Buy Nothing Day, held on the busiest shopping day of the year, was held in Portland yesterday. The capitalist economy, now suffering from the bust side of the boom-and-bust cycle, looks to us, the "consumers," to help bail them out and buy, buy, buy. The beginning of the X-Mas Shopping season is essential to the US economy, making up nearly half of domestic consumption for the year. This massive purchasing of goods is essential to the continued functioning of capitalism and is even more crucial now in a time of recession. We can truly refer to the US capitalist edifice as the Military-Industrial-Christmas Complex.
In this context around thirty mostly young people, most dressed up in various costumes, went anti-shopping through downtown Portland. The small march made its way through busy downtown streets making noise and injecting a humorous anti-consumption message. Several major stores were marched through, with chants such as "Shop, Shop, Shop, While the Bombs Drop" until store security escorted folks out. An altered version of the Star Mangled Banner was sung throughout the festivities and fire juggling and fire eating was featured for bemused shoppers. People carried shopping bags that said, I Feel Empty. Some responded favorably, some were hostile, while most had looks of complete shock on their faces, particularly at Nordstroms.
This self-organized and largely spontaneous action meet up with the Portland Peaceful Response weekly vigil at Pioneer Square, briefly. There around sixty or so folks held innocuous signs for "Peace" and "Hope" and could have been confused with Christmas carolers or advocates of Holiday Cheer. It was good to have a "Peace" presence at the huge Christmas tree lighting ceremony, but the lack of political content and the timidity of the PPRC continues to disappoint. The difference between a vital and innovative approach to the War in Afghanistan, Capitalism and protest and the same old thing could not have been more stark.