Surprise, surprise. People around the world are expressing their doubts that cowboy capitalism is good for them. At the same time that the media are running Berlin Wall stories ad nauseam (who cares?) a poll for BBC World News shows that there is a certain nostalgia for communism and some regrets about the fall of the Soviet Union. The poll, of 29,000 people in 27 countries, showed that only 11 % thought that free market capitalism was working well. According to the BBC web site story “In only two countries, the United States and Pakistan, did more than one in five people feel that capitalism works well as it stands. Almost a quarter — 23% of those who responded — feel it is fatally flawed. That is the view of 43% in France, 38% in Mexico and 35% in Brazil.”

And government — as in government operating the broad public interest — is also on the agenda with majorities in 22 of 27 countries calling for wealth to be distributed more evenly. “Majorities almost everywhere wanting government to be more active in regulating business.”

As for whether or not the demise of the Soviet Union was a good thing, western developed countries say yes by large majorities. But in developing countries and the former “Eastern Bloc” communist nations, who actually experienced communism, the trend is away from the capitalism they have been treated to for some 20 years. Pluralities in Egypt, Indonesia, India and the Ukraine and Russia all said the fall of the Soviet union was a “bad thing.”

Twenty per cent of Canadians said the capitalist system was “fatally flawed” and another 40 % said it could be fixed with regulation and reform. That compared with 23% and 50% respectively for those polled in the U.S.

The survey didn’t ask what should be done or what system might replace the current one.


Murray Dobbin

Murray Dobbin was's Senior Contributing Editor. He was a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for over 40 years. A board member and researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy...