The Boycott Begins-November 23rd, 2007.
Happy Holidays. This will be my final message to all of those thousands who have signed up at www.wearenotbuyingit.org since last January. Since beginning this project I have been alternately disheartened by the fractured manner in which the opposition has been working to oust the Bush Administration and end the war, and filled with hope by the hundreds upon hundreds of messages and conversations I have had with concerned people around the globe.
I understand now that even if the 'leadership' of our progressive, liberal and libertarian organizations cannot set aside their personal differences and agree on a coordinated set of actions then at the very least the 'membership' is more than ready to take whatever steps are necessary to not only bring Bush and Co. to justice and end this horrific travesty of a war-but to fundamentally reform the economic, political and social systems that have brought us to this point.
We are ready to put our money where our hearts are and to take action every day to erode the base of support for the policies that appall us. We are not doing it by making contributions to non-profits or trying to buy a candidate, we are doing it by drawing down our economic activity to the point where there will be no more 'business as usual'. And it all starts this Friday. Black Friday 2007 marks the beginning of a change in the behavior of what Madison Avenue calls 'consumers' and what we call human beings.
The message has spread and it has taken on a life of its own. In Austin a 70 year old grandmother has made signs saying "Boycott Bush" and is working with her community to stop corporate greed and at the same time support Ron Paul. In Santa Rosa California a group of students and retired people are protesting in front of the local mall, handing out homemade flyers and holding signs promoting an old-fashioned greed free Christmas season:
Subject: Sonoma County "No Buy Day" action - Friday, 11/23
Hi all - we are organizing a "No Buy Day" action in front of the Santa Rosa Plaza shopping mall (in front of the hand sculpture on the public sidewalk) for the Friday after Thanksgiving. It will begin at noon and last until 2:00 or later if there's energy and weather permitting. We will provide signs to hang around your necks which will read "Homo sapien" with the "sapien" crossed out and replaced with "accumulatus." Bring a sign with a simple message such as "Give the Gift of Time, Not Money", "If You Must Buy, Please Buy Local", etc. You get the picture. I plan to wrap a few empty boxes with Christmas paper, attach them to my back and be weighted down by them. Feel free to do the same. We'll be offering free presents, so if you have a good quality item you'd like to donate to the free table, please bring it along. And if you want to make signs at the Peace & Justice Center that morning, just let me know and we'll have supplies and companionship. Pass this on and we hope you can join us.
In Pittsburgh a group of spiritual activists are putting their ethics into action by organizing at every level to promote a non-corporate holiday season and are providing alternatives to corporate grocery stores for peoples everyday needs during this process:
Hello Mr. Brown,
My name is Rose Lord. I'm an associate of Victor Landa. I've been working at promoting the corporate boycott here in Pittsburgh. Victor thought you might be interested in knowing what I'm doing. After an initial announcement sent out on October 22nd, I've been sending out weekly reminders/words of encouragement to my local mailing list. I'm using your list of 11 things we can do but I modified it a bit and took it down to 8 things so that it will take us from our starting date through the Christmas holiday. I send these weekly e-mails to Victor as well and he forwards them to his mailing list, which is much more extensive then mine.
I also made up flyers which are being distributed at our local co-op, and a poster with many of the points that are outlined on your power point presentation.
I've been trying to contact the East Coast coordinator for the United States Social Forum to encourage all the people who attended that event in July to participate but I haven't been successful yet.
I hope this boycott will be very successful but even if it doesn't have the impact that we are hoping for, I'm sure that it will start a significant number of people thinking and acting differently and I hope we can keep it going throughout the coming year.
If you would like, I will include you on my weekly reminder e-mail list so that you know what's going on here in the Burgh.
Rose "Mirabai" Lord
Global Coalition for Peace
Online new twists on the idea have been springing up since the summer including this series of responses on a bulletin board that networks community minded people:
This thread on Waccobb.net, Sonoma County's "conscious community," seems to be related to your boycott project. If you have info on the boycott that you would like me to post in response to this thread, I'd be happy to do so. If you're not a member of Waccobb, you might consider joining or at least trolling.
Q: How to Hack the Holidays...? A: It's Festivus for the Rest of Us!
"Together, we boycott Christmas Shopping, Christmas decorations, Christmas cards, and every variety of Christmas Crap. We refuse to support the Holiday Industry. We show our love for friends and family by giving our time and care, not by purchasing consumer goods. We maintain the integrity of giving by giving spontaneously and from our hearts, rather than during a specified season."
Hate the holiday hype?
Want to create lasting family traditions this holiday without all the pointless shopping, killing trees, or creating piles of trash?
Here's another helpful hint: it's about the spirit, ambiance, and embraces of the season, but it's not about the stuff. Not shopping not only eliminates a big source of stress that makes most people crazy and cranky, it is good for the planet and a good way of removing power from the corporations that are fueling and profiting from the resource wars that are the hallmark of the empire of overconsumption--which is to say that opting out of the shopocalypse is a great way of promoting "peace on Earth."
Or, as someone else put it:
You know holiday shopping is offensive and wasteful. You know Christmas "wish lists" and "gift exchanges" degrade the concept of giving. You know Christmas marketing is a scam, benefiting manufacturers, stores, and huge corporations, while driving individuals into debt. You know this annual consumer frenzy wreaks havoc on the environment, filling landfills with useless packaging and discarded gifts.
Yet, every year, you cave in and go shopping.
The relentless onslaught of advertising exerts constant pressure. So do the unified bleatings of herds of shoppers, who call you "Scrooge" if you fail to enthusiastically join their ritual orgy of consumption. Friends and family needle you with gift requests, store windows beckon with shiny colorful packages, the same "classic" holiday jingles are piped constantly through every speaker in town.
How can you resist? Join the Christmas Resistance Movement!
The growing CHRISTMAS RESISTANCE MOVEMENT is joined in solidarity against the Shopping Season. For every 100 automatons who call you "Scrooge," there's a sparkly-eyed CHRISTMAS RESISTOR who supports YOU in NOT BUYING INTO THE HOLIDAY HYSTERIA.
Together, we boycott Christmas Shopping, Christmas decorations, Christmas cards, and every variety of Christmas Crap. We refuse to support the Holiday Industry. We show our love for friends and family by giving our time and care, not by purchasing consumer goods. We maintain the integrity of giving by giving spontaneously and from our hearts, rather than during a specified season.
You are not alone. Together, we can RESIST CHRISTMAS!
And even if your choice of winter holiday celebration and observance has nothing to do with Christmas, you, too, can be a part of the resistance to the shopping frenzy being pushed on us against our better judgment. Just give a moment's thought to all that you can do to have a loverly time and express joy and gratitude with others without loading up on consumer goods and the associated waste that come with them when you set out to make the most of this special season. Put a little extra care into the healthy, sumptuous food you prepare. Lighten your load by giving away something you don't need to someone who does. Make a special place in your home and your heart for the spirit you wish to share. And remember, the true gift of the winter holidays is something to be, not something to buy.
Best wishes to all!
All around the country and all around the world people are waking up to the idea that money is what makes the world go around and that money comes from us and goes to the people with the real power through corporate fronts.
We are awake, we are communicating and we are taking action by doing with less, doing without and promoting a positive, safe and healthy holiday season. It is wonderful to see the message spreading from mind to mind, group to group. My work here is done I do wish all of you a wonderful season and would remind you to spread the message far and wide. I have included a number of essays, lectures and articles with this e-mail that you can use freely to promote this action through your e-mail list and social networking contacts.
Visit the website at www.wearenotbuyingit.org for more information and join our completely non-corporate social network at www.wearenotbuyingit.ning.org to share information about how you are working personally to organize in your community.
Thank you for all that you have done and all that you will do in the future-together we can end the war and bring Bush and Co to justice, together we can rebuild America into a force for peace and healing throughout the world.
Can you imagine just saying NO?
We all know what the problems are. We all can see that protests and letters, elections and phone calls and every other form of grass roots or net roots activism has so far produced absolutely nothing, in terms of movement towards peace or impeachment.
Yet there is a tool still left that we can use and if we stand firmly together for just a little more than a month we may well be able to bring the system to its knees. Are you ready to try it? Are you prepared to REALLY strike a blow for freedom and aim at the heart of corporate control?
Since early in 2005 I have been constantly in communication with a host of economists, political scientists, psychologists, sociologists and journalists. People who have held high positions within Banking and industry have lent me their ears and offered their advice and insight. Ordinary run of the mill citizens of the world from Biloxi, Canberra, Glascow, Paris, New York and hundreds upon hundreds of communities in between have flooded me with ideas and suggestions about how to not only bring the Bush Administration to justice and end the war, but how to change the very basis of our civilization and pave the way for a new age of peace, prosperity and community for our grandchildren to inherit.
I have had some trepidation in proposing this solution and promoting it as vigorously as I could. In fact it scares me a little the potential we have together to stop the world from turning and to take back the power from those "malefactor of great wealth" who run our corporations and governments. It scares me because there is a little uncertainty in what will fill the place of the devil we know. It scares me because I, like most people, like to know what to expect. I like a sense of certainty and security but am I willing to trade not only freedom but hope for that security? My answer is no. No, because I know that the future, should we lose this fight, is characterized just as Orwell predicted, by the image of a boot stomping on a human face¡K.forever.
So what do we do?
Do Not Participate!
To paraphrase Einstein you cannot simultaneously change a corrupt system while at the same time perpetuating it. Every time we buy a product or service that profits a corporate shareholder we tighten the chains that bind us to the machine. By striking back through non-participation we weaken those chains and make it more and more difficult for those who hold the reigns of power to maintain their control.
Christmas is the key.
We all know that the Christmas season has come to mean not charity and goodwill towards all humanity, but rather a media fueled corporate feeding frenzy where our good intentions are exploited to make the rich and powerful even richer and more powerful. So this year lets simply observe an Old Fashioned Christmas. Presents may be hand made or purchased used and fixed up. We could spend more money buying locally grown food and having feasts with our family and friends rather than diving into the madness of malls and box stores. Give your time and good intentions to charity. Feed, clothe and house those who are poor and incapable of fending for themselves. Let the kindness and compassion that lies locked within you shine through and build community with neighbors you may have never even said hello to. In everything you do spread the wealth and the benefit to those who truly need it and starve the system in any way you can.
We tried this already earlier this year, and it worked. From April 15th until April 22nd I organized an across the board boycott of all corporate goods and services to promote peace and impeachment. There is a summary report and a full report available for downloading on the website at www.wearenotbuyingit.org-but here is an excerpt with the relevant news articles for your review:
"Did we have an impact in economic terms? The short answer is yes, though the economists and retailers were not aware of our campaign they did become cognizant of the effect. The following news articles illustrate that the professionals were aware of an anomaly in April, though they could only reach for explanations that they expected to account for the drop off in growth during that month. It is impossible to tell with any degree of accuracy how much of the $1.157 Billion in lost anticipated revenue was a result of the boycott, though we do know that for the week of the boycott itself (April 15th-22nd) revenues were down by approximately $740 Million. (all estimates are based on an average of retail sales over the course of the previous quarter at $350 Billion per month). This ripple in the economic waters has caused a bit of speculation in regards to the Federal Reserve's stand on interest rates and other potential moves by regulators and industry to prepare for a loss of consumer confidence.
It is that elusive phrase "consumer confidence" that provides us with the target to aim at when we consider the use of economic force in pursuit of a political or social agenda. We cannot predict with any great accuracy what the domino effect of a truly organized economic resistance would be, but we can say with some certainty that each sector of the financial world would suffer some ill effect and the majority shareholders would feel nervous enough to either change their positions drastically or, if they were aware enough of the link between the economic action and the move for impeachment and peace, encourage their political connections to negotiate and meet our demands. Bear in mind that 2/3 of the economy is based on consumer spending and any effect we have that slows the constant expansion of economic indicators, or better yet reverses that decades long trend even for a short time, will be seen as a serious threat. No matter how you slice it, even if the actual impact of this opening salvo was only half of $740 Million, that represents a significant amount of economic force wielded by only a few people."
By the time the Christmas shopping season arrives we should be able, by working together and spreading the word, to garner a far more significant number of people willing to participate in an Old Fashioned Christmas. Together we may be able to do something marvelous, something magnificent and even magical. Together we may truly be capable of unleashing the power of the true spirit of Christmas across the world. A spirit of love and peace, charity and goodwill that can sweep aside the darkness and fill our hearts and communities with light and joy.
I thank you again for the genuine human compassion that you have shown and for your desire to make a better world for the children of the future. I have included a few graphics and other tools for you to use as you see fit and I have created a public social network where we can all create a home page, share materials and generally touch base as this proposal takes wings and begins to fly. Visit us at www.wearenotbuyingit.ning.com.
Lew BrownNational Coordinator
A Time for Conscience
By Peter Phillips and Dennis Loo
We are in a time of extremism, permanent war, and unilateral power managed by a small cabal of people in the US government. These power elites have been in operation for decades and are set on nothing less than the total US military domination of the world.
In October, Congress legalized torture and stripped habeas corpus rights (the right to due process and to challenge your detention) from anyone the President deems to have "materially contributed to hostilities against the United States." This means you or anyone else could be locked up indefinitely without charges and without any legal recourse to secure release.
The UK Lancet medical journal reports that over 650,000 civilian deaths have occurred because of our invasion of Iraq. Over a quarter million of these deaths were the direct results of US aerial bombings. Nearly 3000 American service personnel have died in this war against a country that posed no threat to us. Yet the war goes on with no end in sight. How many more must die, how many more tortured, how many more imprisoned before our moral consciences wither to nothingness?
Of the 80,000 Arabs and Muslim nationals who were required to register after 911, the 8,000 brought in for FBI interviews, and the 5,000 locked up in "preventive detention," none have been convicted of a terrorist crime.
There are words to describe these terrible things: war crimes and tyranny. Yet, like 'Good Germans" we watch in the hope that the country couldn't possibly get any worse.
Many people have been trying to understand why the Democratic Party has been so futile and even worse, complicit, in the face of war crimes and tyranny. The Democrats have been given an unmistakable mandate by the November 2006 elections to get the U.S. out of Iraq and to hold the White House accountable. Yet the Democratic Party leadership continues to speak softly and admonish those who call for impeachment ¡X the people's action for wrongful government.
The Bush White House represents a convergence of two tendencies ¡X radical know-nothing religious zealotry and imperialist empire. The clamping down on the borders, the militarizing of the police and the creation of a spy state, the public-order policies that criminalize the mere presence of groups of youth, minorities, and immigrants and the repression of legitimate forms of political protest are not designed to prevent terrorism. This rapidly evolving police state is designed primarily to both repress and coerce domestic and international populations who would challenge this American Empire.
As we travel and speak on impeachment around the country the most asked question is, "what can we do?" Letter writing, protesting, organizing are all good things. However, we say it is now time for the American people to act with conscience in a larger way. Of the 100 largest economic entities in the world, 51 were transnational corporations. Wal-Mart is larger, in economic terms, than 182 countries. After 9/11 Bush told us that the best thing was to go quietly shopping. We can collectively say no to being quiet by saying no to shopping. We propose that Americans take a holiday break and stop all corporate shopping, delay major purchases, stay out of shopping malls, and avoid national chain stores. People of conscience can send a message to corporate America and Congress to end the war in Iraq and move forward immediately on the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.
The political leadership of this country has not been willing to halt the military predations of Bush and Cheney. We the people must now act in as many ways as possible. As the World Can't Wait people have said: "If not us, who? If not now, when?"
Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored. Dennis Loo is an Associate Professor of Sociology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. They are co-editors of Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney. For more on the National Shopping Boycott see: http://www.wearenotbuyingit.org
Lecture on Refusal, the Transpersonal Dimension of Progressive Action-9/21/2007
Sonoma County, California
Rev. Lew Brown
"So here we are, on the eve of destruction. Once again the human species finds itself divided and in conflict. Not even a basic sense of unity or purpose can be found among the nations of the world. On the grand scale we have the specters of war and famine, disease and untimely death stalking the ancient lands of the Middle East and mother Africa. Ignorance has been passed on from generation to generation and now we once again have billions who have grown up with erroneous assumptions about what it means to be a human being, assumptions taken at face value and codified into moral imperatives that give license to kill at will.
Once again but will it be this way forever? Will our species ever find itself at odds with its place in the natural order? Will the constructs of culture: religion, nationality, race and all of the other labels we are given that identify and diversify us ever dissolve before the light of reason, or be blown away by the warm wind of compassion?
Look. For just once look around you. If you live in the western world, so prideful of what it believes to be 'civilization' you may be able to see the truth. The awful truth that all of the efforts and intentions of the people who have come before us have led to a system of waste and corruption, that those who sought to conquer the world have left us lives of meaningless work and intractable conflict.
We are being consumed and transformed into something far removed from a human being. Our essential dignity has been stripped away in the name of the common good. Our benevolent nature and healing relationship to this planet have been obscured, obfuscated, by the false teachings of the past. Our lives, in the western world, are truly meaningless. We wake up, go to work for some corporation or the other, devote our precious life force to making somebody else rich at the expense of ourselves and our 'customers'. We marry and have children who we then raise in the same way that we were raised and who carry forward any errors we received from our teachers, parents or social leaders. We die and leave behind memories that will fade within a generation and the work we spent our lives engaged in, those innumerable days and hours of toil, the deadlines and commitments that seemed so important but leave us no legacy. To dust we return and to dust go all of our efforts.
Perhaps some sense of discomfort rises within us from time to time. Perhaps a story on the news captures our imagination and brings up feelings of fear or anger, sadness or despair. Sometimes we just try to ignore those feelings and go about our daily lives secure in the illusion of stability that surrounds us. Perhaps we react with anger and direct our outrage at whatever target we are given by those who profit richly from our control: immigrants, terrorists, child molesters, drug dealers or any other group of people that have been defined as acceptable for us to hate.
Same as it ever was. Same as it was in Rome when the empire fought the Celts. Same as it was in Egypt when an entire people were enslaved for the benefit of the Pharoh. Same as it was in Greece, same as it was in ancient Persia, same as it was in China¡Xsame as it has ever been since the ice last thawed and our people were scattered around the globe-disconnected from our roots and divorced from our heritage.
Can we not see it? Have we not the heart to understand that this life we are living is a brutal and dark shadow of the potential we possess? We, all of humanity, are bigger than this. We are bigger than nationality and religion, we are bigger than race or creed, we are more powerful than history and capable of far more than simple survival. We are the caretakers of all life on this planet and the harbingers of a true civilization. Our uncertain destiny is beyond description and the lives and natures of our great great grandchildren can be so far removed from the bestiality that we consider to be advanced that they will be as indistinguishable from us as we are from angels.
Our hearts may sometimes ache at a sense of loss that we do not understand. That pain becomes an impetus to action. Some people engage in a raging destructiveness, an orgy of vices based in hopeless selfishness and greedy lust. Some people open their heart and minds and with compassion reach out to the world with a healing intent. Perhaps they want to save the whales, perhaps the outrages of war are an anathema to them, perhaps they wish to protect the children or promote the arts. All of these actions are piecemeal and vain attempts at redressing a wrong that is not symptomatic, but rather systemic.
The disease is our way of thinking. The disease is our assumptions about what life means, what god wants and what our proper role is on earth. Men of pride have gone to great lengths to soothe their lack of esteem, they have lied and propagated their lies through the creation of innumerable religions and sects. Yes our religions are based on lies. Didn't you know that? Joseph Smith was a liar and a con man, L. Ron Hubbard made it all up, so did Paul-well he actually plagiarized most of the story-you do know that right? Why do you think that Moses or Mohammed, or Smith or Hubbard were somehow special? Do you really think that you can trust the word of a man who , unobserved, claims to have received communion from God or its representatives? Can you trust someone who uses such a story to try to gain power over a people? Do you really believe that God likes torture and pain? That any offense can give you license to engage in bestial evil? That anything can trump the edict to not kill?
There is a god. There is an amazing and beneficent force within this universe that loves us all and that exists within each unit of matter and energy. There is indeed an all seeing and all hearing intelligence that infuses the entire universe-but it is not what we have been led to believe. Shall I tell you my story of going up the mountain to receive communion? Would you believe what I tell you in regards to gods will and wishes? Can I at least tell you that it is not happy with us-but that it has hope? Shall I pull aside the veil a bit for you who have eyes to see, and you who have ears to hear? Are you ready for the reality of this incredible universe?
No. There is no prophecy to be had from me-only this one fundamentally true fact that we must all understand unless we repeat the cycle of utter destruction in the days ahead. We must free the children of the future from the chains of the past. We are called to sacrifice all that we cherish, all of our precious illusions and desperate self-interest in order to break this cycle of torment. Our leaders will not do it for us, they rule in hell because they are not fit to serve heaven.
So what do we do? What is proper action in a world that is so upside down and backwards? How can we know whether our acts are good when our basis for understanding is so corrupt?
That is the point. The entire system of global economics and governance that we are living in is false and evil. Exploitation of others forms the basis of each of our societies. Division and competition have kept us apart for millennia and as long as we continue to participate without question within our cultures we will continue to spread suffering from one generation to the next.
So what is right action? That is the wrong question. Right action is no action at all.
You must sit down and refuse to participate.
You must lay down your weapons and refuse to fight.
You must embrace your enemy and swear friendship.
You must not work for those who care for nothing but themselves.
You must not allow your needs to outweigh the future of our species.
You must teach the young the meaning of love and cooperation.
You must shame those who spread evil
Shame on the millionaires for their greed and selfishness.
Shame on the murderers in uniform who kill without question.
Shame on those who kill for "god".
Shame on those whose hearts are shriveled.
Shame on those who love power.
Shame on those who lie.
Shame on the prideful and ignorant who have floated to the top.
Rev. Lew Brown