Worldwide poll: Vast majority say capitalism not working
Dissatisfaction with capitalism is widespread around the globe 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall that heralded the demise of European communism, a poll released Monday showed.
Only 11 percent of people surveyed across 27 countries thought free market capitalism is working well, while nearly a quarter — 23 percent — said the system is “fatally flawed.” A bare majority, 51 percent, believed its problems can be solved with more regulation and reform, the poll said.
In only the United States (25 percent) and Pakistan (21 percent), did more than one in five people agree that capitalism works well in its current form, the poll conducted for BBC World said.
The survey of 29,033 adults comes after the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s Great Depression and amid celebrations of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which abruptly ended the Cold War.
And it reflects growing concerns among the public and politicians that the world’s economic system has failed to live up to its promises. In Europe’s post-communist eastern bloc, where residents have lived through both communism and capitalism, a poll released last week suggested capitalism is losing favor with the public.
Research by the Pew Research Center showed the percentage of people approving of democracy was markedly lower in the former Soviet bloc compared to a similar 1991 poll.
Eighty-five percent of respondents in East Germany supported the change to democracy, but even this was down six percent from 1991. The figure dropped 24 percent in Bulgaria, 20 in Lithuania, 18 in Hungary and eight in Russia.
Japan’s recently-elected center-left prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, launched a broadside last month against the excesses of capitalism in his first parliamentary address since taking office.
Speaking on his vision of a kinder, gentler society guided by the spirit of “fraternity,” Hatoyama said market forces were useful for a country but must be tempered in order to create a livable society.
“It is self-evident that free economic activity in markets invigorates society,” said Hatoyama, 62, who swept to power in August elections, ending more than half a century of almost unbroken conservative rule.
“But it is also obvious that the idea of letting markets decide everything for the survival of the strongest, or the idea of ‘economic rationalism’ at the expense of people’s lives, does not hold true any more.”
Doug Miller, chairman of polling firm GlobeScan, which co-conducted the BBC survey, said: “It appears that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 may not have been the crushing victory for free-market capitalism that it seemed at the time — particularly after the events of the last 12 months.”
–With Agence France-Presse