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Occupy movement missing the point

April 4, 2012
Hong Kong

Strolling around the streets of Hong Kong last night trying to (unsuccessfully)  ward off the jet lag, I was a bit surprised to stumble upon the local ‘Occupy’ movement.

A small group, maybe a few dozen at most, has pitched a mini tent village in the open-air atrium of HSBC’s headquarters on Queen’s Road in central Hong Kong.

 Occupy movement missing the point

When I stopped by for a little chat, the group was delighted to tell me all about their anti-capitalist movement. I nodded politely and asked several questions in an effort to understand their philosophical grounding.

No doubt, they smell something rotten in the system. They sense a great injustice in the world and feel like they need to do something about it. Unfortunately, their actions are completely misguided.

They don’t realize that ‘capitalism’ is a distant myth compared to the kleptocratic Keynesian fiat bubble that we’re living in… and they’ve completely missed the driving force of central bankers and idiotic politics that encouraged bad decision making.

On the surface, these are complicated topics… and there’s so much populist propaganda out there, it’s easy for the ‘Occupiers’ to draw the wrong conclusions.

But blaming capitalism for the world’s economic ills is like blaming the guy who invented gunpowder for nuclear holocaust. Sure, you could make an argument that the two are loosely related, but the real blame lies with the system itself– a system which awards perverse power and control to an elite few.

As I’ve often written, future historians will look back on our time with utter incredulity and wonder how we could allow such a system to take over… to allow a tiny handful of men to control the lives and livelihoods of billions of people.

Certainly, injustice in the world is great. There are a lot of people who are suffering, people who have had their lives turned upside down from state-sponsored corporate welfare.

Holding out for the government to fix it, though, is like waiting for a thief to give your stuff back. It’s not going to happen. They’re instrumental in perpetuating the problem.

At the end of the day, we only have ourselves to rely on.

This morning as I was jogging around Hong Kong’s Soho district, I saw the personification of self-reliance in a 70-year old woman.

She was pushing a heavy cart uphill, loaded down with all sorts of boxes and bags. It was easily twice her size, but she was powering through, slow and steady up the hill.

When I stopped to help, she initially waived me off, but I insisted. Little did I realize we weren’t just going up the street… we were going all the way to the top, several hundred meters at least.

When we reached her corner, the lady thanked me and began cerimoniously unpacking and laying out her gear. It was all just useless knick-knacks that she had acquired and was prepared to haggle over with passers-by in order to make a few bucks that day.

It was extraordinary; at about 6am, on a holiday no doubt, this woman in her 70s was pushing a cart uphill by herself so that she could stand on a street corner all day to sell some little trinkets.

IMG 04191 Occupy movement missing the point

The dichotomy was extraordinary… and it’s an important lesson.

Yes, the kids are right– there is great injustice in the world.  But if they really want to fix things and look out for future generations, the best thing they can do is follow the woman’s example of self-reliance.

We all have a finite amount of resources– time, money, energy. Spending those resources on camping out and lamenting the symptoms of the problem (rather than the fundamental issue) is counterproductive and wasteful. The system can’t be fixed; it’s going to collapse on its own soon enough.

Rather, we should be focusing on taking care of ourselves, our families, and setting ourselves up for success when the system is reset and the rules are rewritten.


As I’ve mentioned before, our annual youth liberty and entrepreneurship in Lithuania is designed specifically to teach these kinds of skills to energetic, motivated young people– how to thrive and succeed in the Brave New World that’s emerging.

If you’re between 18-25 and interested in taking a crash course in developing essential skills, I really want to encourage you to read more about what we’re doing and apply at; the application deadline is May 15th.

About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • David Hammond

    Simon, A great post. The posts where you use your personal experiences from your day-to-day life to support your points are the most memorable. (Like the one when you were sitting in your car at an intersection in South Africa distinguishing between the employee, the entrepreneur, and the beggar working the street.) Also, the pictures make a big difference. Muy bien! 

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Appreciate your comments, but you’re only skimming the very surface of Occupy.  Yes, the kids at the camps tend to repeat the “anti-capitalist” stance – but it’s important to recognize that Occupy is just the flower that’s peeking above the surface.  The roots reach far deeper down below.    Occupy at its core is about systemic change.  Where you and Occupy part is perhaps where you believe “self-reliance” is the best option.   I disagree… as if the system truly collapses, being self-reliant simply means you’re the juiciest target for those that didn’t plan as well. 

    Instead, Occupy recognizes we must reorganize based on the principles of inter-dependence.  As the adage goes, it is impossible to be truly free while others are not.    So while Occupy as a brand itself may fade away, more and more groups will arise to take on this transition.  

    For more on my take, check out

    • Sobluetoo

       With self-reliance as a paradigm, a starting point if you will, we can each be as good as we can be. With each person honestly pulling their weight to the best of their ability, the societal burden is minimal. All of us, regardless of political bent, except for sociopaths and damaged people, want to help our fellows and see them prosper. Most of us have no problem helping those who are truly in need. Unfortunately, the system we have now inhibits personal success with regulation and power mongering which, in turn, promotes unnatural dependence. We have not seen anything like real capitalism in this world for a long time, if ever. We are indeed interdependent by nature and circumstance but we help others the most by being the best individuals we can be.

    • Delia Lopez ForCongress

      Occupy is funded by George Soros and his ilk they planned it in advance and began it on the same day as the Bolshevik Revolution, they even copied some of the posters. This is not a grass roots uprising, it is a planned response to the Tea Party Patriots that began during Ron Paul’s first run for president complaining about  the FED, government bailouts and unconstitutional wars, that was co-opted by the msm and big money till it is barely recognizable. 

      The people in the tents are the “useful idiots” needed by the Marxists. The very rich always support the socialist ideal whether it is because you end up with two groups the very wealthy politically connected and the very poor peasants that will work for little more than the days food. Or they may actually think they are going to bring about the final one world order utopia where everyone shares everything and no one is hungry or homeless.

      The guys in the tents probably actually believe the latter, they need to read a bit more history. 

    • Sobluetoo

       With self-reliance as a paradigm,
      a starting point if you will, we can each be as good as we can be.
      With each person honestly pulling their weight to the best of their
      ability, the societal burden is minimal. All of us, regardless of
      political bent, except for sociopaths and damaged people, want to
      help our fellows and see them prosper. Most of us have no problem
      helping those who are truly in need. Unfortunately, the system we
      have now inhibits personal success with regulation and power
      mongering which, in turn, promotes unnatural dependence. We have not
      seen anything like real capitalism in this world for a long time, if
      ever. We are indeed interdependent by nature and circumstance but we
      help others the most by being the best individuals we can be.

  • FS

    Perhaps some Occupiers do not have quite the right language for it yet, or maybe they are at times not doing the most “effective” thing for the moment (in your view), but what is happening here is that we KNOW inherently as you said, something doesn’t pass the smell test. Their sacrifice to occupy raises the alarm about the systematic corruption at the heart of it all, and their willingness to sacrifice (and live the sacrifice, not just parrot it) belies a deep compassion for the world. They are the first sign of alarm. It’s up to you+us all to find our own ways to help make the improvements and make purpose of our lives. Take your own route. Let people make their own ways, and if you can uplift them higher, let your voice be heard, and pull up your sisters and brothers, do that! Its through action with compassion we can become new leaders of this age.

    • Delia Lopez ForCongress

      The first alarm was sounded by the original tea party in 2007 and that scared the hell out of TPTB. We must all educate the OWS groups they are being used to enforce what they are protesting against. We must all work together if freedom and prosperity are to be restored.

  • Matches Malone

    It would seem that you and I see the deeper meaning behind the various Occupy movements, and why those that are participating don’t understand that sitting around and doing nothing doesn’t necessarily mean it will do it well.

  • stargate

    Hi Simon, I am a subscriber in Hong Kong.  I have posted this article on  This forum is talking about macro economy.

    I would comment that normal Hong Kong people do not care about monetary policy.  They will be happy when they have enough money.  In addition, the main stream media is also ignore the root cause of monetary problem : fiat currency.
    Have a nice day in Hong Kong

  • thai karl

    simon, if the old women is the model of “self reliance” why did you help her push the cart up the hill? she was doing it herself.  probably did it herself yesterday.  are you saying that people who are at least trying, need a little help sometimes?  and if her health failed, and she couldn’t be out there pushing the cart, she would what? no longer ‘self reliant’ and doesn’t need help anymore? of course, you wouldn’t even see her, because she would be staying at home, where she wouldn’t be visible  and of course, her employer would have health insurance for her, so she could get to feeling better and go out and push her cart again.  oh, wait, who is her employer? oh, no health care then.  oh well, so much for self reliance.  unfortunately, there are thousands more like that.

    but the really sad part, is that in at least in most places in america, the government wouldn’t even let her be out there.  you can’t sell on the streets, you have to have a business liscense, pay licensing fees, or rent a stall in a designated controlled “market zone”.   not to mention that it’s possible somebody will come along and steal her money- and i just don’t mean the tax collectors.

    • Sincere

       TK -

      “Self reliance” has nothing to do with getting help… it’s about not relying on it.  And, just as importantly, it’s about not coercing that help from others just because you feel that you need it.

    • Delia Lopez ForCongress

      Funny how some are so indoctrinated they equate health care with health insurance. In the USA where health care has been taken over by government so the cost is exorbitant, there are still some clinics where they do not accept insurance or government subsidies and they are able to charge $13 for a doctor visit. As in Mexico where the two systems one run by the government and one private exist side by side. Some of the best care in the world at an affordable cost.  I have seen no problem that was so big that government could not make it worse. 

    • Guest

      >simon, if the old women is the model of
      >”self reliance” why did you help her push
      >the cart up the hill?

      Wow t.k.!  It really is possible to get obsessive at times.

      There’s such a thing as falling in with someone interesting who looks like they might appreciate a helping hand and helping them out with what they’re doing.

      Simon saw a senior chugging up the hill on an intriguing mission, offered a hand (you know, boy scouts, Little Old Lady (LOL) across the street, that sort of thing) had some fun, felt good inside, got to admire the very industrious LOL.

      A good time was had by all.  It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

      • Tmaxwell

        Yep… believe it or not, in the eighties there was (and continues to be) a movement that covered that “helping hand” issue. It’s called
        “Self Reliant-Cooperative”. Simon was a perfect example of that. The lady got a hand, Simon got a story.

  • Hiday_happy

    this article is great you give more imformation about other country that i didnt know

  • Wlchr5

    Wow..sounds like a new rendition of the old story I used to tell my kids. When I was your age, I used to walk 20 miles to school and back….barefoot….in the snow….uphill….Both ways!!!! You should write fiction for the Republican Party…Oh wait.. You just did!!!!

  • Sincere

    Great article Simon.

    When it comes to the Occupy Movement, I simply don’t get the reasoning.  How can sitting outside in a tent possibly change anything about ‘the system’?  Its almost as if they hope to use pity as a weapon. But ‘the system’ would have to care about them (and there is no indication that it does) for it to work.

    What is their aim?  How will their actions expedite their goals?  Uncoordinated protests built around disjointed causes such as “capitalism is bad” or “down with the banks” or “we need jobs, give them to us” seems impotent, and a bit silly. 

    I may be missing the point, and am admittedly basing my comment on media’s portrayal of the movement.  So if one of your readers can explain the reasoning, I would be eager to read it.

  • Halingei

    Thai Karl:
    Simon’s assistance was at no enforced cost to any other.
    It was a freely given mark of admiration and respect.
    A very human act.

  • Delia Lopez ForCongress

    In many places, including most importantly Portland OR., it is illegal to sell stuff without government permission. We made international news when a child’s lemonade stand was shut down. Adults would be fined as well. Taxation by citation.  The American Dream starting with nothing and working your way out of abject poverty has been murdered. You once could start with nothing a rag and water and wash windows, now you must be licensed etc it takes serious money. You have 3 choices Starve, work for minimum wage if they are hiring, go on welfare. Anything else can land you in jail. 

    • Halingei

      Stossel tells it the way it is!

      A must watch!

  • Claire Plowman

    Thank you, Mr Black for your extremely helpful and informative insights. Unfortunately I do not have the resources for the package that you are offering. Nonetheless I am interested in the community in Chile that you are working on. My e-mail is and perhaps I could be of some assistance there if you could send me more information. I speak several languages fluently including Spanish, having been raised in Venezuela. And my talents are varied and many. Please feel free to contact me. Sincerely, Claire Plowman

  • Cyn

    Being silent, not objecting, not doing anything, has been done for a few generations, and look at where it has got us.  Because no one did anything is why we are in the mess we are in now.  Look at what the present generations have to inherit, while everyone was only thinking of themselves and being self-reliant in the past.  Kids should be asking their elders, where were you when the world was going to pot?

    I don’t think the occupy movement is doing any bad what-so-ever.  Camping out in the cold isn’t lazy and it isn’t easy.  They have grasped people’s attention around the world…and good for them.  If a dozen kids don’t know too much about politics…well maybe, but in Toronto for example, the movement is very well organized, intelligent, and peaceful.  The MSM, has painted a very different picture of them worldwide, which as far as I can see is untrue.

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