Revolt in a post-industrial society in the 21st Century – Part 1
It was a nice sunny day, at the beginning of fall 2011. The speeches were spirited, the crowd was anxious. The stock exchanges had globally crashed, banks went bankrupt by the hour and memories of 1929 made the round.
The Roaring Twenties of the 20th century, the decade that followed World War I, was a time of wealth and excess. Building on post-war optimism, many rural Americans and Europeans migrated to the cities in the hope of finding a more prosperous life by earning a living in the ever expanding industrial sector.
Despite the dangers of speculation, many believed that the stock market would continue to rise indefinitely. The stock market had been on a run which saw the Dow Jones Index increase in value tenfold. Then ‘Black Tuesday’, (29th October 1929) came and ‘Wall Street’ crashed.
The 1929 crash brought the Roaring Twenties to a shuddering halt. 10 years later, the Second World War embarked on humanity and shook the world in it’s foundations.
After the end of the Cold War at the end of the 20th century, the decade that followed was a time of wealth and excess as well. Despite several bubbles that burst in between, many believed that the wealth would continue to grow indefinitely.
But as soon as bubbles started to burst again, the world woke up to a shocking reality.
As much as wealth had grown, so had inequality. In a world which is in absolute terms as rich as never before in known human history, a few are richer than many others.
Global wealth inequality at the beginning of the 21st century breaks down to the following:
– The top 1% of the global population owns 41% of the global wealth;
– The top 10% of the global population owns 86% of the global wealth;
– The bottom half of the global population owns just 1% of the global wealth.
In other words, almost 4 billion of human beings own virtually nothing at all.
While at the other end of the spectrum:
– Approximately 40 million people own 41% of wealth or more than 1 million Euro each;
– Approximately 100.000 people have more than 50 million Euro each;
– Approximately 40.000 people are worth over 100 millions Euro each.
As a sidenote, half of the 40.000 super-rich live in the United States of America.