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• 11.30.10 11:00 am

Last Friday Buy Nothing Day went largely unobserved in the United States despite being heavily promoted by the magazine Adbusters. That’s mostly because, like Adbusters, Buy Nothing Day is bullshit.

Last Friday Buy Nothing Day went largely unobserved in the United States despite being heavily promoted by the magazine Adbusters. That’s mostly because, like Adbusters, Buy Nothing Day is bullshit.

Adbusters was founded in 1989 by Canadians Bill Schmalz and Kalle Lasn, apparently after the latter had an incredibly boring realization while clashing with a supermarket shopping cart. The organization picked up Buy Nothing Day as one of its campaigns following the holiday’s invention by a fellow Canuck activist in 1992. It makes sense, considering both the event and its chief promoter suffer from a glut of vanity and lack of substance that would make Paris Hilton cringe.

Though Adbusters credits itself with being an anti-consumerist clarion call of responsible social and political activism in a world gorged on sitcoms, designer sneakers and lattes, it’s actually a deluded rag that takes advantage of the same marketing techniques it denounces. Simply put, Adbusters isn’t worth the high gloss pages it’s printed on.


Adbusters co-founder Kalle Lasn deflecting reality with his magazine

Whether the folks at Adbusters are completely insulated in anarchist book fairs or vegan baking classes, I don’t know — but they sure as hell don’t understand where the rest of society is coming from. This quote about Buy Nothing Day from an interview with Kalle shows just how out of touch the people behind the magazine are:

“It is quite a powerful personal experience if you try to suppress the impulse to buy for a whole day — it is very difficult to do, and you really learn something.”

What kind of Valley Girl considers it hard to keep from purchasing something for 24 hours? I don’t know if Kalle realizes it, but a lot of people spend most of the year not buying anything. That’s partially why they do go out shopping on days like Black Friday: They’re preparing for a special occasion during which they buy things to give to the people they love. They spend every other day of their lives not buying shit, having Buy Nothing Days in practice because they either: a) don’t have any money; b) don’t have any time; c) aren’t pathological shoppers as Kalle appears to be.

Are hoards of Americans lining up at 4 A.M. outside of Best Buy or fighting for the last copy of Halo 7 in GameStop on Black Friday clues that our society is too preoccupied with material things? Yeah. But it’s still a lot better than a bunch of yuppies giving themselves congratulatory handjobs because they postponed their Christmas shopping.


Q: How many poor Kenyans would it take to “get” this Adbusters cover?
A: None, they’re too poor to afford it!

The only person I’ve ever known to have a subscription to Adbusters is my friend’s dad, a wealthy Frenchmen who owned a marketing company and lived just off Wall Street. A quick survey of people promoting Buy Nothing Day also shows how committed these revolutionaries are to The Cause: This self-described Hollywood socialite pushed responsible consumerism between plugging artisan chocolate and Costco granola.

Of course Adbusters doesn’t acknowledge their moneyed audience driven by white guilt, the $1,000 armchair activists or the junior ad execs, but even their choice of readers to recognize is revealing.

This poster and the instructions accompanying it — “Slap this poster up all over your school’s economics department” — are typical of Adbusters egging undergrads to “rock the boat,” “stick it to the man” and do other dumb shit that’s more annoying than enlightening.

What’s interesting about Adbusters targeting these kids is that they also belong to a relatively privileged class. Without generally needing to worry about rent, food or drinking money, undergrad students have the spare $9 in allowance to fork over for each bi-monthly issue of Adbusters, which is a must if you want to stay on the cutting edge of the revolution because, for some reason, new issues of Adbusters are not available for free online. The New York Times and even The Economist, that bible of globalist capitalist pigs, make their latest issues available to all for no charge — yet Adbusters seeking to “change the way information flows” doesn’t.

While spending about the equivalent of a six-pack on a magazine isn’t going to break the bank for Adbusters readers, it’s gotta be noted that it is definitely out of reach for third world revolutionaries, a population the magazine repeatedly expresses solidarity with and even denounces the rest of society for ignoring. But what does it say about a magazine that champions the dispossessed when the people it claims to side with can’t even afford an issue?


Besides the inherent hypocrisy of hawking a magazine that calls for an end to hawking, Adbusters also engages in the very same practices it condemns the media and corporations of using to encourage useless, destructive consumption. On a very basic level, Adbusters leverages the same economies of scale by selling a single issue for around $9, a yearly subscription for $38, a two-year subscription for only $58, etc. They even sweeten the deal by throwing in a free Adbusters calendar for multi-year subscriptions — just like banks giving away shitty toasters back in the day!

But that can be defended by common sense, as it’s the only way to run a self-sustaining business. Less defensible by Adbusters own standards is the magazine’s commodification of rebellion. Just like the companies it criticizes for packaging “authentic” youth culture and selling it back to young people, Adbusters gift-wraps activism, revolution, Che Guevara shirts and anything else that fits into a black bandanna, and attempts to pass it off to the next young rebel or ad exec.

Besides filling its magazine and plastering its site with riot police, black-clad protesters and other hackneyed anarchist imagery in a poor attempt to offer readers a revolutionary experience, Adbusters also actively peddles what it calls “tools for activists.” Whether it’s the $75 Converse ripoffs, the hideous $99 boots (above), the $27.50 corporate American flag or co-founder Kalle Lasn’s memoir, the question remains: How do any of these things amplify social activism? Obviously, they don’t. They all simply amount to Adbusters doing what all its corporate counterparts are doing: Grabbing something that makes money and running with it. The fact that Adbusters does it with more ecological or humanitarian consideration would be worth mentioning if the entire endeavour didn’t create such a gaping blind spot in its smug politics.


Aside from maybe that anti-Semitic piece, the only article most people have even heard of from Adbusters is “Hipsters: The Dead End of Western Civilization.” Considering that this was the cover story, it’s only natural to believe it was one that Adbusters was totally behind and felt good about. And how sad that is.

In case you haven’t read it, I’ll summarize: Author goes to party, hates on music, hates on other guests, goes to another party, hates on guests, etc., plus an interview with Gavin thrown in. How a DJ “making a mix that sounds like he took hatchet to a collection of yesteryear billboard hits” or a girl “wearing big dangling earrings, an American Apparel V-neck tee, non-prescription eyeglasses and an inappropriately warm wool coat” are the ultimate insurmountable boulders in the progress of almost 3,000 years of Western culture is beyond me, even after re-reading the article.

But that’s just it: There is nothing else. Almost all Adbusters’ content is made up of posturing and masturbatory prose, like this taken from that same article about hipsters:

“The half-built condos tower above us like foreboding monoliths of our yuppie futures. I take a look at one of the girls wearing a bright pink keffiyah and carrying a Polaroid camera and think, ‘If only we carried rocks instead of cameras, we’d look like revolutionaries.”

It’s all such nonsense. The burden of proof in making claims, no matter how outrageous, is usually never even weighed in an Adbusters article.


Since Adbusters simply peddles a charade of revolution to the same yuppies it claims are the problem, it’s no surprise that the magazine fails to accomplish much. For example: Despite heavy promotion leading up to Buy Nothing Day, people spent almost $4 billion dollars more during this year’s Black Friday than last year’s.

You know who’s better at furthering responsible consumption than Adbusters? Anyone not frantically waving an anarcho-syndicalist flag with one hand and jacking off to the thought of how cool they look with the other, simply because those people have a free hand to actually do something with. A collection of nerds like The Pirate Bay do a lot more to foster anti-consumerism than Adbusters and they rarely even mention politics. And although I doubt Kalle would ever admit it, American Apparel has done more to promote to sweatshop-free manufacturing than the poorly selling Blackspot campaign ever has — and Dov Charney doesn’t even consider himself in the ranks of “the Left.”

Ultimately, I guess it’s a good thing that Adbusters doesn’t have any real impact. We don’t need anymore twats spray painting their ads around town.

During high school a friend was scrambling to find a senior quote five minutes before the deadline for submissions. He decided to snatch something from an issue of Adbusters that happened to be handy. It was “All is well if the suit be won.” He no longer remembers what it means.

Essentially, that’s all Adbusters is: Something kids associate with because they’re angsty and it’s offering up angst in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing. It’s the same logic as kids who are into rap buying The Source because it’s full of hip hop gossip and black chicks with fat asses. The only difference is that Adbusters takes its posturing way more seriously than its productions, making it overly earnest and ignorantly misguided. Eventually, even angsty kids notice that.

The latest issue of Adbusters hit news stands on November 23rd. I wonder if they planned around Buy Nothing Day.


  1. Anonymous says:

    that’ll do arv…that’ll do

  2. pauly says:

    adbusters doesn’t have a free online version because, as the name of the magazine suggests, they don’t like ads

  3. blue waffle says:

    get gavin submit this to taki for you.

  4. Richard Gearbox says:

    An impressive amount of effort went into this Arv,always love it when you shed the too cool to try image.

  5. mwr says:

    ignore it and it’ll go away

  6. Alpha Rapist says:

    “But that’s just it: There is nothing else. Almost all Adbusters’ content is made up of posturing and masturbatory prose, like this taken from that same article about hipsters:”

    the same can be said of this site

    although the passage you quoted was excruciating

  7. dragler says:

    what’s ironic is nowadays liberals even far leftists are obsessed with “getting people to spend” a la Keynes.

  8. no.thanks. says:

    Arv, are you related to Anziz Ansari? I heard that from jesus. FROM JESUS.
    good job w/the article by the way.

  9. luke says:

    Enjoyed this piece Arvind. I fell for that Adbusters shit myself when I was young an stupid. (Now I’m just stupid.) I lost track of how many minds I blew by having an issue out on my coffee table when people would come by, but it was easily in the low single digits.

  10. Joe Queer says:

    Big fucking whoop that the magazine is made for and read by rich guilty whites. Rich guilty whites have been the vanguard of all anti-capitalist thought in the past two centuries. I don’t really get the point of this article — “something that college undergrads like is DUMB”? Revelatory!

  11. uhm says:

    This is the most poorly researched article I’ve ever read… complete garbage that is yellow journalism mixed with late-night piss. There are so many intentionally misleading claims in this crap that it makes the entire site look bad.

    If you’re going to pick on Adbusters, at least read the magazine and then make a cogent critique.

  12. turdbum says:

    ohhhhh my gawd this is sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo boring

  13. Nonstream Shmolitics says:

    I got no bigfeeling dog in this fight.

    So, hmm, could it be that Gavin directed his vassal Arv to attempt a rear-guard anti-Adbusters spin simply because the Adbusters article in question spins Gavin unflatteringly?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Dead on, Arv!

  15. quadruple x says:

    I haven’t read (or even SEEN) a copy of AdBusters in like a decade, but c’mon, man. It’s a mostly harmless rag that, at the very least, makes a few high schoolers every year think about how much shit they’re buying.

    And your bulletpoints aren’t exactly zingers. You can be dumb, a hypocrite and right all at the same time (PETA also suffers from this affliction), you don’t have to actually BE poor to side with or care about them (as for the price point keeping the impoverished out of reach, that’s because the magazine isn’t FOR the impoverished, its for the comparatively rich suburban kids who have no idea consumerism is an issue at all), and pulling ONE quote to claim that its out of touch doesn’t really do you any favors.

    Basically, I feel like this is that episode of Bullshit that attacked recycling, of all things. I mean, really? RECYCLING? There are bigger fish to fry.

  16. you all like "Fergie" says:

    Peta is not right, what are you talking about? How are they right? We shouldn’t have medical testing? We shouldn’t have pets? large urban animal shelters like the one in LA should not be allowed to put down any of the hundred billion animals they take in? Exactly what point are they right about?

    Also, what do you mean “bigger fish to fry”? You’re talking about a website that makes fun of people’s outfits, and a TV show on cable run by two magicians. Bullshit attacked recycling because it costs billions of dollars, is mostly harmful to the environment, and gives a ton of the douchiest people a pedestal from which to spew their douchiest opinions. I think that was worth 30 minutes of cable tv.

    Also, this article is obvious but appreciated.

  17. Grargarth says:

    I totally agree but didn’t know Adbusters was still around. I realized it was bullshit when I came out of my crusty delusions and said,”Wait, these people are all idiots, drug addicts or liars!”

  18. poopsmear says:

    arv is an intelligent fella and i like these sorts of articles from him way more than the ones about whats hip or whatever. good job with this, i agree with you wholeheartedly. i was into adbusters in college and i was also into radical feminism (im a dude, btw) both of which are very laughable to me now. fuck adbusters, keep em comin, arv

  19. female says:

    I liked it. Actually, I thought it was one of the more engaging articles I’ve read on this site in a long time. Or maybe it’s just because I read that Jonny Makeup piece and it was so bad that anything following it would seen like literary genius.

  20. qq says:

    that was BEAUTIFUL.

    extra kudos for pointing out that for most of us ‘Buy Nothing Day’ is actually ‘EVERYDAY REALITY DAY’……. esp in this post-GFC climate, and even then for most of us BEFORE the meltdown everyday was BUY ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING DAY INCLUDING BAKED BEANS OR A LOAF OF BREAD. DAY.

    We deal with debt and a crushing lack of job opportunities, and these morons run around paying lip service like its ten years ago and consumer revolution is a pleasant-but-brief tourist destination.

    the thing is if you’re faking it you’re doing more harm than good, and this shit is far too important to fuck around with.

    just STFU and work your ass off like a normal person and one day when the time comes do something real that has a lasting impact. and cut out the dinner party conversations and “$1000 Armchair Activism” because you’re fucking putrid.

    Innit, Arv.

  21. Anonymous says:

    arv, do some fucking research for once. the pirate bay ARE political, in respect to copyright law. it might not have been their initial intent to begin with, but it sure as fuck is now. they even inspired the creation of a pro-sharing political party that won a seat in Sweden. they’ve singlehandedly made fair use a genuine issue.

  22. wrong target says:

    so are you against buy nothing day? what about lent, or staying in on a friday night for a change? when something is habitual and unhealthy, what’s wrong with a deliberate attempt to stop, if even for only a day – or do you think that the rate at which us westerners consume natural resources is acceptable and not worth talking about.

    you called the magazine irrelevant which i would disagree with. when the populace as a whole spends more than it earns, it would be a good time to thing about the habits of consumption. the magazine is ineffectual but certainly relevant.

    as for a canadian publication which “suffers from a glut of vanity and lack of substance”… for ages, vice was the emptiest piece of self congratulating shit young adults could get their hands on, except that instead of paying for the actual cost of publication, you enjoyed the page-after-page advertorial brainwashing which adbusters originally set out to critique. if anything, mags that vice and websites like these are the “landfill of the mental environment”

  23. zoom says:

    Bravo sir. Best takedown on this site in a while.

  24. omg sooo randummm says:

    agreed with quadruple X – theres bigger fish to fry. Yes Adbusters is unrealistic, but do you truly think they’re in it for the money? as was said before, the worst it could do is make some teenagers consume less.. yes its out of touch and yes its subscribers are mostly rich ex-hippies living on saltspring, but I dont think they decided to make sneakers out of tires to strike it rich. Methinks you guys are just bitter for the (admittedly poorly written) hipster article, but you’re now one step away from making posts refuting stuff you read on these comment boards.. let it be water off a ducks back, let them continue to say that ‘the revolution’ is just a few years away, and lets see some more wacky drunk pushups or something

  25. Anonymous says:

    This made me piss myself with laughter: “A collection of nerds like The Pirate Bay do a lot more to foster anti-consumerism than Adbusters and they rarely even mention politics.” As if anyone using the Pirate Bay isn’t trying to get as much STUFF (more stuff! Give me more!) as they possibly can without paying the people who made it. Yeah, bands only get $0.00072 from every sale on iTunes or whatever but that’s still better than the $0.00000 they get from people stealing their stuff via Pirate Bay. If you’re gonna steal your music, steal it – but don’t try and pretend you’re doing it for any other reason than you want to spend your money on other shit. You “fair use” douchebags should go fuck yourselves. Yeah, record companies overcharged when they could, but it’s still fucking stealing to download illegally. Don’t pay for music? Then don’t call yourself a music fan.

    Damn, I’m sweating.

  26. ghostgirl says:

    Adbusters is doing way more for society than this site is, or will ever do. I’m done with SBTC & McInnes. And Taki’s Mag sucks.

  27. luke says:

    I do happen to agree that stealing music is bullshit, and the logic pretzel inetrnet heroes twist themselves into to justify it are embarrassing.

  28. Damien says:

    That’s nice, but what’s with all this Goad-esque “white guilt” shit about? Have you ever actually met a guilty white person?

  29. Jim Goad says:

    “Have you ever actually met a guilty white person?”

    One who’s literally guilty of violent racial assaults or of actually discriminating against a nonwhite? No. Not once. Never.

    One who acts guilty about history? Just about all of them. Every day. Everywhere. Don’t front. Girl, you know it’s true.

    But let’s pretend these people don’t exist, just like we pretended that Mexican cartel-related beheadings in Arizona were a completely insane conservative fantasy until Uncle Jimmy had to show up and link you to a real-life news story about a real-life Mexican-cartel-related beheading in Arizona from October.

    I’m guessing “Goad-esque” really means “can back up his shit with something more than song lyrics and vague appeals to intangibles such as ’social justice.’” One of the reasons I quit tilting leftward long ago is because I realized most people who identify “that way” have convinced themselves that truth, facts, and science are on their side, but when challenged to support their beliefs, all they can come up with is name-calling and character smears—while pretending they’re above such “hater” tactics.

    I’ve met thousands of guilty white people, but I’ve never never met one of them who could debate for shit.

    So…regarding your question…the answer is a deafeningly resounding “Yes.”

    Here’s one:
    “Guilt is good, people! The only people who don’t suffer guilt are sociopaths and serial killers. Guilt means you have a conscience. You have self-awareness, you have—in the case of America’s history of racism—historical awareness. Just because things have gotten better in the present doesn’t mean we can erase racism from our past or ignore its enduring legacy.”

    Here’s another:
    “with all the racially oriented posts and my own outside reading i feel guilty for being white.”

    Here are two more, included in part of a syllabus for a fucking COLLEGE CLASS about white guilt:
    White Privilege and White Guilt
    “But then reading The Color of Wealth and discussing white privilege in class I understand that my race is what has allowed me to be at the status I am. As many other people have mentioned this leads to guilt. Because of my white privilege do I really owe it to this man to give him one of my dollars? While waiting for my flight we discussed how often white privilege often turns into white guilt.”
    “As a white person feeling that guilt is part of the process of identifying white privilege.”

    etc., etc., ad infinitum

    Still want to argue this, Damien? Or will we get the standard “Dude, calm down” in lieu of a “Dude, you just proved my ass wrong again”?

  30. Alpha Rapist says:

    goad-esque = in the manner of an enormous faggot

  31. Jim Goad says:

    ^^^ Fascinating comment coming from someone who’s also used the screen name “Penis Sucker” on here.

    Guess it takes one to know one.

  32. Made In Bhangladesh says:

    This post is a load of shit, Arv. Saying that consumerist culture hasn’t completely taken over is disingenuous at best and an outright lie at worst. “In the current economic climate,” every fucking social debate revolves around jobs, the economy, consumer spending, consumer confidence, the markets, et cetera ad nauseum. Well contrary to what the fat cats on Wall St. would have you believe, THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN PUTTING A FUCKING DOLLAR SIGN ON EVERYTHING. And quit acting like everyone knows how thoroughly they buy in to consumer culture – they DON’T. Want proof? Go to YouTube right now and search for “Hauling” and watch millions of 15 minute clips of people showing off all the shit they just bought. At least AdBusters is trying to make people more AWARE, and that’s never a bad thing.


  34. Damien says:

    Naw, all of those people are just good old fashioned nazis. I mean like a white person that genuinely feels guilty about anything. They don’t exist. I personally find disadvantaged minorities annoying and avoid them when I can. In the entire history of the human race, has there even been a “broken community” that was successfully fixed? Probably not.

  35. dragler says:

    They are right in the sense that the US savings rate during the most recent boom and bust was 0%. and till people like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich are obsessed with stimulating spending, ANY spending and it’s silly. Saving is a natrual and logical thing peple do, it’s beynd economics it’s just obvious, you save for the future and put off spending when you are able. So many govenmet interventions, from social security to the fed’s artificially low interest rates, try and counter this basic survival instinct of man and it leads to horrendous malinvestment and cupcake shops.

  36. Damien says:

    Please leave this site and never come back. You are a total fucking idiot. OOoohh, Pauly Krugman and Rob Reich ooooohhhh. Fuck off.

  37. you all like "Fergie" says:

    @Made In Bhangladesh

    every social debate doesn’t revolve around the economy, it just happens that a lot of people are concerned with the economy because they actually like to eat and pay their rent/mortgage and whatnot. There’s a reason why things like jobs and taxes and interest rates and the like are considered important to people who don’t live off their parents. All these things are part of the debate about economic policy and grownups like to take these things seriously.

    I also missed the part in the article where Arv says we don’t live in a consumerist culture, or says that that’s a good thing. The article is about how adbusters is a shitty magazine for disingenuous people.

    I agree that a lot of people are too materialist. I agree that it’s a social neurosis to equate income/acquisition of goods with happiness and a downplaying of the importance of community and personal relationships. That doesn’t mean that the economy doesn’t matter, or that we can ignore employment rates, or the effects that things like consumer confidence have. This stuff means food and shelter to a lot of people and if that’s not important to you then what is?

  38. Fap-fap-fap says:

    Hey! That was my senior quote too! Weird. Great article, Arv.

  39. Made In Bhangladesh says:

    @ You All Like “Fergie”,

    I’m not living in dreamland. I understand that in today’s world economic issues are front and centre, because people “actually like to eat and pay their rent/mortgage and whatnot.” My problem isn’t with the average Joes & Janes who just want to put food on the table; I have a problem with the fat cats whose pockets are lined with gold while the rest of us are mired in debt because society tells us that we need BMWs and Coach handbags to be truly happy.

    The reason why my opinion is so reviled is because it tells people exactly what they don’t want to hear: namely, that Western consumer culture is unsustainable. Our entire economy is built on a rotten foundation (expectation of unlimited growth in a closed, finite-resource system). If we ever wise up enough to change, you’re goddamned right that a lot of people will lose, economically speaking. But that’s the price we’ll have to pay. So fuck the business community. There’s more to life than money.

  40. They're WAY dumber than this says:

    Good to see someone take Adbusters to task, but it seems a bit weird to strike them for a high cover price when do stuff as stupid and trite as this –

    I mean, no-one on the left takes AdBusters seriously, so it’s dumb to get hysterical about them making Mao, Robespierre and Lenin the good guys, but whatever, the content of the mag is way more cynical and unpleasant than the coverprice.

    This lazy, pretentious logic that looks at revolutions as anything other than violent, nasty events that fuck up normal people’s lives has zero impact on anyone or anything but the fact that they take trite quotes from people responsible for absolutely untold suffering at face value it makes me actually hate this rag rather than just laugh at it.

  41. lefty says:

    I used to work for Adbusters. And while many of you points are valid. The simple fact is. Adbusters is a magazine without ad revenue. At it’s peak it was selling 120,000 copies mostly in the U.S.

    Can you do that hipster? No.

    The problem with the left is it just eats it’s own. You have written nothing here that hasn’t already been written a hundred times.

  42. dragler says:

    Damien- I was completley dissing Krugman and Reich.

  43. Working Class says:

    This seems like the site for ex anarcho punks that gave up on their politics and now just hate everyone

    Cheers to those that still give a shit

  44. Jackie McChuckles says:

    How about a Write Nothing Day ?

  45. Psychic Dad says:

    To call out Adbusters as hypocrites for “championing the dispossessed” while selling a publication too pricey for their consumption is painfully sophomoric and misguided —
    did you not get the memo that, in the course of Busting Ads, they’re printing a glossy with wide circulation with ZERO ADVERTISING REVENUE? The entire publication is predicated upon that very premise ya dipshit. How else do you expect them to sustain their enterprise besides charging like $9? Do you see anybody handing them huge grants or anything?
    And how would that be mutually exclusive with doing a good job highlighting overlooked injustices and uncorrected imbalances? A documentary doesn’t fail in its effort to bring to light gross economic equalities if the world’s poor can’t swing a $13 ticket at AMC.

    Now I haven’t given a shit about Adbusters since high school…but it’s totally retarded to carelessly drag a decent publication through the mud for no good reason. Anything turning kids on to Chomsky and away from all the other gay ass bullshit spewed by the mainstream media every day is ok in my book, even if it occasionally takes a haughty tone.

    And then you again set up an attack based on ignorance rather than insight — i.e. knocking the fucking stupid shoes Adbusters sells, which clearly are not just an ugly marketable commodity to hawk as cravenly as any Nike, as you assert, but are specifically designed to incorporate only recycled materials like used tires, totally organic glues, responsibly paid and sourced labor, and whatever the fuck else they’re trying to do, and thus subvert the notion of consumer commodity as intrinsically irresponsible and socially regressive, whatever.

    And if you really needed to HAMMER HOME how retarded you are, while hating on Adbusters, an already woefully under appreciated if simultaneously shrill lone voice on an otherwise desolate landscape of uniformly shitty magazines, you champion DOV fucking CHARNEY as a viable exemplar of “actual” social change.

    Why don’t you do some FUCKING RESEARCH instead of quoting the fucking Weekly Standard to source your wild assertion that Adbusters is somehow anti-Semitic to point out how disproportionately overrepresented Jewish people are in the population of billionaires relative to both their overall population worldwide and to the amount of historical disadvantage they repeatedly and self-admittedly claim.
    AMERICAN APPAREL has factories in Southeast Asia as fucked up as any sweatshop…if you honestly think they produce every single one of their garments out of a few buildings in LA you’re as naive and retarded as your article suggested.

  46. i cant let the voice in favor of adbusters go totally unspoken for after reading this. i would love to pick it apart and intelligently respond to some points, but instead let me spontaneously react after one quick reading:

    For starters, you can point out problems with almost ANYTHING when placed under the microscope of scrutiny. Under that microsope you sometimes lose sight of the overall whole picture to criticise the small details. In a quick example, are there shortcomings with Obama’s presidency and health care plan, etc? Yeah, big time. Is he a thousand times improvement over the previous president? absolutely.

    Similarly adbusters, like almost any other publication, has its good pieces, questionable pieces, its solid authors and contributors, and its sketchy ones. Do we take something as bogus as the adbusters hipster article and decide that the magazine is worthless? Another thing worth noticing is that Adbusters is entirely open to submissions, and in fact there is a good chance if you submitted this article, they might print it in their magazine (possibly abbreviated)!

    A specific point that is worth taking up: “What kind of Valley Girl considers it hard to keep from purchasing something for 24 hours? … They spend every other day of their lives not buying shit, having Buy Nothing Days in practice because they either: a) don’t have any money; b) don’t have any time; c) aren’t pathological shoppers as Kalle appears to be”
    can you provide one example or statistic to back up any word in that passage? For instance do you know any girls from the valley who DON’T drive cars? Those fools use cars to get everywhere and that takes buying gas. You really haven’t considered Lasn’s quote that you open that paragraph with. Tell me a rundown of your normal day’s activities that shows that NOT buying things normal for you, and buying things is for a special occasion.

    You invalidated any argument you had against buy nothing day when you wrote “They’re preparing for a special occasion during which they buy things to give to the people they love” (on black friday), even with the use of bold typeface to emphasize how sure of yourself you are. The entire core of the buy nothing day message is that you don’t have to buy anyone anything to show your love, and in fact in lots of cases you SHOULDN’T. For me, spending time with loved ones or making them things is enough, and far more meaningful than anything i could buy hot off the assembly lines from china.

    And again, you just don’t get it: “it’s still a lot better than a bunch of yuppies giving themselves congratulatory handjobs because they postponed their Christmas shopping.” -its not about any one stupid day or whether or not you literally spend a penny, its a stunt to draw attention to the fact that having a holiday revolve around consumerism is retarded. those yuppies (me, i guess) aren’t coming back later for christmas shopping, there will be no christmas shopping. I’ll save that stressful shopping time to spend it meaningfully with people i care about, or by myself reading a book.

    another talking point:
    “But what does it say about a magazine that champions the dispossessed when the people it claims to side with can’t even afford an issue?”
    because if you make something as globally accessible as possible, its going to look like the same shitty activist punk mags that kids have made on shitty copiers since the 70s. this is a new world, the revolution is not won in the streets breaking windows and turning over cars anymore (as much). Change is happening with the help of understanding and taking back the methods that advertising barges us with. reaching people effectively now is about packaging up your idea into a modern, marketable look.
    Is a cut-n-pasted black and white punk activist mag, dense with text going to grab our short 2010 attention spans to question our ways? or is a shiny provocatively designed modern looking magazine more likely to catch our eye, if only for a minute? it might be just long enough to take in the simplified, marketable message you might open up to.
    two more quick things about that. 1) The people who most need to be reached with the adbusters message should have no problem spending over 5 bucks on a magazine, as they are the ones lining up for mall sales and stoked on H3s. The message is not as urgent for students like you who are probably not driving around in ford expeditions to get a 97 cent toothbrush from wal-mart, double-bagged. 2) a 12 issue subscription of adbusters comes out to 4.83 an issue, not 9 dollars. this should be even within your budget.

    Any intelligent person acknowledges that the world is fucked up right now. the conditions many people are living in are fucked up. nobody has a sure and certain demonstrated answer at solving or beginning to solve the world’s problems or else we would have them all solved already. but you know what, Lasn and his organization are spending literally all their time and energy giving it a shot. They are volunteering to take the awkward, unpopular frontline steps of putting themselves out there, along with organizations like Democracy Now and people like Noam Chomsky. some of the steps along that path prove to be riddled with holes, dead ends, or cliffs, but they are steps in the right direction by opening up the right conversations to begin with and pushing for engagement with people about these issues. the solution will be found, because thats what humans have always done.

    One thing i have noticed throughout my activism with atheism / anti-consumerism / animal rights, –shit, even with bands i’ve been in, art projects, my fashion choices- there will always be haters. “its too radical, its not radical enough, too square, too nerdy, trying too hard,” etc etc. it is much more common that people are talking rather than doing. at the end of the day this blogger can point to his collection of scene-relevant dismissive WR101-level rant essays on this hipster site and his official page on blogspot ( as how he’s spent his time making the world a better place,
    but Kalle Lasn can stand by at least two authored books, internationally published articles, national TV interviews, speaking appearances, campaigns, websites, and a global publication that takes on, well, honestly literally the biggest issues that exist in the world. personal and external.

    It should be noted that in all the trouble he goes to to criticize Lasn’s views, the author of this article doesnt bother to cite any of Lasn’s books or link to any of his interviews on youtube where you can see him pose arguments very clearly (

    personally, every time i get a new issue from my subscription and read through it, its a feeling of being refreshed. ‘ahhhhhhh’ i sigh. I may agree with about 40% of the contents of an issue, but its just this feeling that im not the only one that thinks almost everything is horrible and going about exactly wrong of how it should be. that makes me feel good. its good to know other people are with me in hoping to change the world. maybe not always in the same ways i would act to change it, but at least we are thinking in the right direction.

    i think this article is part of a bigger picture– the hipster trend of attacking whatever hipsters are into, so as to demonstrate your hipster ahead-of-the-curveness, thus elevating your hipster status.

  47. orange says:

    “nobody has a sure and certain demonstrated answer at solving or beginning to solve the world’s problems or else we would have them all solved already.”

    shawn, your overlong comment is full of horrendous logic… fuck.

  48. Anonymous says:

    this was extremely true. thanks for saying it.

  49. guh says:

    whole article = author so bummed he has to pay for a magazine without ads

  50. heroin town says:

    Arv…learned how to write!? When did this happen?

  51. the revolution industry says:

    Arv why you be messing with our bottom line?
    Didn’t you hear that kids read our magazine and then read other revolutionary industrialists like CHOMSKY and ZINN? Quit f*cking with our racket you biatch.

  52. LS says:

    Jeez, I haven’t read Adbusters in 20 years. Ain’t missing much. And I studied advertising in school.

  53. Freddie says:

    Neoliberal scold scolds neoliberally.

  54. A says:

    What’s Adbusters?

  55. Sister Wolf says:

    Please don’t say “hate on.” You can’t “hate on” something, you merely hate it/him/her. Essays that include the term “hate on” are impossible to take seriously. Thanks. xo

  56. […] Andrew Sullivan links to a critique of Adbusters and its promotion of “Buy Nothing Day” I don’t know if Kalle (the Adbusters […]

  57. melvis says:

    I just went on Adbusters and read articles in their archives…free online!

  58. Paul says:

    I love making money off my oil stock. I also buy $$$ AdBusters and go for the fresh untouched copy along with 2600; and Fortean Times. I’m interested in a Satanic issue.
    I also support research in cures for diseases for everybody.
    What I am really saying is that we all have polarities in us and to , yes, keep a open mind about change for the good, but also, don’t worry about having many selves. Look out for yourself also.

  59. subjazz says:

    People not buying anything for one day will probably hurt the minimum wage earner the most. Stupid idea! I personally have experienced a kind of social collective back in the 60’s hanging around the Haight Asbury. It took me many years and with a price to finally realize the naivety of it all.
    If a revolution is to take place in this country my suggestion would be for someone to prove that it works. Paolo Soleri’s visionary environmental technologies could be a start. A group of pioneering individuals could live in his Utopian communities while the world watches. Will it work with the psychologies that are hard wired into us is another question. I know people seem to have a need for violence of some kind. Outside of that our labor unions need to get stronger. We need to bring a CCC type draft in place of a military one. That would put people back to work, give college incentives, and grow trees. It may take another Hitler to do that! Responsible Anarchy is the biggest piece of crap lie out there! Somebody or something has to prove a working cohesion to get people motivated. Not this big fat lie about over consumer indulgence.

  60. CharliePotatos says:

    FWIW, Adbusters has totally killed any potential for critique of its articles. Notice that on some of their lates at the website, there are only two comments. That is because they took a policy of documenting IP’s from anonymous posters who were, only in adbusters opinion, too ‘harsh’ and have banned them from commenting.

    How do I know this? I’m one of those people who were banned by them. Whatever their business model, the fact of the matter is that they are, in the ultimate test of true social liberalism, against free speech that is, in their minds, against them.

    March on little Hitlers, march on…

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