Henderson Examines Complexities of the Idea of a '99%'

Occupy Wall Street And The Myth Of The 99%

The ‘Occupy’ movement will never succeed against its “one percent” adversaries until it begins to understand that there is not a single one percent, but rather many.

An entire field of economics, known as “public choice,” studies how small, concentrated groups with similar interests generally prevail politically against larger groups of diffused interests. And, in our society, these concentrated interests – like unions, defense contractors, religious groups, farmers, etc. – are not necessarily part of the “one percent” Occupy talks about, and several have even joined or co-opted the Movement. But they are part of the broader one-percent problem.

I recently participated in a debate about the Occupy Movement at the university where I teach. The representative from Occupy Chicago claimed to be speaking on behalf of the 99 percent, but the problem is that there is no single coherent 99 percent.There are many 99 percents depending on the issue at stake, and any successful 99 percent movement must be more nuanced and draw finer lines than the Occupy Movement has so far.

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