In response to the tactics of Occupy Wall Street, which self-professed “Capitalist Pig” Jonathan Hoenig described in SmartMoney earlier this week as a mob using force and intimidation to achieve their collectivist goals — he bases this on Merriam-Webster’s third definition of “occupy”: “to take or hold possession or control of ” (the first is “to engage the attention or energies of”) — a small group of Chicago traders have hung signs in the windows of their office building saying “We are the 1%.”
Now that we’ve identified ourselves, sort of, what does this mean? Well, Hoenig’s piece goes on to say that the protests are rather sad, and that “the dreadlocked bands of youth camping out in New York’s Zuccotti Park, however, are hardly Freedom Riders.” He continues,
And while it would be easy to write off these so-called protests as diffuse expressions of general twentysomething malaise, as they have grown, they have developed into something more dangerous: Organizing and promoting an “occupation” distinguishes this effort as that of a mob…
For more than two weeks they’ve camped out in front of the Chicago Board of Trade and other financial centers, banging drums, barking demands and disrupting people working in neighboring offices.
Capitalism, the system “Occupy Wall Street” so feverishly wants to bury, operates on the principle of voluntary trade, not occupation and threat. Capitalism treats men not as sacrifices for the public good, but as independent individuals with their own lives. From the professional on the trading floor to the kid selling lemonade, investors know that if you want something from someone else, you can’t simply demand it by occupation, you have to trade for it, just as others must trade with you.
That’s the justice protestors are seeking to destroy.
Hoenig, for his part, is the managing member of a private investment partnership and a former floor trader at the Chicago Board of Trade. Along with that, he trades in “American Capitalist” and “Capitalist Pig” T-shirts, a book entitled Greed Is Good, and Nazi Reichsmark coins, among other items available for purchase on his site. “Shipped with excerpts from Leonard Peikoff’s The Ominous Parallels, each authentic Reichsmark coin contains 5 grams of silver and serves as a foreboding reminder of the dangerous evil of sacrifice for ‘the public good,'” he writes.
So maybe this highlights exactly the problem we’re in — two different languages, two very different sets of desires and expectations. Investors know (or at least, we’re assuming they do) that in order to actually trade anything, each party has to have something the other wants. Here we are with a backdrop of the biggest Occupy Wall Street march yet, set to begin in minutes. But will Occupy Wall Street be anything more than an annoyance, to be blocked out with construction paper signs and angry-yet-maybe-kinda-scared editorials, to the 1 percent? Or do the signs and editorials mean that it already is?