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International Buy Nothing Day.

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
November 22, 1999


November 26th, 1999 marks the eight annual International Buy Nothing Day. The premise of Buy Nothing Day is simple: Make absolutely no purchases, and show Madison Avenue that freewill still exists. Instead of responding to the media hype of the "busiest shopping day of the year," people from around the world are claiming sovereignty over consumption, if only for a day, and in the process making a stand for the biotic community that our parasitic consumer culture mindlessly devourers.

Now if you doubt media hype is designed to get people to the mall on the day after Thanksgiving, tune into one of the insipid network morning shows on November 26th, There you will see reporters broadcasting live from their favorite temple of consumption. As if on cue, Americans flock to the malls, placing themselves in deeper debt to buy stuff for people who don't really need it, and which will probably be forgotten by the first of February. If you ask me, the Christmas consumer ritual is completely out of control, and has nothing to do with Peace on Earth. More to the point, Christmas has become a season of gluttony highlighted by twinkling lights, and a passing reference to the populist martyr known as Jesus.

Those most comfortable living blind to the implications of the feeding frenzy known as capitalist America, will more than likely be the first ones in line to do their ritual shopping Friday morning. And why not? According to the greedy money boys, shopping is the true call of patriotism. To hear them tell it, America is only as strong as its projected retail sales. Like all good Stepford people, these folks never question whether or not such ravenous consumption is sustainable.

Victor Lebow, a prominent mid-century retail analyst and early disciple of the "consume at all costs" ideology summed up best America's relationship to the environment- "Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and ego satisfaction in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing rate." The next time you hear someone talking about the busiest shopping day of the year, realize this is not news, but capatalist propaganda aimed at senseless shoppers hungry to carry out their socially constructed roles as consumer.

Does anyone else see the irony in the fact that the day proceeding Thanksgiving, the day set aside to give thanks for our bounty and good fortune, is the day where people crowd into shopping malls to mark the beginning of a yearly ritual of overconsumption. Rushing to acquire more stuff, as if all that they were thankful for yesterday is no longer enough, America will pull out the plastic. No longer concerned with what they have, all they know is that they must have more.

For the sake of the planet I urge everyone to actively join millions of people world-wide, when they just say no to Barbie, Pokemon, Cuisinart and all the other unnecessary and polluting consumer garbage. International Buy Nothing Day is a protest, a chance for those concerned with the growing hegemony of McWorld to stand up and be recognized as something more that a consumer of goods and non-renewable resources.

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