The AFP reports that 85,000 people globally lost their jobs on Monday as mega-corporations desperate for profits dump their human chattel overboard. But the ship is sinking and throwing us to the sharks won't save the capitalists. In these times of unparalleled economic uncertainty, it is within the power of culturejammers to change the course of history. This is our Blackspot moment: we start local, blackspot businesses and kick out the mega-corporations.
How many culture jammers actually know how to start a small business? It is time that we learn. The blackspot will be built through head-to-head competition with the corporations currently choking our local communities. And they won't go down without a fight. Unless we are willing to take risks by entering capitalist dominated territory, we will never be able to reclaim our culture from their grip.
Let's talk specifics, the main difficulty that we face when opening a blackspot in our community is raising the start-up capital. The fact of the matter is that bank loans are not a viable option for blackspots due to their demands for personal collateral and high interest rates. No bank (within the U.S.) will give a loan to a small business without securing the loan with your house, car, personal assets, or assets of your family. And in these economic times, that may not even be enough. However, given that accepting money from a bank is usually no different than accepting corporate donations, I think most blackspotters will agree that we should refuse bank loans outright. Without the possibility of a bank loan, we will need to turn elsewhere to fund the initial start up capital for our blackspots. It is here that I propose a slightly modified version of an idea that has already been floating around: blackspot microloans.
Unlike traditional microloans, I propose that blackspot microloans be given by individuals to local blackspots in leiu of a donation. For example, if the anticipated start up costs of a blackspot cultureshop that will employ 3 people in a rural town is $15,000 then this blackspot would solicit loans from individual culture jammers at a reasonable interest rate of 2% to be repaid over the course of three years. Although 2% may not sound like much it is reasonable when one realizes that at this very moment the stock market is hemorrhaging, banks failing and the average savings account is yielding under 1%. Funding our own local blackspot businesses would immediately shift the traditional division of power between consumers and corporations into a mutually sustaining relationship of active participation. The local blackspot benefits by receiving low interest rate loans in a time of economic turmoil, the community benefits from a truly local and unique business that provides jobs, and those who gave the loans benefit through a modest return on their investment. Those individuals who still prefer to donate their money could ask that the loan be repaid to a general blackspot start-up fund that would provide seed money to other culture jammers. As you can see, a blackspot economy could very quickly develop based upon this proposed model.
Ultimately, the future success of the culture jammer movement, the demise of global capitalism and its byproduct of mental pollution, depends upon doing away with the mentality of charity. Instead of desperately waiting for a few pennies to be donated, it is time to look around our local communities and identify potential financially viable blackspot opportunities. Each employee hired by these blackspots, each dollar of profit that goes towards funding full-time culture jamming, and each individual turned from consumer to participant will bring us one step closer to our vision of a non-corporate future.Can we turn this economic crisis into an opportunity for the renewal of local, anti-corporate cultures?
Micah M. White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters Magazine and an independent activist. Micah is currently writing a book of philosophical meanderings into the future of activism. He lives in Binghamton, NY with his wife and two cats. www.micahmwhite.com
A longer version of this article originally appeared in Adbusters #75 under the title "Blackspot the Future".