Harbingers of revolution: economic crisis or General Consumption Strike?

Paul Raven @ 13-10-2008

AdBusters corporate logo mashupA significant factor in the current financial crisis, so the newspapers tell us, is people spending less money in the marketplace. Conventional economic logic describes this as uncoordinated and irrational behaviour, a kind of emergent phenomenon that pushes the system into recession. [image by BdR76]

The culture-jamming movement would like to suggest otherwise, though. To these economic activists, what we’re seeing is a conscious decision by a growing section of the population of the world to drop out of the consumerist lifestyle to a greater or lesser extent. And they see it not just as positive, but as a prerequisite to the revolution:

Ours is not a purely nihilistic campaign, we do not revel in economic collapse out of spite but instead because we believe that only after an economic decline will it be possible to bring about the necessary changes to capitalism that will assure a sustainable future. We are also taking steps to insure that the money we save by decreasing our consumption goes to organizing mutual aid societies that will provide services to our needy compatriots.

To join the General Consumption Strike is easy: spend less, live more. Consider doing without your high-speed internet, cell phone service, beer or wine, restaurants, gasoline, new clothes, fancy electronics and tourism. Think of the money you will save, the fewer hours you’ll need to work, and the more time you’ll have to live. […] Stay strong, this is a once in a hundred year opportunity!

I’ve a fair amount of sympathy with what’s being said here, but the language and rhetoric of revolution always sticks in my throat, no matter how close I am to the philosophy behind it – and imagine there are people with more to lose than myself who will be even more riled by it.

But maybe the culture jammers are right; tough times breed strange behaviours, after all, and rebranding a crisis as an opportunity is just one of many. [link via No Fear Of the Future]

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to dumpster-dive for my lunch.