There appears to be a global uproar against people of money and power. This is a sharp turnaround for a world that has in recent times, come to worship material accumulation. Getting wealthy in most of the world, by whatever means, has been a goal of many.The super rich, with all their personal failings, have been lionised and glorified by society for so long.
So, how come we are now witnessing a global insurgency against the so called corporate greed? The “occupy” movement that started from the Wall Street and has now spread around most of the world, is very intriguing.
Even in the developing world, we are seeing insurgent elites who are disgusted by massive corruption, of those who run governments and their cronies. Through corruption, we got super rich oligarchs in all corners of the world.
The Russian oligarchs that parcelled out state assets upon the collapse of the Soviet Union have become legendary. The oil sheiks of the Middle East own and enjoy the wealth of their countries on behalf of the masses, who continue to live a life that is not at par with the wealth of their nations.
Some have argued that western capitalism/ wealth, was based on primitive accumulation. Clever men and women, through dubious and rarely honest toil, have become incredibly rich to the extent that some are richer than some states.
Wall Street has for some time been the centre of leading investors worth talking about. But recently, people like Bernie Madoff, Raj Rajaratnam, have been carted off to prison for crimes ranging from insider trading to running large scale Ponzi schemes.
In a single day, it is no longer surprising to see a world class billionaire tycoon, transformed from being called an investor to being called a swindler.
All this has come against a background of a global economic recession and the resultant loss of jobs and increasing poverty. Many young people who have done what they were told to do right from childhood; go to school to study hard, get good grades and get a safe –secure job for the best part of your life, find that they can never get that job and live that dream life.
This is regardless of their impressive resumes and high sounding qualifications from the best schools. In our own East African region, there are people who have spent close to a decade, or more without employment despite having good university education.
With that education, they were given better expectations in life but as day follows night, nothing seems to change for the better.
What all people rebelling against greed know is that there is a lot of wealth around. But none of it is coming their way. Instead, small cliques of people control this wealth exclusively, and continue accumulating as the rest find living burdensome.
The educated people in all corners of the world, who are grumbling and railing against greed, are doing so simply because they can no longer accept living in humiliation. It is not that they are saying the world owes them a living. It is not that people want to live on welfare.
They just want to be allowed to earn a living. For such people, public officials who feature so often in allegations of graft or profligate expenditure will no longer be allowed the luxury of pleading their innocence.
The revolutions that are overthrowing entrenched dictatorships in the Arab world are just about people refusing to live in the indignity occasioned by poverty. The momentum has now spread across the world.
So, are we seeing an emergency of a new world order or is it just a hiccup and business will return to normal soon?
What is clear though is that the insurgency against greed is not about morality. It is immoral to have too much wealth concentrated in the hands of so few, who may not even have use for it.
It is beyond such simple Christian-humane values. The war against greed, I think is just about the mundane bread and butter issues that affect most of society.