2021: A Year In Review

Every year, the Mallard asks its contributors to reflect on the last twelve months, and the next twelve to come. We are very grateful that this year, as terrible as it may have been, the Mallard has increased its presence and expanded its content enormously. We would like to thank every contributor, reader and supporter for their assistance in helping this small but important publication stay afloat.

Samuel Martin, Editor-in-Chief

At the end of 2020, it was hard to imagine how our current circumstance could get much worse; “once you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way is up”, as the saying goes. Nevertheless, it cannot be understated that 2021 has been a ghastly year. The period of relative normalcy starting in the early-mid months has been in a process of gradual reversal these last few, leaving the country in a state of oppressive uncertainty. Vaccinations have gone from voluntary for vulnerable demographics, to voluntary for everyone, to mandatory for healthcare workers and vaccine passports for the rest.

The “threat” of Omicron has revealed our nation for what it has become: a geriatric vassal state, investing all its resources into punishing creativity, reform, and youth. Governed by utilitarian technocrats, it neurotically eradicates all perceived risks with no cost being too high. Whilst the Right must be prepared to salvage all good news that presents itself, it must not forget what is now obvious: begrudgingly or not, Britain has been reduced to an exhausted putty, accustomed to being told by the worst it has to offer, when, if, and to what extent it can be free. The exception is now the norm.

Sarah Stook, Outreach Officer

‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies’- Ernest Benn

 It’s been a funny old year to put it mildly. Apart from the lingering stink of COVID-19, we’ve had a parish council meeting go viral, the official return of the Taliban and a ship in the Suez Canal caused a lot of bother. Zoom quizzes waned and we baked less banana bread, but we had our share of memes.

We have a lot to reflect on. Thousands of people have died of a disease that we only heard of a year ago. Both mental and physical health have taken a plunge. Jobs have been lost, livelihoods ruined and lives torn apart. Tragic and vicious murders have angered the nation. Nobody knew what was around the corner. We still don’t.

There’s still moments to hold onto. We’ve seen the kindness of strangers in the unlikeliest of places. People have come together to ease the loneliness of the vulnerable and to share what they have with those who need it most.

Here’s to a beautiful 2022.

Nathan Wilson, Mallard Columnist

Looking at this year in review, I argue has been difficult. Since the start of this year the UK has finally seen multiple straws breaking multiple camel backs, showing one answer definitively. The world is going through mass upheaval and nobody in charge cares. Our politicians seem to be people who during a crisis go looting, instead of offering help to the neighbours.

The Conservatives seem to act like we are stuck on the Titanic, and instead of trying to change direction or get as many people to the life rafts, they are drinking as much champagne as possible and robbing passengers. Since Columbus, our world both economically and politically has been based on the idea of more: more people, more growth and more everything. That ended recently, and instead of accepting that we to do more with less, our political class have continued to alienate their fellow countryman. This lack of recognition of this upheaval is paramount to this year and its implications for the UK’s future. As such, this was the year, I decided to give up on UK politics. I am never voting blue again, as a result I will continue making myself as self-sustaining as possible.

Mark Seymour, Mallard Columnist 

The year of 2021 will be remembered by most of us as a period of solidifying the new norm. We’ve had a significant growth in scientific authority in the public sphere, and as I mentioned in February in an article for The Mallard where I parroted a point from Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, the general population has taken up engaging in philosophy. It is now not enough to work all day, watch the telly in the evening, then go to bed and repeat it all over again, each one of us is forced to grapple with the pressing issues of our predicament. There are questions of personal liberty, altruistic breaking points, and geo-political reconsiderations that have quietly snuck into our everyday life. For this, I look back on 2021 in two minds. I am glad to see the average Joe engaging in philosophy, but I’m also concerned by the quality of this engagement. The coming years will create even harder times, but through philosophical education and discourse we will roll on over to different, better times. I wish all readers of The Mallard an interesting and safe year moving forward.

Dustin Lovell, Mallard Columnist

Let’s be clear, I’m probably ill equipped to supply a year-end review for a British political magazine. As those happy few who have enjoyed my contributions to The Mallard have seen, my purview is generally literature and art.

Insofar as I can identify trends in those areas, I am encouraged. More people, it seems, are getting fed up with the pushing of art (and, more, ideas) that we’re supposed to like, as the much-cited dichotomy between Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics and Audience scores, among other things, can attest.

The sense that people are living in completely different artistic worlds encourages me; while it may mark a house divided, such a stark cleaving at least makes apparent the core issue of our trying to house irreconcilable metaphysical worldviews in one society. This has made it easier to separate and defend the proverbial motte that the majority agree on from those who have infiltrated the bailey.

The first step to dealing with a problem is identifying it, and the braided push of “build back ‘better’” policies, woke entertainment, and greater limitation structures for those who disagree, has only made doing so easier. A message of doom, but not necessarily of gloom. 

Jake Scott, Chairman

When it comes to writing our end-of-year reflections, I like to read the previous year’s, and consider how things have changed at the Mallard. On reflection, I sincerely believe everything has changed.

To take you briefly through the year: after finally admitting I could not take the Mallard much further on my own, and following very kind offers to become more involved, I relented and expanded the Mallard team significantly. We now have a team of roughly 10 people, all remarkably devoted (and doing everything entirely voluntarily!), and a wide array of regular contributors. We launched a physical magazine which has outperformed every target we set for it. We have published hundreds of articles. We hit our goal of 3,000 followers on Twitter, then hit 4,000, then passed 5,000. We reached 100,000 views – our goal for the year – by the beginning of September. I could go on.

Suffice to say, the Mallard has changed incredibly in the last twelve months, and I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has gotten involved, as a team member, as a writer, and as a reader. It is a labour of love – it can certainly be laborious at times, but it is never without love.

Photo produced by Adam Limb, Digital Media Officer.

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