The Stars and Stripes are being hoisted all over the United States this week in preparation for Independence Day on July 4. But in hundreds of cities across the country a different version of the flag will be unveiled in an attack on the power that corporations wield over government.
The alternative flag replaces the stars with corporate logos, such as those of Nike, Warner Bros, McDonald's, Shell, Coca-Cola, IBM, ABC and Playboy.
"A blast of symbolic disobedience will force America to think hard about the meaning of its original revolution and its subservience to corporations today," is how Adbusters, the magazine that is coordinating the unveiling, describes it.
"And though we're aiming at the heartland, the question is global. What counts as 'independence'? And when will we win it back?"
Kalle Lasn, the editor of Adbusters, said: "We have had the biggest response to this that we have ever had for a single initiative. The flag is emerging as a symbol of what is wrong with America."
He said that 40,000 "culture- jammers" were part of a network organizing the protest and 10,000 people were visiting the campaign's internet site every day.
The waving of the new flag is part of the post-Seattle, anti-globalization movement that has been fueled through the internet. Activists have been encouraged to download and print out the flag and to send in details of their plans for it.
Some aim to unfurl it over highway bridges during celebrations, and others will wave it in parades. One flag has been unveiled on a poster site off Broadway in New York. The new design will also be unveiled in cities around the world, including London.
The aim is to draw attention to the change in the relationship between corporations and government and to highlight the power that corporations now wield through political patronage and influence.
The organizers behind next week's protest say they hope that people will see the wider message behind the new design: "The spectacle of these flags snapping in the wind across the country is sure to raise sparks. But many may look and think, 'Dammit if that ain't the truth'."
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2001