Over centuries, systems have been subtly modified, manipulated and sometimes purposefully corrupted to better serve the interests of the few. Each time Enlightenment ideals have encouraged new policies to tip the balance in favour of the struggling majority, the vested interests of elite power have pushed back hard. Their biggest act of retaliation has come with the economic reforms of the last three decades, a reaction to the inclusive economic and social polices of western governments in the period after 1945. Ordinary people have had little option but to keep accepting these changes. Human beings can adjust to living under virtually any conditions, but the trait that has enabled us to survive is the very trait that has suppressed us. As ex-World Bank Senior Economist Herman Daly says, “People are awfully forgiving, or they just don’t understand what has been done to them.”
Daly is right, but the banking crisis, and the way governments have dealt with it, have woken many people from their slumber. They’re beginning to understand the gross injustice of this massive heist and to kick back against it – even when politicians are too scared to act.
Wherever you look in the world, societies are divided into three classes of citizen: a wealthy elite, largely insulated against the effects of a crisis for which they are directly responsible; an insecure middle – people who have work but who are often poorly paid and have no guarantee that their jobs are secure; and an underclass with little chance of escaping poverty. The proportion of the population falling into each class may vary from country to country, but when the richest country in the world still has a sixth of its people living in poverty, no further evidence is required that the economic system isn’t working.
– Excerpt from Four Horsemen – The Survival Manual