The Big Ideas of 2008

When the Center Collapsed

The year 2007 may well be remembered as the year the Earth tipped, but Adbusters is taking a firm hold of the planet in 2008 to try and balance things out.


Global warming kicked in with a vengeance in 2007 and ecosystems crashed like never before. We finally had to admit that our fossil fuel-based way of living had thrown the planet out of whack for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. The year 2007 may well be remembered by future generations as the year the Earth tipped, the moment when this 30,000 generation-long experiment of ours on Planet Earth suddenly veered out of control.


The number of marketing messages hitting our brains soared to an astonishing 5,000 per day. Mental health statistics flew off the charts. Teenagers cut and burned themselves and committed suicide in record numbers. Something tragic was happening and we didn't know what it was. It may be the beginning of a psycho-system collapse and the loss of our clarity of mind as a species.

2007 also saw millions of people making the breakthrough connection between advertising and their own mental health. Perhaps the most significant moment occurred last January when São Paulo became the first city in the world to ban outdoor advertising and declare itself ad-free – hopeful signs that we may finally be seeing the birth of a mental environmental movement that will take back the space we need to think clear, crisp thoughts again.


Stock markets soared to new heights in 2007, but also saw the first signs of cracks when the subprime market crashed. Suddenly all those billions of abstract dollars flying around felt more like a giant Ponzi scheme destined to collapse at any moment. And this time, unlike in 1929, we won't have the forests, oceans and the natural wealth of the planet to fall back on.

We also saw an unprecedented questioning of the fundamental assumptions behind capitalism and its neoclassical underpinnings. Ordinary people everywhere scratched their heads and wondered: why were financial markets peaking at this most ominous environmental moment in our history?


2007 saw a dramatic shift from a unipolar to a more multipolar way of running global affairs. Russia, China, India, Brazil, Iran, Venezuela and other Latin American countries all flexed their geopolitical muscles like never before.

Many of the ideas the left has been kicking around for years, like global voting systems (GVS), simultaneous national policies and a world parliament, suddenly made a lot of sense. In 2008, look for a more muscular United Nations and more buzz around the idea of global democracy. Adbusters will launch a competition to design the flag that this United States of Planet Earth can proudly fly.


In one of his recent lectures, French philosopher Alain Badiou said that the old revolutionary ideal of negation as destruction does not work anymore – we need a new concept. He listed composer Arnold Schoenberg as an example of an innovator who created a totally new tonal system – "a new framework for the musical activity" and "a new coherence for musical discourse," all without destroying the old. There's a hint there for how we on the left can turn our whiny, complaint-based style of capitalist negation into a magical and innovative new force for change.

On the personal front

Waves of euphoria, waves of despair... day by day, we come to realize that the simplest, most elegant solution to living in a warming world is to rethink freedom, rethink the idea that each one of us has the God-given right to drive to the supermarket, fly to Mexico on a whim and keep our living spaces toasty warm all winter. What we, the rich one billion people of the First World need before it's too late, is a good whack to the head – something bigger than a real estate crisis, bigger than oil costing over $100 a barrel, bigger even than the crash of 1929. We need to be prodded, shocked, terrorized and made to live.

In this 75th issue of Adbusters, we try to do just that.

36 comments on the article “When the Center Collapsed”

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This article reads like one of those cold war apocalyptic outcries, a la Hal Lindsey. Every day begins with a ever before and a new height. Please, spare me the crisis buzz words, because this is just another one of those hand written picket signs reading: Repent! The world comes to an end!


your comment: "And this time, unlike in 1929, we wont have the forests, oceans and the natural wealth of the planet to fall back on," is key to our changing world.

the flag you need to design should bear the skull and cross bones which has always been the flag of pirates and a warning symbol of toxic and dangerous substances thats what a one world government at our level of consciousness will be the enslavement of an entire humanity to a one way of living being, working and thinking world all controlled by a one world government in which we the people have NO say. every day begins with you and me changing our way of looking at the reality of predicaments of endeavoring to come out of our comas and act in our own best interest as a species a humanity least we forget that we are a human being.

the ongoing horrors that have manipulated us all to the current system of beliefs are herding us into a one world enslavement and to the unthinking it will all seem so very logical and good like sheep to the slaughter.

Peter Moulding

To change the world, you have to change people. We are all individuals so we must change one by one. To change ourselves myself we must raise our consciousness. To do that all we need to do is love the breath that is keeping us alive. It's the most important but most ignored thing. Love your breath, discover more about yourself, raise your consciousness, change yourself, make your world a better place, just the way you want it. So simple. Too simple?


ive just recently like 20 mins ago was introduced to this site, and i am impressed!
all the little issues are being acknowledged
what really got me was the pyshco part of the article.
Its very true that something is happening in our society, hitting teenagers very hard.
i couldnt say what it is, and i couldnt say iknow what going on, but i loved the fact you mentioned this.
i think i'll be visiting this site daily now, nd hopefully you'll keep us posted :


The talk about the negative side of earth and the bad things that our capitalists selfish ecoenvironment unaware people are doing to this planet, always brings with it a reminder that its opposit exists, the positive. The good things humanitarians, and ecofriendly persons do and think about, and the awareness they always try to raise and the poor and hungry people they try to help. It's balance, even though I haven't figured it out yet, but nevertheless it's there.

Article nicely written.


I always enjoy reading adbusters, but I do agree with Liliane & Shmak. Sometimes after reading an adbusters, all I feel is helplessness, certainly anger sometimes even despair, but when I read about the positive initiatives, the good news, circumstances where activists or environmentalists have won a small battle over the corporate world, then I am left feeling more inspired, hopeful and in a much better mental state to go out and change the world one person at a time. Hearing about the possible future or lack of our planet has from adbusters IS scary, but hearing the same issue reworded more positively can be inspiring. Be careful the words you use adbusters, for storys tell the world how to act.


very well done.
I really like the way you broke up the major issues into smaller, detailed but not longwinded paragraphs.

fall in love wi...

One world government is NOT a good idea! SAY NO! What power will citizens have under such a giganitc system? Where does Adbusters get it's funding? Follow the money and an agenda may become visible.

kick start awareness

we are a group of dutch students who are trying to do just that, kickstarting some awareness, we've only just begun, but we are fighting hard to make people think about what they're doing, and we too are facing the difficulties of people not giving a crp, I'm not going to advertise our website, but we want you to know the dutch are with you! chapeau to your article by the way


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