We are all the 1 percent. Here’s why.

The one percent is all of us.001We regularly communicate with people the world over about how to solve the modern era’s large and wicked problems brought on by capitalism and representative party political systems. Of course, the topic of the 1% comes up.

A central tenet of the Copiosis Transition Strategy is acknowledging that the 1% is not evil incarnate. Indeed, we believe the 1% can potentially be allies in solving the problems we face. To state it more strongly, the 99% needs the 1% to solve these wicked problems.

Our assertion often leaves people dumbstruck.  Their responses fall along these lines:


[The 1 percent] have seen us as the other from the beginning. They will see us that way regardless of whether we vilify them or not. And that is the problem, we are just slaves, cannon fodder, serfs to be used to their end and discarded or killed in their wars for profit. So, while I respect your utopian dream, this problem has a long historical pattern going back to the divine right of kings. They set themselves apart, think they are better, smarter, superior in every way. You really think you can “work with them”? Quite the idealist.

It’s time we address this point of view head on.

Seeing the 1% as different from the rest of us is counter productive.

Ask any skilled fighter, from master martial artists all the way up to seasoned military combat generals, and every one, to a person, will tell you that the best way to defeat an enemy is to keep him from feeling the need to take up arms in the first place. The minute you label someone an “enemy”, you cause that person, or group of persons, to resist you. That resistance mechanism is natural human behavior.

If someone labels you an enemy and attempts aggression towards you, these same master combat strategists will all agree that the best way to defeat the aggression is not to resist it, but find a way to “capture” the energy of that aggression and use that energy against the attacker, while being light and detached from the action.

What does this have to do with the 1%?

Negatively labeling these people instantly creates a separation between you and them. The behavior you’re undertaking is no different than people who commit atrocities. The first step is seeing the person you want to treat atrociously as separate from you. The next step is to see them as non-human. Remember Abu Ghraib? From there, it’s easy to treat a person like a non-person.

Just as importantly, when the 1% hear you vilifying them, how do you think they respond in their heads? Don’t you think they will respond to you in kind, see you as even less as a human, treat you even more poorly and, of course, see you as even more separate from them? What’s more, don’t you think they will invest more of their vast resources in resisting you, defeating you and preparing for your aggression?

Of course they will. It’s human behavior.

“But wait,” you may say. “They already are treating us as separate from them, less than they are. They have seen us as non-human forever!”

Ok, for sure, some have. But does that mean you should respond in kind? Sure, it is human behavior to do so. But think about it. Is that really the best option? If you were at war with these people, would meeting direct aggression with direct aggression be the best approach? Combat art masters would clearly say “NO!”

There’s a more important point though.

Whether the 1% see us the way many of the 99% believe they do, should we also allow them to get in our heads and make the choice for us regarding how we see them? Should we now also allow them to tell us how to think?

If so, then we continue to act complicity with them. If you allow them to dictate how you see the world, you play directly into the very cycle you claim you want to break. This is why I say those who are not of the 1% are complicit in the plan. The 99% is the 1% and it has been from the very beginning.

It’s not a bad or negative thing, it’s just acknowledging what is.

Of course some of the 1% set themselves apart, think they’re better, smarter, superior in every way. The reason why they do that has been proven by research recently completed. This knowledge isn’t new. It was also clearly demonstrated in the famous  blue eyes, brown eyes experiment conducted by American schoolteacher Jane Elliott. This behavior isn’t a character flaw, it’s how human nature responds to the kind of system we live in, a system that creates power differentials among human beings. Nearly all of us (that’s right all of us) would develop the same behaviors, according to this research, if the roles were reversed.

The facts are, the 1% are like us. They are doing exactly what many of us would do if the roles were reversed. If you honestly observe your daily behavior, you already demonstrate this tendency in micro circumstances. Think about things you might say to your friends, your spouse or to your self about “fags”, “breeders”, fundamentalist christians, “niggers”, “fatties”, “twigs”, “rag heads”, “the entitled”, “the lazy”…the list goes on, pick your judgement. All these judgements of other people are distortions of reality. They serve only to create separation where there is none and enforce your sense of superiority over another.

The only difference between the 99% and the 1% is the latter group has way more resources, and therefore more power, to express their distorted views. And the 99% tends to accept the 1%’s judgments as real things, take them personally and then take umbrage. Then we act from that place.

Big no no.

It’s true that such judgements and the acts stemming from them violate the 99%’s collective human rights. But to react from umbrage only strengthens the dynamic creating the cycle. Especially if such reactions cause you to see the 1% as different from you. The way out of the cycle is choosing to refuse to see separation. Either group – the 1% or the 99% –  can make the first step. Whichever does, begins to break the cycle.

Don’t expect the 1% to do it though. They are too addicted to a human tendency we all possess. That leaves it up to the 99% to do it. Besides, only YOU can make the change you want to see. You’re the one with the power, not the person you see as separate, different, worse than you.

Seeing the 1% as something other than who you are, labeling them, attacking them not only strengthens their resistance, it also empowers them in your own mind, as something separate from you, causing you to see a reality distortion. This isn’t utopian or idealist, it’s the way humans work.


I know it’s hard to see what I’m saying. That’s because 1 – you have to humbly accept your role in the problem, 2 – you have to acknowledge that what the 1% is doing is normal behavior given the circumstances,  3 – you have to confront the possibility that the way you see the world is distorted and then 4, you have to own the fact that you have the power to break the cycle. It’s ok if these  steps seem impossible to take. That’s normal too!

Yes, we at Copiosis do believe we can work with the 1% to solve the wicked problems we face. We have to. We all have played a role in creating them. We all must work together to solve them. We don’t need to work with all of the 1%.  But there are enough of them who will work with us, given a real opportunity.

The bottom line from our perspective is the 99% and the 1% share a lot more in common than not. In essence we’re all the 1 percent. And we’re all the 99%. Together, we make up a unified whole. It’s called humanity.

5 thoughts on “We are all the 1 percent. Here’s why.

  1. Thought provoking statement; “We all must work together to solve them. We don’t need to work with all of the 1%. But there are enough of them who will work with us, given a real opportunity.”
    There are less than 1700 members of the 1%. Perhaps you could list a handful of those who would be willing to work with us. Take your time. No rush. We’ll wait. It’s OK. We’re still here. Waiting.

    1. Here are just a few we know:
      Ray King
      Nitin Khana
      Peter Buffet
      The Omidyars
      Tony Tsieh

      There are others. Those on this list we know personally are working to make the world a better place. The others know there is a problem. What’s needed to galvanize their support is not vilifying them but offering proof on the ground that the alternative is feasible. We’re working on just that here at Copiosis. Thanks for your comment!

      1. “The others know there is a problem”… Yet if one looks at the prevailing attitudes amongst those in a position to make a difference, one sees predominantly arrogance and hostility as opposed to comprehension. These numbers are most telling: http://www.popularresistance.org/elite-interests-vs-public-priorities/

        I privately emailed a suggestion re Copiosis to e-deliberation this last weekend. Perhaps JDCusin who appears to have received it will share the idea with you.

        1. Thanks “Professor”, I did get your email from JD. I’m replying, but it’s taking a while. You will get a response :-). On the link: There could be two ways to look at these data. One is easy: notice the difference in opinions between the public and the elites, then draw conclusions on that comparison. Seems to be what the article is doing.

          Here’s another way: Note that there are elites who agree with the public. And, since those elites, by definition, have more power/leverage in our society, they in effect are more effective in making change happen through their resources. We don’t need all elites to work with us. Just a few. These data show that there are quite a few of them who agree with us. How you look at these data is up to you 🙂

          We here at Copiosis tend not to focus on the world as it is. Rather, we focus on how it can be, how it will be, when we’re done. What your link shows us is there is potential among the 1 percent. We know this already. It’s encouraging. Thanks for sharing!

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