As shoppers gear up for the holidays, people around the world are questioning the corporate insistence that we can buy comfort, love, companionship, happiness and community with money.|
Friday, November 29 will mark the eleventh year of the anti-consumption holiday, Buy Nothing Day. The "un-holiday" has become increasingly popular over the years, with upwards of thirty different countries participating. This year, a variety of thought-provoking events will take place locally and internationally with the ultimate aims of encouraging consumer education and awareness, and curbing consumption overall.
Traditionally, the last Friday of November is the busiest shopping day of the year, particularly in North America. In the U.S., this follows the national Thanksgiving holiday, which kicks off a nearly month-long shopping spree before the Christmas holiday, and serves as an indicator of the health of the retail industry - whether shops will be 'in the black' - for the year.
People in more than thirty countries have made a pact with themselvesas a personal experiment and public statement, and plan to step out of the consumer stream for 24 hours. The ways in which people have marked the event worldwide have been as diverse as the participants themselves. This year, Buy Nothing Day also coincides with the monthly global Critical Mass bicycle celebration, which promises to be particularly prominent in Melbourne.
The Vancouver-based Media Foundation (publishers of Adbusters magazine) first promoted Buy Nothing Day a decade ago as a protest of pervasive corporate advertising and power, a demonstration that also underscores our societal dependence on consumption. They have encouraged both international and local grassroots "culture jamming" with an anti-consumerism / anti-commercialism focus, including a very successful "uncommercial" campaign on CNN. Adbusters' "uncommercials" continue to be rejected my nearly all corporate media outlets.
Some persons and groups have rejected the logic of Buy Nothing Day, considering it to be a perfect feel-good, liberal, middle-class activist non-happening. A day when the more money you make, the more influence you have (like every other day). A day which, by definition, is insulting to the millions of people worldwide who are too poor or marginalized to be considered "consumers." This has led to the inauguration of the Steal Something Day concept.
Within the scope of many working families' realities, there is an overt war on Iraq looming on the horizon and an economy in the doldrums, causing those with temporary, multiple, and no jobs to be increasingly marginalized. Meanwhile, a decades-long shift away from social service support and towards corporate subsidation continues unabated. This year's BND comes on the three year aniversary of the eve of the protests against the World Trade Organization ministerial in Seattle in 1999.
Under these conditions, the Bush administation has authorized unprecedented military spending, and encourages U.S. citizens to spend what disposable cash and credit they have to bolster the economy as a "patriotic" duty. Buy Nothing Day is a concerted compaign to raise a voice of dissent against consumerism, capitalism, and over-consumption.
Various IMCs preview BND 2002, including Houston, Italy, New York City, Seattle, Victoria, and Washington D.C..
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