I think that in a sane society, advertising would be considered completely unnecessary and insulting, would be ineffective, and would not be tolerated. As things are today, I believe advertising is generally effective in its creators aims, through perversion of art and abuse of psychology it can succeed in disrupting the sound decision making of its targets. Amongst its innumerable negative effects, it saturates and alienates, corrupts our natural tendency towards critical analysis, encourages materialism, and undemocratically gives greater voice to those that can pay for it. All this is achieved at great psychological, political and economic expense to the community. Even if you disagree with every solely profit-driven entity that spends big on advertising and hold that advertising is ineffective, neither psychologically nor politically harmful, it remains a multi-billion dollar waste industry that should be abolished for economic reasons alone.
It is understandable that in a world of extreme poverty, ecological disaster, constant violent conflict and all kinds of suffering and oppression, advertising could seem a strange thing to focus discontent on. I believe that the lasting solution to all of humanities major problems lies in improved global democracy if it lies anywhere. Democracy requires a truly liberal public media, one equally accountable to all. While advertising is bad enough in itself, having a public media privately-owned, run for profit and reliant on advertising is having a media accountable to profit-driven economic powers, that is a media against the interests of the most deprived members of our global society and for the insanely destructive, and supposedly economic, perpetual growth of industry. Abolishing advertising would put most corporate media out of business and allow us to come up with a better system. A free media, a media equally accountable to all people and dedicated to the dissemination of vital information, is so fundamental to democracy that (in my humble, unqualified, inexperienced and imprecise opinion) it must be constitutionally mandated, publicly funded, protected sufficiently from improper government interference, broken into several independent bodies and be administered by democratically elected officials. I don’t believe that privately funded media has no place in our society but that a freely creative public media and accountable, authoritative public news media, should form the base of a truly liberal democratic state or world federation of states. It could be one of the most important actions of global democratic government to abolish advertising worldwide, as is the only way it could be done, and redirect its funding to establish the global liberal media system necessary to bring world democracy to life.
I do not want to deny our ability to rise above the reality-defining rhetoric of the oppressive regime of the time, or the existence of personal responsibility. I do not, however, see these as reasons to passively accept advertising and a corporate-dominated media that aims to prevent us from developing a critical understanding of our world and from achieving responsibility within it. Our media should be a great democratic tool, not an obstacle to overcome.
The act of creating a physical barrier between advertising and the public space it is normally allowed to project itself into is a non-violent, symbolic expression of objection. You have charged me with criminal damage but I do not believe my actions to be either criminal or damaging. The damage I am accused of is an imperceptible subtraction from the bottom line of a corporation that profits from our community through the wasteful disservice of its vulgar visual pollution. If it is not abundantly clear by now, I believe the advertising industry should be criminalised, so it would be absurd for me to regard its disruption as truly criminal, although I accept that viewed only through current property law, my actions are illegal. I’ll be pleading not guilty under the victorian charter of human rights’ section 15 (2), which protects the right to freedom of expression. I intend to continue to protest, but out of respect for the courts I will wait until this matter has been heard and decided before continuing in any way similar to what brings me here today.