Corporate backed dissent

By DailyCollegian.com Staff

When Egyptian protesters took to Tahrir Square in January, their goal was crystal clear: revolution. Then-President Hosni Mubarak tried to appease. He fired parliament and even appointed a vice president. Still the revolutionaries refused to budge. Three weeks into the protests, during Mubarak’s final throes, he transferred power first to his new vice president and then to the Army. With the help of the Internet and social networking resources, the Egyptian people overturned nearly three decades of tyrannical rule.

But back in 1989 when Mubarak was entering his eighth year as “president” of Egypt, documentary filmmakers Kalle Lasn and Bill Schmalz founded the Adbusters Media Foundation in order to fund the eponymous Adbusters Magazine. In its own words, the magazine, “is a not-for-profit, reader-supported, 120,000-circulation magazine concerned about the erosion of our physical and cultural environments by commercial forces” and is available for purchase at many major retail outlets, including but not limited to, Barnes & Noble (net worth $819.91 million) and Amazon.com (net worth $6.86 billion).

In response to its concern for our “physical and cultural environments,” the magazine is engaging in what it calls “culture jamming.” In a nutshell, the idea is to take some sort of capitalist meme and use it in a way that subverts the meme’s intended, consumerist meaning, thereby revealing the “truth” of said capitalist meme to the consumer masses. The Adbusters Media Foundation also participates in good old fashion activist organization and is currently waging five campaigns.

Buy Nothing Day will, according to Adbusters website, be held this year on Nov. 25 in North America and Nov. 26 internationally. The idea is simple enough: in the face of the terrifying holiday shopping season, take a day off, buy nothing and encourage awareness of the detriments of our consumer culture.

Then from April 18 to 24 Adbusters encourages us all to have a Digital Detox Week where we reflect on the harms our growing technology addiction is having on our own communities and the planet as a whole.

Kick It Over is an ongoing campaign to update and balance university economics departments. Then, if you really feel like giving to Adbusters they have an ethically manufactured sneaker made from post-consumer recycled materials! It’s called the “Blackspot” and looks super cool!

Oh, and for those of you who’ve missed Adbusters’ latest campaign, it’s called Occupy Wall Street.

That’s right, on Sept. 13 Adbusters, using the Twitter account #occupywallstreet asked, “Are you ready for a Tahrir moment? On Sept. 17, flood into Lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street.”

Well, so it happened, our generation has for the past 20 days been camped out in the financial districts of cities around the country. The impetus wasn’t the fact that we, despite being over qualified, can’t get jobs, or that we are watching our families and loved ones struggle to afford adequate healthcare and housing. It wasn’t because we’re still engaged in two ground campaigns and countless other proxy wars, or that it’s painfully obvious that Congress is under the thumb of corporate interests. Our generation was mobilized by a magazine that sells sneakers.

What little coverage the mainstream press has given to this movement is portraying the whole campaign as misguided and confused. And you know what? I’m starting to agree with that sentiment.

Watch some videos and take a peek at pictures of protestors down in Zuccati Park and it becomes clear that this “revolution” has no idea what it wants. Adbusters wanted to start a leaderless, spontaneous revolution aimed at “taking back America” – whatever that means — but they made one big mistake: we aren’t Egypt.

Egyptians were able to affect revolution based off of this kind of amorphous revolutionary structure because they had one very simple and unanimous demand: get Mubarak out. There was no financial hydra that had the Egyptian government tied up; there was just one tyrant with outrageous gall and disregard for his country. Because the Egyptian people were unified as to their aims, there didn’t need to be a Martin Luther King Jr. type leader to impose a hierarchical structure on their revolution. The overwhelming conviction of the Egyptian people to seriously change their country was enough because there was a single entity embodying the country’s problems.

So, wake up. This “revolution”  is being sold to us just like the tea party has been sold to the political right by the Koch Brothers. And just like the tea party, this whole Occupy Wall street thing is turning into a grotesque abomination, a socio-political Frankenstein that can’t tell its head from its rear.

We are the 99 percent and once again we’ve bought what the 1 percent sold us. If you have any questions as to Adbusters aims, just go read the donation page of its website – it proudly proclaims, “Cultural Revolution is our business…”

If we really want change why not actually take a page from the Egyptians? Let’s keep our demands few and simple but strike for the heart.

In short, why don’t we stand united at the logical and centralized location of our country’s capital, hunker down for a long haul and finally say what we’re all thinking. The government isn’t working anymore. We need one that does.

Max Calloway is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]