‘Do something a little wild every day’

“A passionate struggle for freedom is deeply embedded in the history of the world. It still inspires us today and it still inspires oppressed people everywhere. Freedom is our great meta-meme, the crowning jewel of our civilization.”

So begins Kalle Lasn’s visual essay in the March/April edition of Adbusters magazine. If you haven’t picked the zine up in a while, you might want to grab this copy.

As its name suggests, there are no paid advertisements within. So the magazine costs $8—still less than Janet Evanovich’s bestselling mystery, Plum Lovin’, called “tart and hilarious” by Publisher’s Weekly.

Lasn’s essay—the first 22 pages of the magazine—starkly outlines the disparity in global culture.

“But lately, in our own back yard,” Lasn continues, “freedom has taken a perverse, hyper-individualistic turn.” Over his text are two photos: One of a man taking a hammer to what appears to be the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the other of a man putting a U.S. flag over the face of Saddam Hussein’s statue on that memorable day in 2003 when American tanks first rolled onto Baghdad’s deserted streets.

The next page—full color photos. Attractive blond woman sitting on a toilet, white panties around ankles, smiling at the camera. Backs of two topless women wearing Diesel jeans and holding whips, standing behind a topless man, also in Diesels, with welts in a tic-tac-toe pattern on his back. A third image: Ad for a PlayStation 2 game, Conflict Desert Storm II: Back to Baghdad, with slogans: “Freedom Will Endure” and “In Stores Now.”

Over these, Lasn writes, “We now drink more, do more drugs, live more promiscuously, spend more money, use up more resources, create more waste, and deliberately flaunt our wealth, power and sexuality more than any other culture on earth.

“When a modest, pious man living in a poor village a world away looks at us, what does he see?”

Lasn is the founder of Adbusters and the author of the powerful activists’ manifesto, Culture Jam. At its Web site, www.adbusters.org, the group calls itself “a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.”

Its aim: “To topple existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way we will live in the 21st century.”

The essay juxtaposes images like the empty pews of a Western church and a crowd of Muslims kneeling in prayer. One disheartening photo shows U.S. troops in barracks, reading Playboy and Hustler. Over this, Lasn writes, “Why are we trying to impose our freedom around the world at the point of a gun?”

The introduction ends with an editorial by Lasn titled, “Blueprint for a New Left.” In it, Lasn notes that while the left may be “poised for a major comeback,” we may or may not be ready.

“Are we still the whiny, complaint-based defeatists of the past?” he asks. “Where is our ability to kick ass?” If the left wants to “galvanize campuses, sway elections and command respect in the media,” Lasn writes, it must be “born again.”

How so? Lasn suggests exploring visionary ideas, living “without dead time” and traveling to Kenya, Brazil or India to learn from activists in those places.

We should work on our morals. “Admit that whichever way you look at it, abortion is a tragedy.”

Join a third party. “Then put up the fight of your life.”

And finally: “Stop hiding—get back in the public eye—do something a little wild every day.