Thursday, November 27, 2008

Slice the turkey and pass the ideology.

Once again, topics meet, and we borrow from our sister blog to reproduce a Thanksgiving message and lesson in ideology....

WB got an email from Adbusters last week promoting the 2008 edition of Buy Nothing Day — the culture jammers' response to Black Friday, November 28, the day after Thanksgiving — the day of retail madness and HUGE SALES hell across the United States.

Buy Nothing Day Confronts the Economic Meltdown, the caption read in this part of the email. Was it possible that Adbusters, defender of everything contracapitalist, would ease up this year, knowing that every large retailer in the nation "needs" a successful Black Friday in order to stay... well, in the black and out of the red?

Luckily, no. The message continued: "As we run out of money, resources and wilderness, and the planet keeps heating up, maybe it’s time to confront the root cause of our global crisis: overconsumption by the most affluent one billion people of the world."

If ever there was an example of ideology pulling out every available device to "correct" "obviously" "wrong" thinking, it's going to show in the response to those few words in italics. Don't be foolish! Consumption is the engine of economic growth! Economic growth is the key to prosperity! Prosperity is the backbone of power! Those are the normalizing narratives that the concept of Buy Nothing Day has to bash its head against.

Want to test it out? Announce to the family, around the Thanksgiving feast table, that you're not going shopping the next day because consumption is out of control. Say that you don't care if half a dozen retail giants announce bankruptcy on Saturday; they should have prepared for a horrid economy when everyone saw the crash coming, roughly two years ago. Share with the group that being a good consumer is not your patriotic duty, and that shifting a huge debt load onto your credit card is not a logical or reasonable way to remedy a problem created by herds of swine in thousand-dollar suits making money from other people's losses.

Go ahead, you marxist, you. You socialist. Turn your back on your country, you loser, and put in with the godless commies from Canada (the home of Adbusters) who would like nothing better than for the American economy to totally tank so that they can take over.

Or maybe you're lucky enough to have a group over to dinner that agrees with your basic position — but damn, have you seen those sale papers? There's just no way to pass up that 70% reduction on [fill in product here]. After all, times are really hard, and people are eating SPAM and macaroni and cheese in record numbers, so it'd be plain stupid to pay top dollar for a Christmas gift on Saturday that can be got for 30% on Friday. It's just basic logic, you know?

Except it isn't. It's ideology.

An idea.

Just a thought, but one made of concrete and crushing down on your skull like a mountain. Resistance is possible, but feels futile. Feels logically flawed. Feels morally wrong. That is the power of ideology.

Adbusters concludes: On November 28, why not confront your own consumption by going on a consumer fast for 24 hours? Like the millions of people who have done this fast before you, you may be rewarded with a life-changing epiphany.
More information and ideological challenge is available at the BND web site.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will feel nearly impossible.*

Good luck.

*(Insert lame Limp Bizkit rendition of theme song here.)

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