The great wealth extraction in America
This is exactly what has happened in the U.S. Until the post Vietnam War inflation hit American workers were gaining in wages in benefits at the same rate as wealthy individuals. American homes were becoming saturated with consumer goods, many of them unnecessary distractions that did not increase value, but fed instant gratification.
As this large middle class market was saturated with consumer goods and sellers had maxed out their ability to make dramatic increases in extraction of wealth from the citizenry through the sale of goods and services. The shallowness of capitalism was beginning to show, with the hippy and protest movement being examples of rejection of the consumer state model. In the mean time there was a growing poor consumer and labor market to be had overseas opened up by America 's military dominance of the world after WWII.
The attractiveness of the same easy profits in developing countries that had been made in America after WWII when we controlled 75% of the world's production capacity was more than corporations could resist. It became time to extract capital from the American market and shift it to emerging countries where growth would increase profits. Goods could than be shipped back from markets with lower labor costs and still maintain profits from the American market because prices would fall for everyone while the loss of jobs would fall on the few, at least for a while. The problem of decreasing wages impacting sales in America was dealt with through the extension of easy credit, giving everyone a credit card, a car loan, a furniture loan. That way they not only got all your current income, they got a lien on your future income as well.
When consumers maxed out their credit cards, the Bush/Fed fueled credit binge drove up housing values on which banks then encouraged people to get second mortgages to payoff their credit cards. Now they had a primary lien on your house. And as we can see, the collapse of that bubble and subsequent recession let them take that as well.
It all was a very neat transfer of wealth. During the same time period the financial giants also reduced corporations' costs from defined pension benefit plans. Those plans invested very conservatively and guaranteed a certain benefit to the pensioner. Shifting those employee contributions to a 401-k and reducing corporate contributions gave investment houses billions more to put at risk in speculation and collect fees from its management while lowering benefits paid workers.
Collectivism Vs Capitalism
The core of this fight between Wall Street and OWS which is main street, is as old as the development of "civilization" itself. Leftists in general think they have a responsibility not only for their own actions but to society as a whole. It is the responsibility of everyone to deal with global climate change, to assist the unemployed, to provide healthcare and decent wages. They view actions by, for and against any person as having an impact on all.
Capitalists and other "conservatives" maintain a fantasy that whatever they gained, they did on their own, and that they owe the rest of the world nothing. Quite a fanciful philosophy when you look at one basic fact, in the American land of opportunity, less than 5% of us are able to change our class during a lifetime. The reality is most wealth is not from self made men creating great innovations but inheritance. That was a major concern of the founders who believed a failure to prevent massive transfer of wealth through inheritance generation after generation would lead to an economic aristocracy. Guess they were right.
Capitalists hold competitiveness, raw power and ruthlessness as their highest values. They base this on an incorrect belief in a misinterpretation of Darwinism that allows them to justify their actions that ignore the rights of others. The reality is that man was able to evolve by his collective group effort, cooperation not individual competition. The individual or even individual family unit cannot survive in most cases on its own for very long.
The proof of the absurdity of this belief is that capitalism depends on harnessing the collective efforts of ever larger groups of workers and consumers to produce massive profits. But since people don't naturally organize on this big of a level, it requires force.
Collectivism is based on the concept that most property except that which is individually created belongs to everyone. It is a natural and original belief. Hunter gatherers were relatively nomadic groups even if within a small area, interwoven with the fruits of their environment. Ownership of property evolved with the settling into agricultural villages about 5,000 years ago.
Even then in most of the world communal property survived until the arrival of Europeans, natives practiced what is disparagingly referred to as "hunter gatherer societies". What Charles Mann in his great book 1491 reports is that new historical knowledge reveals that anarchistic consensus driven cultures functioned as large and sophisticated societies by practicing what was really a sustainable method of "farming" the environment by planting mutually beneficial plants in polycrop (i.e. beans, corn and squash) gardens and by planting woods as productive orchards of trees and bushes that would be harvested on a regular basis along supplemented by hunting and fishing. Quite simply man saw himself as part of the environment and manipulated it to create Eden .
The five civilized nations of the northeast United States are now believed to have existed in an anarchist consensus society for over 500 years. Around the world today from OWS to the Zapatistas in Mexico defending their indigenous collective ownership rights that have existed since the Incas, to tribes in Malaysia fighting the taking of their land for palm oil production, to Nigerian and Somalian "pirates" defending tribal lands it is always the same, the tribe defending communal collective societies against capitalism.
Capitalism the Extractive Economy
Capitalism on the other hands sees man as dominant and meant to rework his environment to produce beyond his needs, to create wealth. It arose out of the founding of permanent farming villages that accompanied the advent of monocropping 8,000 years ago. Monocropping is the planting of one main crop for sustenance and trade. It was a change from a sustainable economy to an extractive economy.