On Black Friday, the true colors of the Occupy Wall Street movement really shone through.
Premised on the idea that it speaks on behalf of 99 percent of Americans, the Occupy movement is in fact deeply contemptuous of the masses. In no way was this made clearer than through the alignment of the Buy Nothing Day campaign and the Occupy movement.
Part of the Occupy X-Mas initiative, which will last throughout the holiday season, Buy Nothing Day kicked off the day after Thanksgiving on so-called Black Friday. This is when vast numbers of Americans go on shopping sprees with hopes of laying their hands on cut-price flat-screen TVs, sneakers and other goods that are on their families' Christmas wish lists. Many get in line hours before the shops open, some even set up tents and camp in front of stores to get in early.
The Occupiers are apparently horrified at the prospect of seeing malls and high-street shops filled with the bargain-hunting masses, or 'the 99%' as the Occupiers call the American people, when they need to align great numbers to their cause in order to give it an air of legitimacy and popularity.
But of course Occupy Wall Street never spoke for 99 percent of Americans. This was always a fantasy figure that lent itself well to sloganeering and to presenting a black-and-white view of the world, according to which the powerless masses struggling to get by are on one side, and the fat cat CEOs and reckless bankers are on the other. In this Star Wars-like narrative, the Occupiers serve as the heroes who will purportedly save the masses from their downfall by enlightening them and campaigning on their behalf.
The message that the Occupiers want to send through their anti-consumption campaign is that Americans have been brainwashed by corporations, that they have been induced to blind over-consumption and unthinking acceptance of the messages put out by 'the 1%'. As one Occupy sympathizer recently put it on the movement's website: 'The working class in this country has been brainwashed by MSM, Fox News, and the right-wing propaganda machine... We need to de-programme people against the brainwashing they've experienced.'
This is the Occupier's Burden, a kind of re-vamped version of the civilising mission described by Rudyard Kipling: to 'de-program' Americans and, in the meantime, render them voiceless and clueless so that the apparently enlightened Occupiers can justify stepping in to define their interests for them and to speak on their behalf.
The message of Buy Nothing Day follows in this vein. Initiated by Adbusters, every anti-consumption hipster's must-have mag, the campaign is essentially promulgation for mass austerity -- a point well-made on the American Situation blog -- and it is an elaborate way of telling people they are stupid, irresponsible, greedy and shallow. For this year's Black Friday, Adbusters promised 'flash mobs, consumer fasts, mall sit-ins, community events, credit card-ups, whirly-marts and jams, jams, jams!'
It was Adbusters that originally called for the occupation of Wall Street back in September and designed the Occupy movement's stylish posters and other propaganda. In a message posted on OWS' website in the run-up to Black Friday, Adbusters says:
You've been sleeping on the streets for two months pleading peacefully for a new spirit in economics. And just as your camps are raided, your eyes pepper sprayed and your head's knocked in, another group of people are preparing to camp-out. Only these people aren't here to support Occupy Wall Street, they're here to secure their spot in line for a Black Friday bargain at Super Target and Macy's.
There you have it. On the one side are the Occupiers, ready to deploy every thinkable kind of shenanigan to bring the message home to those on the other side -- i.e. vast numbers of ordinary Americans -- that they are 'rabid consumers' hooked on 'conspicuous consumption,' that they are acting like zombies by pigging out and destroying the planet with their addiction to cheap electronics and videogames.
A video ad for the 2007 Buy Nothing Day shows a globe in which a big, fat, lip-licking, burping pig sticks out of North America. A voice-over informs viewers that 'we are the most voracious consumers in the world -- a world that could die because of the way we North Americans live.' In short, Adbusters and their fellow Occupiers see Americans -- or, in their own lingo, 'the 99%' -- as gluttonous, obese pigs. What a joyful holiday message.