The World of the Yes Men

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    This is the world that we now live in, and it’s no longer full of the acceptance that our social systems have come to expect from us all. Have you heard the noise outside lately? People are no longer saying, “Oh please, sir, may I have a little more?”. Elections around the world are touting that the incumbents will give us the answers that we need. After all, haven’t they uplifted society for decades? Come on, trust them. They know what they’re doing. Well, here’s just one city that is involved in a political campaign, the city of Bayonne in France during President Sarkozy’s campaign visit:

    Sarkozy protestors in Bayonne (photo credit: Reuters / Al Jazeera)

    They don’t look like they’re so accepting, do they? It’s doubtful that President Sarkozy’s response made them feel any better. And these types of images are being repeated in towns and cities around the world, including some unexpected locations where protests are not normal (and it’s no longer just limited to China and Russia). Wow, what happened? Don’t ask most politicians because they won’t be able to give you any kind of acceptable response outside of the talking points and rehearsed answers that they’re used to.

    But on the opposite side of the spectrum, there are people who are showing us what the world could become if we’d only try to make it happen. Some are starting social organizations that want to help those in need. And others are standing up to the establishment in order to get their findings out to the rest of the world. But one of the most shocking came from two men (with lots of supporters) who go by the name, The Yes Men. They’ve done many truth campaigns and have taken on some of the biggest global organizations in the world. They’ve been shut down, and they’ve even been sued. All of it was done simply to let us know about what’s really going on. Same story, but with new players that have even managed to trick the mainstream news organizations as well as a diverse group of corporate sponsors.

    Take a look at one of their culture jamming campaigns, the publishing of the Yes Men version of the New York Times (here’s the online version for you to read):

    As you can tell by the readers’ reactions, people are craving for what they saw in the Yes Men’s version of the news. It correlates to the protest actions that more and more people are taking up, whether it’s on the streets or on the web. But reality in the real world is clearly not reality that our leaders envision for us. So, why continue to wait for them to come up with solutions? It’ll be a long wait if we keep up that mindset. And it will be a long wait full of empty political campaigns that beat the drum of their version of capitalism and “free” markets, neither of which have put the sunshine back into each and every one of our lives.

    Look around and see who is making a clear difference in challenging what’s acceptable. Legality is no longer the litmus test of acceptability. Neither are belief systems tied to institutional norms that divide us from one another. What’s acceptable is what we all choose to live with, and how we do it. Drop the empty rhetoric. Stop the “isms” that continue to divide us. It’s no longer about the dreams of a specific country. It’s no longer about the cruel hoax of stability as touted by our political elite. Our elections continue to prove that the ways of old will no longer dictate the promise of our collective future.

    Build a unified global dream. Find the real truth. People are starting to ask the right questions, even though their leaders aren’t giving them the right answers. Which world do you want to live in?

    If a few people at the top can make the bad news happen, then why can’t all of us at the bottom get together and make the good news happen for a change? – Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men

    More info:

    Watch the full CC BY-NC-ND version (1.5 hours) of their movie, Yes Men Fix The World (2009), which is in the process of being suppressed by a US Chambers of Commerce lawsuit:

    And see what the Yes Men are up to now with the Yes Lab. They’re still pretty busy, and are always looking for new projects. Or maybe you’ll want to take a look at their teacher’s guide to The Yes Men Fix The World to get your own ideas on what you can do.

    It’s clear that grassroots activism has taken on a new life that hasn’t been seen for a while. And that’s just part of what will help produce the kind of change that we can all believe in. It’s no longer going to be business as usual in the world of the Yes Men and those just like them. We want to have the real discussions that are being ignored by politicians and institutional leaders everywhere. Lip service no longer gets the votes, does it?

    Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno from The Yes Men Fix the World