God has ordained him for the task of defeating Communism.

*Jacques Ellul publishes La Parole humiliée (The Humiliation of the Word), in which he critiques the postwar Western cultural turn to a visual culture, seeing it as a potentially disastrous development in that it subordinates the word and its meaning-giving qualities. When sight dominates the ear, he argues, our ability to designate meaning loses out, for the images can demonstrate facts about the world, but they cannot give meaning. Sight situates us, but it makes everything relative to our own point of view. By contrast, the spoken word involves us in mystery and in drama. Above all, Ellul believes, the word is relational. “Reality apprehended by sight is always unbearable, even when that reality is beauty. We have a horror of reality, perhaps because we depend on it so. Language, even when it is realistic, allows us to escape from this terrible reality. Sight locks us up with it and obliges us to look at it.” There is no way out - except by controlling and mastering the reality - which is exactly what the modern technological society does for us (see 1954). A person can see in a second; hearing takes time,  and since it is relational, it calls for exchange. Truth and reality coincide in an image only one time in all of history, in the incarnation - after that they part ways again:

The incarnation is the only moment in world history when truth joins reality, when it completely penetrates reality and therefore changes it at its root. The incarnation is the point where reality ceases being a diversion from truth and where truth ceases being the fatal judgment on reality. At this moment the word can be seen. Sight can be believed.

And sight is a foretaste of what is to come in the kingdom of god, but until that kingdom comes, God does not introduce sight into the order of truth.

*US theologian Francis Schaeffer publishes A Christian Manifesto, in which he notes that the US began as a nation rooted in Biblical principles but as society became more pluralistic, with each new wave of immigrants, proponents of a new philosophy of secular humanism gradually came to dominate debate on policy issues. Since humanists place human progress, not God, at the centre of their considerations, they pushed American culture in all manner of ungodly directions, the most visible results of which included legalised abortion and the secularisation of the public schools. Schaeffer goes so far to advocate Christians use civil disobedience to restore Biblical morality to the US, a call which helps inspire American evangelicals to become politically engaged (such as in the anti-abortion movement).

 

ATHEISM, SECULARISM & HUMANISM

*TV producer Norman Lear (1922 - ) together with former Democratic congresswoman from Texas Barbara Jordan (1936 – 1996) found People for the American Way, an activist group dedicated “to counter the growing clout and divisive message of right-wing televangelists” (specifically, to fight efforts to return prayer to public schools and remove the theory of evolution from biology textbooks).

 

NEW AGE, SPIRITUALITY & CULTS

*The Italian government resigns over its links to the fascist Masonic cell P-2. Subsequently, secret societies are banned. Adding further intrigue to this, the following year, the body of Roberto Calvi (1920 - 1982) is found hanging beneath Blackfriars Bridge in London. An Italian banker known to the press as “God’s Banker,” because of his close association with the Vatican, Calvi fled Italy after one of the country’s largest private banks, Banco Ambrosiano, went bankrupt under his chairmanship with debts of US$700m+ (much of it siphoned off via the Vatican Bank, the Istituto per le Opere Religiose [Institute of Religious Works]). The discovery of the body beneath Blackfriars Bridge (a supposedly Masonically-significant location) and Calvi’s involvement in P-2 (see 1981) sees many view the official verdict of suicide with suspicion. An inquiry (following Calvi’s exhumation) in 1992 confirms the murder. However, in 2003, British police reopen their investigation as a murder inquiry and later charge Calvi’s associates with conspiring with the Mafia (worried he was going to confess his role in an organised crime money laundering scheme) to kill him.

*Former advertising company president (and recent founder of the human potential Quartus Foundation) John Randolph Price publishes The Superbeings, in which he asserts that anyone can learn how to tap unlimited power that lurks within one (as “life is a state of sonciousness”), and that a veritable new spirituality is spreading throughout society:

 

The Great Awakening is taking place. In the cities and towns across America, hardly a week goes by without a symposium, seminar or workshop on spiritual healing, extrasensory perception…new age living, the power within, creative imagination, the dynamics of positive thinking, mind control, awareness training, higher sense perception, the art of meditation, new dimensions of consciousness, holistic medicines, yoga…This is not by chance. According to one Advanced Soul, “Through the silent hidden work of the Masters, men and women throughout the world are beginning to intuitively understand the Truth. There is a vibration, call it the Master Vibration, that is flowing through the consciousness of mankind, turning each individual toward the Light within, and it is only a matter of time before the Dawning” [see also 1976, 1990].

 

PARANORMALISM

*Following the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan (see above), his wife Nancy becomes increasingly paranoid about his safety and begins to consult astrologers about the future (to the extent she later begins to clash with White House personnel over the President’s work schedule and official trips). Although revelations about the consultation embarrass the White House, they also serve to help astrology (ridiculed as the irrational realm of charlatans and gullible fools prior to the 1970s and still somewhat stigmatised even after it has started to spread in popularity in the wave of paranormalism – see 1970 – of the previous decade) more respectable in mainstream society.

 

 

 

#

At the end of the 1970s, the effects of the second oil crisis (1979-80) hit the European economy with inflation and rising unemployment. Inside the Community, Euroscepticism was in the air and disputes over agricultural spending and budgetary issues, the accession of the candidate countries and institutional reform flourished. But nevertheless, during the 1980s, the European Commission engaged in overcoming the crisis and recuperating the initiative and the lost momentum. The European Commission led the way by means of economic integration resulting in the creation of a Single Market whilst the European Parliament focused on pushing for institutional reform to get more power for the Parliament and the Commission. On the member states’ side, the failure of national economic policies, might be seen in part as an explanation for the re-launch of European integration, in the sense that it seemed necessary to try new ideas that would allow Europe to recuperate from its declining industrial competitiveness and create the economies of scale required to compete effectively with the more successful American and Japanese models of development. The creation of the biggest internal market in the world was considered an idea worth trying, even more if linked to the development of high-technology cooperation. By removing market barriers, a single market could also generate business confidence and stimulate investment, implying economic growth. The search for solutions for economic recession and institutional stalemate in the European Community, prompted the German and Italian governments to submit in November 1981, a Draft European Act (the Colombo-Genscher Plan), an institutional reform proposal developed by Italian Foreign Minister Emilio Colombo and German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and backed by the Commission, calling for greater advancement toward European unity. The Genscher-Colombo Plan proposed an extension of the EC’s powers into new areas, including foreign policy, defence, justice, culture, fundamental rights and the revival of the rule of majority voting, buried since the Luxembourg Compromise (see 1965); the development of concrete proposals, however failed due to disagreements between the member states. On the procedural reform, the only advancement was the suggestion that member states voluntarily abstain rather than invoke the veto, but even that suggestion would be reversed afterwards and the Luxembourg Compromise confirmed. The ad hoc working group established by the Council to look into the initiative, reported to the Stuttgart Council in June 1983. However, its recommendations did not mean tangible further advancement. It served as the basis for the “Solemn Declaration on European Union” issued by the Council reaffirming the member states’ desire to reinforce and develop both economic and security cooperation.

 

##

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a human disease characterised by progressive destruction of the body’s immune system. It is widely accepted that AIDS results from infection with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). AIDS is currently considered incurable; where treatments are unavailable (mostly in poorer countries) most sufferers die within a few years of diagnosis. In developed countries, treatment has improved greatly over the past decade, and people have lived with AIDS for ten to twenty years. By the 1990s the syndrome had become a global epidemic and in 2004, 58% of those with AIDS were women. While homosexual men continue to suffer higher per capita AIDS rates, the majority of victims are currently heterosexual women, men, and children in developing countries.

HIV is transmitted by bodily fluids, such as blood, semen and vaginal secretions (hence, unprotected sex - especially anal and shared needles among intravenous drugs users).

The first (then unrecognised) AIDS case dates from 1959: a man living in what was then the Belgian Congo. Scientists (years later) found HIV in a blood sample taken from the man, who was a member of the Bantu tribe. The HIV in the sample looked like an ancestor of several subtypes of HIV now found around the world, suggesting HIV “evolved from a single introduction into the African population in a time frame not long before 1959.”

 

###

In the lead-up to the First Gulf War in 1991, Baudrillard predicted that it would not take place. After it had concluded, he insisted he had been right and no war had occurred: it’s ‘reality’ had been replaced by a ‘copy,’ as the American people perceived an illusion, via their television screens (and akin to video games), that they were engaged in battle (whereas only soldiers on the other side of the world were actually fighting). The ‘war’ that was broadcast was the same war as experienced by most people (i.e. something that did not actually exist in reality).

 

####

In “MTV” (2003) by Erica Dietsche, the author says

With the advent of MTV, visuals defined a generation as much as its music did, and for the first time, the world could tune in at any time. No longer did one need to buy a ticket to a concert to understand what the musical scene was about...MTV immediately became a household name, a never-ending televised Woodstock of sorts. Sure, bands had been featured as guests on television shows for a long time…but never before had youth culture been targeted and spotlighted by national television in such a powerful way.

MTV set the ingenious standard that all entertainment culture was related; thanks to MTV, a song [would] never be just a song ever again. MTV changed the definition of music to incorporating what the artist looks like, what their video represents, and how they come off to their fans, as opposed to music being judged purely on its artistic merit. Visual iconography, particularly sex appeal, had never been so important before in America. MTV appealed to every industry looking to make a profit from impressionable teenagers and those young at heart...Would the ‘Boy Toy” trend in female clothing have existed if not for Madonna  (1958 - ) showcasing it on MTV? Would Michael Jackson (1958 - ) have taken the 1980s by storm had America not admired his dance moves?…MTV was [also] one of the first cultural entities to realise that music, film, television, fashion and celebrities are all related and greatly interchangeable.

A 1989 Washington Post commentary renders it as

perhaps the most influential single cultural product of the decade… From [fashion label] Benneton to [dance movie] Flashdance [1983], from Madonna to Miami Vice, American culture today is full of artefacts MTV made possible. Devised by TV babies [i.e. the first generation to grow up with television] for TV babies, it was fast, both anticipating and promoting the grazing and zipping and zapping that became the leading new verbs of a decade hooked on control and speed. It taught television and movies a language of faster cuts and more telegraphic continuity. It taught fashion trends with the speed of light to the children of middle America. Advertising directors watched MTV as a benchmark of visual style, and borrowing from it produced an entirely new form of seduction.

 

The Never Ending Advertisement

This last point was taken up by numerous critics who saw the channel as little more than round-the-clock free ads, interrupted only by paid ads. Lloyd Billingsley, was typical of several critics who derided the station’s potential power to influence young viewer-consumers, when, in Christianity Today, he described the channel’s audience as “for the most part…a goose-stepping Konsumerjugend with disposable income, living under a dictatorship of freedom, and waiting to be told what to do and buy.”

 

The MTV Brain

Steve Rabey, in “Remembering MTV” (2001), notes that the station, as a ‘replacement’ for other forms of information and entertainment, changed the way people receive and process information, which has, in turn had a profound impact on virtually anyone who wants to communicate virtually anything to virtually anybody, including traditional news outlets like television and newspapers. By the 2000 presidential election, millions of younger Americans were getting their political news from sources like Late Night with David Letterman and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

The point to be made is that information that is not presented with at least some ironic detachment and humour (and formalistically utilising more than one media – hence, multimedia), as well as being concise, is likely to be ignored by would-be receivers of information - who now occupy the ultimate buyer’s market in terms of media (with the profusion of channels, thanks to cable, and new forms/formats to which to access for information/entertainment - most especially, the Internet) and are, in essence, bored by expository, linear, media-lite messages, having neither the time, patience or inclination to absorb them.

 

MTV Religion

Even churches have not been immune to these changes. In 1996, famed evangelist Billy Graham’s World Television Series, which aired in 200 countries, featured messages from Graham inter-cut with real-life vignettes (e.g. a woman leaving her husband, a man committing suicide, etc) and fast-paced Christian music videos. And, beginning earlier in the decade, a movement began in the US and Britain among Christians seeking to engage in more experiential worship services utilising multimedia (co-opted by the religious mainstream in the form of media-friendly, decentralised, exposition-lite and ‘fun’ seeker-style services in the late 1990s).

 

#####

[Edited from Wikipedia]

In the early 1970s, using video Laserdisc technology, Philips’ researchers started experiments with ‘audio-only’ optical discs, initially with wideband FM and later digitised PCM audio signals. At the end of the decade, Philips, Sony, and other companies presented prototypes of digital audio discs.

In 1979, Philips and Sony decided to join forces, setting up a joint taskforce of engineers whose mission was to design the new digital audio disc. After a year of experimentation and discussion, the taskforce produced the ‘Red Book,’ the Compact Disc standard. Philips contributed the general manufacturing process, based on the video Laserdisc technology. Philips also contributed the Eight-to-Fourteen Modulation, EFM, which offers both a large playing time and a high resilience against disc handling damage such as scratches and fingerprints; while Sony contributed the error-correction method, CIRC.

 

 

 

 

 

1982

 

POPULATION

 

GENERAL

*Israel’s population reaches four million.

*China becomes first country to reach a population of 1bn.

 

MIGRATION & REFUGEES

*A Nigerian crackdown on illegal immigrants sees 2m foreigners expelled from the country.

 

 

POLITICS

 

WORLD

*The Palme Commission (see 1980) issues its report entitled A Common Security Blueprint For Survival, which recommends a shift in global security measures away from ‘collective security’ ensured by the two superpowers (facing off in Cold War détente but forced into showing a measure of restraint by the nuclear policy of mutual assured destruction) to one of ‘common security’ through the UN and consultation over confrontation (backed by an agenda of democracy at the local and global levels, human rights, social justice, environmental security and peace). Additionally, the concept links security to economic development (of the poorer nations), proposing a transfer of the money saved from disarming the superpowers to the developing nations (via a process managed by the UN). The concept of common security will have far-reaching effects later in the decade and beyond.#

*A wave of anti-Americanism sweeps the globe in the wake of President Reagan’s hard line on Soviet expansionism and pursuit of a better nuclear arsenal (in volume and technologically), although it is much smaller and less widespread than the first large wave of such anti-American sentiment in the 1960s (and almost non-existent in the US itself).

*The UN General Assembly adopts the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes, which calls on all nations to avoid disputes among themselves likely to affect friendly relations among nations, thus contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security.

*Javier Perez de Cuellar (1920 - ) of Peru becomes Secretary-General of the UN.

*UN Resolution 509 calls on Israel to withdraw from Lebanon (see below).

*UN Resolution 37/37 calls on the USSR to withdraw from Afghanistan.

 

ISRAEL & THE MIDDLE EAST

*Operation Peace for Galilee: Israel invades Lebanon to drive out the Palestine Liberation Organisation; it succeeds in forcing both PLO and Syrian forces out of Beirut and itself withdraws from the capital after a UN-negotiated ceasefire and the arrival of a multinational force (including French and US troops) (see below).

*The PLO evacuates Beirut and relocates HQ to Tunisia following Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

*Assassination of Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel in suicide car bomb at Beirut political meeting, by a pro-Syrian Lebanese group (he is replaced by his brother Amin). Two days later, with the support of Israeli Defence minister Ariel Sharon (1928 - ), Phalange Christian militiamen occupy the Sabra/Shatilla Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut and massacre 460 civilians in revenge while nearby Israeli troops watch on.

*Israel completes withdrawal from Sinai Peninsula begun in 1979.

*US President Ronald Reagan publishes a peace plan: Palestinian autonomy in association with Jordan. It is dismissed by Israel but Yasser Arafat cautiously welcomes it (reflecting his reduced bargaining position). Arab Summit in Fez responds with the Declaration on Principles of Settlement in the Middle East, which implies acceptance of UN Security Council Resolution 242 (see 1967) if a Palestinian State is to be established.

*Iran demands US$150bn in war reparations from Iraq and declares it will not sign any ceasefire with Iraq until Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein stands trial (for starting the war). After Iraq calls a unilateral ceasefire regardless, Iran launches its first attack into Iraq.

*Death of King Khalid of Saudi Arabia. He is succeeded by his half-brother Fahd (1923 - ). Fahd will oversee the modernisation of the desert kingdom, embarking on an extravagant spending program (funded by oil profits) and massive development, most notably the twin industrial cities of Jubail on the Gulf and Yanbu on the Red Sea. His increasing acknowledgment of the nation’s powerful Islamic lobby (e.g. adopting the official title ‘Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ instead of ‘His Majesty’ in 1986) will precede the militant Wahhabi wing of Islam (see 1939) begin to flex its muscles more and more (especially in engaging in acts of terrorism against the West and even Western interest in Saudi government itself – see 2003).

 

EUROPE

*President Reagan is the first American chief executive to address a joint session of the British Parliament. In the speech he first calls the USSR an “evil empire.”

*Great Britain places an embargo on Libyan oil imports, alleging Libyan support of terrorist groups.

*After a referendum, Greenland, originally included in Denmark’s membership, opts to leave the EC.

*The Northern Ireland Assembly opens but is boycotted by Sinn Fein.

*President Reagan formally links progress in arms control to Soviet repression in Poland.

*Spain joins NATO, becoming the first new member since 1955.

*Spain elects its first socialist government since the 1930s.

*Death of Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev (1906 – 1982) (who had ruled the USSR since 1964). He is succeeded by KGB chief Yuri Andropov (1914 – 1984).

*Following a disastrous economic downturn in West Germany (with falling growth, rising unemployment and inflation remaining stubbornly high), the Free Democrats withdraw from the ruling coalition and join the opposition Christian Democrats. Helmut Kohl (1930 - ) replaces Helmut Schmidt as Chancellor through a Constructive Vote of No Confidence (the only successful one in the postwar era). The new government moves quickly to alter economic course (see below). Kohl will become the longest serving German Chancellor since Otto von Bismarck (1815 – 1898) and will win renown for overseeing the unification of the two Germanys (see 1989).

 

NORTH AMERICA

*The Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Via the Canada Act, Great Britain transfers final legal powers over Canada to its former colony (until then, legally still under ultimate authority of British parliament). Canada adopts its new constitution, which includes a bill of rights. Because of its similarity with European human rights law, the Supreme Court of Canada (and provincial courts) will turn not only to the US Constitution but also the European Court of Human Rights cases in interpreting the Charter. Hence, the Charter will inject a more rights-driven approach into Canada’s judicature, with wide-reaching consequences (e.g. gay rights laws – see 2004).

*President Reagan signs NSDD-32 (National Security Decision Directive 32) which enunciates a five pillar strategy for US national security: military modernisation, expanded military expenditure by US allies, economic pressure on the USSR, political persuasion at home and abroad, and covert operations intended to split satellite governments away from the Soviet Union. The strategy specifically implements a new policy towards the USSR, eschewing the Detente followed by predecessors Nixon, Ford and Carter: decrease Soviet access to high technology and diminish their resources, including depressing the value of Soviet commodities on the world market; increase American defense expenditures to strengthen the US negotiating position; and force the Soviets to devote more of their economic resources to defense. The most visible expression of the new directive is the massive American military build-up that follows over the course of the rest of the decade.

 

SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN

*Falklands War: Argentina, with a long-standing claim of sovereignty, invades the Falkland Islands (see below). A British naval fleet is despatched to liberate the territory which it does later in the year - 1000 die in fighting on both sides and the victory sees both the ultimate collapse of the Argentine military junta (see 1983) and landslide re-election of the Thatcher government in Great Britain the following year.

*Former Bolivian president Hernán Siles Zuazo (1914 – 1996) becomes head of state once again as democracy returns to the nation. However, severe social tension, exacerbated by economic mismanagement and weak leadership, force him to call early elections and relinquish power a year before the end of his constitutional term (see 1985).

*Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado (1934 - ) becomes President of Mexico. Faced with an economic crisis (see below), he embarks on a privatisation process continued by his successors – 1000+ state-owned companies currently exist but there will be less than 200 by the end of the century).

 

ASIA

*The US accuses the Soviets of killing 3000 Afghans with poison gas.

*China speeds up its economic liberalisation program and adopts a new constitution to lay a lasting institutional foundation for domestic stability and modernisation.

*China protests the sale of US fighter planes to Taiwan.

 

AFRICA

*The government of Chad is toppled in an army coup (see below), which sees Hissène Habré (1942 - ) take power. He presides over a genocide of ethnic minorities, which sees 40,000 killed in his 8-year rule.

*Senegal and Gambia form a loose confederation.

 

 

CONFLICT

 

NATION STATES

*Israel invades Lebanon (10,000 killed) (see above).

*Argentina invades the Falkland Islands but is routed by British forces which liberate the territory (see above) (700 killed).

*Border clashes between Ethiopia and Somalia.

 

CIVIL WAR

*Somali National Movement begins anti-government insurgency in Somalia (lasts until 1988, 50,000 killed).

*Syrian forces suppress a Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Ham (10,000+ killed).

 

COUPS

*Coup in Guatemala.

*Coup in Bangladesh.

*Coup in Central African Republic.

*Coup in Chad (see above).

 

CIVIL UNREST & ETHNIC CLASHES

*The Hama Massacre: Syrian troops kill 20,000 people in the town of Hama, centre of activities of the Muslim Brotherhood (which opposes the Assad regime) in the country.

*A government crackdown on groups agitating for democratic freedoms sees 15 killed and the US and the Netherlands suspend development aid.

*Sikh separatist groups initiate an armed struggle in India.

*Violent riots and Hindu-Muslim confrontations in India.

*Thai troops attack armed drug-dealing militias in the country’s north.

*Following mass demonstrations by Islamists, the Algerian government begins a crackdown on Muslim extremists (who, hitherto, from the late 1970s on, have only engaged in small-scale assertions of their will such as harassing women they felt were inappropriately dressed or smashing windows of establishments that served alcohol).

 

 

TERRORISM

 

ISRAEL & THE MIDDLE EAST

*Israeli military headquarters in Tyre, Lebanon, destroyed by Islamic suicide bomber leaving 75 Israeli soldiers dead along with 15 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.

*An Armed Israeli-US citizen enters the al-Aqsa mosque and opens fire, killing 2 and wounding 30.

*Kidnapping of the President of the American University of Beirut in Lebanon (released in July 1983).

 

EUROPE

*Action Directe terrorist group attack on Goldenberg restaurant in Paris kills six.

*Grenade attack on Paris restaurant kills six and wounds 27. Carlos the Jackal suspected of involvement.

*Bomb kills five on train then mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac, is scheduled to take. Follows ultimatum issued by Carlos the Jackal demanding release of two comrades held by the French.

*Car bomb explodes outside Paris office of Al Watan Al Arabi magazine, killing one and injuring 63, the same day the trial of Magdalena Kopp and Bruno Breguet opens.

*Four British soldiers and seven horses killed when IRA explodes a bomb in London. Two hours later another bomb explodes nearby killing another seven soldiers; 51 people injured in two incidents.

*An IRA bombing of bar in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland, kills 17 and injures 60.

*Black September terrorists seize Egyptian embassy in Madrid, demanding Egypt renounce Sinai Agreement with Israel. The Ambassador signs a renunciation, which is later dismissed.

*Israeli ambassador to Great Britain shot and seriously injured in London by terrorists from Abu Nidal group. The attack is used to justify the Israeli invasion of Lebanon that starts immediately after (see above).

 

NORTH AMERICA

*A professor is injured in bomb attack at a US university attributed to Unabomber.

*Anti-nuclear protestor holds eight tourists hostage at the Washington Monument in Washington DC,  before he is shot dead by a police sniper.

*Turkish military attache assassinated by Armenian extremists in Canada.

*Turkish Consul General to US assassinated in Los Angeles by group calling itself “Justice Commandos for the Armenian Genocide.”

 

 

ESPIONAGE & SECURITY

 

NORTH AMERICA

*Project Farewell: President Reagan approves a CIA plan to sabotage the economy of the USSR through covert transfers of technology that contain hidden malfunctions, including software that later triggers a huge explosion – seen by US spy satellites from space - in a Siberian natural gas pipeline (although there are no casualties). Although the Soviets eventually work out they have been duped into stealing intentionally defective software, the damage is done and the Russian hierarchy is perplexed by what aspects of the Soviet machine are infected and what are not (paranoia far more destabilising than the actual damage done).

 

 

ECONOMICS, COMMERCE & CONSUMERISM

 

GENERAL

*A global recession occurs due to the tight monetary policies of the US (to control inflation and bring about a correction to the overproduction of the previous decade which was masked by inflation) and, to a lesser extent, Great Britain (interest rates having progressively been raised to deal with the after effects of the Second Oil Shocksee 1979).

*Die Wende: The new conservative coalition government alters course after 13 years of leftist administrations, moving to reduce the role of the state in the economy (which it receives official endorsement for after winning elections in 1983): expenditure and taxes are cut, government regulations are greatly reduced, labour market flexibility is enhanced and a privatization program is initiated (with DM10bn worth of shares in such diverse state-owned institutions as Volkswagen and Lufthansa sold), such that the state role in the economy declines from 52% to 46% of GDP by 1990. The supply side revolution is slow to take effect but by the late 1980s, growth rates surge upwards, inflation is reduced and unemployment falls (despite an influx of foreign workers – due to job market deregulation).

*US Savings and Loans (S&L) institutions are deregulated, putting them on an equal footing with commercial banks, which means they can now borrow money from the Federal Reserve, make commercial loans, and issue credit cards. (The changes also more than double federal deposit-insurance coverage, shifting more risk of bank failure to the government.) However, in an effort to take advantage of the real estate boom, and high interest rates, many S&L will lend more money than is prudent in the coming years, and in risky types of ventures in which many of them are not competent. Consequently, many will overextend themselves, resulting in a wave of S&L bankruptcies in the late 1980s (see 1988).

*Mexican economic crisis – the peso is devalued by 30% to fight an economic slide but it doesn’t prevent the nation’s oil market from collapsing.

 

TRADE

*Representatives from 88 countries gather in Geneva to discuss world trade and ways to work toward aspects of free trade.

*Wall Street begins its longest bull run ever (runs to 2000, with stratospheric growth in the 1990s).

*Closer Economic Relations Agreement: Australia and New Zealand upgrade their 1966 free trade agreement to enable total free trade in goods (achieving a common market in 1990).

 

CORPORATISATION & NATIONALISATION

*Computer software company Adobe Systems is founded by former employees of Xerox' Palo Alto Research Center (see 1970), order to further develop and commercialize the PostScript page description language (a page description and programming language used primarily in the electronic and desktop publishing areas). Having worked on the development of the first laser printer (see 1975), the founders of Adobe have recognised the need for a standard means of defining page images. Adobe subsequently plays a significant role in sparking the desktop publishing revolution (see 1985) when Apple Computer licenses PostScript for use in the LaserWriter printer product line in 1985. It launches what becomes its flagship product, Adobe Photoshop (a graphics editor), in 1988 (see 1987), while the eventual popularity of its Portable Document Format (aka pdf) (an open file format launched in 1993 that can describe very simple one page documents as well as many pages, complex documents that use a variety of fonts, graphics, colors, and images), sees the design submitted for official designation as an industry standard to the International Organisation for Standardisation in 2007. Outlasting all its rivals (notably main competitor Macromedia, which it buys in 2005), the copmpany continues to improve its applications until they become industry standards. It has a market cap of US$22.8bn by 2006.

*American Airlines (founded 1934 and later under the auspices of management company AMR Corporation) undergoes a wholesale reorganisation, emerging as the AMR Corporation. AMR’s main business, however, remains aviation (operating the world’s largest airline in terms of passengers a year and second largest in terms of operating revenue, with a fleet of 740 planes and 150 destinations in the Americas, Europe and the Pacific Rim; and acquiring Trans World Airlines [founded 1925] in 2001). It holds assets of US$28.7bn by 2004.

*Sun Microsystems is founded. Its innovations in computer, semiconductor and software design see it become one of the world’s largest information technology firms (with a market cap of US$13.1bn by 2004).

 

MARKETING & CONSUMPTION

*Product Placement: The producers of the film E.T. The Extra Terrestrial approach Mars, the maker of M&M’s, to arrange a cross-promotional deal whereby the film will feature the confectionery in the movie if Mars will help promote the film. Mars turns down the offer but Reese’s agrees. One scene features the eponymous alien enjoying a packet of Reese’s Pieces. Sales of the confectionery increase by 65% within two weeks of the film’s opening. The use of product placement (in films and television) skyrockets in the 1990s, as marketers try and come up with ways to market products to the media-savvy (and highly cynical) Generation X (see 1994).

*Diet Coke.

*Kodak disk camera.

 

CONSUMER PROTECTION

*Cyanide poisoning kills seven in Chicago area who have taken poison-laced Tylenol. The case prompts the Food and Drug Administration to require tamper-proof packaging for drugs, vitamins and supplements.

*American food companies begin formulating their products to have less salt in response to growing concerns about excess sodium in diets.

 

ENERGY & RESOURCES

 

---AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK & FISHERIES

*Biotechnology becomes viable for improving crop and livestock products, eventually resulting in the first genetically engineered crop (developed at the Washington University in Missouri) (see 1983).

*The Convention for the Conservation of Salmon in the North Atlantic Ocean is signed by Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, the US, the USSR and the EC, who agree to promote the conservation, restoration, enhancement, and rational management of salmon stocks in the North Atlantic Ocean through international cooperation (with fish stocks globally falling in real terms – see 1990).

 

---OIL, GAS & FOSSIL FUELS

*Oil prices decline rapidly as the decade progresses (mostly due to a world oil glut – see 1980, 1981). OPEC, losing market share (see 1980) is confronted by an unpalatable choice: cut prices to regain markets or cut production to maintain price. However, OPEC countries in the main do not want to reduce prices, for fear that they will undermine their whole pricing structure, lose their great economic and political gains and so diminish their political influence. But a lack of consensus on definitive action sees a mixed response (e.g. Saudi Arabia, whose oil production far surpasses other member countries, champions decisions for low pricing for larger market-sharing and long-term gains). Oil prices only rally mildly in the late 1980s as awareness grows of the need for joint action among oil producers if market stability with reasonable prices is to be achieved in the future.

 

---WATER

*Israel cuts off the water supply of Beirut during the invasion of Lebanon (see above).

 

---RENEWABLE ENERGY

*The inaugural International Conference on Plant and Vegetable Oils is held in Fargo, North Dakota, to examine matters ranging from fuel cost and the effects of vegetable oil (as a viable biofeul), to fuel additives and extraction methods.

*Economic electrical generation begins at California’s Salton Sea geothermal field.

*Solar One, the nation’s first commercial solar-thermal power plant opens in California.

 

EMPLOYMENT

*Beginning this year, US transnational corporations cut over 750,000 jobs at home and add 345,000 jobs outside the US (in areas with significantly lower wages) over the next 11 years. Additionally, greater use of automation, subcontractors, and part-time labour will render strikes relatively ineffective and undermine trade unions’ collective bargaining power (such that there are one-tenth the number of strikes in the US in 1993 as in 1970, and, by 2000, only 12% of the US workforce is unionised, a lower proportion than in 1936).

 

POVERTY, AID & CHARITY

*Newman’s Own Food is founded by actor Paul Newman (1925 - ) who devotes the profits of the all-natural food line to charity. In the first year, he donates US$1m. By 2004, US$125m has been donated.

 

 

SOCIOLOGY

 

CRIME, PUNISHMENT & INTERNATIONAL LAW

*Rise In Spree Killings: Over the next 30 years, 61 mass killings involving firearms will occur in the US.

*Broken Windows Theory: Harvard professor James Q. Wilson (1931 - ) and former probation officer George Kelling publish “Broken Windows” in The Atlantic Monthly, in which they assert that a successful strategy for preventing vandalism is to fix problems when they are small, before they grow:

Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.

Repair the broken windows within a short time, say, a day or a week, and the tendency is that vandals are much less likely to break more windows or do further damage. Clean up the sidewalk every day, and the tendency is for litter not to accumulate (or for the rate of littering to be much less). Problems do not escalate and thus respectable residents do not flee a neighbourhood. Their theory thus makes two major claims: 1) further petty crime and low-level anti-social behaviour will be deterred, and thus 2) major crime will be prevented. Criticism of the theory has tended to focus only on the latter claim. The theory later inspires a zero tolerance approach to crime in New York City in the 1990s, which inspires other US cities (and other police forces in other nations) (see 1993).

*The National Commission of Inquiry into Disappearances is set up in Bolivia to investigate the disappearance of citizens during the period 1967 - 1982, but it eventually disbands without issuing a final report.

*The Japanese government officially outlaws sokaiya, the tradition employed by Yakuza organised crime groups (going back a hundred years), whereby business is shaken down for money.

*Netherlands abolishes the death penalty (last execution was in 1952).

 

DRUGS, TOBACCO & ALCOHOL

 

---NICOTINE

*Cigarette sales in the US peak at 624bn; thereafter, health campaigns against smoking begin to erode sales.

 

ACTIVISM & ADVOCACY

*Convened under A Constitution for the Federation for the Earth (see 1977), the first session of a Provisional World Parliament meets in Brighton, England, calling for “people who want to survive to take charge of world affairs.” Delegates attend from all over the world (with the largest delegations from India, Nigeria, the US and Canada). Attendees include politicians, former prime ministers and cabinet ministers, lawyers, doctors, judges, businessmen, writers, professors, and leaders of women’s movements each acting in the name of people rather than governments. Such meetings, along with the rapid growth in the number of NGOs (especially specialised organizations mostly advocating a particular issue at the global level) will lead to greatly increased involvement of NGOs in UN world conferences and the like in the coming two decades as well as the holding of the NGO Millennium Summit (see 2000).

*Weapons Freeze Campaign: Anti-nuclear activists call for immediate, mutual, verifiable freeze on testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons. The House of Representatives endorses the Freeze resolution (by an almost two-to-one margin) the next year, as do 23 state legislatures, 370 City councils, 71 town councils, 446 town meetings, 10 national labour unions, and 150 national and international organisations.

*400,000 attend a Peace Now movement demonstration in Israel demanding end to war and commission of inquiry for refugee camp massacres.

*30,000 women hold hands and form a human chain around the 14.5km perimeter fence of Greenham Common (home of the US 501st Tactical Missile Wing, which, from 1983, deploys nuclear warhead-bearing cruise missiles – see 1983).

*In the largest political gathering in history, 1m demonstrate against nuclear weapons at a rally organised by SANE (see 1957) in New York City’s Central Park.

 

CENSORSHIP

*The British Director of Public Prosecutions commences the high profile ‘Video Nasty’ cases, clamping down on low budget horror movies (mostly from Italy and the US) deemed breaches of obscenity laws (which allow certain erotic films but do not address violent horror productions). Subsequent changes to the law come about restricting availability of such videos, but the restrictions are eased over time (such that, 20 years later, many films not initially not granted certificates by for video release in Britain have now been passed for certification uncut).

*After years of appeals, the US Supreme Court rules that “local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion.” The case is brought by students opposing a directive made by the Island Trees School District in Levittown, New York, ordering the removal of books considered “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plain filthy” from school libraries.

 

SUICIDE & EUTHANASIA

 

---EUTHANASIA

*In the US, a baby born with Down’s syndrome and a malformed oesophagus (which prevents normal ingestion) is deliberately left untreated after the doctor consults with the parents (and the courts consent to the withholding of life-saving treatment).

 

MEN

*The National Organization for Men Against Sexism is formed by male activists concerned mainly with issues of the power and privilege men have over others and strongly encourages men to make the personal political, to change the larger community for the good of all.

 

WOMEN, MARRIAGE & DIVORCE

*The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Participation of Women in Promoting International Peace and Cooperation, which asserts that women and men have an equal and vital interest in contributing to international peace and co-operation, and, hence, women must be enabled to exercise their right to participate in the economic, social, cultural, civil and political affairs of society on an equal footing with men.

*Post-Feminism: Betty Friedan (see 1963), having split with the feminist movement in the 1970s (after seeing it as having become too focused on lesbian issues and discerning that too many in the sisterhood hate men) publishes The Second Stage, in which she addresses the “feminist mystique” of the superwoman (see 1983) who is expected to juggle effortlessly career, marriage, and motherhood. Friedan believes the feminist establishment “denied that core of women’s personhood that is fulfilled through love, nurture, home” and in so doing secured an equality “that isn’t liveable, isn’t workable, isn’t comfortable in the terms that structured our battle.” She also targets for criticism radical feminists who have co-opted the movement with an anti-male, anti-family orientation that Friedan finds counterproductive. Such a critique, along with the more conservative zeitgeist and the fact that several items on the second wave agenda have been or will soon be met in many Western nations, will see dominant feminist concerns move away from radicalism and revolution and toward more pragmatic concerns (pointing ahead to the third wave of feminism – see 1990 and the new feminists of the early 21st century – see 2001, 2005).

*Ferdinand Mount (1939 - ) publishes The Subversive Family, in which, among other charges, he accuses Christianity of forcing individuals to place God above family; we have been deceived, he claims, by religions, governments, historians, socialism and misguided feminism, which all deny the essentially romantic nature of the nuptial bond. Armed with bawdy tales, urn inscriptions, diary entries, letters and court papers, he attempts to make a case that marriages have traditionally been contracted because of romance. History, he concludes, was revised to suit the ideological needs of Church or State.

 

THE AGED

*The UN World Assembly on Ageing is held in Vienna, Austria; an international action plan is adopted, becoming the first global policy instrument on ageing. The UN Center for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs subsequently monitors the plan’s implementation and reports to the General Assembly on a yearly basis. In addition, every four years the Center conducts a global survey that assists in appraising the plan’s implementation.

 

DISABILITIES

*Handicap International is set up to support people in situations of disability or vulnerability (predominantly in the Third World). The first major project involves setting up orthopaedic centres n refugee camps in Cambodia, Thailand, Burma and Laos to help several thousand amputees. The use of simple and locally available materials is one of the major strengths allowing Handicap International to effectively provide rapid assistance and to train competent local teams.

*Telecommunications for the Disabled Act mandates telephone access for deaf and hard-of-hearing people at important public places, such as hospitals and police stations.

*Baby Doe: The parents of “Baby Doe” in Bloomington, Indiana, are advised by their doctors to deny a surgical procedure to unblock their newborn’s oesophagus because the baby has Down Syndrome. Although disability rights activists try to intervene, Baby Doe starves to death before legal action can be taken. The case prompts the Reagan Administration to issue regulations calling for the creation of “Baby Doe squads” to safeguard the civil rights of disabled newborns.

*A woman is disabled by a drunk driver in Minnesota.  Her parents, discovering that she is a lesbian, refuse to allow her to return home to her lover, instead keeping her in a nursing home. The lover’s eight-year struggle to free her disabled partner becomes a focus of disability rights advocates and leads to links between the lesbian and disability rights communities.

 

CHILDREN & YOUTH

*Child Survival and Development Revolution: UNICEF launches a drive to save the lives of millions of children each year.  The ‘revolution’ is based on four simple, low-cost techniques: growth monitoring, oral rehydration therapy, breastfeeding and immunisation.

 

EDUCATION

*UNESCO adopts Robert Muller’s World Core Curriculum as a model for all nations to follow in their education systems. The objective of the Curriculum is to produce an egalitarian society, working cooperatively, in harmony, without competition or strife, deferring to the global consensus.

 

SEX & SEXUALITY

 

---MEDICAL

*AIDS begins to be diagnosed in different countries around the world (notably Europe and Africa) and is formally dubbed the “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.”

 

---HOMOSEXUALITY, TRANSVESTISM & TRANSGENDERISM

*France ‘wholly’ decriminalises homosexuality (see 1967).

*Northern Ireland decriminalises homosexuality.

*Global Gay Rights: InterPride is formed by several US gay rights groups and late expands to include overseas organisations. The association eventually begins running large annual World Pride rallies in different cities around the world.

*Country singer Johnny Mathis (1935 - ) comes out but the admission does not harm his sales (in what remains a staunchly conservative genre) (see 1990).

*The inaugural Gay Games are held in San Francisco (see below).

 

 

ECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENTALISM

 

GENERAL

*The UN World Charter for Nature is published, adopting the principle that every form of life is unique and should be respected irrespective of its value to humankind. It also calls for understanding of our dependence on natural resources and the need to control our exploitation of them. The principles of the document inform the international environmental agenda thereafter:

1. Nature shall be respected and its essential processes shall not be impaired.

2. The genetic viability on the earth shall not be compromised; the population levels of all life forms, wild and domesticated, must be at least sufficient for their survival, and to this end necessary habitats shall be safeguarded.

3. All areas of the earth, both land and sea, shall be subject to these principles of conservation; special protection shall be given to unique areas to representative samples of all the different types of ecosystems and to the habitats of rare or endangered species.

4. Ecosystems and organisms, as well as the land, marine and atmospheric resources that are utilized by man shall be managed to achieve and maintain optimum sustainable productivity, but not in such a way as to endanger the integrity of those other ecosystems or species with which they coexist.

5. Nature shall be secured against degradation caused by warfare or other hostile activities.

The Charter is adopted by the General Assembly in a 111 to 1 vote (the US being the sole holdout).

*Environmental Justice: Four years after the State of North Carolina establishes a PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) landfill in Warren County, a predominantly African-American community, leading to a series of lawsuits, local residents launch what is later termed the (first) ‘environmental justice’ movement. Comprising non-violent protests (e.g. laying in front of 10,000 truckloads of contaminated PCB soil), the efforts last six weeks and see 550 arrests. Said by some to be the largest civil disobedience in the South since the civil rights protests of the 1960s, it is also the first time in American history that citizens are jailed for attempting to prevent pollution. The Washington Post describes it as a “marriage of environmentalism with civil rights” and "the watershed event…[leading] to the environmental equity movement of the 1980s”. The term "environmental racism" is also coined in the wake of the movement’s birth.

*The Earth Island Institute is founded in the US by David Brower to foster the efforts of creative individuals by providing organizational support in developing projects for the conservation, preservation, and restoration of the global environment.

*The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology is set up in India to work for biodiversity conservation and protecting people’s rights from threats to their livelihoods and environment by centralized systems of monoculture in forestry, agriculture and fisheries.

*The World Resources Institute is set up in the US as an environmental think-tank seeking to beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people’s lives.

 

POLLUTION, DEFORESTATION & DESERTIFICATION

 

---POLLUTION

*The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is adopted, establishing rules concerning environmental standards as well as enforcement provisions dealing with the pollution of the marine environment.

*The Regional Convention for the Conservation of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Environment is signed by Jordan, North Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Yemen, Sudan and the PLO, who agree to take all appropriate measures to prevent and combat pollution of the Red Sea.

*The Canadian Ocean Ranger oil platform sinks.

*A soil sample taken from the site of Times Beach, Missouri (whose roads were oiled, prior to paving, by a company whose main production facility had made Agent Orange in the 1960s), is found to contain 300 times the safe level of dioxin. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends the town be evacuated.

 

WEATHER & CLIMATE

*Ozone Hole: A British Antarctic Survey team discovers a hole in the earth’s ozone layer (see 1970, 1971, 1974, 1985).

*Research reveals a strong trend towards global warming since the mid-1970s, with 1981 as the warmest year since records began (see 1985).

*Greenland ice cores reveal drastic temperature oscillations in the space of a century in the distant past (see 1993).

*El Niño causes wildly unusual weather in the across the globe. Drought leads to disastrous forest fires in Indonesia and Australia. The overall loss to the world economy is US$8bn.

 

ANIMAL WELFARE

*The International Whaling Commission decides to end commercial whaling by 1985.

*The EC bans import of seal pup skins in response to public criticism triggered by Greenpeace actions in Canada.

*US Congress amends the Endangered Species Act (see 1973) to allow the Tellico Dam project (see 1973) to proceed on the theory that protection of the Snail Darter Trout is “incidental” to the main purpose behind the dam. The subsequent development also involves the flooding of Cherokee Indian historical sites (deemed by some cultural historians as highly significant).

 

 

MAJOR DISASTERS

 

NATURAL

*An earthquake in Yemen kills 3000.

*An eruption of Mt. El Chichon in Mexico kills 2000.

 

 

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT

 

GENERAL

*World knowledge now doubles every 5½ years (see 1999).

*Over 6000 scientific articles and 1000 books are published daily.

 

PHYSICS & MATHEMATICS

*Alain Aspect uses laser experiments to prove Bell’s Theorem (see 1964, 1972, 1997) although the results remain controversial.

 

NUCLEAR ENERGY, WEAPONRY & BALLISTIC MISSILES

*First complete decontamination and decommissioning of a reactor in the US as the Shippingport plant (see 1957) is retired.

*The US stops actively targeting China with its nuclear weapons.

*Nuclear Winter: The Swedish Academy of Sciences commissions a report entitled “The Atmosphere after a Nuclear War: Twilight at Noon,” which attempts to quantify the effect of smoke from war-related burning forests and cities. The authors speculate that there would be so much smoke that a large cloud over the northern hemisphere would reduce incoming sunlight below the level required for photosynthesis, and that this would last for weeks or even longer. The same year, Ambio, a journal of the human environment, devotes an issue to the possible environmental consequences of nuclear war; it includes an article by Paul Crutzen and J. Birks on atmospheric effects, in which they re-assess and re-affirm the consequences for the ozone layer noted previously (see 1974, 1975) and draw attention for the first time to the likelihood that large amounts of smoke and dust would be created. The following year, the TTAPS report (whose mnemonic title stems from the initials of the last names of its authors, one of whom is Carl Sagan – see 1963, 1966, 1980, 1988, 1991) uses a simplified two dimensional computer model of the Earth’s atmosphere to demonstrate the effects of a nuclear war would be catastrophic for the planet: they posit that severely cold weather (a drop of 35°C – compared with 0.5-2°C for the largest recorded volcanic eruptions and 10°C for ice ages) can be caused by detonating large numbers of nuclear weapons, especially over flammable targets such as cities, where large amounts of smoke and soot would be injected into the Earth’s stratosphere. A more detailed follow-up report is released in 1990 while a 2006 study by the American Geophysical Union into the effects of regional nuclear wars asserts they could produce as many direct fatalities as all of WWII and disrupt the global climate for a decade or more (see also 1991, 2003).

*Worldwide stockpile of nuclear warheads: US – 22,937, USSR – 33,952, Great Britain – 335, France – 275, China – 360.

*American/Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles: US – 1049, USSR – 1398.

 

CONVENTIONAL ARMS

*In a not-so-subtle reference to Northern Ireland, the European Parliament calls for the banning of plastic bullets throughout the EC (see 1970).

 

ASTRONOMY & SPACE EXPLORATION

*The Second UN Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Space (UNISPACE II) is held in Vienna, Austria. Delegates call for an expansion of the Space Applications Programme (see 1968) (which has trained some 1800 participants over the past decade).

*The Russian Venera 13 is first probe to transmit colour images of Venusian surface.

*Discovery of Neptune’s rings.

*Heliocentric Planetary Alignment: All nine planets align on the same side of the Sun (which occurs every 176 years).

*Alexander Vilenkin suggests a cosmological model in which “the Universe is spontaneously created from literally nothing...does not have a singularity at the Big Bang, and does not require any initial or boundary conditions.”

 

ARCHAEOLOGY & PALAEONTOLOGY

*The wreck of the 16th century Tudor warship Mary Rose, which sank in 1545, is raised from the sea in Portsmouth Harbour after 17 years of work. The ship is found to be full of Tudor artefacts. A lengthy process of restoration begins, with the ship’s hull protected at all times with circulating seawater.

*An amateur fossil collector finds a dinosaur claw in a Surrey claypit (in Britain). A previously unknown theropod, the animal is formally named Baryonix walkeri.

*Elaine Morgan publishes The Aquatic Ape, in which she advances an ‘aquatic ape’ hypothesis that has modern humans evolving from semiaquatic apes, as supposedly suggested by our hairless bodies and subcutaneous layers of fat.

 

GEOSCIENCES

*Pacific equatorial oceanographic buoy array installed, allowing prediction of El Niño atmospheric / oceanic events (see 1957).

 

ANTHROPOLOGY & LINGUISTICS

*Postmodern Anthropology: With the anthology Writing Culture, anthropologists begin to question whether anthropological knowledge can ever be possible or authoratative (given the inherent cultural biases of each individual anthropologist and post-Foucault postmodern concepts of power and ideology at work in all discourse). Nevertheless, it is celebrated for its potential as an exercise in otherness and as a powerful tool of cultural critique (laying bare the power plays and ideologies at work in human behaviour under study).

 

HEALTH & MEDICINE

*The UN General Assembly adopts the Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularly Physicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which states that physicians charged with the medical care of prisoners and detainees have a duty to provide them with protection of their physical and mental health and treatment of disease of the same quality and standard as is afforded to those who are not imprisoned or detained.

*The first successful artificial heart transplant is performed (with the patient living for 112 days).

*Seven people die in Chicago after ingesting the drug Tylenol which has been laced with cyanide. The crime is never solved and while sales of the drug collapse in the short-term, the credibility of the brand is eventually restored. The scare does lead to the introduction of tamper-proof packaging for medicines.

 

CHEMISTRY, BIOLOGY & GENETICS

*Human growth hormone is genetically engineered.

*The first recombinant DNA vaccine is used for livestock.

*First commercial genetically engineered drug: Genentech receives approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market genetically engineered human insulin.

*Applied Biosystems introduces the first commercial gas phase protein sequencer, dramatically reducing the amount of protein sample needed for sequencing.

*Bengt Samuelsson (1934 - ) discovers ‘leukotrienes,’ compounds found in white blood cells which are involved in asthma and in the anaphylatic shock that may follow exposure to foreign substances, like bee stings.

*Scientists call for the prohibition of the use of RNA technologies in the development of biological weapons.

 

ENGINEERING

*Kielder Water, an artificial lake in Northumbria, opens.

*The Thames Barrier, the world’s largest movable flood barrier, opens.

*First published account of a printed solid model was made by Hideo Kodama (1944- ) of the Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute (see 1984).

 

AVIATION, TRANSPORT & SHIPPING

*Pan Am inaugurates service from Los Angeles to Sydney; at 11,979km (7487 miles) non-stop, it is the longest non-stop flight in the world.

*First circumnavigation of the globe in a helicopter.

 

COMMUNICATIONS

*Global Navigation Satellite System: The USSR launches its own GPS (see 1978, 1989) network, the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), with three test satellites placed in orbit. The first satellite proper begins operating the following year. Although intended for completion in 1991, delays (connected to the collapse of the USSR) see the constellation of 24 satellites finally completed in 1995. However, Russia’s economic woes see only the number of operational satellites fall to eight in 2002 (rendering it almost useless as a navigation aid) before rising to 11 by 2005 (with 2010 as the new deadline for a return to a full complement of 24).

*Videoconferencing Systems: Compression Labs begins selling a US$250,000 videoconferencing system, featuring US$1000 per hour lines. IBM releases PictureTel, an US$80,000 system (with US$100 per hour lines) in 1986. The prohibitive cost for single users leaves videoconferencing in the realms of the corporate sphere until the next decade (see 1991).

 

COMPUTERISATION & AUTOMATION

*There are 235 ARPANET hosts.

*The first personal computer Local Area Network is set up.

*Emoticons: Computer scientist Scott Fahlman (1948 - ) devises a scheme to help people on a message board at Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania, to distinguish serious posts from jokes (in essence, to encode and convey one’s feeling in purely written communication so simple statements are not misinterpreted due to the absence of vocal intonation or body language). He proposes using :-) and :-( for this purpose, and the symbols (later dubbed 'emoticons' - a portmanteau of 'emotion' and 'icon'), informed by the Smiley Face icon (see 1963), eventually catch on as a form of paralanguage commonly used as extended interpunction symbols in email, instant messaging, online chat, bulletin boards, and Internet forums.

*IBM-Compatible: Only 10 months after the introduction of the IBM PC, Columbia Data Products announces the first computer based on the PC that can run programs designed for the PC. Such copies are at first nicknamed ‘clones’ and later come to be called IBM-compatible or PC-compatible computers. Compaq soon introduces its own ‘clone’ of the PC. Later in the year, Compaq introduces a ‘clone’ that is portable, unlike the PC itself. Both Compaq clones are immediate commercial successes.

*Computer Viruses: Computer enthusiast Rich Skrenta (1967 - ) creates ‘Elk Cloner,’ the world’s first computer virus, as a practical joke. Skrenta’s friends are already distrustful of him because, in swapping computer games and other software as part of piracy circles (a common practice), Skrenta often alters the floppy disks he gives out to launch taunting on-screen messages. By the time he creates the virus, many friends are refusing disks from him. So, during a winter break from his high school, Skrenta hacks away on his Apple II computer - the dominant personal computer at this time - and figures out how to get the code to launch his messages onto disks automatically. He develops what is now known as a ‘boot sector’ virus. When it boots, or starts up, an infected disk places a copy of the virus in the computer’s memory. Whenever someone inserts a clean disk into the machine and types the command ‘catalog’ for a list of files, a copy gets written onto that disk as well. The newly infected disk is passed on to other people, other machines and other locations. The prank, though annoying to victims, is relatively harmless compared with later viruses. Every 50th time someone boots an infected disk, a poem Skrenta has penned appears, saying in part, “It will get on all your disks; it will infiltrate your chips” (see also 1983, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1994, 2000).

*Militarisation Of The Microchip: In what is later dubbed the ‘Bekaa Valley Turkey Shoot’, Israel deploys a combination of American and locally developed weapons systems and technologies, many in their first combat use, including F-15s and F-16s, AWACs, lookdown radar, and remotely piloted vehicles. Decoy drones draw fire from the Soviet-made surface-to-air missile batteries while Israeli fighters destroy 17 out of the Syrians’ 19 batteries. Superior command and control through faster computation and lookdown radar also allow Israeli F-4s, F-15s, and F-16s to destroy nearly 100 Syrian planes over the Bekaa Valley while the Israelis lose just one fighter. Such a victory would have hitherto been impossible without the new fast and light microchips that enable the American-made fighters to carry sufficient onboard computing capacity for the new radar systems.

*Martine Kempf develops voice recognition software for use on an Apple computer; this software will lead to the Katalavox, a device for operating voice-activated wheelchairs and magnifying devices used in microsurgery.

*For the first time ever, TIME Magazine awards its Man of the Year to a non-human: the computer.

*The video game phenomenon appears on the cover of TIME.

*Tron is the first movie about video games (but it tanks at the box office).

*Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, contains the first completely computer-generated sequence in film (care of Industrial Light & Magic) (see also 1973, 1975, 1985, 1989, 1991, 1995).

*BELLE, a dedicated computer for playing chess which contains 1700 chips and evaluates 160,000 positions per second rates second in speed chess at the US National Open.

*MIDI: US synthesiser designers Dave Smith and Chet Wood devise a Universal Synthesiser Interface, which would allow direct communication between equipment from different manufacturers, proposing this as an industry standard at the Audio Engineering Society show. (By the end of the 1970s, electronic musical devices have become increasingly common and affordable in North America, Europe and Japan - however, early analog synthesisers are usually monophonic (capable of playing only one note at a time), and controlled via a voltage produced by their keyboards. Manufacturers have used this voltage to link instruments together so that one device can control one or more others, but the system has been inadequate for control of newer polyphonic and digital synthesisers. Additionally, some manufacturers have created systems that allow their own equipment to interconnect, but each scheme has used a different transmission rate, so one manufacturer's systems cannot synchronise with those of another.) Over the next two years, Smith and Wood's standard is discussed and modified by representatives of companies such as Roland, Yamaha, Korg, Kawai, Oberheim, and Sequential Circuits. It is renamed the Musical Instrument Digital Interface and the first instrument with MIDI capability - a synthesiser called the Prophet-600 (designed by Dave Smith) - rolls off the production line at the end of this year.: for the first time, there is an industry specification that enables a wide variety of digital musical instruments, computers and other related devices to connect and communicate with one another, bringing transformation to the music industry. The new intercompatibility allowing different instruments to speak with each other and with computers, spurs a rapid expansion of the sales and production of electronic instruments and music software (as it coincides with the rise of the personal computer and use of music samplers this decade - see also 1969, 1975). Additionally, it introduces many capabilities which transform the way musicians work. MIDI sequencing makes it possible for a user with no notation skills to build complex arrangements. A musical act with as few as one or two members, each operating multiple MIDI-enabled devices, can deliver a performance which sounds similar to that of a much larger group of musicians. The expense of hiring outside musicians for a project can be reduced or eliminated, and complex productions can be realised on a system as small as a single MIDI workstation, a synthesiser with integrated keyboard and sequencer. Professional musicians can do this in an environment such as a home recording space, without the need to rent a professional recording studio and staff. By performing preproduction in such an environment, an artist can reduce recording costs by arriving at a recording studio with a work that is already partially completed. Rhythm and background parts can be sequenced in advance, and then played back onstage. Performances require less haulage and set-up/tear-down time, due to the reduced amount and variety of equipment and associated connections necessary to produce a variety of sounds. Finally, computer-aided learning enabled by MIDI later transforms the way technology is used in music education. In terms of style revolutions, the soon-to-be wide availability of the MIDI format and its ease of use help redefine pop music in the 1980s - giving it a strong electronic feel and spawning many contemporary music genres (one commentator later asserts that the technology allowed for the birth of dance music – see also 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1988).

 

 

ARTS & CULTURE

 

GENERAL

*Expo ’82: Knoxville, Tennessee hosts a World’s Fair on the theme of “Energy Turns the World” and featuring the Sunsphere, a 266-foot steel tower topped with a five-story bronze globe.  Although 11m people visit the site, the event is widely considered to be a failure because of the lack of follow-on development and the bankruptcy of several local banks, in part due to World's Fair-related debt.

 

PHILOSOPHY, POLITICAL SCIENCE & HISTORY

*Jean-Luc Nancy (1940 - ) publishes The Inoperable Community, in which he traces the influence of the idea of community and argues that it has dominated modern thought. Discarding popular notions, Nancy redefines community through its political nature and posits that our attempt to design society according to pre-planned definitions frequently leads to social violence and political terror; he poses the social and philosophical question of how to proceed with the development of society with this knowledge in mind.

*Neo-Pragmatism: Richard Rorty publishes Consequences of Pragmatism, wherein he argues the worth of an idea should be measured by its usefulness or ability to cope with a given problem, not by its correspondence to some antecedent ‘Truth.’ Indeed, he distinguishes between ‘truth’ as a property “of sentences or actions and situations” (which he sees as superior in terms of usefulness) and ‘Truth’ as “goals or standards..., objects of ultimate concern.” Rorty unleashes a revolution in contemporary philosophy, the Neo-Pragmatic movement, which will provide a philosophical framework to undergird the emerging postmodern Western ethos (as well as influence the Third Way political movement of the 1990s – see 1992).

 

LITEARTURE & LANGUAGES

*Modern Day Babel: Due to geopolitical changes and a more relaxed attitude to immigration (legal and otherwise), the number of people in the US speaking a language other than English at home increases 140% over the next 30 years, with 303 languages recorded in a 2010 Census Bureau report (see also 1990, 2000, 2002).

 

CINEMA

*Postmodernism in Film: The science fiction dystopia Blade Runner is the first pop culture depiction of the future as retro rather than futuristic: set in Los Angeles in 2019, it features characters dressed in various styles dating from the 1930s through to 1970s-style punks.

 

MEDIA

 

---PRINT

*The Gannett Company (founded 1906) launches USA Today, with the goal of providing a national newspaper in the US market, where only single local newspapers have been hitherto available. Colourful and bold, with many large diagrams, charts, and photographs, it contrasts with the relatively colourless papers of the time such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Purists deride the new publication as ‘McPaper,’ but such things as savvy marketing (e.g. it is sold in unique newspaper vending machines with curved edges that some say resemble TV sets more than newspaper racks) sees the public overcome any hesitancy about embracing a colour newspaper (and the associated, previling ideas about its lack of worth/quality). Consequently, the paper becomes a huge success, gainging the widest circulation of any newspaper in the US (averaging 2.25m copies every weekday) and second worldwide for English broadsheets (to The Times of India). Such success enables it to help fuel a revolution in journalism, influencing newspeprs and magazines with its colourful graphics and bite-sized articles tailor-made for TV watchers (see also 1980).

 

---TELEVISION

*The UN General Assembly adopts the Principles Governing the Use by States of Artificial Earth Satellites for International Direct Television Broadcasting, which determine that use of such satellites has international political, economic, social and cultural implications and that, consequently, a State intending to establish such a broadcasting service should notify receiving States and establish such a service only on the basis of agreements with those States.

*The Weather Channel, a cable station that revolutionises reporting of weather (by being on air 24 hours a day), begins broadcasting.

 

MUSIC & POP SUBCULTURES

 

---GENERAL / TECHNOLOGY

*World Music Day: Fête de la Musique (World Music Day) is initiated in France (on June 21st, the summer solstice) after being conceived by culture minister Jack Lang (1939 - ) to promote music in a festive spirit. Amateur musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets and many free concerts are organised, making all genres of music accessible to the public. Also, under French law, it is one of the few nights of the year where there is no sound restriction at night time. The celebration soon spreads to other European countries (and eventually to nations as far-flung as Morocco and China).

*Surround Sound (the concept of expanding the spatial imaging of audio playback from 1 dimension (mono/Left-Right) to 2D or 3D) is introduced for home use by Dolby.

*The MIDI is launched (see above).

 

---POP / ROCK

*Michael Jackson, onetime member of Motown group the Jackson Five, who has been pursuing a solo dance-pop-soul career since the late 1970s, releases Thriller. Tied to a series of effective pop videos and notably featuring rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen on the single “Beat It,” the record scores two #1 on the pop charts, the album breaks the US radio colour bar (hitherto clinically dividing black and white popular music) and goes on to become the biggest-selling album of all-time (with 51m sales worldwide). Arguably, the more united pop culture establishment that develops by the 1990s in the US (with the politically-similar and engaged post-Grunge white rockers and post-rap black recording artists) is only possible because of Jackson’s breakthroughs.

 

---WORLD MUSIC

*WOMAD: Former Genesis lead singer Peter Gabriel (1950 - ) records the album Security, one of the first commercial albums recorded entirely to digital tape and which combines a variety of sampled and deconstructed sounds with world-beat percussion and other unusual instrumentation to create a radically new, emotionally charged soundscape. The same year, Gabriel helps initiate the first World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) festival (held in rural Britain) to share his growing passion for Third World performing arts culture. Over the next two decades, WOMAD festivals are held in over 20 nations including the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and many European countries.

 

TOURISM & TRAVEL

*Rough Guides: Briton Mark Ellingham, dissatisfied with the polarisation of existing guidebooks between cost-obsessed student guides and heavyweight cultural tomes, publishes the Rough Guide to Greece. The company he sets up to publish the book soon expands to numerous titles and topics (broadening to cover music - contemporary, international and classical - and a varied general reference list such as soccer, cult books and movies, ethical shopping, Shakespeare, and pregnancy and birth) and even media (with CD music guides to, for instance, world music categories).

 

SPORTS & HOBBIES

*Challenge ’82: The inaugural Gay Games are held in San Francisco (see above). The event attracts 1600 homosexual athletes from around the world “to foster and augment the self-respect of lesbians and gay men throughout the world and to engender respect and understanding from the non-gay world, primarily through an organized international participatory athletic and cultural event held every four years.” The Games will grow over the next two decades, attracting 14,700 competitors in the Netherlands in 1998.

 

 

RELIGION & BELIEF

 

CHRISTIANITY

*The Lausanne Strategy Working Group (see 1974) meets in Chicago and helps define key terms to aid in the strategic evangelisation of the world’s diverse cultural groups. It determines definitions for ‘people groups’ and ‘unreached peoples’:

People Group (or People): A significantly large ethnic or sociological grouping of individuals who perceive themselves to have a common affinity for one another. For evangelistic purposes, it is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.

Unreached People (sometimes called “Hidden Peoples”): a people group which has no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to finish evangelising their community without further outside/cross-cultural assistance.

These definitions inform the notion that develops concerning the completion of the Church’s mission role: that is, the whole world can be determined to have been ‘reached’ when a visible testimony to the Gospel of the kingdom - a church planting movement - has been established within every people group.

*Pope John Paul II makes the first papal visit to Britain since 1531.

*Modern Christian Legal Activism: Christian lawyer John Whitehead (1946 - ) sets up the Rutherford Institute, to work pro bono on cases involving religious liberties. Thereafter, as the Religious Right (see 1976) becomes more organised, several other groups are established, such as the American Center for Law and Justice (founded by Pat Robertson in 1990 as a Christian counter to the ACLUsee 1953) and the Alliance Defense Fund (set up in 1994 to preserve religious liberties through litigation).

 

NEW AGE, SPIRITUALITY & CULTS

*Reflecting the New Age movement belief in the coming of a Cosmic Christ or ‘World Teacher’ (see 1948), a group calling itself the Tara Center places full-page advertisements in many major US newspapers announcing: “The Christ is Now Here!” The ads propose that: “As Christians await the Second Coming, so the Jews await the Messiah; the Buddhists, the fifth Buddha; the Moslems, the Imam Mahdi; and the Hindus, Krishna. These are all names for one individual.” They predict the Christ will make himself known “within the next two months.” After the date passes, the group reports that the delay is only due to the fact the “consciousness of the human race was not quite right.” A similar ad appears in USA Today five years later (see 1987).

*The number of New Age bookstores in the US doubles over the next five years to 2500.

 

*Former postal worker and now a New Age channeler (see 1967) Ken Carey, claiming he has channelled spiritual entities that variously manifested as extraterrestrials, angels and even Jesus Christ himself, publishes The Starseed Transmissions, which include the purported messages for humanity from said beings.

 

As you reorient toward the new way of being in the world, you will be drawn to centres where the vibrational atmosphere is more conducive to a healthy state of function. These centres will represent the focal points around which the organs of Planetary Being will form. They will be, in a sense, islands of the future in a sea of the past. Within their vibrational field, the New Age will blossom and spread organically to cover the Earth. These [centres] will be the first beachheads secured by the approaching forces, the points of entry through which the healing energies of transformation will be channelled. All of these centres will work together to prepare the human species for its collective awakening…Many such places exist at this time. Many more will rise during the remaining decades of this transitional period. By the time the next generation reaches maturity [around the year 2000], there will be a widespread network of these islands.

*Former Assistant Secretary-General of the UN Robert Muller publishes New Genesis: Shaping A Global Spirituality, in which he outlines his belief that, based on his mostly positive experiences working at the UN, there is a growing movement, even in the seemingly endless conflict between nations, toward a brotherhood of all peoples:

[H]umankind is seeking no less than its reunion with the “divine,” its transcendence into ever higher forms of life. Hindus call our earth Brahma, or God, for they rightly see no difference between our earth and the divine. This ancient simple truth is slowly dawning again upon humanity. Its full flowering will be the real, great new story of humanity, as we are about to enter our cosmic age and to become what we were always meant to be: the planet of God.

The book is later praised by UNESCO’s Director-General, who says it “offers the world a blueprint for a new, spiritual vision of human destiny” (particularly as it encompasses more exposition on the values behind Muller’s World Core Curriculum [see 1979], seeing global education as preparing “our children for the coming of an independent...happy planetary age.”

*The Reverend Sun Myung Moon marries 4150 of his followers at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Soon after, he is sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined US$25,000 for tax fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

 

 

 

#

Among the members of the Palme Commission were Russian specialists who gravitated toward the new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (1931 - ) in 1985 (see). The Russian participants, also among the Gorbachev generation of leaders (born after the revolution) will walk away from the conference convinced of the potential merits of common security. Embraced by Gorbachev (who also, rather pragmatically, realises the new arms race initiated by Ronald Reagan cannot be matched by the economically stagnating Soviet Union), common security will see the Soviet leadership seek to include the US and China in European and Asian security designs respectively (whereas previous Soviet leaders have sought to exclude them).

As Carl G. Jacobsen says in “The Changing War Culture” (1998):

Where previous Soviet leaders saw every US or Chinese security demand as necessarily against their interests, Gorbachev sought to meet such demands whenever possible. In the Far East he cut the manpower of many divisions stationed along the Sino-Soviet border, withdrew others, and pulled the remainder from the immediate vicinity of the border. Turning to the West, he announced a unilateral nuclear test moratorium and decreed the unilateral withdrawal of 500,000 troops and significant tanks and other weapons from Eastern Europe. He paid up the overdue Soviet UN dues, called for a more cooperative, collective security regime through the UN on the global arena, and for a “Common European Home” stretching from the Azores to beyond-the-Urals. In Washington and other NATO capitals the “Evil Empire” suddenly became a prospective partner.

Even after his political demise, Gorbachev will continue to pursue a globalist agenda of universal human rights enmeshed within a structure of global governance through the UN and other agencies.

 

 

 

 

1983

 

POPULATION

 

MIGRATION & REFUGEES

*Mexico’s financial crisis (see 1982) fuels a sharp rise in illegal Mexican immigrants to the US (see 1986).

 

 

POLITICS

 

ISRAEL & THE MIDDLE EAST

*Yitzhak Shamir (1915 - ) becomes Israeli Prime Minister upon the retirement of Menachem Begin (who sinks into depression following the death of his wife, massive protests over the invasion of Lebanon, and an economic downturn).

*Kahan commission finds Ariel Sharon and others indirectly responsible for allowing massacres in Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps (see 1982).

*Israel announces it will start restoring the Jewish quarter in the centre of Hebron.

*Israel begins partial withdrawal from Lebanon following the signing of a peace treaty with Lebanese President Amin Gemayel (1942 - ).

*PLO dissidents with Syrian forces drive Yasser Arafat loyalists out of northern Lebanon bases and lay siege to them in Tripoli. UN-sponsored talks result in withdrawal of Arafat and 4000 PLO troops from Lebanon, evacuated in Greek ships under French warship protection, and relocation to Tunisia.

*The PLO resumes diplomatic relations with Egypt, soon followed by Jordan and Sudan.

*The 16th Palestinian National Council rejects the Reagan peace plan (see 1982).

*Iran expels Russian diplomats as the USSR turns more strongly pro-Iraqi.

*Iraq first uses chemical weapons (mustard gas) in its war with Iran.

*Restoration of civilian rule in Turkey.

 

EUROPE

*The Stuttgart Decalaration (formally the Declaration on European Union): The European Council signs a solemn declaration on European Union, which begins the process of curtailing the national right of veto. It follows concern that EC institutions arre suffering from bureaucratic paralysis and a feeling that member states need to take a fresh look at the operation of the Community and examine its future development. By openly stating for the first time the principle that “by speaking with a single voice in foreign policy, including the political aspects of security, Europe can contribute to the maintenance of peace,” the Declaration lays the foundations for closer political cooperation and also establishes the link between that political cooperation and the “coordination of positions of member states on the political and economic aspects of security, so as to promote and facilitate the progressive development of such positions...in a growing number of foreign policy fields.” This marks the first acknowledgement of the need to broaden common foreign policy to include security issues.

*The Turkish part of Cyprus declares independence.

*Mass outbreak in Northern Ireland’s Maze prison (housing Irish Republican inmates) - 38 prisoners hijack a lorry and crash out of the gate - one guard is left dead and five are injured. 19 of the prisoners were later apprehended.

*Poland ends Martial Law and declares an amnesty for all political prisoners.

 

SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN

*Following the loss in the Falklands conflict (see 1982), and in the wake of increasing economic problems, corruption, and public revulsion, the Argentine military junta collapses and democracy returns. A national human rights commission is set up to investigate abuses during the Dirty War (see 1976) but the military regime is quick to destroy all documents regarding the ‘disappeared.’

*Panamanian Chief of Staff Manuel Noriega promotes himself to the rank of general and becomes the nation’s de facto ruler. Staunchly pro-American, Noriega, despite the canal treaties, allows the US to set up listening posts in Panama, acts as a diplomatic go-between with Cuban president Fidel Castro, and aids the pro-American forces in El Salvador and Nicaragua by acting as a conduit for American money, and according to some accounts, weapons. However, he rebuffs requests from the Salvadoran government to restrict the movements of leftist Salvadoran insurgent leaders based in Panama, and likewise rebuffs demands by American Lt. Colonel Oliver North (1943 -), a National Security Council staffer who is overseeing the Contra aid operation, that he provide military assistance to the Nicaraguan Contras (see 1981, 1985). Noriega later insists that his refusal to meet North’s demands is the actual basis for the US campaign to oust him (see 1989).

 

ASIA

*Brunei gains its independence from Great Britain.

*China and Britain begin negotiations on Hong Kong’s future.

*Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping presides over a massive purge of remaining Maoists in the Communist Party (i.e. hardliners who originally rose to power in the Cultural Revolution) to avoid challenges to his reform programs in future.

*China begins to shift away from its anti-Soviet defence strategy (see 1960) and adopts a strategy of keeping the US and the USSR at an equal distance (see 1992, 2005)

*Ronald Reagan becomes the first US President to address Japan’s national legislature, the Diet.

*Assassination of Philippine opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. (1932 – 1983) as he returns to his homeland after years in exile - his murder, suspected by government agents, generates massive public opposition to Ferdinand Marcos’ (1917 – 1989) dictatorship and ultimately leads to the dictator’s flight from power (see 1986).

 

AUSTRALASIA & THE PACIFIC   

*Following an economic downturn that erodes the popularity of the conservative government, the Labor Party led by Bob Hawke (1929 - ) wins office in Australia. Confounding expectations (given Hawke’s unionist background), the new government unleashes a series of economic reforms that transform the nation’s socio-political landscape (see below).

*The Solomon Islands gains its independence from Great Britain.

 

 

CONFLICT

 

NATION STATES

*The US invades Grenada ostensibly to ensure the safety of some 1000 Americans on the island (mostly medical students) whose presence is seen as endangered by the new exteremist-Marxist military government (which is overthrown) (100 killed).

 

CIVIL WAR

*Tamil guerrilla groups begin an anti-government insurgency in Sri Lanka in an attempt to establish a Tamil state in the island nation’s north and west (60,000+ killed; continues to date).

*Civil war breaks out once more in Sudan after the government tries to introduce Islamic Sharia law (with such punishments as amputation and stoning) into the penal code (angering the largely Christian and animist south) (1.9m killed, 4m displaced; continues to date).

 

COUPS

*Coup in Guatemala.

*Coup in the Maldives.

*Coup in Nigeria.

*Coup in Upper Volta.

 

CIVIL UNREST & ETHNIC CLASHES

*Sectarian riots between Hindus and Muslims in Assam, India, kill 3000.

 

 

TERRORISM

 

ISRAEL & THE MIDDLE EAST

*A suicide bomber drives a truck laden with dynamite into the US embassy in Kuwait, killing 5.

*A suicide bomber drives trucks laden with dynamite into the US embassy in Beirut killing 63. [n.b. This is the first recorded suicide bombing.]

*A suicide bombers drive trucks laden with dynamite into the US and French military bases in simultaneous attacks in Beirut, killing 299 (241 Marines, 58 French troops). US and French aircraft strike suspected terrorist bases in the Baka’a Valley in retaliation.

*A suicide bomber drives truck laden with dynamite into the Israeli military headquarters in Tyre, Lebanon, killing 28 Israeli soldiers and 30 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.

 

EUROPE

*A suitcase bomb explodes at Orly airport, Paris, killing 8 and injuring 55. Armenian terrorists are arrested by security forces for the attack.

*Bombs explode on a train and in a train station in Marseille, killing five and injuring 53. Carlos the Jackal is suspected of involvement.

*Gerry Adams (1948 - ) is elected president of Sinn Fein. He is shot and wounded by Ulster Freedom Fighters four months later.

*The IRA bombs the Harrod’s department store, killing 5 and injuring 80.

*Mass break-out by 38 IRA prisoners from the Maze prison (although half are recaptured).

*A US Naval officer shot by the November 17 terrorist group in Athens when his car stops at traffic lights.

*Right wing terrorists explode a bomb on a train in Italy, killing 15 and injuring 115.

*Armenian terrorists seize the Turkish Embassy in Lisbon, taking staff hostage. Five terrorists, a policeman and Turkish woman are killed when a terrorist bomb prematurely explodes.

*The right-wing Grupo Antiterrorista de Liberacion (Antiterrorist Liberation Group), begins a campaign of revenge killings and bombings among suspected ETA terrorists, chiefly in Spain and France.

*Basque terrorists bomb eight US facilities in Spain to protest US involvement in Central America.

*A bomb outside a French cultural center in Berlin kills one and injures 23. Carlos the Jackal is suspected of involvement.

 

ASIA

*Bombing of the Martyr’s Mausoleum in Rangoon, Burma, leaves five South Korean cabinet ministers and 15 others dead. South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan survives the attack, which is blamed on North Korean intelligence agents.

 

AUSTRALASIA & THE PACIFIC

*A bomb is detonated outside the Union Carbide factory in Sydney.

 

 

ESPIONAGE & SECURITY

 

EUROPE

*France expels 47 Soviet diplomats over spying allegations.

 

 

ECONOMICS, COMMERCE & CONSUMERISM

 

GENERAL

*Britain introduces the pound coin.

*The term ‘yuppie’ is first used in a Chicago newspaper in an article on former hippie leader (and founder of the Youth International Party or ‘Yippies’) Jerry Rubin, who has shed his socially activism past for a career as a Wall Street marketing analyst and venture capitalist (see 1984).

*The new Hawke Labor government in Australia begins to embark on a series of far-reaching economic reforms (see above) – floating the dollar, deregulating the financial system, overhauling tariffs, privatising state sector industries, ending the subsidisation of loss-making industries, selling off the state-owned Commonwealth bank (the nation’s largest bank), and reforming the tax system (primarily by introducing a capital gains levy) - all reforms that in other Western countries are/were performed by right-wing governments. Although interest rates will later skyrocket, the reforms set the nation up for a period of prolonged high growth  and low inflation (due to productivity gains) and low unemployment in the 1990s and beyond (such that the Asian Economic Crisissee 1997 – barely affects the local economy). The changes also erode the nation’s traditional collectivist and egalitarian ethos in terms of forming a more individualistic and entrepreneurial society (with millions of Australians owning shares for the first time and a housing boom in the latter 1990s becoming the focus for tens of thousands engaging in speculative property purchases).

 

TRADE

*The Gulf Cooperation Council members sign a preferential trade agreement.

*The US and USSR sign a US$10bn grain pact.

*Stakeholder Capitalism: US Economists R. Edward Freeman (1951 - ) and D.L. Reed publish "Stockholders and Stakeholders: A New Perspective on Corporate Governance" in California Management Review, in which they argue that companies exist for the benefit of their customers, workers and communities, not just for shareholders (who comprise the stakeholders in a company along with all the aforementioned groups and individuals). The idea stands in contrast to the concept of 'Shareholder Capitalism' (see 1976) which dominates mainstream economic thinking in the Anglo-American sphere for the next three decades.

 

CORPORATISATION & NATIONALISATION

*The European Round Table of Industrialists is set up by Western European business groups (represented by 40 European industrial leaders) to lobby governments and the EC to advance corporate interests (primarily in the area of competitiveness and further European integration) in the political sphere.

*The Compass Group is founded. It acquires various chains in Britain (Upper Crust, Caffè Ritazza, Harry Ramsden’s) and catering services and expands overseas, with operations eventually spreading to 90 countries, and becoming the world’s largest food service company (with assets of US$15.2bn by 2004).

*Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhren AG (founded 1931) and SSIH (founded 1930 from a merger of Omega [founded 1848] and Tissot [founded 1853]) merge to form the Swatch Group, the world’s largest watchmaker, with assets of US$5.3bn by 2004.

*In the US, 50 corporations control a majority of the US media (newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, books, music, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies) (see 1987).

 

MARKETING & CONSUMPTION

*Influential ad campaign: Chrysler, featuring chairman Lee Iacocca (1924 - ) in blunt-talking commercials in which he challenges consumers: “If you can find a better car, buy it.” The ad single-handedly brings the company back from the brink of bankruptcy and, after best-selling books on business in the wake of the campaign, Iacocca becomes something a folk hero (who some urge to run for president).

*Swatch watches.The Japanese quartz invasion (see 1969), having dealt a severe blow to the hitherto dominant Swiss watch industry, forces the European nation’s industry giants that merge to form the Swatch Group (see above) to call on industry outsiders to save the day. The outsiders not only streamline the moribund conglomerate’s operations but also embark on a program to design a new timepiece to challenge the quartz domination, decreeing the new design must have style, be cheap to make, be priced competitively, be durable and establish a technological lead. The program realises the new swatch watch, a brand that mirrors the fashion preferences of the present while offering a quartz movement under an analogue dial. Swatch quickly becomes the dominant lower-end brand (a dominance lasting to date), releasing literally hundreds of designs, creating ersatz exclusivity and collectiblility by producing limited editions, and branching out into merchandising a range of fashion accessories marketed through Swatch stores. It also goes on to acquire several Swiss luxury brands including Omega, Longines and Hamilton.

*First cook-in bags.

*Nutrasweet.

*Cabbage Patch Kids. The gimmick of the dolls is their uniqueness – different eye colour, facial features, hair and outfit (an early example of the postmodern vogue for customisation over mass production – also see Subway [see 1965]).

*Care Bears.

*Trivial Pursuit.

 

CREDIT & DEBT

*The Télécarte, the first Smart Card introduced for mass usage payment (in French payphones) is launched. Their popularity ultimately sees microchips integrated into all French debit cards (see 1990). The smart card allows for much more complex information to be stored locally (than credit cards), including allowing the movement of currency from the centre (credit card centralised network) to the edges (stored value on the card). Although, by the 21st century, Smart Card usage has caught on in several applications, the biggest social change is yet to be felt, as more and more transactional information will ultimately be stored locally.

 

ENERGY & RESOURCES

 

---AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK & FISHERIES

*The era of genetically modified organism (GMO) crops begins (see below). The promise of food biotechnology is the development of

- crops resistant to agricultural diseases, pests, weeds (theoretically allowing for vast increases in yields and a boon for the environment as less chemicals need be sprayed to address the threats to crops);

- crops resistant to herbicides / pesticides (so sprays can be used without damaging the crop);

- crops that can be bred to be harvested more easily;

- crops that produce more of a desired product (e.g. larger fruits or grains);

- crops that can tolerate colder or warmer, drier or wetter conditions and, as such, can be grown in a wider range of countries and climes than presently;

- crops with a longer shelf life (that can, thus, be transported easily to distant markets);

- crops with a larger range of colours or enhanced tastes (also aiding marketing);

- crops with better handling characteristics (that, for instance, bruise less easily).

But the technology is not without its controversy (which grows in the 1990s as ecological concerns take centre stage in socio-political global debates – see 1995).#

*Advances in gene splicing (see 1973), which allows for the transfer of pieces of genetic information from one organism to another, allowing the expression of desirable traits in the recipient organism, sees the creation of the first transgenic (genetically-engineered) plant - petunias engineered to be resistant to kanamycin, an antibiotic. The US Patent Office soon extends patent protection to genetically engineered plants. The first transgenic livestock follows in 1985 (see).

 

---OIL, GAS & FOSSIL FUELS

*OPEC nations agree to jointly cut prices for crude oil (the first time a corporate decision to slash prices has been made in the organisation’s 23-year history).

*Albania’s oil production peaks.

*Spain’s oil production peaks.

*The US threatens action to preserve navigation in Persian Gulf (in the wake of mutual bombing of oil installations in the ongoing Iran-Iraq War), so as to preserve the security of the oil trade, although President Reagan later rules out military intervention.

*Trading begins on the New York Stock Exchange on future delivery of light crude oil.

*Peru’s oil production peaks.

*Fred J. Cook (1911 - 2003) publishes The Great Energy Scam, a scathing attack on the unchecked economic and political power exerted by transnational oil corporations over Western governments. Cook notes that

Big Oil’s control of the machinery of government....reduces the average American to a nonentity - unless the time should come...when he will be needed to go to the Persian Gulf and fight...

 

---RENEWABLE ENERGY

*Arco Solar builds an unmanned solar power plant that generates enough electricity for 2000 homes.

*Solar Trek, a photovoltaic-powered car, drives across Australia, covering 4000kms in less than 20 days. The maximum speed it reaches is 72kph, with an average of 24kph.

*A team from the University of New South Wales, Australia, breaks the 20-percent efficiency barrier for silicon solar cells (see 1989).

 

EMPLOYMENT

*The National Graphical Association pickets a British newspaper over workplace practices and is thereafter ordered by a court to remove the picket. It refuses and riot police are sent in to break up the picket. The failure of the Trade Union Congress to back the printers’ union is another significant defeat for British unionism.

*675,000 US telecom employees go on strike.

 

POVERTY, AID & CHARITY

*The Brandt Commission issues a second report, Common Crisis: North-South Cooperation for World Recovery, which calls for large increases in foreign aid to developing nations and a cancellation of Third World debt to rectify imbalances between the global North and South.

*Structural Adjustment Programmes: The failure to achieve necessary financial reforms by Ghana (to ensure a sustained transformation of the economy from developing to self-sustaining) sees the IMF and World Bank, in response to a request by the Ghanaians, impose the first Structural Adjustment Programme (which soon becomes a common occurrence in foreign aid). In essence, this is a list of certain conditions attached to future loans, encompassing internal changes (e.g. privatisation, deregulation) and external ones (e.g. reduction of barriers to trade). Some of the conditions commonly are:

- Cutting social expenditures.

- Focusing economic output on direct export and resource extraction.

- Devaluing currencies against the dollar.

- Lifting import and export restrictions.

- Increasing the stability of investment (by supplementing foreign direct investment with the opening of domestic stock markets).

- Balancing budgets and not overspending.

- Removing price controls and state subsidies.

- Enhancing the rights of foreign investors vis-a-vis national laws.

With the acceptance of economic liberalism as near-universal orthodoxy in the next decade (see 1990), Structural Adjustment Programmes will come to be seen by anti-globalisation activists and other critics as a form of economic imperialism by the West, given the ongoing failure of such imposed reforms to lift Third World nations out of poverty (and, allegedly, in many instances to exacerbate already troubled situations) (see 1999).##

 

 

SOCIOLOGY

 

CRIME, PUNISHMENT & INTERNATIONAL LAW

*The National Commission on the Disappeared is set up in Argentina to probe the fate of the 11,000 ‘disappeared’ from the period 1976 - 1983.

*El Salvador abolishes the death penalty for most crimes (last execution was in 1973).

*The world’s biggest ever robbery, US$25m in gold, takes place in Great Britain.

*Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie is arrested in Bolivia (see 1980). He is deported to France and put on trial, being found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. (All told, the deportation of 7500 people, 4342 murders, and the arrest and torture of 14,311 resistance fighters were in some way attributed to his actions or commands.) He will die of cancer in prison.

*Japan’s ex-Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei (1918 - 1993) is found guilty of taking a US$2m bribe from Lockheed and sentenced to four years in jail.

 

DRUGS, TOBACCO & ALCOHOL

 

---NICOTINE

*The creative director of a New York advertising agency admits that in his time working on tobacco ads “We were trying very hard to influence kids who were 14 to start smoking.”

 

GAMBLING

*Restrictions on gambling in the US begin to be loosened more and more as states begin to look at the economic benefits enjoyed by Nevada and New Jersey with envy. By century’s end, only two states (Hawaii and Utah) are left as states where no form of gambling is legal.

 

ACTIVISM & ADVOCACY

*Tens of thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators link arms in 14-mile human chain spanning three defense installations in rural England, including the Greenham Common US Air Base.

*For five successive days, Radio Moscow announcer Vladimir Danchev denounces Russian operations in Afghanistan, calling it an ‘invasion,’ and urges the Afghans to resist. He is eventually removed from the air.

 

CENSORSHIP

*Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign: As social controls loosen in China, there is an increase in smuggling, profiteering, prostitution and pornography. Party conservatives rail against these negative consequences of reforms as well as an increase in anti-Marxist ideas such as democracy and freedom of speech being circulated. Confronting a potentially serious conservative backlash, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping appeases them with a short-lived campaign aimed at discovering, confiscating and destroying materials considered pornographic – i.e. art, books and videos seen to “deprecate Chinese tradition” in favour of the “modernist schools,” “blindly…imitate and fanatically…pursue foreign culture” and embrace the “worship of individualism,” economic opportunism, uncritical admiration of Western thought and culture, and the resurgence of superstition. Follow-up campaigns are conducted in 1987 and 1989 (although, with the shift to the veneration of radical individualism as well as hitherto anachronistic ideologies such as nationalism after the Tiananmen Square Massacresee 1989 – will make such campaigns redundant in the 1990s and beyond).

 

SUICIDE & EUTHANASIA

 

---SUICIDE

*Philosopher (and lifelong advocate of euthanasia) Arthur Koestler, facing incurable illness – Parkinson’s disease and terminal leukemia - dies in a double-suicide pact with his wife (who is healthy but who announces that she cannot live without her husband in a suicide note). A major portion of his estate is left to establish the Koestler Foundation (an institute conducting or sponsoring serious study into parapsychology – given the philosopher’s interest in psychic phenomena and strange coincidences he experienced which could not be explained by traditional scientific means).

 

---EUTHANASIA

*Elizabeth Bouvia (1958 - ), a quadriplegic suffering from cerebral palsy, sues a California hospital to let her die of self-starvation while receiving comfort care. She loses and files an appeal. In 1986 she wins the right to refuse force feeding but declines to take advantage of the permission after a change of heart.

 

RACE RELATIONS

*The Second UN World Conference to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination is held in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition to reviewing progress on measures adopted at the First Conference, another Plan of Action is devised which emphasises recourse procedures for victims of racial discrimination. Delegates also declare apartheid totally abhorrent to the dignity of mankind and a threat to international peace and security.

*The US Supreme Court rules the government can deny tax breaks to schools that racially discriminate against students.

*President Reagan signs a bill creating Martin Luther King Day, in honour of the slain civil rights leader (see 1968).

*A special commission of the US Congress releases a report critical of the practice of Japanese internment during World War II.

*Lt. Colonel Guion S. Bluford, Jr. (1942 - ) is the first black American astronaut to travel in space, blasting off aboard the Challenger space shuttle (see below).

*Vanessa Williams (1963 - ) becomes the first African American Miss America. She resigns early in her reign, however, when it is discovered that she had once posed nude for photographs (that are later published in the adult magazine Penthouse).

*Former Reserve Bank Governor H.C. “Nugget” Coombs (1906 – 1997) publishes “A Certain Heritage,” a blueprint for what later critics describe as a “socialist experiment – advocating communal land ownership [for Australia’s Aboriginal people], supported by substantial welfare transfers…[so as] to create an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hunter-gatherer utopia that would culminate in a nation independent from the rest of Australia.” The paper eventually influences the new Labor government (see above) setting up 1200 (uneconomic) remote communities occupied by 120,000 indigenous people. As a result, in the next 15 to 20 years, education, health, life expectancy, housing and related gaps between remote community dwellers and other Australians widen, as rampant alcoholism, substance abuse and crime (including endemic rape of women and children) escalate. Coombs’ advocacy of “culturally sensitive and appropriate” education, first in local dialects and later in English, leads to mass functional illiteracy. In one region in 2005, 64% of the local indigenous populace are not in the labour force. By this time, multigenerational unemployment is eventuating, with some Aboriginal people never having held a job in their lives.

 

WOMEN, MARRIAGE & DIVORCE

*The US Supreme Court strikes down numerous city ordinances requiring, among other things, that a woman seeking an abortion delay at least 24 hours after giving written consent for the procedure to take place.

*Superwoman: Helen Gurley Brown (see 1962, 1965) publishes Having It All, in which she extends her post-feminist progressive social gospel from single to married women, asserting the latter group can aspire to be superwomen (see 1982) - juggling kids and home life with a successful career

*Sally Ride (1951 - ) becomes first American woman in space on the Space Shuttle Challenger (see below).

*At a news conference at the National Council of Churches’ governing board meeting, feminist theologian Virginia Mollenkott (see 1980) claims there is some evidence that Jesus Christ was really a woman. She cites recent research of biologist (and theistic evolutionist) Edward Kessel (1904 - ), who argued that Jesus was

 

…born in parthenogenesis; that parthenogenetic births are always female; that in some cases, therefore, he would be willing to refer to Jesus as ‘she’ - up until the last minute of sex reversal, in which case Jesus remains chromosomally female throughout life, but functions as a normal male and looks like a normal male [n.b. although parthenogenetically-produced offspring are usually female, there are a few instances when the animal mother gives birth to male babies; this phenomenon has been found in parthenogenetically produced gish, birds, amphibians and mammals such as mice and lemmings].

 

The same year, Mollenkott publishes The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female, in which she seeks to reclaim biblical images of God as female, believing that understanding feminine imagery of God ultimately empowers both men and women: “I want to delve deeper into just one way in which the Bible supports human sexual equality and mutuality: the images of God as female that sprinkle the sacred writings of Judaism and Christianity.” After surveying the history of what has happened to female imagery of God in Scripture, Mollenkott focuses on a series of scriptural images and their implications for modern society - including God as a nursing mother, a midwife, a mother pelican, a female homemaker, a bakerwoman, a female beloved, a mother eagle, and Dame Wisdom. Mollenkott concludes with suggestions for how the understanding of the divine feminine might be included in contemporary worship: “If our goal is pointed inclusion of females in the feminine in the language of worship, we may find ourselves utilising female god-images and pronouns as frequently as possible.”

 

*Feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether (1936 - ) publishes Sexism and God-Talk, in which she claims feminist theology (see 1968) is essential in presenting spirituality in more universal terms than has been possible hitherto:

 

The uniqueness of feminist theology lies not in its use of the criterion of experience but rather in its use of women's experience, which has been almost entirely shut out of theological reflection in the past. The use of women's experience in feminist theology, therefore, explodes as a critical force, exposing classical theology...as based on male experience rather than on universal human experience.

 

Consequently, Ruether presents a ‘revisioning’ of theological topics from a feminist perspective, including the use of male and female images of the divine in worship; the relationship between images of women, the body, and nature in Greek, Hebrew, and Christian thinking; and a new, woman-centred look at images of both Christ and Mary. The new perspective means, according to Ruether, that a “new God is being born in our hearts.”

 

DISABILITIES

*The ILO Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention calls on signatories to formulate, implement and periodically review a national policy on vocational rehabilitation and employment of disabled persons.

 

CHILDREN & YOUTH

*Finland outlaws corporal punishment.

*Illinois’ Confidentiality of Statements Made to Rape Crisis Personnel is the first such law to grant absolute privilege to sexual assault victims (hence, anything a rape victim says to a rape crisis counsellor or legal advocate is now confidential and no court can subpoena records of victims).

 

EDUCATION

*A Nation At Risk: The National Commission on Excellence in Education publishes a report that claims American “students were not studying the right subjects, were not working hard enough, and were not learning enough. Their schools suffered from slack and uneven standards. Many of their teachers were ill-prepared.” It also warns that “our social structure would crack, our culture erode, our economy totter, [and] our national defenses weaken” if immediate attempts to remedy the situation by finding a cure for our fatally-ill education system are not found. In the report’s wake, concerns about poor schooling appear in the media, fuelling concerns in the wider community.

*An article in The Humanist magazine argues for the educational establishment to promote a new humanism to America’s schoolchildren:

The battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of…divinity in every human being. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new – the rotting corpse of Christianity…and the new faith of humanism [see also 1946, 1990].

 

SEX & SEXUALITY

 

---GENERAL

*Psychoanalyst Melvin Anchell publishes Sex and Insanity, in which he asserts that early sex education (see 1950) (in schools) bypasses the well-established “latency period” of childhood development where children learn compassion before they learn “passion.” Consequently, this process is short-circuited in the rush to early sexualisation and would likely produce adults devoid of compassion and unduly interested in sexual activity and self-gratification.

*Murray S. Davis publishes Smut: Erotic Reality/Obscene Ideology, an exploration of human sexuality in which he asserts that there is a chasm of difference between “everyday reality” and “erotic reality,” the sphere of sexuality. He proposes that society takes three primary approaches to the realm of erotic reality: The “Naturalist” minimises the division between the everyday and the erotic, seeing sexuality as simply a harmless release of tensions. The “Jehovanist” sees sexuality as a dangerous building up of tensions, as a threat to the social or cosmic order or “everyday reality,” which must be suppressed or restricted as much as possible. The “Gnostic” also sees sexuality as a dangerous building up of tensions - and revels in the danger, seeing “everyday reality” as essentially false and “erotic reality” as the essentially true, as “nobly evil.”

 

---MEDICAL

*At the American Urological Association’s annual meeting, British neurophysiologist Dr. Giles Brindley pulls down his pants mid-lecture, announces that he has injected himself in the penis with a long-acting alpha-blocking drug, and parades around the auditorium with an erection. He invites members of the audience to feel it lest they suspect he has an implant.

 

---HOMOSEXUALITY, TRANSVESTISM & TRANSGENDERISM

*Pervs: Club culture enthusiasts (see 1981) hold a one-nighter (see 1978) dubbed Skin Two in a small backstreet club in London’s red light Soho district for fetishists. Having appeared in their modern form in underground culture in the 1960s (primarily through their patronage of kinky rubber bondage wear), fetishists have hitherto existed on the far-nether regions of the wider culture, although some members of alternative pop culture have ‘raided’ the iconograohy of fetishism for reasons such as shock effect (such as Malcolm McLaren whose SEX shop sold bondage wear – see 1976). Skin Two is the first attempt to bring together true fetishists and the growing ‘pervy’ contingent within pop music (postpunk musicians who have dabbled in fetsihwear) and alternative clothing design (postpunk fashionistas who have woven fetish elements into their designs). The effort proves to be a success and lays the foundations for what grows to be a global subculture, an international fetish scene with numerous glossy magazines, innumerable websites, countless packed-out clubs and hundreds of successful fetish-oriented clothing designers in Europe (especially the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands). Although undoubtedly inspired by the rise of AIDS (see 1981) and the need to fashion a safe alternative to the Sexual Rvolution (see 1967) for those who have abandoned moral traditonalism in matters of sexuality, underpinning the scene is a commitment to explore a new alternative sexuality – less casual and more relational (albeit non-traditional) and also ritualistic. For example, the scene questions basic notions of gender, replacing them with sub(missive)/dom(ination roles that are not beholden to specific gender definitions.

*Massachusetts Representative Gerry Studds (1937 - ) reveals he is a homosexual on the floor of the House, becoming the first openly gay member of Congress. He is re-elected the next year.

*New Wave groups in Britain such as Culture Club, Erasure, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and the Pet Shop Boys rise to the top of the charts at home and overseas, demonstrating a gay or overtly camp image is no obstacle to pop success.

 

 

ECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENTALISM

 

GENERAL

*Process of Preparation of the Environmental Perspective to the Year 2000 and Beyond: The World Commission on Environment and Development (headed by the former first female Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland [1939 - ] it is more popularly known as the Brundtland Commission) is set up by the UN to prepare an in-depth report on social, economic, cultural and environmental issues to aid future UN debate and discussion about the growing international agenda item that is global environmentalism (see 1987).

*The US International Environmental Protection Act is passed by Congress, authorising the President to assist countries in protecting and maintaining wildlife habitat and provides an active role in conservation by the Agency for International Development. It further provides that the Agency shall use the World Conservation Strategy (see 1980) as an overall guide for actions to conserve biological diversity. Funds are explicitly denied for actions that significantly degrade national parks or similar protected areas, or introduce exotic plants or animals into such areas.

*The Environmental Protection Agency announces its intention to buy out and evacuate the dioxin-contaminated community of Times Beach, Missouri (see 1982).

*Development Alternatives is founded in India to foster a new relationship between people, technology and the environment in the South in order to attain the goal of sustainable development.

*Conservation Stamp Collection: The World Wildlife Fund establishes a new program in which it works with postal authorities in more than 200 countries, helping them select threatened species to feature on official postage stamps. The program raises US$13m by 2004.

 

POLLUTION, DEFORESTATION & DESERTIFICATION

 

---POLLUTION

*The Parties to the London Dumping Convention (see 1972) call for a moratorium on radioactive waste dumping at sea. As a result of Greenpeace’s repeated actions against ocean dumping, this is the first year since the end of WWII where officially no radioactive wastes are dumped at sea.

*The La Paz Treaty: The US and Mexico agree to reduce pollution within 60 miles of their common frontier.

*Oil Spill: The tanker Assimi spills 15.8m gallons in the Gulf of Oman.

*Major Oil Spill: An oil well ruptures in Iran spilling 80m gallons of oil.

*Major Oil Spill: The tanker Castillo de Bellver spills 78.5m gallons of oil off the coast of South Africa.

*Oil Spill: The tanker Pericles GC spills 14m gallons of oil in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Qatar.

 

WEATHER & CLIMATE

*Temperature of -128.6°F (-89.2°C) at Vostok, Antarctica, is the coldest ever recorded.

*A National Academy of Sciences report confirms that a doubling of CO2 levels since pre-industrial times will warm the Earth by 3-8°F, although another report on chlorofluorocarbons downplays their threat to the ozone layer; under new Reagan Administration guidelines, the Environmental Protection Authority stops most research on ozone depletion and industry stops research on chlorofluorocarbon substitutes.

*The Environmental Protection Authority releases a study entitled “Can We Delay A Greenhouse Warming?” which states that as a result of global warming “agricultural conditions will be significantly altered, environmental and economic systems potentially disrupted, and political institutions stressed.”

*Hurricane Alicia hits the Texas coast, killing 22 and causing over US$1bn in damage.

 

ANIMAL WELFARE

*Veganism: John McDougall publishes The McDougall Plan, the first book promoting veganism (the avoidance of all animal products (including eggs, milk, cheese, and honey) by a credentialed Western medical authority (see 1987).

*Ethologist Dian Fossey (1932 – 1985) publishes Gorillas in the Mist, detailing her work researching mountain gorillas in Rwanda (faced with extinction from poaching). Fossey has pioneered a new way of studying animals in the wild, literally living among the animals at close range to earn their trust. Her work also dispels myths about the gorillas being prone to violence, sitting unharmed among them for over 20 years, and she also notes that different gorilla families have vocalistics and behaviour patterns unique to their specific group. Fossey is later murdered, ostensibly because she angered authorities by threatening to expose supposed links between poachers and corrupt government officials.

*Tom Regan (1938 - ) publishes The Case for Animal Rights, in which he points out that humans routinely ascribe inherent value, and thus the right to be treated with respect, to people who are not rational, including infants and the severely mentally impaired. The crucial attribute that all humans have in common, he argues, is not rationality, but the fact that each of us has a life that matters to us; in other words, what happens to us matters to us, regardless of whether it matters to anyone else. In Regan’s terminology, we are each the experiencing “subject-of-a-life.” If this is indeed the basis for ascribing inherent value to individuals, he argues, to be consistent we must ascribe inherent value, and hence moral rights, to all subjects-of-a-life, whether human or non-human. The basic right that all who possess inherent value have, he argues, is the right never to be treated merely as a means to the ends of others.

 

 

MAJOR DISASTERS

 

NATURAL

*An earthquake in Colombia kills 5000.

*The Ash Wednesday Bushfires in Australia kill 76. They are the worst bushfires in the nation’s history in terms of death toll.

 

MAN-MADE

*A South Korean airliner is downed by a Soviet jet fighter after Korean plane enters Soviet airspace, killing 269 (see above).

*A Colombian airliner crashes near Madrid, killing 181.

 

 

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT

 

PHYSICS & MATHEMATICS

*William Brian Arthur and others publish a description of increasing-returns, or positive feedback, that is, “how chance events work to select one equilibrium point from many possible in random processes [permitting economists to] see mathematically how different sets of historical accidents could cause radically different outcomes to emerge.”

 

NUCLEAR ENERGY, WEAPONRY & BALLISTIC MISSILES

*Russian Colonel Stanislav Petrov (1939 - ) saves life on Earth by refusing to accept early warning computer alerts that indicate the US has launched a nuclear attack on the USSR. The computer is later shown to be in error and the incident only comes to light in 1998. He is later handed a World Citizen Award by the Association of World Citizens.

*Strategic Defense Initiative: President Reagan makes his initial proposal to develop space-based laser technology to intercept enemy missiles. The media dub this plan “Star Wars.”

*The US begins deploying cruise and Pershing II intermediate range nuclear missiles at its airbases in the territory of European allies (such as Great Britain and West Germany).###

*US nuclear energy generates more electricity than natural gas.

*The US Nuclear Waste Policy Act is signed, authorising the development of a high-level nuclear waste repository. The Department of Energy soon begins construction of the Defense Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina, which will make high-level nuclear waste into a glass-like substance, which will then be shipped to a repository deep within the Earth for permanent disposal.

*Doctors order an evacuation from Bikini (where the US conducted nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s) due to high radiation levels.

*The Marshall Islands receives US$183.7 million for the 1946-1958 US nuclear tests near Bikini.

*A visit to New Zealand by the nuclear-powered US Navy frigate Texas sparks widespread protests (see 1984).

*The American telemovie The Day After crystallises anti-nuclear feelings across the globe, depicting the horrifying effects of radiation poisoning on conflict survivors (and emphasising that a nuclear conflagration will not mean the instant end of the world – a popular misconception since the 1950s – although anyone surviving will face a potential fate worse than death).

*Worldwide stockpile of nuclear warheads: US – 23,154, USSR – 35,804, Great Britain – 320, France – 280, China – 380.

*American/Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles: US – 1040, USSR – 1368.

 

ASTRONOMY & SPACE EXPLORATION

*The Israel Space Agency is founded in Tel Aviv.

*Lt. Colonel Guion S. Bluford, Jr. (1942 - ) is the first black American astronaut to travel in space, blasting off aboard the Challenger space shuttle (see above).

*Sally Ride (1951 - ) becomes first American woman in space on the Space Shuttle Challenger (see above).

*US astronauts perform the first space shuttle spacewalk.

*Pioneer 10 becomes the first manmade object to leave the solar system.

*Total eclipse in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

 

ARCHAEOLOGY

*Scientists develop a method for dating ancient objects based on chemical changes in obsidian.

 

PSYCHOLOGY

*Psychologist Howard Gardner (1943 - ) publishes Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence, in which he posits that pencil and paper IQ tests do not capture the full range of human intelligences, and that we all have individual profiles of strengths and weaknesses across multiple intelligence dimensions. Gardner defines intelligence as the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural settings. These intelligences encompass seven dimensions: visual / spatial, musical, verbal, logical / mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and bodily / kinaesthetic (he later adds two more: naturalist and existentialist). Traditional intelligence tests only consider verbal and logical / mathematical intelligence, which Gardner posits to be inadequate.

 

HEALTH & MEDICINE

*The first successful lung transplant is performed.

*The first successful multivisceral transplant is performed.

 

CHEMISTRY, BIOLOGY & GENETICS

*Syntex receives approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market a monoclonal antibody-based diagnostic test for Chlamydia trachomatis.

*First artificially-created chromosome.

*The first human mother-to-mother embryo transfer is completed.

*Australian scientists produce a vaccine against footrot using genetic engineering techniques.

 

ENGINEERING

*The soft bifocal contact lens is invented.

 

AVIATION, TRANSPORT & SHIPPING

*First solo circumnavigation of the globe in a helicopter.

 

COMMUNICATIONS

*The first patent to be associated with the abbreviation ‘RFID’ (short for ‘radio frequency identification’) is granted (see 1973, 1987).

*The first regular US mobile phone network starts. By 1987 there will be 312 cellular systems operating in 205 cities.

*There are now 300,000 fax machines in the US.

 

COMPUTERISATION & AUTOMATION

*There are now 10m computers in the US.

*Laptop Computers: The first laptop computer appears: Radio Shack introduces Model 100, the first version of a computer small enough to hold on one's lap. The display is an 8-row, 40-column LCD. The computer runs for several hours on four AA batteries. It is much less sophisticated than the personal computers available in desktop versions. A more enduring success is the Compaq Portable, the first product from Compaq, introduced later this year (by now the IBM PC has become the standard platform). Although scarcely more portable than the Osborne machines (see 1981), and also requiring AC power to run, it runs MS-DOS (see 1975) and is the first true IBM clone (i.e. IBM-compatible machine). The first laptops successful on a large-scale come care of a US Air Force contract in 1987 (which leads to the purchase of over 200,000 laptops from successful bidder ZDS). By decade's end, laptops begin to become popular with business users (the NEC UltraLite, released in 1989, is the first notebook computer, weighing just over 2kg; in lieu of a floppy or hard drive, it contains a 2MB RAM drive, but this reduces its utility as well as its size). The same year, Apple releases the Macintosh Portable, while its Powerbook series begins in 1991. Technological improvements throughout the 1990s (e.g. power-saving processors, improved LCD displays and hard disk and battery technologies as well as better connectivity) see laptops gain just over 50% of the share of total retail PC sales by 2005.

*The Birth of the Modern Internet: The modern-day Internet is formed when ARPANET is split into military and civilian sections, although it will be another decade or so until it gains popularity and wider use in the mainstream (beyond a more culturally narrow subgroup of computer aficionados and industry insiders). The TCP/IP protocol (or Internet Protocol) (see 1973), a data-oriented protocol used by source and destination hosts for communicating data across a packet-switched inter-network, also replaces the network’s existing protocol.

*The growth of the Oxford English Dictionary (first published in 1928 in 10 vols. and expanding to 17 vols. including supplements published since that time) causes the editors to make a decision to digitise the entire text of the work. And international effort is launched taking in 120 keyboarders of the International Computaprint Corporation in the US, 55 proof-readers in the UK, development of database software by a the University of Waterloo in Canada, and a range of computer hardware, database and other software, development managers, and programmers donated by IBM. Five years later, the OED is published in 20 hard-copy vols. and in a CD-Rom version (see also 2000).

*There are 562 internet hosts.

*America Online (AOL): The Control Video Corporation is established, its sole product being an online service called Gameline for the Atari 2600 (see 1977) video game console. Subscribers to the service buy a modem from the company and pay a one-off set-up fee. Weathering a financial storm which sees near bankruptcy, the company changes its name to Quantum Computer Services and goes on to launch Quantum Link, an online service for Commodore 64 (see 1980) and 128 PCs in 1985. The firm develops a strategy to provide online services for people unfamiliar with computers (in contrast to CompuServe [see 1975], which has long served the technical community). Changing its name to America Online in 1991, the company sees massive growth and, with the launch of the World Wide Web (see 1990) and mainstream breakthrough of the Internet in the mid-1990s (see 1994, 1995), AOL becomes the largest internet service provider (and one of the biggest companies) in the world. In 2000, AOL merges with Time Warner, the largest media company in the world, to create AOL Time Warner, although after the Dot-Com crash (see 2000), the value of AOL shares plummet, prompting the company to change its name to Time Warner (and so de-emphasise its web server subsidiary).

*The FCC concludes that long distance access charges should not be imposed on enhanced services (implicitly including Internet and Internet telephony), which eventually clears the way for the rapid take-up of VOIP services after their mass market introduction (see 1973, 1979, 1995, 2004).

*Immos develops the transputer, a parallel computer in which several processors work simultaneously, each on a different part of a problem, thus speeding up processing considerably.

*Apple’s Lisa computer brings the mouse (a device that moves the cursor on the screen as a result of moving the mouse on a hard surface) and pull-down menus to the personal computer. Pressing a button on the mouse sends a command to the computer, depending on where the cursor is located. Pull-down menus are choices that appear when the menu is summoned with a push of the mouse button. Lisa is too expensive and clumsy to be commercially successful, but it leads to the very popular Macintosh, which has the same features (see 1984).

*IBM’s PC-XT is the first personal computer with a hard-disk drive built into it. The hard disk is a memory device capable of storing a large amount of information even when the machine is turned off (thus replacing many floppy diskettes). In the first XTs, the hard disk contains 10 megabytes of information.

*David Goldberg (1953 - ) builds a genetic algorithm classifier system computer program which learns to simulate central control of a gas pipeline.

*The term ‘computer virus’ is coined to describe programs that can insert copies of themselves into other programs. Fred Cohen, who comes up with the phrase, is also the first person to write such a program as part of his research into computer security.

*The release of the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program does much to contribute to the success of IBM PCs in the corporate environment.

*Hacking: Wargames, a film that glamorises hacking (featuring a teenager who nearly starts WWIII after inadvertently hacking – i.e. utilising his personal computer and telephone/modem to break into another computer, usually a company or government mainframe - into the NORAD computer), is released. Many hackers later claim it inspired them to start playing around with computers and networks (the door to which is open with the birth of the modern-day Internet – see above).

*The Seeds of Open Source: Software developer Richard Stallman (1953 - ) establishes the GNU Project to develop an operating system (see 1964, 1985) for computers composed entirely of free software – “a sufficient body of free software...to get along without any software that is not free.” By the beginning of the 1990s, the Project has produced or collected most of the necessary components of this system - libraries, compilers, text editors - except for the core component, the kernel (that part of an operating system which connects the application software to the hardware of a computer) (see 1985, 1991, 1998).

*A-list athletes such as Larry Bird (1956 - ) begin to feature in video games.

*Multi-Touch: Technicians at the University of Toronto develop the first finger pressure multi-touch display (wherein simply touching a computer screen initiates commands so that users can compute without conventional input devices (e.g., mouse, keyboard). Within two years, Bell Labs engineers a touch screen that can manipulate images. In 1991, Swiss Pierre Wellner publishes a paper on his multi-touch ‘Digital Desk,’ which supports multi-finger and pinching motions (these will later be critical to the development of early 21st century products such as the iPodsee 2001 – touch and iPhone in 2007, thereby allowing mainstream exposure to multi-touch technology for the first time).

*Cosmologist Robert Jastrow (1925 - ) publishes The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe, in which he posits that the purported evolution of the human mind is not complete and will very likely see a future wherein robotic minds are sent into the cosmos as immortal explorers:

A bold scientist will be able to tap the contents of his mind and transfer them into the metallic lattices of a computer…It can be said that this scientist has entered the computer and now dwells in it. At last the human brain, ensconced in a computer, has been liberated from the weakness of the mortal flesh…It is in control of its own destiny…housed in indestructible lattices of silicone, and no longer constrained in its span of years…such a life could live forever.

*Myron Krueger (see 1975) publishes Artificial Reality, in which he coins the term of the title to describe his interactive immersive environments, based on video recognition techniques, which put a user in full, unencumbered contact with the digital world. In such an environment, human behaviour is perceived by a computer, which interprets what it observes and responds through intelligent visual and auditory displays. Krueger’s concept contains many of the ideas later taken up in the notion of ‘virtual reality’ (see 1989). The main difference between the two concepts is that ‘artificial reality’ is often used to describe a virtual reality that is indistinguishable from reality, whereas the term ‘virtual reality is often applied to technology that is ‘like’ reality but can easily be recognised as a simulation.

 

 

ARTS & CULTURE

 

GENERAL

*Expo ’84: New Orleans, Louisiana, hosts a World’s Fair (held 100 years after the city’s earlier Fair), featuring the Wonderwall, a postmodern structure comprising 2300 feet of lights, water, music and other diversions using the mediums of stucco, corrugated and sheet metal, wire mesh, papier-mache. Plagued with attendance problems (7m visit, well under projections), the event becomes the only Fair to declare bankruptcy during its run.

 

PHILOSOPHY, POLITICAL SCIENCE & HISTORY

*Ernest Gellner (1925 – 1995) publishes Nations and Nationalism, in which he argues that nationalism, far from being an undesirable by-product of nations (as many have seen it in the post-Nazi era), actually engenders nations and not the other way round. He argues that nations are completely modern constructions borne of nationalism which is “primarily a political principle, which holds that the political and national unit should be congruent.” Nations were the result of pressures created by the demands of the industrial revolution. As soon as people from widely different backgrounds began to converge on cities, it was necessary to create some form of common identity for them. Perhaps more importantly, the demands of capitalism, specifically the need for constant retraining, demanded that there be a common language among workers. These demands were met by creating a common past and culture (by turning “low” folk cultures into “high” state cultures and requiring a common language). With these common experiences as a motive, workers were more willing to work hard, not only for their own good, but for the good of their country. Further, it became possible to quickly retrain and move workers around the nation - after all, whether in Paris or Nice, Berlin or Dresden, London or Liverpool, a common culture, language and history united the newly mobile workforce.

*Jean-François Lyotard (see 1979) publishes The Differend, in which he argues that human discourses occur in any number of discrete and incommensurable realms, none of which is privileged to pass judgment on the success or value of any of the others.

*Michael Walzer (1935 - ) publishes Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality, in which he advances an argument that all people are not created equal. Since not everyone possesses equal talent and intelligence, simple egalitarianism (keeping everyone as equal as possible) is not feasible. Instead, he argues that a “complex” equality must evolve to acknowledge individual differences.

 

ARCHITECTURE

*Ceauşima: A plan devised by Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (1918 – 1989) to modernise downtown Bucharest (partly inspired by the 1977 earthquake – see – which primarily damaged old, pre-war structures) begins, ultimately resulting in 380 hectares of the historic centre being levelled (including numerous historic monuments and churches such as the vast monastic complex of Văcăreşti). It is one of the largest peacetime urban destructions at the hands of humans in recorded history and is done to accommodate several standardised apartment blocks and government buildings, including the grandiose Centrul Civic and the palatial House of the People (later the Palace of the Parliament – the world’s largest civilian building with an administrative function, most expensive administrative building, and heaviest building).

 

LITERATURE & LANGUAGES

*In Germany, Stern Magazine announces the discovery of a 60-volume personal diary written by Adolf Hitler but it turns out to be an elaborate hoax.

 

CINEMA

*The THX sound system is developed with the main goal of recreating film sound in movie theatres exactly as the filmmakers had intended. The first movie to be shown in a THX-certified auditorium is Return of the Jedi (1983).

 

MEDIA

 

---TELEVISION

*British film distribution and exhibition quotas are suspended.

*Sky Channel (the first European satellite TV channel) is launched.

 

MUSIC & POP SUBCULTURES

 

---GENERAL / TECHNOLOGY

*Compact discs are released commercially.

 

---POP / ROCK

*Indie Pop: A new breed of postpunk bands with a pop sensibility but retaining Punk’s (see 1976) original anti-mainstream mentality (signing with independent labels) and favouring the guitar over the now ubiquitous synthesiser emerges in Britain. The Smiths are the first indie band, their jangly guitar pop establishing the template for indie bands to come this decade (although ‘indie’ later becomes a catch-all word for music that retains a certain sound hitherto associated with non-mainstream acts as in the 1990s most prominent indie – or alternative rock in the US – acts are signed to major labels).

*New Order, formed from the ashes of Joy Division (see 1979), releases the techno-pop single “Blue Monday,” which becomes the biggest-selling 12” single of all-time and also confers for the first time a hip, alternative respectability on dance-based music (see 1991).

*House Music: US DJ Frankie Knuckles (1955 - ) invents house music when he mixes old disco classics and Eurosynth pop. The common element of (most) house music is a 4/4 beat generated by a drum machine or other electronic means (such as a sampler), together with a solid (usually also electronically-generated) bassline. Upon this foundation are added electronically-generated sounds and samples of music such as jazz, blues and synth pop.

*The Feminisation of Rock: Former backing singer Madonna (Louise Ciccone) releases her debut album, a dance-R&B-style record with catchy pop songs. But it is her image - a playful and sexy combination of punk and pop culture - that leads to long-term success and MTV aggressively markets this (in, arguably, seeking to establish stars of the pop video era to aid in its own success). She quickly becomes a feature on the station. Initially, courting risqué and then later taboo subjects, Madonna initially pursues controversy to extend her success, but by the 1990s, she has adopted Bowie-style image reinvention (entrenching this as the postmodern method of long-term popular success; note for instance her imitation of Marilyn Monroe on the video to “Material Girl;” her altar girl character in the “Like A Prayer” video; her uber-sex-fiend creature from the dark love lagoon with gratuitous hard, pointy bra in 1990s stage shows). Her success also inspires countless women to try and succeed (and do so) in the world of popular music (hitherto a male-dominated medium), which in turn sees issues such as sexism addressed among the rock cognoscenti (such that the overt sexism that characterised much of the popular music previously is politically incorrect and decidedly uncool in the next decade – arguably, this also opens the door to rock’s accommodation with homosexuality as well).

 

SPORTS & HOBBIES

*The first World Athletics Championships are held.

*An Australian entry wins the America’s Cup, heretofore held by the US for 132 years.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

*Reflecting the spread of US culture beyond the West, Tokyo Disneyland opens. It is the first Disney amusement park built outside the US (see 1992).

 

 

RELIGION & BELIEF

 

CHRISTIANITY

*The Sixth World Council of Churches Assembly is held in Vancouver, Canada. The theme is “Jesus Christ – the Life of the World,” and the focus of the meeting is a renewed emphasis on common worship. While evangelical delegates hail the meeting as providing a greater emphasis on “evangelical concerns,” liberals see it as a step forward in their goal of “one visible church,” with Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, a Sikh and Native Canadian Indians in attendance as guests (the latter involved in the opening ceremony - offering a ‘sacred flame’ from their spiritual tradition - and operating a Sweat Lodge used in their purification rites), senior Council members openly noting they are open to “receive new insights from the One who is the Source of all truth” in kinship with people of other “living faiths,” and the moderator of the Council’s interfaith dialogue program expressing his concern over the “threat” to such dialogue posed by Christian evangelism.

*The US National Council of Churches begins releasing inclusive versions of Christian liturgy (e.g. referring to God as ‘Father-Mother’).

*US evangelical theologian Carl F.H. Henry (see 1956) publishes the multi-volume God, Revelation, And Authority, in which he asserts that revealed truth must be communicable in propositional form, that is, in complete sentences, with subject, verbs, and objects. Truth is not a commodity for the intellectually or spiritually elite. In other words, if you cannot tell a person in plain language what the truth is, then they must question whether or not what you are considering is really the truth. Furthermore, God has set this example by personally revealing Himself in this manner in our own objective, external history - the same history of which we are all now a part. This is not to say that there are truths in the universe that are not communicable verbally, only that the Truth that has been revealed by God must be, and has been, communicated in that manner.

 

NEW AGE, SPIRITUALITY & CULTS

*Actress Shirley MacLaine (1934 - ) publishes her autobiography Out on a Limb, describing her experiences with astral projection, UFO encounters, and other New Age events; the book establishes her as a pre-eminent New Age celebrity and further popularises New Age concepts (see 1987).

 

 

 

#

[Edited from Wikipedia]

Genetic modification of plant crops is seen by some as intolerable meddling with ‘natural’ order (playing God), and while some would like to see it banned, others push simply for required labelling of genetically modified food (so consumers can make an informed choice based on their moral views or ecological concerns – see below).

Other controversies include the definition of patent and property pertaining to products of genetic engineering and the possibility of unforeseen global side effects as a result of modified organisms proliferating.

To date, there is little international consensus regarding the acceptability and effective role of modified ‘complete’ organisms such as plants or animals.

The practice of genetic modification as a scientific technique is not restricted in the US. Individual genetically modified crops (such as soybeans) are subject to intense study before being brought to market and are common in the US, but estimates of their market saturation vary widely. Some countries in Europe have taken the opposite position, stating that genetic modification has not been proven safe, and therefore that they will not accept genetically modified food from the US or any other country. This issue has been brought before the World Trade Organisation (see 1994), which has determined that not allowing modified food into the country creates an unnecessary obstacle to international trade. Consequently, genetic modification within agriculture is an issue of some strong debate the world over.

Concern over the spread of genetically modified plant pollens has arisen, with concern that pollen from GMO crops can be dispersed over large areas by wind, animals, and insects (and mix or ‘infect’ natural flora). Research in 2003 lent support to this concern when modified genes were found in normal plants up to 21 km (13 miles) away from the source.

 

##

Dzodzi Tsikata, in “Effects of Structural Adjustment on Women and the Poor” (1995) says:

By the mid-1980s, there were many signs of trouble as the populations in various countries rebelled against the strictures of Structural Adjustment Programmes. Some flash-points in Africa for example, Zambia, were related to the removal of subsidies on food staples, the widespread retrenchment of workers, the high cost of social services and goods and the low wages of workers. The critics of Structural Adjustment Programmes include trade unions and urban-waged workers of various kinds, women’s organisations, peasant farmers, non-governmental organisations and African governments themselves….

In the beginning, the dominant view was that Structural Adjustment Programmes were inevitable and essentially correct, but created hardships which had to be addressed to increase their acceptability. Thus the discussion did not extend to a questioning of the macro-economic policies underpinning Structural Adjustment Programmes. The [opposing view] gained ground as the 1980s…came to a close and it became clear that even the macro-economic policies were in dispute.

Since the late-1980s, the view that Structural Adjustment Programmes are based on wrong assumptions about Africa and are inimical to the continent’s long-term development have gained ground as has the position that  [they] have either created or worsened poverty levels or at the very least, have ignored the adverse effects of the programme on the poor. The international financial institutions and their supporters continue to insist that Structural Adjustment Programmes are the only way forward and without them, Africa would have been worse off.

 

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In the mid-1970s, the USSR had decided to modernise its intermediate-range missile arsenal by the introduction and stationing of the advanced ground-based SS-20 systems. With a range of approximately 5000kms, the SS-20 was capable of delivering a 150-kiloton nuclear warhead within a target radius of 400 metres - a capability that could not be matched by any NATO weapon. It was clear that the missile’s target area was Central Europe. West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt had been among the first to warn of the danger posed by this new Soviet weapon system. The US  reacted quickly by developing two new weapon systems - the Pershing II inter-mediate-range rocket and the cruise missile. Although the Pershing II possessed a considerably shorter range and a much smaller warhead than the SS-20, it was capable of hitting its potential target with almost absolute accuracy.

At the NATO conference of foreign and defence ministers held in December 1979, officials decided to deploy 108 Pershing II rockets and 464 cruise missiles in Europe by the end of 1983. They also agreed to enter negotiations as soon as possible with the USSR on the stationing of medium-range missiles in Europe. If Soviet missiles were withdrawn from Central Europe, US missiles would not be positioned in West Germany. The US-Russian talks began in Geneva in November 1981 and continued for two years, but without achieving results.

NATO’s decision met with mounting opposition from the European peace movement, especially in West Germany and numerous rallies were held in the early 1980s. In the fall of 1983, protest demonstrations throughout West Germany were aimed at influencing the imminent decision of the Bundestag on deployment. Demonstrators feared that if missiles were stationed on German soil, the German population would be wiped out in the event of a possible nuclear exchange, while the Soviet Union would remain unaffected. With time, however, the peace movement became increasingly divided, and after 1983 it began to have less influence on public opinion. Most West Germans saw the Soviet Union as responsible for the escalation of the arms race by their deployment of the SS-20 and, in addition, mistrusted the Soviet Union’s apparently keen interest in the peace movement in Western Europe.

 

 

 

 

1984

 

POPULATION

 

GENERAL

*The Second UN World Population Conference is held in Mexico City. Although the 1974 Plan of Action is updated with new recommendations to take into account widespread improvements to health and other areas in developing nations as well as population increases (770m with 90% of this in the Third World), the Conference is overshadowed by the concerted joint efforts of the US delegation (reflecting the views of the conservative Reagan White House) and the Vatican in achieving a consensus against the use of abortion: that “in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning.” Additionally, the US delegates announce the new ‘global gag’ rule, wherein federal foreign assistance funds cannot be granted to foreign NGOs performing abortion or lobbying to make abortion legal, even if foreign NGOs use their own non-US funds to perform legal abortions, or to provide counselling and referral for abortion, or engage in the abortion policy debate.

 

MIGRATION & REFUGEES

*Debate on high levels of immigration surfaces in Australia over concerns of migrants from Asia, in particular, and possible implications for traditional culture.

 

 

POLITICS

 

WORLD

*The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, which states that the peoples of our planet have a sacred right to peace.

 

ISRAEL & THE MIDDLE EAST

*Following inconclusive elections, Shimon Peres becomes Israeli Prime Minister of a Government of National Unity (formed on a platform of disengagement from Lebanon).

*A split emerges in the PLO as hardliners form an alliance against Yasser Arafat for ongoing attempts at dialogue with Jordan, Egypt and (secretly) Israel.

*Iran accuses Iraq of using chemical weapons in their conflict. The UN subsequently condemns such use.

*Great Britain and the US send warships to the Persian Gulf following an Iranian offensive against Iraq.

*West Beirut falls to Muslim militias.

 

EUROPE

*The Spinnelli Draft Treaty (see 1980) on the establishment of the European Union is passed by the European Parliament by a large majority. However, only Italy and Belgium ratify it. Nevertheless, it does create momentum for further developments on European unity (see 1985).

*At a European Summit, Margaret Thatcher argues that Great Britain pays far more to the EC than it receives in spending (especially in community farm aid) and negotiates a budget rebate (worth £2b per annum). She is widely quoted as saying “We want our money back.”

*The European Council adopts a resolution on the reduction of border checks on people from members states.

*Forum Report: The nationalist association the New Ireland Forum produces calls for a unitary Irish state or else a federal structure or joint British-Irish authority. The British government rejects the report.

*President Reagan visits Ireland and declares US policy towards Northern Ireland is non-interference, although he does condemn the violence of the situation.

*Death of Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov. He is succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko (1911 – 1985).

*British security forces lay siege to the Libyan Embassy in London after a local policewomen is killed by small arms fire originating from inside the building. After threats are made to British citizens living in Libya, the British government decides to respect the diplomatic immunity of Embassy staff and allows them to leave for Tripoli. No one is arrested for the murder.

*The USSR announces it will be boycotting the Los Angeles Olympics in a tit-for-tat move for the 1980 US boycott.

*The US establishes full diplomatic relations with the Vatican after 117 years.

 

NORTH AMERICA

*Brian Mulroney (1939 - ) becomes Prime Minister of Canada after a landslide win for his Progressive Conservative Party. During his tenure, Canada will draw closer to the US (culminating in a free-trade agreement between the two – see 1989).

*Ronald Reagan is re-elected US President, defeating Democrat Walter Mondale (1928 - ).

*President Reagan sparks controversy when he jokes during a voice test for a paid political radio address: “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

 

ASIA

*Brunei gains its independence from Great Britain. Soon after it joins ASEAN.

*Great Britain and China agree on procedures to return Hong Kong to China in 1997. China pledges to grant Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy and permit it to retain its capitalist system for 50 years.

*Assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (1917 – 1984) by Sikh separatists in revenge for the Golden Temple episode (see below); the murder sets off mobs across the nation who kill several thousand Sikhs. Her son Rajiv Gandhi (1944 – 1991) succeeds her. He also wins victory in a subsequent general election. The militant Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (founded 1980 as a breakaway from the Janata Dal party that led the government of 1977-80) enters the parliament for the first time with two seats. Ongoing ethnic tensions with minority groups (especially the Sikhs, in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination) and the perceived failures of the ruling Congress Party will eventually see the BJP gain power (and exacerbate tensions with Pakistan) (see 1996).

 

AUSTRALASIA & THE PACIFIC

*David Lange (1942 - ) leads the Labour Party to victory in general elections in New Zealand and initiates wide-ranging economic reforms (see below) and a more independent foreign policy that shatters the ANZUS (see 1951) alliance (see below).

 

 

CONFLICT

 

NATION STATES

*Indian troops are sent to occupy the Siachen glacier in Kashmir following suspicious mountaineering expeditions from Pakistan. Over the next 15 years, 10,000 Indians and Pakistanis will die, largely due to frostbite and mountain sickness.

*Border clashes between Thailand and Laos over rival claims on three border villages.

 

CIVIL UNREST & ETHNIC CLASHES

*The Bulgarian government adopts a policy of attempting to force its Turkish minority to assimilate (adopting Bulgarian names, closing mosques, etc), precipitating 300,000 Bulgarian Tirks to emigrate over the next seven years.

*After the government announces plans to close up to 20 pits, British coalminers launch a year-long strike (which, at its most tense, sees angry clashes with police). Because the strike is illegal (w