Laurie Toby Edison

Photographer

Koch Brothers: Social Change Choices

Richard Dutcher says:

Laurie was browsing through the web and ran into an article about the Koch brothers, which included a list of the consumer products produced by companies they own. That list includes the AngelSoft toilet paper she says she buys.

If you don’t know who the Koch brothers are, don’t worry about it; few people do.  In the last couple of years, various investigators have been teasing their story out.  They are American billionaires who inherited a lot of money and have continued to successfully amass a *lot* more.  They are major financiers of the climate change denial movement, conservative think-tanks, and lately parts of the Tea Party movement.  <under-statement>Laurie doesn’t like their ideas and the movements they support; neither do I. </under-statement>

AngelSoft is good toilet paper, and she buys it cheaply.  Nonetheless, she won’t anymore, or anything else avoidable she finds on that list.

What has this to do with Body Impolitic’s brief for body image activism and social change art?  Not much, directly.  But she’s asked me to make a point about social change, because she’s heard me talk on the use and meaning of boycotts.

Changing the behavior of wealthy people and large organizations is difficult.  Organized boycotts take years of dedication and noise to have any effect; just talk to the people who’ve been pressuring Nestle for the last 30-odd years.  I’m sure somewhere out on the Web and in the world several groups are organizing boycotts against the Koch brothers.  Power and success to them.

But Laurie is not changing her toilet paper to change the Koch brothers’ behavior; she’s changing hers.  Social change, good or bad, is incremental. “The personal is political” is not a cliché, it’s a truism.

Sometimes social change breaks out in dramatic and visible forms; the personal computer and web revolutions, punk rock, the uprisings in the Arab world now astonishing us all.  But most change, including the change that sets up the dramatic events, is day to day in our personal lives.  Some is change that happens to us, some is change we choose.

Social change is life work, and like any work, we need to pace ourselves, we need to be kind to ourselves, or the work (and us) suffers.

Body Impolitic is focused on changes we choose.  How we think about our bodies, the bodies we see every day, and the way we behave to ourselves and others. And sometimes, the brand of toilet paper we choose.

The list:

Angel Soft toilet paper, Brawny paper towels, Dixie plates, bowls, napkins and cups, Mardi Gras napkins and towels, Quilted Northern toilet paper, Soft ’n Gentle toilet paper, Sparkle napkins, Vanity fair napkins, Zee napkins, Georgia-Pacific paper products and envelopes, and all Georgia-Pacific lumber and building products.

8 Responses to “Koch Brothers: Social Change Choices”

  1. supergee Says:

    Buy Scott toilet paper. They have given a lot of money to Swarthmore (my alma mater), and they say it’s “common sense on a roll,” which I have always wanted to wipe my ass on.

  2. Lynne Murray Says:

    Another point for Scott is their pilot ecological program to eliminate the cardboard toilet paper rolls http://tinyurl.com/2g3575v

  3. Nolly Says:

    Most of those products I don’t buy anyway, but some of the fabrics on the full list are a bit hard to avoid. I know I own some things with several of them already, and I don’t know if I can successfully avoid Lycra. Luckily, I rarely shop new; I prefer thrift stores, consignment stores, and eBay.

  4. Lizzy L Says:

    Okay — no more Brawny paper towels, even when they’re on sale!

  5. Laurie Says:

    Appreciate the product and recommendation comments.

    I realized that this reminded me of when I was a kid, and my family wouldn’t buy anything from Franco’s fascist Spain. It certainly didn’t affect Spain economically but it clearly made a strong impression on me.

  6. Lisa Hirsch Says:

    I do not have a link, but I believe The New Yorker may have done a big article in the last 18 months or so on the Koch brothers.

    They get a certain amount of time on the opera blog Parterre Box, of all places, because David Koch donated $100 million to the renovation of the New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, where the New York City Ballet and New York City Opera perform. The interior auditorium is now named after him.

    To be clear, the blog owner hates the Koch Bros. because of their politics.

  7. Alan Bostick Says:

    Small nitpick:

    “The personal is political” is not a cliché, it’s a truism.

    It is so a cliché. It has become a cliché because it is not merely a truism, but in fact a powerful truth.

  8. Janet Lafler Says:

    Here’s the New Yorker article on the Koch brothers (August, 2010): http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer

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