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.