Category Archives: Positive Change

making a positive change

How To Undermine Black Friday

Black Friday is an event of pure commercialism that occurs in the USA once a year. Although not originally named for this reason, it now signifies the time of year when retailers typically move from being “in the red” to being “in the black” due to the increase in material consumption. In practical terms it is the start of the pre-Christmas shopping season and used as a trigger to get shoppers buying goods they would not otherwise consider buying, ringing up huge debts on their credit cards and adopting a pattern of frenzied consumer activity that sometimes culminates in violence in order to obtain those precious Black Friday Bargains. The extent to which this normalises otherwise absurd behaviour – making the purchase of superfluous things appear routine – is quite extraordinary. If we consider civilized humans in the USA as de facto Consumers, then Black Friday takes this up another level, to the point at which “normal” consumer behaviour appears conservative.

Undermining Black Friday can seem in one sense to be a point solution, attacking something that is exceptional rather than a normal facet of civilized society, but if it is possible to deal with something so discrete then it may provide some very useful ammunition for dealing with the general problem of the Human as Consumer.

Black Friday is predicated on good communications. The “bargains” offered are generally not particularly good, and are always limited in number – partly to maintain the sense of urgency, but also because retailers are not stupid and have no intention of making a loss on any day of the year. Here’s a partial run down from a NYDailyNews article:

Deals from 4 a.m., with closing times varying by store.
Doorbuster deals for the earliest customers and free shipping at for or-ders of at least $99. Men’s Timberland puffer jacket, $34.99; women’s puffer jacket from Style & Co., $24.99. Girls’ boots from Steve Madden and Madden Girl, $39.99.

Deals from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Times Square location).
Customers who spend $40 and over will receive a special gift with purchase — a locket with lip gloss inside (limited quantities, while supplies last.) Select items $3-$12. Buy one get one free all apparel markdowns.

Deals from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day; 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday.
Doorbusters (like a woman’s peacoat, $19.99), last for only six hours. Select board games will go for $5. A Craftsman C3 drill/drive is $49.99 and a 42-inch Zenith flat-screen is $399.99.

See? It’s crap. Which is why the communication of Black Friday as something that is appar-ently exceptional is so important; and it has really worked such that retailers no longer have to advertise their deals – they just wait for the queues to appear at the allotted time and hand out flyers as people rush the store doors to get whatever might be reduced. This is indeed a masterful piece of cultural manipulation.

Dealing with this can take many forms, and such is the importance of undermining communications that I’ve provided a list of the different approaches that you might want to consider as an Underminer, and briefly how this might be applied to Black Friday:

1. Stopping the message: Making sure it isn’t originated at all, or at least stopped at source before it can be propagated in any way, e.g. jamming the printing presses that produce the flyers; socially engineering employees to prevent a retailer’s Black Friday strategy from being written.

2. Blocking the message: Preventing communications from being completed in some way, e.g. intercepting the delivery of flyers to stores; taking down hoardings near to stores.

3. Reversing the message: Communicating something that is the reverse of what the originator intended, e.g. a fake Black Friday Facebook page that suddenly cancels the event; press releases to radio stations from retailers saying how damaging Black Friday is to the planet.

4. Subverting or parodying the message: Communicating something that alters the sense of the message, often in a humourous way, e.g. creating a “Black Friday” event for the Amazon Rainforest where all trees are free to the first 1000 loggers; “subvertising” hoardings to show the true impact of consumption on child workers.

5. Amplifying the message: Changing the message to such an extent that it becomes unbelievable (a form of subversion) or, at best, causes problems for the retailer, e.g. creating a Black Friday website that advertises items as free; acting as a company spokesperson saying on radio that Black Friday deals are to be extended indefinitely.

Notice that none of these actually prevent the target of the message from getting to the stores. The idea here is to undermine the means by which human behaviour is altered to fit the industrial model. By impeding access to the stores you are doing something quite different which will be described later on in the book.

None of these ideas on their own is going to be singularly effective, for instance only stopping one batch of flyers amongst a blizzard of paper, but this is a team effort even if in isolation. That sounds strange, but remember the feedback loop: if only a few people start undermining in a methodological and effective manner then it clears the way for more undermining to take place via the people who have been reconnected through the efforts of you and the loose band of individuals who happen to be doing similar things at the same time. So it’s worth doing, providing it is the right thing.

This is an, as yet, unpublished extract from the book “Underminers: A Practical Guide for Radical Change” by Keith Farnish, available to read for free at

New York Joins The States Who Care About Equality

New York has voted to legalize gay marriage. As usual the Democrat’s were on board, and had to fight tooth and nail to drag the republicans into modernity…that is except for one very brave man.

“You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing,” McDonald, 64, told reporters.

“You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.

“I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.”(via)

Good for him, this is potential political suicide for him…but he is doing the right thing. Good for you Senator Roy McDonald. Now as to the rest of the republican party…when are you going to realize that this country is based on a document called the Constitution…not the one called the Bible. I don’t care where you think you got the idea that its ok to discriminate against people…but it certainly wasn’t this countries founding document.

6 down, 44 to go.

Cape Wind Gets Final Construction Approval

Its been almost a decade…and finally the damn thing looks like its going to get built.

A federal agency has approved a construction plan for Cape Wind, clearing the way for work to begin on the nation’s first offshore wind farm as early as this fall.

U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar made the announcement in Boston on Tuesday. He said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement has given approval to a Construction and Operations Plan for the project.(via)

I have been involved in the cape wind fight forever, and its always been the same, the people against the project have never won a case, have never had a leg to stand on (legally or scientifically), and is all been about one simple fact. They don’t want to look at it. They are willing to let the whole earth go to hell in a hand bag so long as they don’t have to look at wind turbines from their fancy beach side mansions.

I am so glad that reason has won out over these idiots, lets hope they start construction soon.