‘2040 The Endangered Generation’ the economic polarization grows deeper day by day. Especially, the 2040 generation (they are not a group with vested rights) is most influenced by that polarization. The 20s generation live a very tough life because they have to earn money for their tuition fees. The 30s also worry about thier marriage fund. The 40s, people have many anxieties due to the educational expenditure of their children and not being prepared for their retirement years. Both prices and burdens on household budgets are increasing every day but income has remained fixed. Most people do not expect their economic status will be improved no matter how they try. This all suggests that perhaps our economic condition has gone wrong and it is a sign of the problem in western capitalism.
> Background of ‘Occupy Wall Street’
On Sept. 17, 2011, the ‘Occupy Wall Street (OWS)’ movement took place in the Zucotti Park in the U.S.A. The OWS’ protesters ‘occupied’ the Wall Street (the economic center of the world) and shouted ‘For 99%, not for 1%.’ Young people, who were unsatisfied with current youth unemployment, gathered to protest financial capital’s greed. The OWS first started in Spain. The Indignants were angry over the gap between the rich and the poor. Indeed, with respect to the American high-rank income bracket, one percent of rich people (1%) has taken 52 percents of the entire American income from 1993 until 2008.
Many movements followed around the world to sympathize with the OWS. Because of time differences, sympathetic movements occurred first in Asia. In Rome, Italy, some violent protesters involved in peaceful demonstrations erupted into violence and 70 people were arrested. In Belgium, Greece, and Spain, there were demands for citizens to wake up in this reality; the banking power’s concentration and politician’s corruption.
In the U.S.A., in New York, Washington D.C, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Seattle, and in about 100 cities, similar sympathetic movements took place. In many countries in Asia, citizens shouted ‘Occupy Tokyo,’ ‘Occupy Taipei.’ In Japan, they joined the movements marching in Roppongi where many of Japan’s richest live. In Korea, ‘Occupy Seoul’ took place in front of Daehan-mun. Next, they shouted ‘Occupy Yeouido’ and protested in front of the Korea Stock Exchange (KRX.) We interviewed some of them to learn details about this movement and how it is related to Korean problems.
> The Limitation and The Meaning of The OWS
The OWS has reached the limitation. The OWS succeeded in raising concerns about capitalism and has gotten attention worldwide. However, they seem to have uncertain goals and there are many differences in each country’s demands. They have criticized capitalism’s greed and denounced the ignorance of people’s difficulties. Although they succeeded in gaining sympathy of people worldwide, they have not clearly suggested how and what people should do. Moreover, capitalism has proceeded along with history so it is unlikely to collapse simply because of this movement. Also, the problem is that the attitudes of the 1% has not changes by the protesters.
Although the OWS movement has different goals in each country as we can see above, it has some critical messages. Also, the huge associative movements like these have a different meaning from what they used to be. On the appointed action day, people shouted their own demands to their country. This is not just about the resistance of the 99 percents of general people (99%) who feel anger towards the tyranny of the 1% but it represents the fact that the time is now to change the world.
Most people are aware of losses and gains of the gap between the rich and poor. They learn about it in school and also know the problem is not just a recent problem of the times. These problems are not going away soon and, in fact, they are getting worse. Because of this, the OWS movement implies that a ‘neoliberalism’ (western capitalism) is needed to reform itself.
Actually, the global society is looking for the alternative to capitalism. The OWS has thrown a stone in the lake named ‘world’ and its wave has spread slowly but surely.
> Capitalism 4.0: Warm Capitalism
Western capitalism that started from the U.S.A. is in danger of collapse. As you see above, the OWS movement is a simple example. Moreover, many experts are analyzing capitalism and it reaches its limits not only because of the OWS, but also the global economic crisis occured in 2008. About these global trends, an economic critic, Anatole Kaletsky wrote and coined the new term, ‘Capitalism 4.0’ in his book. He suggests it as the solution to our old capitalism.
He explained a history of capitalism using a version number like computer programs. First, capitalism 1.0 is the time of laissesz-faire. Capitalism 2.0 is revised capitalism and Capitalism 3.0 is neoliberalism which announces the end of capitalism because of the economic crisis of 2008. Being different from the earlier forms, Capitalism 4.0’s main component is an ‘adaptability-mixed economy.’ It is suggested we should know the limits of complexity and unpredictability in today’s economic system. Governments and markets have to escape the relationship based on a one-sided principle. Also, systems need more adaptability and the free market has to have a partnership with government.
Someone mentioned that the beginning of Capitalism 4.0 is right as the flow of capitalism for the last 200 years. The change in capitalism has a pattern of ‘big government’ to ‘small government’ and its reversal is history. So some say the change in capitalism does not come as a surprise because it is a natural thing. However, if Capitalism 2.0 is about government’s direct intervention in the market, then Capitalism 4.0 aims for companies to be the main agent in their voluntary revolution.
It also needs the reconsideration of transparent management and enforcement of monitoring and fair succession right of management, to go forward correctly. Moreover, if companies and workers can form good relationships through communication, it will lead to social solidarity.
> Davos Forum: Global Crisis
In the little resort city, Davos, in Switzerland, Jan. 25, 2012, the economic forum called the Davos Forum was held. It was a very big event in the world because many political and financial issues were discussed related to the global economy. They exchanged information and discussed the global economy for the year.
In this 41st Davos Forum, ‘the Arab Spring’ and ‘the OWS’ were the main subjects of discussion. Discussions also took place about the income imbalance. However, protesters from Davos’ rallied together and shouted “the policy for 99%, not for 1%.” Because of the protesters, the forum was a little messy. Last year’s Davos Forum summarized American capitalism into two keywords, ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘globalization.’ However, they presented different aspects because of the continuing global crisis for five years and our global society’s inability to solve this problem. Also, they presented different attitudes with respect to the phenomenon of polarization.
Raising the issue of distrust of the systems like capitalism and democracy, they predicted that there will be various risks in 2012’s global economy. Therefore, they chose about 50 global risks of the future which can be easily organized into three key words:
1. Raising Dystopia’s head
In the future, due to long-term economic depression and slow growth, young people will be angered and the retirement generation will have a low-quality of welfare due to poor finances. Also, there will be a ‘Dystopia state’ where everyone is unsatisfied with everything because of the unfair distribution of money to the elderly.
2. Collapse of Social Safety Web
Because of the Eurozone crisis, European nations’ financial crises continue. Moreover, those crises have risks of causing social anxiety because a global society cannot easily solve problems related to global welfare and the social safety web.
3. A negative effect in Return for Hyper-connection
Hyper-connection can be used to lead social changes like the flow of democratization in the Middle East because of social media and mobile devices. However, it has also had bad reactions to deepen the generation gap like the London riots which took place in England last August. The Davos Forum suggested ‘Talentism’ instead of capitalism in order to overthrow the crisis created by capitalism. Capitalism’s aim is to have more profit compared with fixed capital and considering the development of the economy through competition. While, ‘talentism’ aims for each person and every single person to maximize their creativity in order to develop the economy.
Everyone knows the gap between rich and poor is growing worse. Even though we know this is an adverse affect of capitalism, capitalism dominates our world. The OWS movement is saying, “It is time to do something. We have to know what we want and what to do.” The wave that the OWS made is small, but they have started to strain the 1% slowly. Surprisingly, a powerful and innovative wind is blowing towards capitalism. Whether the wind blows over or makes another Grand Canyon it rests on your shoulders.