I think it is fair to say that what we have seen in 2011 is a massive failure of all three of these schemes to deal with the vacuum left behind by the upward flow of wealth. And since it is all happening at once, you might call it a “perfect storm.” Now it is possible to argue that societies around the world should have found a better way to deal with this income disparity. But in many cases their options were limited.
The real problem with regard to the global debt crisis is that most of the wealth that should have benefited the global population is now firmly in the grip of the wealthy one percent, who in most cases have not shouldered their fair share of taxation. If the wealth of the one percent were distributed more evenly in the world there would likely be no debt crisis, even if everyone at the top kept a few million dollars of pocket change.
For many years the problem was hidden behind impressive reports of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures around the world. For example, Tunisia – where this new way of doing business had been implemented successfully – regularly showed annual increases in their GDP. But where did the benefits of that growth end up? In the laps of the top one percent, of course.
What happened in Tunisia had literally happened around the world. So when the youth in Tunisia launched the Arab Spring, as it came to be known, they were not just protesting against their own sorry lot, they were uncovering global financial inequity that had similar faces all around the world, including in western democracies.
As spring turned to summer and Arab revolutions kept smoldering, serious social problems brought on by huge government debts began appearing in Europe. A young and restless generation had begun to understand that their futures had been sacrificed on the altar of this new world order. Everywhere they looked, they saw multi-billionaires not paying their fair share of taxes while sovereign states were going bankrupt or simply abandoning their poor.
And then fall brought with it a global expression of discontent, beginning in the United States. In the matter of a few weeks, the Occupy Movement had been ignited in more than 1600 cities around the world.
As expected, at first the media portrayed this movement as a minor irritation that would soon go away. But then governments began using riot police to clear away protestors – eerily reminiscent of tactics used at first in the Arab Spring and European Summer.
Now winter has come and it is likely that Occupiers will go home shortly to keep warm. But spring is coming soon and I expect that they will be back in greater numbers and with greater backing.
The seasons of 2011 have indeed been unprecedented in world history. Perhaps it is a sign of climate change beginning to happen.