Some 2 million people reportedly went on strike across the UK on Wednesday. If this number is correct, it would be one of the largest strikes not only in the UK but also in Western history.
The British ruling class was angered by earlier violent unrest in the summer. Both Parliament and the media condemned the rioters at the time. However, on Wednesday's strike revealed that those strongly worded accusations did not represent the ability to heal social divergences. Its interests and opinions are already polarized.
The UK has been a role model for capitalist states, but its system has appeared incompetent when confronted by an economic downturn, growing social unfairness and unaffordable welfare system. It has lost the momentum it acquired after the Cold War and riches obtained during colonialism. It has to look inward now for solutions to generate new wealth. However, it is the hardest nut to crack.
In the post Cold-War era, the West has reached a peak of protecting its intellectual properties and innovation in its finance sector. These are advanced ways of generating wealth but have led to a severe concentration of fortune. Even in the West, fewer people benefit from this.
With the cheaper manufacturing industry long gone, the well-compensated Western countries have forgotten how to work. They need more exports of their intellectual properties, more innovation in their finance industry, and, especially, new colonies to rescue them. But they all, particularly the UK, no longer possess the power to make these happen.
Taking anger down to the street will not help, neither will changing the government. The Britons need to lower their expectations for the future and accept the fact that their world-class living standards have to decrease gradually.