The mainstreaming of Occupy Wall Street: How rethinking American capitalism became the most important debate of the 2010s
- Occupy Wall Street grew from the wake of the Great Recession, and while its participants were largely on the fringe, it had a lasting impact on bringing the talk about inequality into the American mainstream.
- The 2010s in the US saw the rise of movements on both sides of the aisle for fighting inequality, working toward sustainability, redefining the role of a corporation, and limiting the concentration of corporate power.
- This analysis piece is part of Business Insider's project "The 2010s: Toward a Better Capitalism."
- The Better Capitalism series tracks the ways companies and individuals are rethinking the economy and role of business in society.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Inequality. Taxing the 1%. Medicare for All. Sustainability.
These buzzwords are everywhere these days, whether we're listening to popular politicians or influential executives. It can be easy to forget that just 10 years ago, you'd be hard pressed to find them in mainstream conversation.
Rewind to 2010: In the wake of a brutal recession following the worst financial crisis since the Depression, Americans in red and blue states alike grew alienated with the powers that be. The institutions that helped cause the chaos in the first place were deemed "too big to fail" and given a $500 billion bailout. Despite their frustration, most Americans brushed off a group calling itself Occupy Wall Street (with its rallying cry of "We are the 99%") as naive hippies camping out in a Manhattan park.
How, then, did so much of the rhetoric the protesters used to challenge capitalism and demand a more equal society end up part of our everyday conversation?
Business Insider has been tracking that progression for the last few years with our Better Capitalism series. And it's not just left-wing presidential candidates who are throwing around these terms as they reconsider how we run our economy. In August, a collection of nearly 200 CEOs of America's largest companies calling itself the Business Roundtable issued a statement advocating for an end to the era of shareholder primacy. The group was led by JPMorgan Chase head Jamie Dimon, one of the most powerful people on Wall Street.
Occupy's targets had joined the conversation.
With the 2020s fast approaching, Business Insider's "The 2010s: Toward a Better Capitalism" will spend the next month examining how our most popular ideas about business and the economy went from the fringe to the mainstream in just 10 years. The following is a preview of what to expect.