Opinions

Occupy Xmas accomplishes very little

I HAVE A confession to make: I used to be a socialist. I’m not ashamed of it. But when I finally learned about all the socialists before me, I began to wonder why—if it was ever going to work—hadn’t socialism caught on already?

The recent Occupy movements are the final nail in the coffin of socialism. After witnessing those jokes of protests through the Occupy movement, I’ve returned to sleeping at the hand of Uncle Sam in the Cradle of Capitalism.

Unfortunately for capitalism, the eviction notices the city offered up to the occupiers didn’t clearly articulate their message—it’s time to give up your cause. Instead, they’ve decided to turn their sights on poor old capitalist Christmas.

The latest movement is being called Occupy Xmas, propagated by AdBusters, the Vancouver-based magazine that initiated the Occupy phenomenon in the first place. The plan is to boycott the commercial side of Christmas by buying nothing during the holiday season.

My main problem with the Occupy protests is that they lack any sort of vision. Their latest endeavour—Occupy Xmas—proves this. I think this is a direct reflection of the individuals involved.

AdBusters’ online collection of Occupy Xmas media shows pictures of an anti-fur protest and images of people mocking consumers with “buy more stuff” protest signs. This content is more random than a teenaged girl’s tumblr blog.

At the height of hypocrisy for a campaign that tells people to buy nothing, they’re also selling a “Media Empowerment Kit” for $125, which teaches buyers how to protest effectively.

Where is the focus of the campaign? Where is the clear vision that they need and the leadership to execute their goals? Surely if it were easier to understand what they were protesting, more people would join their cause.

This attempt at shotgun-style protesting is ineffective. Focus, pick one mission, and find support, then work toward change. Without a clear vision of what a protest is meant to accomplish, you have these satellite sympathy protests that make a mockery of the proposed movement. You also have unrelated groups slapping the “Occupy” tag onto their protest, which is slowly taking away legitimacy from the original Occupy movement.

Sitting in parks, at the turn of winter, was not vision—it was just stupid. Choosing to buy nothing for the holidays seems like taking a stand, but doesn’t accomplish anything other than disappointment on Christmas morning.

I’m all for social change. If you believe the holidays have become more about consuming than giving, there’s ways to combat that—like by organizing a food drive or volunteering at a soup kitchen. But refusing to buy things doesn’t help anyone. People seem to forget that spending stimulates the economy, the lack of which is what inspired the Occupy protests in the first place.

People spend money, money creates jobs, jobs give people money, people spend that money—and the cycle continues. Sure, there are flaws in the system, and we are not operating under a perfect capitalist ideal, but it’s a hell of a lot more effective than just sitting around.

—Kyle Hansford