Blog Post

Public Ad Campaign

The first stage of the OWS movement was a great success. The protesters were able to bring a new item to the agenda and this is marvelous. Creativity is undeniably the main component of this campaign. UC Davis students brilliantly out-created the police and university administration.

Their achievement is undeniably big. The City of Oakland went to a general strike for the first time since the middle of last century. There are some very good examples of artistic disobedience that is the most effective tool of nonviolent struggle.

Yet it is important to keep in mind that this is a civil rights campaign for world citizens—we have reached the time when the world is becoming one country and the definition of 'nation-state' does not hold anymore. Workers rights in Indonesia, Ecuador or Egypt affect the rights of workers in the United States and Russia and European Union. So—as the world we are becoming one unit.

One of the main issues in this movement is to creatively attract more people to build a new world. What kind of world are we creating? There are so many opinions about what we want that it is not worthy to discuss it in a single article.

There is one very important unifying factor—that most protesting people share—this isrejection of artificial scarcity. People do not like when they become jobless or homeless because some price stability requires it and there is not scarcity of resources. This is a very simple narrative—there is an overabundance of food and we have at least 925 million people starving on the earth. In the United States nearly 16.7 million children are not assured that they will have food. About 49 million Americans struggle to put food on the table.

You can find out about those numbers here.

The liberal economic school requires the creation of scarcity—even when there is none and its artificial creation is the reason for the suffering of millions of people.

There are some very interesting numbers on the net about global poverty. I was quite shocked to read some of those numbers at this particular page.

Just some few astounding facts that are not widely discussed in mainstream media today:

1. Out of 2,2 billion children in the world 1 billion (every second child) lives in poverty;

2. At least 80 percent of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.

3. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.

There are also incredible statistics from 1998 that tells us that we needed about $40 billion to overcome the global poverty and we were spending almost 20 times more ($780 billion) on killing each other. Unfortunately, since 1998 military budgets rose significantly and aid to the has not risen much—so I would expect an even worse picture today, in 2011. Since the mainstream media is not displaying those numbers I would imagine that it is hardly anyone who knows about this. In fact we have overabundance of resources, but we spend so much on military and police operations that we forget to help those in need. And I guess sometimes we are not even aware that these people are in need.

Global Priority $U.S. Billions
Cosmetics in the United States 8
Ice cream in Europe 11
Perfumes in Europe and the United States 12
Pet foods in Europe and the United States 17
Business entertainment in Japan 35
Cigarettes in Europe 50
Alcoholic drinks in Europe 105
Narcotics drugs in the world 400
Military spending in the world 780

And compare that to what was estimated as additional costs to achieve universal access to basic social services in all developing countries:

Global Priority $U.S. Billions
Basic education for all 6
Water and sanitation for all 9
Reproductive health for all women 12
Basic health and nutrition 13

Since there is not much of a chance that we will hear about those facts in the United States and around the world.  What is the reason?  Of course, the reason is that today;s discourse is serving a smallest minority, 1 percent of the population.  they are the ones who hire expensive PR companies and research institutions to falsify the numbers.  But people can do more.  instead of being hopeless, people can act too.

One of the ways to act is a campaign of social advertisements not just on TV and Radio, but on the streets, in parks, every public space and even private space.  Non-violent protests as public ad campaigns are part of a civil disobedience strategy.  The swarms of protesters arm themselves with their artistic creative imagination and unpredictably start roaming through cities and villages, on the highways and freeways, avenues and streets, making signs that there is an alternative to scarcity—so people should not remain hopeless. 

Yes, indeed there is an alternative to Bourgeois Consciousness—the realization and affirmation of abundance—the people understanding that cooperation and compassion is better than aimless competition and scarcity.  This power can overcome the police state and every smart industrial machine of obedience.  It is possible to do it creatively.  That is the way that Egalitarian Institute was doing its actions in Georgia—against the oligarch regime.  We were not only repainting the advertisements of the main autocrats and plutocrats—but we were filming our 'crimes' ourselves, so that we could post these ads online.  In some cases police do not even feel confident to arrest you for an obvious crime, since they understand that serving the system of thieves is a bigger crime than making an illegal poster that is asking people to act non-violently.  Reading poetry, street theater and a public ad campaign at the same time are very effective tool to challenge the system.  These have the potential to bring thousands to the streets.

This is the action where Egalitarian Institute has used the swarming method by combining poetry, theater and visual arts against the Death Squads.

In this other video you can see more visual arts focused Swarming campaign.  Policemen come and fail to enforce the law, since they feel that the law that they are protecting is of a less value than the one defended by the protesting 'criminals'.

There are a number of different and very creative ways to start a massive public advertisement campaign. Creativity is a key to social revolution. Creative nonviolence can win the struggle that non-creative violence cannot.

Irakli Zurab Kakabadze's picture

Irakli Kakabadze has been a leading figure in the nonviolent movement for social change in Georgia for more than two decades. 

A member of the Civic Disobedience Committee in 1989 and during the Rose Revolution in 2003, he has since been harassed and detained repeatedly by authorities. 

He is the author of five books and hundreds of essays in English, Georgian, and Russian. His play Candidate Jokola controversially depicted a love story between a Georgian presidential candidate and an Abkhaz woman. He is also an author of lyrics for “Postindustrial Boys,” and, together with Zurab Rtveliashvili, practices a literary performance style called Polyphonic Discourse. 

He taught art and peacebuilding at Cornell University from 2008-2012 and currently teach at the Georgian-American University in Tbilisi, Georgia..