The New Revolt of the Masses

PARIS – Is the current economic crisis uniting the democratic world in anger as much as in fear?

In France, with many factories closing, a wave of executive hostage-taking – “bossnapping,” as this newfangled crime is called – is agitating board rooms and police across the country. In the United States, big bonuses given to executives from firms receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts – the insurance giant AIG, in particular – has infuriated public opinion, with a populist press and Congress fueling popular rage.

Similarly, in Great Britain, an increasingly inquisitive and critical public is now lumping together bankers and members of Parliament in a common climate of suspicion. Is the current crisis creating or revealing a growing split between rulers and ruled?

Populist anger is one of the most predictable, and certainly inevitable, consequences of today’s financial and economic crisis. The unifying factor behind this rising “anger” is rejection of both real and perceived inequality – inequality in both treatment and economic conditions.