Tag Archives: Buy Nothing Day

I’m having a little issue with consumerism/marketing

As is everybody. I don’t watch TV very attentively. But it’s still there and a loving God in His infinite wisdom and mercy somehow neglected to give me earlids, so I can’t insulate myself from it and still remain in modern society. Who in the world now has not seen that lizard representation of an insurance company? Just for instance. They’re branding us. and that’s their exact word for it. When I was a kid branding was usually an exclusive term about livestock. Branding a calf is your way of declaring ownership.

My short time working at an advertising company, just doing the trained monkey work, like putting cans of soda on doors in the midst of the Cola Wars of the 1980s (we had a contract with a very large conglomerate which among other other things involved a streetcorner table exhibit with cans of two competing brands of soda called “Take the BLEEEP Challenge”) changed my perspective away from Madison avenue which I never saw and Wall Street which I also never saw…

See, that soda pop promotion was the one time in the company’s history in which the workers were required to wear advertising.
And the rest of the time we were forbidden. Concert Tee Shirt? Sports Team Logo? Unpaid advertising. The company was PAID to advertise, right down to those of us who put grocery store weekly ads on doors.

You might love the team or band a whole lot, but the fact is that shirt is YOU paying THEM to work for them in their advertising campaign. In most jobs it’s the other way around, you get paid for your work. Even in sub-minimum wage contract work. How about a national or local Don’t Work For Free Day, wherein each participant refuses to wear advertising (and yeah, that includes shirts and pants with a tag or even a large print of the manufacturers name on them).

Take it further, don’t talk about your favorite band or TV show or sports team (which is really revenue generating entertainment, not an actual contest of skill) or supporting the Army or any other Corporate Government entity. Try, for just one day.

Fat chance any corporate information (buy our products) medium or media will let anybody know it’s happening. (buy our products damn it)
This is an example of the struggle of actual social activism, writ small.

So the seeds are planted. Let’s see if anything grows, other than the corporate weeds.

The war on Christmas they worry about

Rise above itWhat it’s going to take to revisit 350ppm, to reverse climate change, is not carbon trading, wind turbines, miraculous scientific leaps, or a COP15 conference. The anti-technology has been known to us since sustainable times, when mankind didn’t have to transcend his wants, because it was challenge enough to seek for his needs. Conservation.

Black Friday is Buy Nothing Day

BND Nov 27The big day is upon us, the Black Friday meme is in full force, doorbuster deals are pitched to begin as early as 4am. Everyone wants to catch the early worm shopper, and NMT is no exception. We call your “growing excitement” and raise you one BUY NOTHING DAY. Consume nothing, except comestibles, go nowhere except by self-locomotion, and reclaim your pre-industrialized sustainable nature.

That’s to attack the consumer culture addiction from the abuser’s side. Stop buying what you don’t need.

This BND, Adbusters is going after the problem from the supply side by declaring a General Wildcat Strike, because how are we to arrest the consumer culture juggernaut without calling on the workers at the cogs? But it’s asking a lot of a social class who can afford it least.

Many of us already aren’t scheduled to work on the day after Thanksgiving. I’m not going to work, probably neither are you. But if you’re a retail clerk, unprotected by unions and armed with neither sick days nor savings, you can hardly risk giving your boss the finger on the day he’s expecting to earn a bonus.

Taking down the marketing megalith is going to involve enlisting the working class, but not for one day. They’re already to be the front line casualties of any successful attack on consumerism.

But you on the couch: turn off, tune out, drop down and show us some effort.

I knew Black Friday, and You Sir, are no Black Friday

Robinson Crusoe illustration by OffterdingerIf this year’s “Black Friday” fails to pull retailers out of their red ink, should the dubious protologism retire its presumption to speak for consumer confidence? I think it should. Wasn’t it really just an economist’s “for the Gipper” meme –putting the solvency of the market on the shoulders of Christmas shoppers, rallying them to pull the economy into the black, regardless if it meant spending themselves into the red? I hate it when emotion-charged phrases are usurped by pretenders. Hiroshima was “Ground Zero” before the WTC, the “Homeland” was Nazi Germany, and “Black Friday” was Robinson Crusoe’s, well, Man Friday.

“Black Friday” in general has represented whichever awful event befell that day of the week of recent memory. It may be a wonderful anti-racism step to appoint a rare positive attribution to the word “black,” but I object to its use here to exacerbate affluenza, targeted against the best efforts of sustainability educators to reframe the day-after-Thanksgiving as Buy Nothing Day. If you are a booster for consumerism, black is an accounting concept meaning profitability. But how disingenuous to expect that those outside the balance sheet should share the enthusiasm. For example, it’s not everyone’s Good Friday just because Notre Dame wins that day. Good Friday, by the way, is also called Black Friday, as is any Friday that falls on the 13th.

Below I will list history’s Black Fridays, lest nocturnal Wikipedia cobbler elves continue their PR visits to bolster the retailer claim to the term. According to “Wikipedia” the earliest citation for a shopper’s “Black Friday” is 1966. But in actuality, the expression came from Philadelphia bus drivers and policemen referring to the traffic congestion created at their city center on the busiest shopping day of the year. But Philadelphia retailers objected to the negative connotation. Perhaps as a result, the “black ink” angle surfaces, attributed to a store clerk, offering a more upbeat, chamber-of-commerce-friendly spin. Hmm.

Many people think Black Friday recalls the Stock Market Crash of 1929. It does, and they’re right to be confused about which day of the week it was in particular, because the first day of the crash became known as Black Thursday, followed by Black Friday, then the next trading days, Black Monday and Black Tuesday.

What other occasions in man’s history have warranted the dark coloration? Let’s begin with Black Sabbath:

Black Saturdays
Sept 10, 1547, disaster for Scottish defenders at Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, Scotland
Aug 6, 1621, Mass hysteria caused by dark stormy night confirming Armageddon arrived with Episcopacy, Scotland
Dec 28, 1929, Massacre of Mau demonstrators by NZ police, Samoa
June 13, 1942, Disastrous UK Battle of Gazala against German Afrika Korps
June 29, 1946, UK Operation Agatha against Zionist terrorists in Palestine
Oct 8, 1962, height of A-bomb scare, Cuban Missile Crisis
Dec 6, 1975, Beirut massacres which started Lebanese Civil War, Lebanon
July 31, 1982, worst road accident in French history, (on annual “Black Saturday” when entire of population takes to the road for vacation)
July 14, 1984, Honk Kong exchange rates fall to all time low
Aug 20, 1988, worst day of Yellowstone Fires
Jan 20, 1990, January Massacre of Azeri demonstrators by Soviet Army, Azerbaijan
Feb 7, 2009, brush fires, Victoria, Australia

Black Sundays
Feb 14, 1926, bush fires, Victoria, Australia
April 14, 1935, “Black Blizzard” over Dust Bowl, the Great Plains of US and Canada
Feb 6, 1938, fatal waves on Bondi Beach, Australia
Nov 8, 1942, Nazi extermination of Jews in Staszow, Poland
June 11, 1944, disastrous Canadian battle against German Panzers, Normandy, France
Sept 24, 1950, sunlight blocked by forest fires, Pennsylvania
Jan 2, 1955, brush fires in Southern Australia
May 2, 1982, Exxon canceled shale oil project in Parachute, Colorado
Nov 24, 1991, extreme right party ascension in Belgium
May 1, 1994, San Marino Grand Prix death of Ayrton Senna
April 26, 1998, DIA inter-terminal subway fails, Denver
Jan 21, 2001, Direct TV purged viewers who were pirating signals
Feb 18, 2001, Datona 500 death of Dale Earnhart
Dec 28, 2008, Detroit Lions finished 0-16

Black Mondays
Easter, 1209, English settlers massacred in Dublin, Ireland
April 14, 1360, Easter misfortune during Hundred Years War
Feb 8, 1886, Pall Mall Riot, London, UK
Dec 10, 1894, Newfoundland bank failure, Canada
Oct 28, 1929, Stock Market Crash, 3rd day of trading
May 27, 1935, US Supreme Court overturns National Recovery Act
Sept 19, 1977, Shutdown of Youngstown, Ohio steel mill
Nov 27, 1978, Assassination of Harvey Milk
Oct 19, 1987, global stock market crash
Oct 8, 1990, Temple Mount Massacre by Israeli IDF, Palestine

Black Tuesdays
Oct 29, 1929, Stock Market Crash
1967, brush fires in Tasmania, Australia
Oct 20, 1987, global stock market crash, because Monday is Tuesday in Australia

Black Wednesdays
Sept 16, 1992, when UK withdrew currency from European Exchange Rate Mechanism, suffering a devaluation of 3.4 billion pounds.
Nov 3, 2004, John Kerry concedes 2004 election immediately after promising to challenge polling irregularities.

Had not the US Stock Exchange been shut down on Tuesday, there would have been a Black Wednesday 1929 as well.

Black Thursdays
Feb 6, 1851, brush fires, Victoria, Australia
Oct 24, 1929, start of US Stock Market Crash
Oct 14, 1943, disastrous US-UK bombing raid over Schweinfurt, Germany
Dec 16, 1943, disastrous UK bombing raid over Berlin, Germany
Aug 24, 1995, Moscow Interbank credit market collapse, Russia
Feb 8, 1998, Black World Wide Web Protest
July 24, 2003, Guatemala City riots, Guatemala

Black Fridays
Sept 24, 1869, collapse of price of gold.
Oct 14, 1881, Eyemouth Disaster, Scotland
Nov 11, 1887, Haymarket hangings of innocent anarchists, Chicago
Nov 18, 1910, Police assault of suffragettes, London, UK
Jan 31, 1919, George Square Riot, during strike for 40hr work week, Glasgow, Scotland
Oct 25, 1929, second day of Stock Market Crash
Jan 13, 1939, bush fires in Victoria, Australia
1940 movie starring Boris Karloff
Sept 18, 1942, Bombing of Dartmouth, Devon, UK
Oct 13, 1944, Disastrous Canadian raid, Battle of the Scheldt, Belgium
Feb 9, 1945, Disastrous UK air raid, Battle of Sunnfjord, Norway
Oct 5, 1945, Hollywood Warner Brothers union riot, led to Taft-Hartley Act
May 5, 1950, Red River Flood, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Oct 7, 1977, Phillies lost to Dodgers, game 3 of National League series
Sept 8, 1978, Massacre of protesters in Tehran, led to Iranian Revolution
May 31, 1985, US-Canadian Tornado outbreak
July 31, 1987, Edmonton Tornado, Alberta Canada
March 12, 1993 Bombay Bombings
Aug 12, 2004, suppression of protests, Male, Maldives
Sept 30, 2005, Students protesters killed in Meghalaya, India
Oct 3, 2008, EESA Wall Street Bailout
–AND–
Nov 28, 2009, the first day of the Christmas shopping season, when America’s retailers balance sheets are brought out of the red.

It fits right?

Buy Nothing Day 2009 now Wildcat Strike

Adbusters Buy Nothing DayDo you recognize the cat at right? It might be a child’s zoo animal rubber stamp if it didn’t look so angry. This is a stencil that dates to the Wobblies, when working men were angry. When labor organizers had to fend off union busters and Pinkerton goons, actions had to be called in defiance of the bad contracts and entrenched company-union bosses. Something for UFCW Local 7 to think about. The hasty stencils painted on factory walls announced: Wildcat Strike!

Adbusters resurrects the wild cat for the 2009 Buy Nothing Day, whose impact might be better felt as a GENERAL STRIKE. Buy nothing, drive nowhere, turn out the lights, turn of the electronics, go for a walk, and do not go to work. For one day. The day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving by the way goes off the calendar too. Find something else for which to be thankful besides feasting at the expense of the Native Americans, themselves starved, infected, and driven from their land.
Adbusters Buy Nothing Day
Someone someday will be able to mobilize a real general strike. Until then, what can we lose by trying? Do it. This is the splash page which Adbusters recommends for websites planning to blackout.