July 11, 2001
William Rivers Pitt
get this flag, visit Adbusters
"The so-called consumer society and the politics of corporate
capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties
him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form. The
need for possessing, consuming, handling and constantly renewing
the gadgets, devices, instruments, engines, offered to and
imposed upon the people, for using these wares even at the
danger of one's own destruction, has become a 'biological'
need." - Herbert Marcuse
I am not Robert Kennedy. I was not born to a family of American
political royalty, guaranteeing that my voice be heard when
I choose to speak. I have to spend a good deal of my time
working, or sleeping in preparation for work, in order to
keep the lights on and have food. I have very little in the
way of disposable income.
Robert Kennedy said that one person could make a difference.
From his Olympian height, he looked down upon all of us and
saw individuals who could cut a swath through the injustice
in the world, if only we would rouse ourselves. Down here
on the ground, I stare up at Robert's marble bust on that
mountain and think, "Easy for you to say, kid."
There is so very much I want to do, and I am mortally sure
that this nation is literally teeming with those who share
my desire for action. But we work. We raise kids. We take
care of aging parents. Speaking bluntly, we bust our asses
all week long for that paycheck and for the few precious weekend
hours that more often than not are spent sleeping, drinking,
shopping or watching sports on the television.
It takes a massive amount of one's mental capacities to do
the mundane day-to-day activities that are required of the
average American, if that American wishes to eat, be clothed,
and live inside of doors. It is exhausting. There is that
great line from the head of the Trade Services Union about
the 'boom' years of Clinton's administration: "There have
been 8 million new jobs created, and I've got three of them."
Where, then, do we find that space and time and energy needed
to heal the wounds we see gaping in the body and soul of our
nation? They are right there in front of us, red and bleeding,
crying out for someone to do something. Too many of us, sadly,
shoulder our various burdens and turn away with a prayer on
our lips that somebody with the time will come along and address
I know a way for all of us to climb up on that Olympian perch
with fallen Robert. I know a way we can make that difference.
It requires sacrifice from each of us, and thus is worthy
of being called a Movement. It can be something you do every
moment of the day if you do it right. If enough of us do this
thing, and do it well, and do it faithfully, and turn others
towards it, we will bring about such a massive change as has
not been seen in this nation since the shot heard 'round the
world. Like so many great ideas and Movements, this one is
Just boycott everything.
Take public transportation to work, or walk to the corner
store, or figure out a way to leave your car in the garage
for the weekend. If you own an SUV, sell it. If you are in
the market for a car, look into the gas/electric hybrids that
are available. Thus, you boycott the petroleum companies that
rape our planet and soil our air.
Make your own coffee, or buy your morning cup of brew from
the mom 'n pop joint you always walk by on your way to Starbucks
or Dunkin' Donuts. Sure, it's crummy brew. But you are boycotting
Turn off the God damned television. While it is on you are
a vapid receptacle for all of the invasive nonsense that is
our sad and deranged estate. By simply boycotting television,
you are saying 'NO' to all the advertisers and corporate hucksters
who have sold us all down the river. If you are a news junkie,
satisfy your jones with a couple of newspapers or the internet.
CNN hasn't told you anything that you need to know for a long,
Go out this weekend without makeup, and do not purchase any.
The cosmetics industry has perpetuated a massive crime against
women, by selling to them a destructive myth of beauty that
is utterly unattainable for 99% of human females. The vicious
cycle of self-hatred begins at a very young age for women,
brought on by images proffered by the cosmetics industry in
the pages of glossy magazines. Do not allow one of your hard-earned
dollars to line the pockets of those who profit by telling
you that you are not beautiful enough.
Be aware of your purchases in the grocery store. Buy locally
grown foods whenever possible. Using the remarkable research
tools of the internet, find out which agribusinesses are selling
what, and where. If you do not like what those massive corporations
are doing, do not buy their products.
Turn off the lights. Live without air conditioning whenever
you can. Make a project out of trimming your electricity bill
as much as you can. You are expected to be a consumer. Thus,
you wear the yoke. Boycott the very idea. Take your yoke and
plow a new field. Be mindful of that money you have so vigorously
earned, and understand that when you buy Exxon gasoline or
leave the lights on when you're not in the room, you enrich
those whom you lust to defy and bring low. You work against
yourself. I quote Raoul Vaneigem: "Work to survive, survive
by consuming, survive to consume: the hellish cycle is complete."
Boycott the idea that matters are beyond your control. They
are not. This is Capitalism, Jack. You have to play by the
rules if you're going to carry the day. We are a nation of
consumers, and this corporate control of our politics and
our future is within our grasp to overthrow. We cannot vote
them out, so we must nickel and dime them out. As long as
we continue to enrich those who enslave us, all our hollering
and marching will come to nothing in the end. We are feeding
ourselves to the beast.
Boycott everything. If you are a consumer, then so be it.
Be a damned savvy consumer. Give not one shiny penny to those
whom you would otherwise oppose. Figure out what you are spending
your money on. You may fancy yourself as someone who is tuned
into politics. Become tuned into your alter ego, the consumer
you. Pay attention to where you spend your money.
The stakes in our democracy have been raised. No longer does
"one person, one vote" carry the day. We are surrounded by
interests who sup upon our paychecks through our consumption
of their goods. They take that money and fund politicians
whom we abhor, they push policies that poison us, they bankroll
actions with our money that we would spend our lives opposing.
This is another vicious cycle, one I am sure was never envisioned
by the Framers.
We have in our wallets the power to break that cycle, and
bring these dogs to heel.
This Movement will take sacrifice. A little bit here and
there. Trim the lusher corners of your life. Discover some
simplicity, a rare commodity indeed, one that is not sold
in the aisles of Wal-Mart. If, in this simplicity, you discover
that you have the time and energy and money to become more
politically active, then so much the better.
Boycott everything. Tell your friends. Begin to make that
difference. I am sure Robert would approve.