The 2008 financial disaster marked the beginning of a deep identity crisis in the West. After the collapse of American Lehman Brothers, governments around the globe began to support their financial institutions with unlimited amounts of tax money. Small and middle size companies would bankrupt and people in the United States continued to be evicted from their houses while the financial elite would receive a handsome amount of public support. In other words: socialism for Wall Street, capitalism for Main Street. It became painfully clear that the free market and capitalism did not work for the banks and financial institutions.
Then followed the euro crisis, with Greece’s debt at its centre. Particular European economies are suffering from the imbalance between income and a rising public debt. In 2015 it was apparent that the European leadership had no solution for Greece let alone for similar problems that will soon inevitably emerge in Spain, France and Italy.
During the 2008-2015 time frame there was a widespread opposition among the common against the financial establishment, European governments and the monetary system. The resentment was stoked by the perception that the whole system was unfair against the normal working man. In 2015 radical left-wing politician Alexis Tsipras took office in Greece and socialists like Yanis Varoufakis, Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders became the protectors of the middle and working classes. The political climate seems perfect for the socialists and yet socialist parties are declining.
It is not merely inequality that matters. Most Western countries are implementing a redistribution of wealth from the middle to the lower classes. For example, in the Netherlands a family with one working adult and a yearly income of 20 thousand gets 7 thousand euros in subsidies, thus pocketing 27 thousand, whereas a person having a 31 thousand income must pay 3 thousand euros in tax, and since he receives no subsidies, he lands up with 28 thousand euros.
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