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The Man From the North: Shopping as an Act of Resistance by Rivera Sun

The Essays of The Man From the North by Rivera Sun
Writer, Dandelion Salad
December 1, 2013

Meet My Farmer, Rob

Image by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

The Man From the North is a fictional writer in Rivera Sun’s novel, The Dandelion Insurrection. The novel takes place in the near future, in “a time that looms around the corner of today”, when a rising police state controlled by the corporate-political elite have plunged the nation into the grip of a hidden dictatorship. In spite of severe surveillance and repression, the Man From the North’s banned articles circulate through the American populace, reporting on resistance and fomenting nonviolent revolution. This article is one of a series written by The Man From the North, which are not included in the novel, but can be read here.

The holidays are at hand. Boycott Season is in effect. As the snow starts to fall, the commercial war of the season asserts its dominance. Our identities as citizens are quickly buried in a blizzard of advertising that defines us as consumers.

We are occupied territory for the corporate regime. Our option is to resist.

Across the nation, members of the Dandelion Insurrection are using the holiday season as an opportunity for active resistance. Due to corporate influence on politics, the struggle for effective political power has shifted out of offices and Congressional Halls and into the capitalistic marketplace. If we wish to undermine the strength of the corporations, we must look away from the corrupt seats of power where special interests are entrenched by campaign financing and lobbyists. Instead, we must look for the places where the corporations are vulnerable. We must study their blind spots and Achille’s heels. We must look deeply into the financial ties of one corporate entity to another. We must examine the consumer supports that prop up their economic power. We must also look for opportunities to aikido their weighty offensives and bring the corporations to their knees.

One of these is Christmas. The economic driver of a dozen names is a holiday season that embraces diversity as a commercial tactic, manipulating Jews, Christians, and atheists alike to spend money in the pursuit of happiness. Our shared virtues of generosity, charity, and gift giving are held hostage by corporate tyranny. The season sublimates our highest principles into strengthening the destructive, corporate elite. The holidays provide a pillar of support that prop up the year-round manipulations of corporations. We must consciously erode this support and build foundations of our own.

Shop Local graffiti

Image by TheSeafarer via Flickr

Local businesses, small enterprises, artisan goods, handmade gifts, home made presents, worker-cooperatives, and conscious businesses are the future of a just and equitable American economy. While we strive to end corporate control of politics, we must do our best to grow alternative businesses as a form of support. These kinds of enterprises not only strive toward a vision of sustainable economy, they also provide potential foundations of strength for the resistance to corporate tyranny. For this alliance to develop, shopping for holiday gifts in these alternative businesses must also be paired with a willingness to discuss the reasons for your actions.

We are not sanctimonious, conscious consumers patting ourselves on our goody-two-shoes backs.

We are a coordinated, strategic resistance to the rule of mega-corporations and the empowered wealthy class. We support these alternative forms of business not only out of moral reasons, but also for strategic purposes. We must be prepared to sustain the basic needs and necessities of the people: food, water, energy, shelter, capital, transportation, and communication. This is a necessity of waging successful struggle to shift political power back into the hands of the people. The entrenched corporate elite use economic sanctions and their control of law to repress our efforts. They will systematically attempt to impoverish us. They will cut off our access to support. They will strive to break our movement by demoralizing and “starving us out” both literally and metaphorically.

The establishment of strong alternative social institutions and organizations to provide basic necessities is a requirement for our success.

Furthermore, if we are successful at crumbling current corporate control of basic goods and services, then the alternatives must be ready to step forward and replace them. Our local businesses, regional farms, transportation, energy, and communications services must be able to fill in the vacuum left by crumbling mega-corporations.

The nuts-and-bolts of these lofty strategic ideals can be found in the context of our holiday shopping. Use the gathering of gifts as an opportunity to open dialogue with local businesses. Explain your reasons for supporting them. Tell them how your choices are rooted in an understanding that the socio-political rule of mega-corporations is causing destruction to people and the planet. Let them know that you consider small, local businesses an integral part of the movement to change our untenable situation.

And consider yourself fortunate to be resisting in this way.

This holiday season, our unfortunate – but powerful – ally in the efforts to undermine corporate rule is the grim figure of poverty too many of us face. Nearly 50% of our fellow Americans live at – or below – international standards of poverty. The starkness of this must be grasped. The United Nations statistics are based on “having enough to survive on and a little bit more”. Our country is considered one of the wealthiest nations in the world . . . yet half of our populace does not make enough to survive.

Despite this, corporate tyranny harasses the poor relentlessly during the holiday season. They are subject to shame and inferiority, accused of selfishness and cold-heartedness, humiliated by national leaders for being lazy and not working hard enough, subjected to lectures about fiscal management, and unjustly chastised for being wasteful of money during the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, the mega-corporations and the super wealthy proudly flaunt their charitable donations. They self-righteously laud themselves for providing “affordable options” for the average American. They throw galas and fundraisers and toast to the New Year, draping themselves in extravagance.

Never once do they mention the complicity of their corporations in causing the impoverishment of millions! Never once do they confess to the political policies that stretch soup kitchen lines down the block. Never once do the mega-corporations consider paying their workers a living wage. Never once do the super-wealthy propose tax measures that would reinvest their fortunes into prosperity for all Americans!

Instead, they perpetuate the abject lie that poverty is the result of laziness.

Fifty percent of Americans are not lazy, my friends. I can guarantee that. Poverty is the grim, austere ally in our resistance to corporate domination. Half of our populace can no longer afford to support Christmas. But although poverty has ended much of our nation’s willful participation in excess consumerism, the people have yet to give full support to the resistance. Poverty constrains them, frightens them, and forces them into subjugation to the power of the elite.

This is why I urge the conscious resisters of the Dandelion Insurrection to transform poverty’s constraints into an active boycott of mega-corporations for holiday shopping. A boycott may be largely symbolic for those who have nothing to spend . . . but if even a few souls avoid the enslavement of holiday credit card debt, then the reframing of poverty is worth it. A boycott of tyranny strengthens us all, empowering us through a simple switch in perspective. We are not ashamed to be poor non-participants in Christmas . . . we are proud to be actively resisting the corporations that subject millions to suffering!

And if we are fortunate enough to have some resources to spend, let us apply it to building the foundations for change. For all of us, the holiday season is a major opportunity to wage resistance to the corporate empire’s take-over of our nation. Let us not forfeit a moment, a dollar, or a single word of conversation during this time of active engagement.

If you have nothing, wage an act of resistance: boycott!

If you have something, wage an act of resilience: strengthen our allies for struggle.

And in every interaction during the holiday madness, remember the greatest resistance to tyranny. In all of your words, actions, and deeds . . . be kind, be connected, and be unafraid!


Rivera Sun with her new book, Dandelion Insurrection

Image by Dariel Garner

Author/Actress Rivera Sun sings the anthem of our times and rallies us to meet adversity with gusto. In addition to The Dandelion Insurrection, she is the author of nine plays, a book of poetry, and her debut novel, Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, which celebrates everyday heroes who meet the challenges of climate change with compassion, spirit, and strength. www.risingsundancetheater.com/wpblog/

see

The Man From the North: Tis the Season To Wage Boycotts by Rivera Sun

David Steindl-Rast: Revolutionizing the Concept of Revolution

The Story of Solutions

The Rise of Re-Use by Ralph Nader

Richard D. Wolff, Marc Armstrong, Omar Freilla and Alexis Goldstein: It’s Our Money: Making The Economy Work For Us + Q&A

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