Europeans are mad as hell, and they’re not going to take this anymore! From Brexit Britain to the yellow vests on the streets of Paris, popular anger is manifest. Ten years after the financial crash, the people who caused the crisis seem richer than ever, while the people who suffered most have seen their wages stagnate. So, is rising inequality fuelling popular anger and extremist politics?

We had a comment sent in from Jovan, concerned that there were “parallels today with the 1930s, in how economic failure and widening inequality led to extremist fringes rising to the mainstream.” Certainly, the centre-ground in European politics can feel like a lonely place to be today.

On the one hand, populist parties failed to make any kind of significant breakthrough during the recent European Parliament elections. On the other hand, in several EU countries (such as Italy or, until recently, Austria) so-called far-right “populists” are already in government.

Inequality in Europe is a difficult thing to measure. Some analysts warn that rising inequality is undermining democracy within the EU. Others, however, suggest that inequality has risen slowly in Europe compared to the United States, or even that inequality in the EU is decreasing.

Does inequality lead to extremism? Is the division between the “winners” and “losers” of globalisation leading to the collapse of mainstream politics? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock (c) OLEKSANDR75


57 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    José

    politicians corruption and inequality, shure

    • avatar
      Maria

      The differences are much bigger in the us than in Europe, where there is still a form of social security….
      In my opinion, it is less about the differences itself, but about the perception of it…

    • avatar
      Florin

      Maria – in the us there is still a middle class, in Europe disappeared in most states. Is it fair that 1 % of the population has 90 % of the world’s wealth? How many of them have the assets in honest work?

    • avatar
      Zap

      It doesn’t matter “how many earned fairly” or not.
      NO ONE should have 50% of the damn planet!

  2. avatar
    George

    i think you know the answer. Should always the question be the end of its self? This is unproductive.

    • avatar
      Stefanie

      I would say it is a rhetorical question.

  3. avatar
    Bernard

    Political inequality, first of all, meaning that the views of some sectors of society are not taken into account in policy making.

  4. avatar
    João

    Religion of Peace lead to extremism.

    • avatar
      Tristan

      João, no, it doesn’t.

    • avatar
      Maria

      You probably mean here a certain version of Islam that was especially imported to us by Saudi Arabia…

  5. avatar
    Róbert

    Inequality doesn’t matter. The perception of an unjust, unfair inequality leads to social tensions. Equality is not to be desired, but a just inequality based on personal life choices and some luck. Inequality doesn’t mean below powerty line vs. super rich. As long as the poor people in a society have a pretty decent life, the gifted or the diligent ones have to be rewarded with all the wealth they are able and willing (usualy needs sacrifices) to aquire.

    • avatar
      Mary

      Róbert, perception of an unjust, unfair society?

  6. avatar
    ovidiu nedu

    I guess, basically, most people are moved by their economic frustrations and worries. This is what gives force to their actions. The direction of these actions may be everything, but it is their anger and stress that moves them. Conservative attitudes are just safe places where simple and somehow not much wealthy people find some kind of illusory shelter in a world not only too difficult to manage but also threating their basic securities.

  7. avatar
    Luis

    Inequality and you show France? Wrong question. Too much freedom lead to extremism. This picture show fascim and terrorismo nothing else.

  8. avatar
    Tamzin

    I think there is also a lot of dangerous political propaganda that is fueling extremism. We need proper leadership, the kind that raises the common man above the level of mud slinging. And, yes, we need to have a greater sense of equality where some are not always privileged (whether it is about justice or economy) while others pay the full price.

    • avatar
      Maria

      Not always…

    • avatar
      Igor

      Maria – normally

  9. avatar
    Любомир

    As explained very well already by another person here – not inequality, but the perception of an unjust inequality (regardless if the perception is correct or not). There are also other numerous factors that can lead to extremism, it’s not just the perception of inequality. Extremism is a complex issue with numerous aspects, factors and sides to it.

  10. avatar
    Umberto

    Political parties respect neither their promises nor their obligations towards the citizens and thus influence the behavior of the people. Should not the example come from the top? So don’t be surprised for the violence they engender.

  11. avatar
    Pascal

    Inequality is just an excuse. People claim rights, but they forget their obligations

    • avatar
      Tristan

      Pascal, you’re mistaken: people have rights, which they claim. And the government has an obligation to its citizens to help them protect these rights!

    • avatar
      Pascal

      Sorry Tristan, they don’t claim rights, they claim the end of the gouvernment. It’s only a matter of anarchism, a few people among 65 millions.

    • avatar
      Tristan

      Pascal, I think you’re talking about a specific movement (Gillets jaunes), while I was talking in general.

  12. avatar
    Martin

    The state creates extremism as a method of control. They create a situation that gives rise to the right or a particular group then silenced them. Then use the existence of the extremist group as justification for them to control more.

    • avatar
      Tristan

      Marc, you believe that nonsense?

    • avatar
      Martin

      Tristan – as opposed to?

    • avatar
      Marc

      Tristan ….when everyone is mixted….and there are no country’s annymore…nobody has an identity annymore…..Then a few elite’s can rule everyone !!! …..our grandchildren will believe that nonsens !!!!

    • avatar
      Tristan

      Marc, you do know that identities evolve and change over time, right? And if there are no countries or nation states anymore, they’re will be less wars between countries or nations. So I don’t see that as something bad. And you can still find identity in music, art, philosophy of life (religious or not), …
      And the “Kalergi Plan” is a quite recent conspiracy theory dating to the 1970s:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalergi_plan

    • avatar
      Martin

      Tristan, you understand that war is immensely profitable and nationalism is a method of control right? It’s not going away anytime soon.

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      @ Tristan vs Marc………….some clarification needed!

      Tristan, “Kalergi Plan” a hoax? Sorry, but you became an easy victim of believing in fake news due to your lack of fact checking!

      The International “Paneuropean Union” (how literally close to the present E-Union?)- also referred to as the Paneuropean Movement is the oldest European unification movement.

      It began with the publishing of Count Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi’s manifesto Paneuropa (1923), which presented the idea of a unified European State”. Being the first president & recipient of the elitist “Charlemagne Prize”. A Nobel from royal blood & past empire Otto von Habsburg- a recent president.

      https://concen.org/content/coudenhove-kalergi-praktischer-idealismus-practical-idealism-1925

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paneuropean_Union

      After you read “Der Adel PDF and Praktischer Idealismus PDF”
      please come back & rationally comment again!

      https://gefira.org/en/2018/08/21/can-it-really-be-the-patron-saint-of-the-european-union-was-a-downright-racist/

  13. avatar
    Marc

    When you have a nice pond…full of big Carps and Goldfish….and some one puts 20 big ” Pikes” in it……all your beautifull fish will be eaten !!!…..and when all the nice fish are eaten….the pike’s will eat themselve……no more fish in your pond !!!!!!…..that’s wat happens with Europe !!!!!!!!! simple as that !!! …..The question remains….who the hell truw those pike’s in your pond ??? 😱

  14. avatar
    catherine benning

    Does inequality lead to extremism?

    Equality is extremism. The human race and nature in and of itself is not based on and cannot function in the best interests of any if a mandate of equality is slavishly followed as the pretence is pushed today.

    We are not now and never will be born equal. And to continue on a path that suggests otherwise is reducing mankind to idiotic acceptance of the mundane as good enough. It is not.

  15. avatar
    Max

    Lets ask the Yellow Vests. And then let’s ask Golden Dawn. And then let’s ask the nation of Hungary.

  16. avatar
    jthk

    No. Inequality exists all the time in human history. How do we justify peace at the midst of inequality? Extremism is due to the wrong interpretation of democracy, which emphasizes individuals while ignoring the collective. If everyone thinks of only their own goods, democracy would turn to populism and anarchism.

  17. avatar
    jthk

    Inequality is a typical characteristics of capitalism. But this is exactly the difference between capitalism and socialism. We have to decide what do we want. How come socialism with Chinese characteristics is different from Western liberal democracy? What I can think of superficially is that socialism with Chinese characteristics, as Deng Xiaoping said, a beginner stage of socialism, which is, a mixed economy, a stage progressing from capitalism to socialism…While in liberal democracy, who can enjoy more liberty? more equality? more democracy? Of course, not those who are in extreme poverty. This gives the reason why the wealth gap in a highly capitalist economy is very huge. Nothing towards the extreme would bring equality. Before Deng Xiaoping’s beginner level of socialism, China had been implementing communism, which sought absolute equality through a planned economy. What happens? To prevent the Chinese economy from total collapse, Deng Xiaoping had to open China’s economy. Of course, socialism with Chinese characteristics has its problem now when the country has opened wider for foreign direct investment, the government needs to do very carefully the redistribution with policies which must not discourage confidence of FDI, while to reduce serious inequality with the newly acquired wealth…anyway, the Chinese Communist Party is still crossing the river by feeling the stones. Socialism with Chinese characteristics is a new project, it takes time to construct. Everything develops towards both extremes would be very dangerous and destructive.

  18. avatar
    Zap

    The problem is capitalism.
    Simple as that…

    Even if you reverse -somehow- inequality.
    1. The rich will NEVER stop fighting you.
    2. They will erode your rights, democracies, social safety nets tax programs, anything that stop inequality.
    Over time, say 20-30 years we will be back where we are now.
    3. They do not do this because they are “evil” but because this is how the GAME works! The game REWARDS you for acting like this.

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