Friday, February 17, 2012

A World-Wide Reaction Against a Common Predicament

A World Divided - or Coming Together?
January 2012 - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warning of a possible world recession came in parallel with fears expressed at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos about the spread of protests across the world. Given that Oxford Research Group (ORG) has long argued that the widening wealth-poverty divide is both damaging to communities and a danger to peace, do the current protests, such as the “Occupy” movement, point to a larger global trend or are they isolated, short-term and probably irrelevant? To examine this, it is helpful to look at Western protests in relation to more deep-seated problems in countries, such as China and India, and to put this wider view in a broad historical perspective.

Relevant History

At the global level, the past thirty years has seen a widening of the divide between about one-fifth of the world’s people, who have benefited significantly from economic growth, and the great majority, who may not have grown poorer, but have faced a widening gap between them, and the wealthy minority. In terms of income, the most successful fifth has about 84% of the total, and if the measure used is household wealth, then the concentration is even more extreme. The gap has grown markedly wider in recent years, but even this recognition is in the context of a longer-term historical context of around six decades from 1950, and it is appropriate to divide this into two periods - the first thirty years through to 1980 and the period since then.

The late colonial and early post-colonial period from 1950 to 1980 saw most of the western world and much of the ‘Global South’ run on the basis of variably mixed economies, with strong elements of social welfare in the wealthier states. The Soviet Bloc was organised far more centrally, and the challenge it presented in the era of decolonisation was sufficient to encourage western states to support aid programmes, including some welfare provision, in many developing societies. Furthermore, in the immediate aftermath of decolonisation by the early 1960s, newly independent states were determined also to gain a degree of economic independence in a world trading economy largely dominated by the wealthy industrialised states of the North. read more>>>

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