The Russia-Ukraine War and the Prophetic Fiction ‘Years and Years’ began by examining the prophetic content and praxis of the 2019 BBC mini-series Years and Years, so as to highlight the general cultural significance of this televised fiction. From this context I identified four specific predictions (sections linked below) made by the series that are most pertinent to the manifestation of the present war and its most likely ramifications:
- Russia invades Ukraine, precipitating
- An influx of Ukrainian refugees into Britain (same section as above)
- Hyperinflated fuel prices
- Rolling blackouts blamed on Russian cyber attacks
As of writing, the first two of those four predictions were and continue to be of immediate relevance; the third prediction has shown indications of being inevitable; while the seeds of the fourth prediction could well have already been sewn by the Western reaction to the war.
This follow-up article re-examines these four themes in light of what has transpired since I introduced them; and begins a series of articles that each introduce and discuss an overarching societal theme and subthemes derived from Years and Years, thereby expanding upon the thesis of the original article. I shall, in other words, identify more of the predictions casted through Years and Years and specifically those I consider most relevant to the potential ramifications of the Russia-Ukraine War, in each case revealing the essence of this relevancy in relation to the present state of the world.
Russia-Ukraine 4 ‘Years and Years’ (The First Four Predictions)
1. Russia invades Ukraine
As I mentioned in the Conclusion, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would have been of no great surprise to scholars and diplomats in the field of geopolitics, since expert knowledge in this field would lead most to recognize that Ukraine is logically of special significance to the state of Russia on a number of counts (hence being the subject of my second article in relation to “The Grand Chessboard”). Nevertheless, this remains a remarkable prediction; for not only was it presented early in the first episode but it can easily be argued that the most essential subplots and themes of Years and Years are predicated on this particular event (a point that should become increasingly apparent as this article series progresses). Indeed, it could be said that the Russia-Ukraine War theme is as fundamental to the overarching plot of Years and Years as it is pivotal to the general state of world affairs—and this contention is no more evident than in the most immediate and immense ramification of the war as paralleled between the fictional series and the real world news: a refugee crisis.
2. An influx of Ukrainian refugees into Britain
As a direct result of having watched Years and Years back in 2019, the first news reports of an imminent invasion of Ukraine by Russia immediately prompted the thought that this development will likely lead to – via military conflict and resulting displacement – an influx of Ukrainian refugees into Britain. Instinctively, this seemed (at the time of first viewing) likely on two counts.
Firstly, Years and Years was clearly (to my mind) the work of a fiction writer who is astute, if not privy, with regards to the near-future trajectory of societal, cultural, geopolitical, and technological developments (surpassing even Black Mirror in this respect).
Secondly, as I sensed a humanitarianist reaction would be a characteristic Western response I hence I found it more difficult to imagine that Britain would not welcome Ukrainian refugees than it would, even irrespective of logistical or other factors. As it happened, this reaction not only transpired almost immediately but the political and social appeals for mass asylum manifested even more rapidly, uniformly, and vehemently than I had expected.
3. Hyperinflated fuel prices
Episode 2 of Years and Years depicted someone refuelling their car at the cost of £120, as if this price were normal; while in Episode 5, a character states that “gas and electricity [prices] are going through the roof”. Cut to the real-world February of 2022 (being a mere two-and-half years since the show aired) and the initiation of the Russia-Ukraine War caused an almost immediate price hike of fuel internationally, due to the fact that Russia is a major world supplier of energy. More specifically, the UK (together with other western nations) has politically responded with a moral imperative of ‘imposing economic sanctions upon Russia’—the unintended and costly irony of which is that the leading economic effect of the sanctions is to have self-imposed an economic handicap, i.e. in the form of diminished sources of fuel and the consequent domestic impact. Furthermore, the major Western nations have created – over many years – a dependency on Russian oil, not to mention gas; and are hence now scrambling to arrange alternative supplies, i.e. having hastily agreed to spurn Russian supply of these essential commodities. Thus the UK, EU, and the US (albeit to a lesser extent, due to their greater resources) have effectively imposed depravations upon their own nations with respect to their economies*.
*Following this energy price hike situation, Larry Elder pointed out that Donald Trump had pointed out (during his presidency) the “inappropriateness” of the Western powers fostering a dependency on Russian oil, which they did by way of business deals that were economically – and by extension, geopolitically – irresponsible; and which Trump strove to rectify. Elder further points out that under the current Joe Biden presidency, the US imported a record high amount of oil from Russia, thus indicating the resumption of that reckless policy until the recent war in Ukraine gave cause for the economic sanctions against Russia—hence the potential energy crisis.
The socio-economic consequences of this energy supply scenario has been a staple of news reporting since the war began; and if anything, the matter quickly become even more prominent as a topic of concern in the media. Thus while there is not yet an ‘energy crisis’ per say, it does seem as if the genesis of one has been formed by the fusion of the three aforementioned actions: the
- Cultivated dependency on Russian energy
- Russian invasion of Ukraine
- Western economic sanctions upon Russia
4. Rolling blackouts blamed on Russian cyber attacks
The possibility of ‘rolling blackouts’ – that is, periodic nationwide power outages – is not unconnected to that of an energy crisis, in that electricity is produced primarily by fossil fuels. This is no more evidenced than by the abrupt political u-turn (in the UK and EU) regarding nuclear energy which had previously been set – by explicit policy – on a course of decline. In this context, the recently stated intentions to invest in nuclear energy thus represents a direct countermeasure to the economic implications of their own sanctions upon Russia, termed an ‘energy security’ policy.
In Years and Years – as indeed in reality, which this article series should illustrate – societal crises in general are implied as being interconnected, in that problems occurring in one sphere of society inevitably cause problems in others.* That said, the theme of recurring blackouts specifically caused by cyber attacks and explicitly blamed on Russia is an essential plot feature in the latter part of the series, hence it will be considered here independently from the energy supply factor.
*A principle that brings to mind the infamous docudrama Threads (1984), plotted on a ‘limited nuclear war’ between Russia and the West and focusing on the devastating effects of a nuclear attack (England’s Sheffield in this case). The title of the programme refers to the metaphorical ‘threads’ that bind all aspects of society together—thus the introductory narration: “In an urban society, everything connects […] but the connections that make society strong also make it vulnerable.”
Russia as a cyber security threat has been a well established theme in the West for at least a decade now, recurring periodically as the hot topic of media and political discourse. Hence, that Russia has been labelled the enemy of the West, whether justifiably or not; and that the Western response to the conflict in Ukraine has been unilateral antagonism towards Russia, in the form of international demonization and economic warfare—logically makes a retaliation of some kind more than likely.
Since the Western nations have clearly displayed unwillingness to initiate military action against Russia and have instead limited their intervention to indirect forms, any retaliation from Russia is almost certain to likewise be limited. Hence the present situation is that both sides are – for now – mutually avoiding actions that could instigate World War III; Russia’s military is preoccupied in Ukraine; whilst the West is essentially waging a threefold war upon Russia: a propaganda war, an economic war, and a proxy war (i.e. by sending military equipment to the Ukrainian army).
In this overall context, cyber warfare seems a most likely consequence of the West’s antagonism against Russia. Given how integral networked technology and digital systems are in post-millennial civilization, cyber attacks now pose the threat of considerable societal disruption to the extent that even one major attack could ultimately affect all aspects of life. Furthermore, a cyber attack will probably be a consequence rather than a response, in the sense that cyber attacks are commonly associated with rogue hacker groups whose actions can hence easily be misattributed to that of states (indeed, even by the design of such groups); whilst on the other hand, the inherent simplicity of the ‘false flag’ cyber attack makes it an especially advantageous ploy of states, who can thereby fabricate a casus belli ‘on demand’, as it were.
In other words, cyber warfare amounts to proxy war in that cyber attacks – unlike physical attacks – are not visible, hence they can easily be attributed to any one of various states, rogue hacker groups, cyber mercenaries, or false flag operations. This very fact is indicated in Years and Years in a montage of events, one of which includes the scene of a blackout that cuts to an expert on TV news stating that
“The blackouts are cyberattacks. Could be Russia, could be Isis, could be teenagers in a bedroom…”
The cyber domain has long been considered as the logical and imminent next step in the evolution of warfare. That this method of attack is also suited almost perfectly to the present proxy war climate between the West and Russia probably makes a cyber attack in the West never more likely than it does now—hence indications to that effect have already been expressed in the context of the Russia-Ukraine War and the wider conflicts apparently being fostered via this event*.
*For example: Anonymous: the hacker collective that has declared cyberwar on Russia, February 27th, 2022, The Guardian; The three Russian cyber-attacks the West most fears, March 23rd 2022, BBC News
Russia-Ukraine for ‘Years and Years’ – Prophecy Rising
Having recognized the predictive relevancy of the fiction series Years and Years to the Russia-Ukraine War and its rippling consequences, the developments that have ensued since the start of the conflict have recalled to my mind further themes from the prophetic series that have also become pertinent. These themes will be presented and discussed in a succession of articles, with the aim of being insightful if not foresightful regarding the trajectory of British society and world order; not to mention the personal utility and social influence of prophetic fiction.
Part I is coming soon (to a home near you—don’t sleep on it)…
Note on ‘The Unappeared’: Before writing the article The Russia-Ukraine War and the Prophetic Fiction ‘Years and Years’ and again after posting it, I was quite surprised to find that apparently no one has mentioned this connection let alone discussed it—this according to the Google search engine, into which I fed a thorough variety of search terms and phrases. Even more surprising is that Google still reports no results for this search at the time of this posting (about six weeks later); and since Google seems not to have listed my original article, it means that the significance of Years and Years with respect to the potential ramifications of the Russia-Ukraine War – which I feel to have highlighted adequately thus far, at the very least – are not represented at all on the world’s digital oracle.