In 2008, the loss of 11 billion dollars by the world’s largest insurance company, AIG, and the bankruptcy of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers, triggered a domino effect of financial consequences which brought the entire capitalist system within a hair’s breadth of total collapse.
But, as the events leading up to the financial crisis were slowly unveiled, it became ever clearer that the crisis was caused, quite knowingly, by the bankers themselves.
In the years leading up to the economic crisis in 2008, banks increased the funding for the riskiest loans (called subprime loans), from $ 30 billion a year to over $ 600 billion a year, rigged even higher interest rates on those loans, and then, while the bankers were making billions of dollars of profits off the borrowers’ high interest repayments, they made further profits betting against their customers ever being able to pay back the loans they had just been given.
The FBI warned the government about this in reports as early as 2006, the IMF’s chief economist, Raghurum Rajan, presented a paper to the men in charge of all the world’s major banks, including the Federal Reserve, warning of the potential collapse of the system due to dangerous incentives, and journalist Allan Sloan published articles in Fortune magazine and The Washington Post in 2007 – nothing was done.
Instead, the men who created the crisis were allowed to make billions of dollars of profits before their institutions hit bankruptcy, paid themselves millions of dollars more in bonuses out of the government bailout packages, and left the rest of us to deal with mass increases in unemployment and poverty, and national debts that no amount of austerity measures will ever be able to repay.
10 years later and, as you read this, the effect of home foreclosures is still felt across the US states, austerity measures are intensifying grass roots action and opposition in the UK, and people are losing faith in the European Union, which is not unrealistically now at risk of falling apart.
The ever more concentrated power that forms from a system based on a motive of profit before people, planet, morals and ethics is leading many to turn away from the mainstream narrative towards new political alternatives, and solutions.
July 2015, and Greece’s new left-wing party Syriza gave the people of Greece the option to vote on continued austerity measures and increased bailouts from Germany and the EU.
Since all the bailout money is only going into paying off interest on the debt that Greece already has – whilst at the same time creating even more debt for Greece thanks to the interest charged on the bailout money itself – for the first time since the Eurozone was created in 1999, people united en masse to stand up against banks and politicians and said ‘no.’
Since then, people’s movements like Podemos (‘we can’) in Spain and Syriza (‘from the roots’) in Greece keep rising out of the financial ruin of the hardest hit European countries, and the socialist debate has picked up serious momentum in the USA due to Bernie Sanders and the UK due to Jeremy Corbyn, while votes for Brexit and Trump show that ordinary people are willing to take big risks and force change if this is the only way to create a new narrative to capitalism.
However, the first example of people power since the financial crisis began took place in Iceland. People flocked to the streets in protest after the government let the banks borrow 10 times Iceland’s GDP and then left the people of Iceland with a debt to income ratio of 240%.
Ongoing demonstrations that included stones thrown at the parliament building led to a relatively peaceful revolution; the prime minister was indicted, Iceland’s main bank was nationalized, 200 criminal charges were made against the bankers, and debt exceeding 110% of home values was simply wiped clean.
The mainstream media have mostly ignored the significance of all these events, but one event that the global media could not ignore was when thousands of people poured onto the streets in the Wall Street financial district in 2010 demanding a new, humane, sustainable system.
As demonstrations rapidly spread to some 840 cities in the US, and many cities in Europe and Asia, the media was, however, quick to demonize the movement – until finally the demonstrating fizzled out. It therefore may seem that the efforts of Occupy Wall Street were perhaps all in vain.
The Solutions Revolution
Oxfam released a report that by 2016, 1% will own more wealth than all the rest of the people on planet earth. In the UK, 1% now owns more wealth than 55% of the population, and in the USA, the top 0.01% are currently worth as much as (if not more) the bottom 90%. The Occupy Movement is the reason that the idea of the 99% is now in the public debate.
Occupy Wall Street may have fizzled out, but global solidarity of the 99% is increasing exponentially: new radical alternatives like The Venus Project and Contributionism are now being implemented, completely new economic systems are forming and being implemented, solutions movements are uniting, new coalitions are forming, and an ever increasing number of demonstrations are taking place, en masse, all over the world. It is only the mainstream media that is not talking about it – but a global solutions revolution is already taking place.
This April, German mainstream news channel ARD joined Russian news in reporting that the US-led coalition against Iraq, Syria and now Iran is faking news to justify their ongoing illegal, preemptive take over of the Middle East. Not because Germany has suddenly decided to become best friends with Russia, but because they know where this war is headed.
In 2015, I was inspired by all of the events that had unfolded so far to create a short documentary as the third episode of my Truth Behind Politics series.
The documentary encourages critical thinking and debate by controversially critiquing capitalism from the perspective of Karl Marx. In just 30 minutes, it covers the history of the central banking system, the Eurozone, the Occupy Movement, the increasing number of coalitions and demonstrations taking place worldwide, events in Iceland and in Greece, and asks the audience one main critical thinking question:
Is capitalism on the verge of collapse and a positive new community-based social system coming to fruition in its wake?
As I continue to develop Wake Up World Education with the aim of taking critical thinking and solutions education around the world, I have now created my first Trews-style video, asking if it is really possible that the recent chemical weapons attack in Syria was fabricated and what we can do.
Please watch and share these videos, and join me in waking people up to the positive news that a solutions revolution is underway right now all around the world.
WUWE is a project to promote critical thinking and inspire positive personal and systemic change by raising awareness of facts not covered in the mainstream; please support me on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, or subscribe for my latest updates here.