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Adbusters #149 The Re-enchantment of the Political Left

Can we brainstorm globally? Learn to act as one? Work our way out of the existential fix we're in and begin a new chapter in the human story?

Look in the mirror.

See if you still have some fire in your eyes.

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The Third Force

An ancient, magic moment happens once a year in most countries. It’s the chime of midnight on New Year’s Eve. And different cultures dial up different responses.

In Brazil, folks standing in the ocean surf jump seven waves and make seven wishes.

In Spain, people eat twelve grapes — gobbling them down quickly before the clock stops striking midnight.

In Japan, Buddhist monks ring temple bells 108 times, to drive out 108 sins and set a clean sheet for the new year.

This year why don’t we band together and create a new, overarching global ritual? One Rite to Rule them All. A moment of spectacular, worldwide effervescence.

Here’s how:

At exactly midnight on December 31st, wherever you are, jump up as high as you can into the air, so that you land, with an almighty thump, next year.

What if a hundred million people did this?
What if a billion did?

We won’t land all at once. (Time zones!) But we will be thinking the same kind of thoughts, thoughts of unanimity and single-minded purpose.

This almighty global ritual can change the course of history.

The climate March

Climate protesters blocking the Federal Reserve, pushed (and later arrested) by the NYPD

What the hell happened?

It’s always good to see people in the streets, but the March To End Fossil Fuels was a let down. It was too vague, too abstract, with no concrete demand. World leaders at the UN Climate Summit were able to completely ignore us.

After the hottest, most catastrophic summer in human history, is this the best we can do?

Where are all you rebels, radicals, and utopian dreamers?

Let's pivot to a more urgent and direct way to hold world leaders' feet to the fire.

Starting this Friday, in 100 cities around the world let's:

Whack this poster up on lampposts everywhere.

Email it to world leaders.

Buy full-page ads in The New York Times andThe Washington Post.

And let’s pick up the pace, the tempo, the rhythm of our activism . . . come up with a weekly drumbeat of outrage . . . turn every Friday into a global day of fuck-it-all civil disobedience.

Let’s demand our world leaders declare a Global Climate Emergency by years end, or we'll bring their doomsday machine crashing to the ground.

Hit the Button below

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Our target: 1 billion by years end
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Adbusters' poster up along the Vancouver climate march route

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Anarchism isn't what you think it is.

Blame Johnny Rotten (who by the way, was never really an anarchist – he only needed a rhyme for “antichrist” in that song), but lots of folks still think anarchy is just young people wantonly smashing public property. Like it’s some kind of macho Project Mayhem, from Fight Club, with no plan and no limits.

But at its heart, Anarchism is almost the exact opposite: it grew out of the radical pacifism of the Quakers. And its roots trace back to before ancient Greece.

During Occupy Wall Street, the late David Graeber was in heavy demand at Zuccotti Park as anarchism’s resident demystifier. Tour guide for the anarcho-curious. The short man in the long scarf was no hippie malcontent; he was an anthropologist who taught at the London School of Economics.

Look around, he’d say. See what’s going on here? The free food and shelter and medical aid; the wifi and lending library and daily teach-ins and thoroughly decent coffee — this sustainable and vibrant way to live? This all sprung up “horizontally.” Every decision made only after every voice was heard. No leaders. Government by consensus. Everyone gets a go. A self-reinforcing ecology of respect. It’s not perfect but it’s holding together pretty well. (David didn’t mention the bag containing close to a million dollars in cash stashed under one of the desks. People kept giving us money. No one saw any reason to take it to a bank.)

“You’d be surprised how much you yourself are basically an anarchist right now,” he’d tell people.

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It happened in Mali. It happened in Burkina Faso. It happened in Niger.

Now it’s happening in Gabon: the “elected,” Western-backed leader of yet another former French colony has been deposed by a military coup.

Poverty, corruption, Islamist terror, disillusionment with democracy — these are the reasons most Western media outlets point to when explaining why these putsches have been greeted so enthusiastically by West Africans.

But that’s only half the story.

To truly understand what’s going on you have to go back and follow the grim arc of history from colonization to decolonization, from imperial arrival to French exit and beyond.

It all starts in Algeria. From there the French conquest crept south, engulfing vast tracts of Africa. The Empire’s aim was to bleed as much wood, ivory, rubber — and eventually oil — as it possibly could from the resource-rich continent.

By the turn of the century France controlled Madagascar, Cameroon, West Africa — and Equatorial Africa (including present-day Gabon), where the French treated the indigenous people with unremitting cruelty. Forced labor, mutilation, starvation, dismemberment, torture, and summary executions visited them daily.

Gabon didn’t shake off the colonial yoke until 1960. And as a petrostate propped up by foreign cash in a world dominated by Western interests, it has been slow to wave a final goodbye to its former colonizer.

French intervention ensured a nice, subservient, one-party state under Omar Bongo, president from 1967 until 2009, who was succeeded by his son Ali. Bongo fils clung to office from the time of his father’s death until the coup of August 30.

Violent occupation, ruthless exploitation, neocolonial dependence — these are the deep-down reasons why Gabonese people have had enough of the French, and why they’re now dancing in the streets.

Good riddance to the occupier. Now it’s time to pay for the damage.

Restitution for Gabon! Reparations for Africa!

Hey all you journalists, especially at world-renowned newspapers like The New York Times: Why don’t you get your fucking story straight?

— Skip Bunyan

Four Years Later

We first ran this excerpt back in 2019, back when we still hoped to hold global temperature rise at 1.5c. Now, with this year's fires, heat waves, and freak storms we're all beginning to get a glimpse of our stark future if we don't get our shit together:

In the journal Nature Climate Change, a team led by Drew Shindell tried to quantify the suffering that would be avoided if global warming was kept to 1.5 degrees, rather than 2 degrees — in other words, how much additional suffering would result from just that additional half-degree of warming.

Their answer: 150 million more people would die from air pollution alone in a 2-degree warmer world than in a 1.5-degree warmer one. Later that year, the IPCC raised the stakes further: in the gap between 1.5 degrees and 2, it said, hundreds of millions of lives were at stake. A hundred and fifty million is the equivalent of twenty-five Holocausts. It is three times the death toll of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, the largest non-military death toll humanity has ever produced. It is more than twice the greatest death toll of any kind, World War II. The numbers don’t begin to climb only when we hit 1.5 degrees, of course. As should not surprise you, they are already accumulating, at a rate of at least seven million deaths, from air pollution alone, each year — an annual Holocaust, pursued and prosecuted by what brand of nihilism? This is what is meant when climate change is called an “existential crisis.” It is a drama we are now haphazardly improvising between two hellish poles, in which our best-case outcome is death and suffering at the scale of twenty-five Holocausts, and the worst-cast outcome puts us on the brink of extinction. The facts are hysterical, and the dimensions of the drama that play out between those poles incomprehensibly large —large enough to enclose not just all of present-day humanity, but all of our possible futures, as well.

— David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

Want to do something about it? visit the eco front and demand our leaders declare a global climate emergency while we still have time.

The planet is on fire, democracy under siege, and even many hard-bitten optimists believe we are spiralling towards a new dark age.

Is there a way out of our existential crisis?

From the strategists who sparked Occupy Wall Street comes an enthralling field guide to a new world order.

With the most revolutionary tool ever invented in the palms of our hands, a mighty grassroots insurgency - borderless, leaderless, beyond Left and Right - is coming together in a last-ditch We-the-People stand.

The flocking signal is a radical set of ideas so fundamental, so systemic, so profound that a sane and sustainable future is unthinkable without them.

This is the Third Force.
We have the codes.
Are you ready?

Get your copyRead the prologue

No Longer Human

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"Talking benches" or "chat benches" are common in the United Kingdom and Australia, and are now spreading around the world. These specifically designated benches in parks and common areas, often painted a different color, are places where members of the community can take a seat and chat with whoever may be sitting on the bench. No invitation needed.

Can we trust the supreme court?

Samual Alito — smug and immoral song of a bitch — flies around in a billionaire's jet, then judges cases involving him.

Confidence in the Supreme Court is down to 25%. Confidence in the presidency is down to 23%, and trust in Congress is down to a miserable 7%. But there's something much more disturbing going on here: Americans don't even trust each other anymore. There's a deep fissure at the heart of the country that, as the 2024 election fever intensifies, could easily erupt in wholesale violence — even civil war.

Our Jam of the Week is Rueben and MC Gusto's Punk, which features the UK’s Gusto Vicario spitting revolutionary verses on Reuben’s old school drum and bass warble. Shoehorning social commentary onto the dancefloor, this summer jam fuels the mind for a global toneshift.

J. Chaos

Erasing Time

On an average day, a Palestinian who works in Jerusalem and resides in the West Bank must wake up at four in the morning in order to arrive at work by nine. The reason is not the distance between workplace and home. With the construction of the separation wall that began in 2002, and is still underway as of 2022, the Israeli state entered into a new stage of encroachment on Palestinian territory.

The Palestinian worker has to wait in line for hours at checkpoints staffed by soldiers who are incentivized to make the line move as slowly as possible. Most of these border-crossers have a long day ahead of them in various kinds of construction work. After crossing into Israel, they must spend hours every day passing through checkpoints to get to work, even though they often have only a few kilometres to travel.

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One of the great epiphanies of my life happened thirty-five years ago in my neighborhood supermarket parking lot. I was plugging a coin into a shopping cart when it suddenly occurred to me just what a dope I was. Here I was putting in my quarter for the privilege of spending money in a store I come to every week but hate, a sterile chain store that rarely offers any locally grown produce and always makes me wait in line to pay. And when I am done shopping, I’d have to take this cart back to the exact spot their efficiency experts have decreed, slide it back in with all the other carts, rehook it, and press a button to get my damn quarter back.

A little internal fuse blew. I stopped moving. I glanced around to make sure no one was watching. Then I reached for that big bent coin I’d been carrying around in my pocket and I rammed it as hard as I could into the coin slot. And then with the lucky Buddha charm on my keyring I banged that coin in tight until it jammed. I didn’t stop to analyze whether this was ethical or not — I just let my anger flow. And then I walked away from the supermarket and headed for the little fruit and vegetable store down the road. I felt more alive than I had in months.

— Excerpt from the prologue of Manifesto for World Revolution

continue the prologue here

Before there was The Media Foundation there was Psychomedia Productions, an underground film collective that ran its wild dog-and-pony show out of the same Vancouver address that now churns out Adbusters. Just spitting distance from where Greenpeace midwifed the environmental justice movement, and a young Georgia Straight arts editor named Bob Geldof jacked into the electric countercultural scene that was Vancouver in the Seventies, Psychomedia strode the boards like a holy fool.

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