Sunday, November 30, 2008
Death by Consumption on Buy Nothing Day
Taking its usual delight in reporting on the freakishness of life in the United States, Le Monde reported the death of a New York Wal-Mart employee, crushed to death by the stampeding crowd of 2000 shoppers rushing in to fill their baskets on what is apparently known as "Black Friday" (I remember the sales on the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year in the US, but this is the first I've heard of Black Friday). The special irony was that this tragic event occurred as the day was dawning in some parts of the world on the annual "Buy nothing day" (poster above), begun in 1992 in the United States and Canada with the cry "Enough is enough !"and taken up by the French organization Casseurs de Pub (Adbusters). The goal is to make people aware of the human and environmental costs in producing all that we consume and in discarding all that we can't or don't eat, reuse or recycle. Yet here where there is fairly strong anti- and alter-globalization sentiment, the day has received almost no coverage in the press. Despite the precipitous drop in spending power since the introduction of the euro now aggravated by the global economic crisis, the focus is on pushing consumption to shore up the economy. Le Monde's linking of these two stories on its websites seems like a subtle call to push back.