The anti-capitalistic sentiments continue to find more supporters since the unraveling of the financial markets in 2007.
Like a tsunami, the rage (against MNCs & their executives) is picking up energy as it spreads to more countries, more people.
The latest to join are the Swiss, almost 70% of whom voted last Sunday to curb executive pay and other excesses.
This development is significant.
Swiss became the global market leader in private banking most due to these two factors – they never really probed the source of the money, or tried to question the background of their clients. [Read an year-old article that will sound relevant even today!]
Arguably, the key reason for the changed mood of people is the lavish bonuses awarded to bankers even as their employers had to be doled out by the people.
Thus, there is a self-righteous indignation against the banking sector.
Interestingly, people have since then begun focusing on other sectors of the economy as well.
All capital-intensive industries (pharma, auto, etc.) have come in the cross-hairs of the “compensation crusaders”.
The current kerfuffle seems to be moving into an “us vs. them” situation.
The “blue-collar” group is blaming the “white-collar” class for the hardships that they have had to suffer due to the latter.
It holds globalization responsible for suppressing their wages & losing their jobs to the developing countries.
It accuses the latter of “heads I win, tails you lose” approach in determining performance-based compensation.
It also accuses the latter of buying political influence through money.
The “white-collar” camp, in its defense, blames the price sensitivity of the former to keep looking for lowest-cost manufacturers of products & services.
It justifies its pay & compensation as being “market driven”.
It even demands to relax the immigration criteria to compensate for the rapidly declining knowledge & skills of the former.
The views highlighted before are similar to those prevalent in the late 19th century when Karl Marx released Das Kapital.
That seminal book is widely credited with the start of the labor movement and its later expansion into socialism.
Therefore, it is easy to think of am emerging class war.
However, there are significant differences between then & now.
First & foremost, capitalism is fully adopted in most countries, even by the protesters.
The majority of protesters are not anti-money but anti-decadence.
Second, the history of socialist economies is enough of a warning to again consider going down that route.
Third & most importantly, the captains & executives of the industries are changing their behavior, voluntarily or after being “guided” by their Governments.
One thing all the stakeholder have to agree is this – we are all in it together!