Origin Of The 99 Percent?

December 16, 2011 |  by  |  Possible City  | 

George Lippard

We’re feeling revolutionary today, at the Daily. A little later, you can learn how Philadelphia radicals paved the way for the Boston Tea Party, and then finished the business by sending the crown’s representatives–and their tea–packing. Now, tracing the origin of the Occupy movement’s “We Are The 99%” not to Karl Marx, who called the high tiers of capitalism a “Vatican,” and not to Joseph Stiglitz, whose May Vanity Fair article is credited with inspiring the meme.

Rather, we trace the 99 to the wonderfully Gothic George Lippard, journalist and best-selling author, and founder, in 1849, of the worker alliance Brotherhood of the Union. (Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto was published in 1848, but didn’t receive an English translation until 1850. The American edition came out even later.) Quite a bit more romantic than Marx and Engels (he decried class warfare), Lippard, who lived in Kensington and worked at Third and Chestnut, hoped his nascent organization would:

give to every man the fruits of his labor–will secure to every worker a homestead–will protect the men who work against those usurpers of capital who degrade labor in factories and swindle it in Banks–will by means of peaceful combination so reform public opinion that legislators will no longer dare to make special laws, and bestow privileges upon one man at the expense of ninety-nine of his brothers and sisters.

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine. Popkin's literary criticism appears in the Wall Street Journal, Public Books, The Kenyon Review, and The Millions. He is writer-in-residence of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.



Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

 

Recent Posts
Developers Continue To Distrust Central Delaware Master Plan

Developers Continue To Distrust Central Delaware Master Plan

September 27, 2016  |  Morning Blend

The imperative of collaboration in reaching a critical mass on the Delaware, proposed regional rail power plant draws residents’ ire, L&I releases more data sets, and Walnut Lane Bridge reopens > more

The Crisis On Jewelers Row: Mayor Kenney We Need You

The Crisis On Jewelers Row: Mayor Kenney We Need You

September 27, 2016  |  Soapbox

The tools are in hand to stop Toll Brothers' tower (and get it built somewhere else), architectural historian and preservation professor Aaron Wunsch argues. Can Jim Kenney deliver? > more

Ground Broken On Reuse Of Old Spring Garden School

Ground Broken On Reuse Of Old Spring Garden School

September 26, 2016  |  Morning Blend

North Philadelphia eyesore being converted into 37 units of subsidized housing, Fishtown entertainment complex opens, and Kenney the pedestrian champion > more

The Tale Of Catfish And Waffles

The Tale Of Catfish And Waffles

September 23, 2016  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Long before chicken and waffles took hip restaurant menus by storm Philadelphia was famous for the meal's precursor, catfish and waffles, served at inns and taverns on the banks of the Wissahickon Creek and the Schuylkill River. Harry K. sets the table and serves us up a heaping plate of local culinary history > more

Requiem For A Moderne Gem, William Penn Annex Post Office

Requiem For A Moderne Gem, William Penn Annex Post Office

September 22, 2016  |  Vantage

Contributor Ann de Forest delivers a eulogy for the decline of civic architecture and the closing of an iconic post office on East Market Street. > more

Residential Towers To Connect Old City With Northern Liberties

Residential Towers To Connect Old City With Northern Liberties

September 22, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Apartment high-rises planned for East Callowhill, Little Pete’s replacement moves ahead, adverse possession in Fishtown, conserving INHP’s bronze statues, and Clarke defends low-density urban development > more