Copied from the OWS May Day protest thread... This is a very common argument on here and I've seen it in other contexts as well. Usually it is in the context of a larger discussion about income inequality, but it is treated as a self-evident, throw-away claim that doesn't ever get discussed/substantiated on its own. So I'm starting a thread to discuss it on its own: Vague claims are notoriously difficult to vet, but pending your clarification of timeframe, I'll give it a shot. Income inequality stats are tough to find for after 2005, but here's a close proxy, ending in 2009 or 2010: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IncomeInequality7.svg Notice how income inequality tracks with economic growth, with a major peak in 2000 at the height of the dot-com boom, then a pretty significant drop followed by a gradual rebound up to a new peak in 2007 or 2008 that was only slightly above the one in 2000. As of the last data, we're below the most recent peak and previous peak. So now the violence increase. Well, near as I can tell, this violence is pretty minor in historical terms. It is nothing like the 1992 LA race riots, for example. Heck, it barely measures-up to a good college sports championship riot. But lets assume it is significant. OWS is only a year-old and is borne of the current economic crisis, which includes very unusually high unemployment and a drop in income inequality. Seems to me like the unemployment would probably have more to do with it than a delayed-reaction to income inequality's peak 4 years ago. Moreover, the 2000s sharp rise in income inequality is pretty big historically speaking. I don't recall any increase in unrest associated with it (but I do remember people being thrilled by the ultra-low unemployment that went with it), but perhaps you can refresh my memory. Yes, but that has nothing to do with civil unrest. But when it comes to civil unrest, the OWS protests pale in comparison with economic unrest in places like France and Greece. Um....not really, no. Even if we set aside the fact that the Russian Revolution overthrew a dictator, not a democracy, following centuries of despotic repression and a tulmultuous insustrialization period, none of which apply to the US today, income inequality in the US is still today below what it was in the decades following the Russian revolution, which was also before the Great Depression and before the US implemented its cradle-to-grave social welfare programs. If the US was ever going to have a Marxist revolution, that was the time. But income inequality dropped substantially leading in to the depression (when the wealth of the rich vanished in the stock market crash), yet a massive social change was still seen as necessary. So my hypothesis is that the depression and its associated high unemployment had more to do with the social change than income inequality, which dropped dramatically right before the social change was implemented.