You may have seen this nasty leaflet that’s making the rounds on the ‘net, reportedly dropped by someone at the Chicago Board of Trade on top of “Occupy Chicago” protesters Wednesday afternoon as they rallied alongside unions in the city’s financial district.
The text, which dates back to more than a year and a half ago, is so vicious that it makes one wonder if it wasn’t somehow written expressly to demonize financial traders themselves. If there’s any question what a livelihood devoted to greed and craving does to one’s soul, the misery of the leaflet’s author speaks for itself.
The more enlightened among us would respond with compassion, and the reminder that bankers are people too, and unlike the above example, some of them are very nice people at that.
But at rarefied moments of global tumult such as this, we can’t help but wonder, “What would Noam Chomsky say?”
When you look at a corporation, just like when you look at a slave owner, you want to distinguish between the institution and the individual. So slavery, for example, or other forms of tyranny, are inherently monstrous.
But the individuals participating in them may be the nicest guys you can imagine: benevolent, friendly, nice to their children, even nice to their slaves; caring about other people—as individuals they may be anything.
In their institutional role, they are monsters, because the institution is monstrous. The same is true here.
—Noam Chomsky, in the award-winning documentary The Corporation
Update: “Did You Hear the One About the Bankers?” NY Times Op-Ed, 10/29/11.