More than a year past the start of Occupy, Kalle Lasn of Adbusters has been pushing an anti-consumerist campaign, Buy Nothing Day. Because of Lasn’s charm and media savvy, and because of Occupy, the campaign got some mainstream attention, but judging from the crowded parking lots at the malls out here, it’s generated less inactivity than Lasn hoped. And, of course, Lasn is hardly alone in ranting against the commercialism of Christmas.
This time, however, his campaign has given journalists cause to publish profiles (New York Times; The Walrus) of the man who called for, and named, Occupy, and who set the date–in commemoration of his mother’s birthday.
A one-time market researcher, Lasn redirected his life in the wake of the movements of 1968. For more than twenty years, he’s been publishing Abusters, an anti-consumerist magazine filled with biting satire and ideas for campaigns. Not an organizer, Lasn describes himself as a meme warrior, responsible for launching “mind bombs” and waiting for responses. Not much happened in response to Buy Nothing Day, but not long ago another effort took off and spun out of control.
Lasn designed the beautiful poster in the call to Occupy Wall Street, a campaign that spread from Zuccotti Park across the United States and beyond. The activists who embraced the name and the tactic never agreed on the one demand (not even Lasn’s idea of a transaction tax)–save to continue to Occupy–but Occupy shook mainstream politics. Lasn’s job is to keep throwing out ideas. He’s been doing it long enough to know that it’s virtually impossible to predict which ideas will spread when, nor to control what activists do with them. The best he can do, the best we can do, is to keep trying.
So, in addition to Buy Nothing Day, and the ongoing efforts of Adbusters, Lasn has just published Meme Wars: The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics that lays a set of ideas under the mind bombs.
(Is it ironic that I provide an Amazon link? I should have posted while you were still Christmas shopping.)