Archives For Patreon

 

Recently, Patreon made the decision to cancel the account of the radical site and aggregator, It’s Going Down.  For those unfamiliar with IGD (I highly recommend them), IGD has become the primary clearing-house and platform for radicals and resistance movements in the United States, as well as producing significant content of their own. They also run a podcast, where you can here me speak about the intersections of Paganism and radicalism.

Before discussing the implications of this ban, it’s best to speak first about what Patreon is. Patreon is a for-profit corporation which created a platform for artists, writers, performers and others to secure funding through recurring sponsorship. “Creators” as they call us (I use Patreon) raise money for their work, and at the beginning of each month, Patreon collects and then deposits the money from sponsors into creator accounts after taking a 5% fee after credit-card processing fees.

For many of us, Patreon has become a primary source of income. My own personal experience has been quite good: I collect between $400-$600 a month through generous sponsors, and as I am able to live on very little (not independent wealth–I’m just really good at being poor and moved to Europe where things are cheaper), this funding has allowed me to do a significant amount of uncompensated work for Gods&Radicals as well as create my own writing without having to sell my time as waged-labor.

Many other radical, leftist, and Pagan writers and artists also use Patreon either for their primary income or as a way to supplement their income to create their work. In fact, many other Gods&Radicals writers use Patreon. Gods&Radicals, however, does not use Patreon. As a registered not-for-profit in the US, our funding comes from recurring and one-time donations from readers given during our yearly fundraiser.

Now, some words about It’s Going Down’s ban from Patreon. From accounts by IGD as well as twitter statements by alt-right leaders, it appears It’s Going Down became a victim of alt-right retaliation for antifascist success banning other groups. It should be noted, however, that Patreon founder and CEO denied that IGD was taken down for retaliation or the appearance of balance in a video specifically addressing the banning of both Defend Europe (a New Right identitarian group) and IGD:

The first 7 minutes of his statement is dedicated to explaining why Laura Southern and Defend Europe were banned, including showing footage of their attempts to stop boats from saving drowning refugees in the Mediterranean. Less than 1 minute is devoted to explaining IGD’s takedown, and the reasons given are the doxxing of an individual and an article explaining how to block train tracks with concrete. In the video, the CEO assures Patreon creators that IGD was not taken down to appear balanced, but rather because Patreon had received previous reports that IGD violated Patreon’s policy.

Rather than attempt to decide precisely who is correct regarding these takedowns and whether or not Patreon has other motives for closing IGD’s account, I suggest we stand back a bit and take in the larger picture of the political war occurring into which all us are being drawn.

Enemy Non-Combatants

In an article at BuzzFeed on 2 August, 2017, successful anti-fascist efforts to pressure PayPal, GoFundMe, and Patreon into blocking, limiting, of cancelling the accounts of alt-right groups were detailed. The list is quite impressive, and as Anti-Fascist news wrote in their posting of the article, these bans occurred “Because of community pressure. Organizing Works.”

Attacking the funding sources of fascist groups is not a new tactic, and can be seen as a natural extension of the anti-fascist principle of No Platform. No Platform attempts to stop the ability of racists, fascists, and nationalists from spreading their message, increasing their support, and having a visible presence by preventing them from speaking at public events. To accomplish this, multiple strategies are used with varying levels of escalation. Mass phone-calling campaigns against event organizers or hosts, threatened boycotts, propaganda (posters, etc), as well as physical threats, protests, and property destruction have all been used to prevent fascists from appearing. These tactics have been used to stop the appearance of alt-right speakers such as Milo Y., as well as to stop the performance of musical bands either openly fascist or associated with fascists (opening for bands with fascist leanings, having a member who was previously in a fascist band, etc.).

I make no ethical claims for or against the principle of No Platform. Very cogent arguments can be made about it on either side, and it is an incredibly divisive tactic, sometimes pulling in unrelated non-fascists as collateral damage. And we should be clear: No Platform has never been only a tactic of the Left. Leftist, Black, and indigenous professors have lost their tenure at universities due to sustained attacks from right-wing activists, and the highly right-skewed mass media in the United States is due at least in part to decades of pressure on news outlets to stifle radical voices.

In mentioning these situations, we get a little closer to what is actually happening with the organized pressure on corporations to stop the fund-raising efforts of alt-right ideologues. Antifascists are employing the same tactic used by the right against them, but I would argue that tactic itself cannot be judged according to moral structures. It exists on its own, and is empty of moral content, despite being justified both by the far right and far left as a matter of morals. That is, an anti-fascist might claim that we should attack an alt-right event or funding source on moral grounds; so, too, a Christian fundamentalist would claim that a queer trans professor should lose their job on moral grounds.

Stripped of its cosmetic moral content, we can then look at these tactics according to how they function, and then look at their effects. Here, it’s not a stretch to compare the de-funding of alt-right groups as a military tactic, the same way an army or resistance movement might attempt to cut off the supply or communication lines of an enemy. If the enemy cannot recruit, cannot get re-inforcements, cannot communicate with other fronts, and cannot actually fund their movements, they become weaker, more vulnerable, and easier to fight.

Again, though, this tactic is used by both sides. Also, comparing it to a military tactic is incomplete without looking at something armed combatants often forget to their peril: the support of the people for whom they claim to be fighting is dependent upon the willingness and ability of those people to endure collateral and retaliatory attacks.

Just as in guerilla movements from Ireland to Spain to Columbia, unarmed civilians are often caught up in the war being fought on their behalf. Their support is vital, however, especially to smaller movements who rely on local networks of financial support, and no successful resistance movement can put their supporters repeatedly in harm’s way without losing that support.

So, return now to the matter of the attacks on alt-right funding streams. I am generally not inclined to support attacks on the jobs, housing, families, or general material existence of most people, though I make a distinction between wealthier individuals and groups versus singular, working-class ideologues. Milo not getting to spread hate at Berkeley? No tears shed. The campaign to get a lower-class neo-nazi punk chick fired from her shitty hipster doughnut shop job in Portland? That’s not my antifascism.

With that in mind, the more crucial issue is that my personal support of a tactic in which I don’t engage is contingent on my ability to survive that support. I am a leftist and an anti-fascist; I also use Patreon for 90% of my living expenses and, being without a work visa in Europe, have no other means of self-support. Many of my leftist friends are in near identical positions.

Campaigns to pressure large corporations like PayPal, GoFundMe, PayPal, and Square to block the funding of alt-right groups certainly work, but they also bring retaliation. Sometimes that retaliation can be much like the lone brick thrown through a shop-glass window by a white dude during a Black Lives Matter protest, or sometimes it can be like mere return fire. Sympathetic and supportive people can find themselves drawn in, or directly attacked, and sometimes find themselves no longer as sympathetic and supportive to the leadership of the antifascist groups calling for such campaigns, especially when they refuse to acknowledge how their actions put others at risk.

Calls for boycotts of Patreon have occurred in some places, and some leftist media groups have left Patreon in protest. Neither of these are available options to me at the moment, but if the escalation of antifascist attacks on alt-right funding continues, I ( as a leftist queer Pagan antifascist writer) become a likely target for retaliation. Aware of that, I intend to work to find more secure ways to survive, but let’s be honest–until we get rid of capitalism, there are no real options.

I am still supportive. I am still sympathetic. But I also do not possess the economic privilege of many anti-fascist leaders, some of them straight college-educated white men with tech or university jobs and stable housing. Artists and writers are generally a precarious and poor lot of people, and I know that many of my leftist friends who use Patreon are in identical situations.

I do not have permission to speak for them, but I will speak for myself: I will support your efforts if you support ours. I don’t mean you need to support me financially (though hey, I wouldn’t mind), but that antifascist organizers begin to understand themselves not as valiant social justice crusaders leading the devout against the tides of darkness, but organizers aware of the potential collateral damage they risk for allies, friends, associates, and supporters. Anarchism, after all, is about responsibility.

Because while the fascists threaten to turn the current global crisis into an even worse nightmare than it has already been under Liberal Democracy, if there are no more artists, writers, dreamers, mystics, theorists, artisans, musicians, and others around to dream up a better world, there will be nothing worth fighting for.

 

We are From There

October 19, 2015 — 1 Comment

Haven’t put many words out lately, or at least my own for awhile.  Strange state of affairs, one which is about to change quite soon.

What have I been up to instead?

A Beautiful Resistance. The first journal from Gods&Radicals.  The last 5 weeks have found me growling, screaming, laughing, and drooling over the works of 30 other writers, weaving them together into something new.

I’m gonna write about the process of creating the thing soon, because it was a lot of threshold work.  By which I mean, dead everywhere, and an unfolding of another aspect of the Divine Twins mystery.  All that’s worth quite a few words, and I’ll write them soon.  But in the meantime, wanna read my introduction to the journal?  It’s in this week’s Gods&Radicals update (as well as a link to order the journal).

In the next two months, I have several other writing projects.

What They Do Not Tell You, a poetry compilation. This won’t be offered for sale for awhile; it’s a special perk for patrons on my Patreon channel, and I’ll be printing up extras to donate towards The Wild Hunt’s fundraising campaign.

The Voice In The Brambles, my next collection of essays, poems & prose.  This should be available late November, and will be listed on Lulu alongside Your Face Is A Forest.

I’m also still working on The Spectre &The Whore, albeit quite slowly on account of these other projects.

Future plans

I’d intended to submit a presentation to Pantheacon again with Alley Valkyrie, but something kept telling me not to.  Part of this–I’m sure–was my general reluctance to travel into a wasteland of concrete on my birthday weekend to talk about how Pagans should overthrow Capitalism.  But I had fun last year (despite, you know, getting aggressively harassed by someone for my lack of formal education while he expounded his grand vision of Pagan governance).

Something else has come up, though.  I mentioned there was lots of dead-work involved with putting together the journal, and I’ve previously mentioned I intend to be on another pilgrimage next year.  The pilgrimage has gotten bigger (they do this)–I’ll be visiting not just sites of worship and magic, but the graves and death-sites of revolutionaries, too.  And, of course, writing about it.

I’m currently attempting to figure out whether I’ll be staying in Seattle much longer.  I do rather love this city, though I do rather dislike its costs.  I have the opportunity to stay in Wales for a few months, and I’m leaning quite heavily towards such a thing since it’d be easier to make the pilgrimage if I’m already there. Of course, since I’ll be handling all the distribution for A Beautiful Resistance, I’m not sure I’m quite able to leave yet.

Either way, I’ll be in the UK in early January for a visit and to help with UK distribution and to meet some fantastic people.

Reflections on crowd-funding and artist-patronage

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve a Patreon channel.  It took me an awful long time to get up the nerve to launch that–it’s damn hard to ask for money.

At some point it’d be worth writing about why it’s hard to ask for money.  For me, at least, I grew up in abject poverty and learned very quickly I’m supposed to be the only one to take care of myself, because no one else will do it.  Which is true when you’re poor–even though you can appeal to charities (usually churches) and thin social programs, as Oscar Wilde points out in The Soul Of Man Under Socialism, charity is degrading. Waiting in a line to get food benefits is depressing. Filling out forms to prove how poor you are is horrible.  Getting lectures from well-meaning people about why you’re poor turns you off from the whole thing.

Social workers know that, at least the ones who work with the homeless.  Getting people who’ve been homeless for a long time engaged in housing programs is actually really difficult, especially if those programs (shelters, treatment, or housing assistance) come with rules attached.  When someone tells you they’ll help you out but only under certain conditions, the one thing you have left when you have nothing–your sovereignty–becomes threatened.

There’s also the fact that Capitalism isolates people into individuals& families, rather than communities.  There’s incentive to ‘cheat’ against the community by taking buy-outs or getting-ahead, rather than seeing oneself as a part of a larger interconnected being.  The Tragedy of The Commons is only a Capitalist problem, as it introduces the imperative to compete.

So we’ve collectedly accepted the notion that each must support self alone, which is never how the world works.

The only way I was able to have the time for A Beautiful Resistance was the support that others gave me for my writing.  Though we’ll be paying the writers, I’m currently unpaid, and would otherwise have had to work full-time to support myself.  Because I didn’t need to, I was able to give my time to another group project as well as my own writing, making it so others can be paid for their writing.  That is, the support multiplied.

The Capitalist ethic actually invokes this sort of multiplication to defend itself.  Industrialists and corporations call themselves ‘job creators’ to justify their massive profits–the so-called trickle-down effect.  The difference is pretty obvious, though–rather than being a community project where people share in collective abundance, Capitalists let a little bit of their wealth rain-down like crumbs from their table.

I almost suspect that crowd-funding, if it ever becomes popular enough, would become a threat to Capitalism, except for two reasons.  One, it’s being mediated by capitalists (Patreon, Indiegogo, Gofundme are all businesses who skim from donations).  Secondly, it currently relies on people who are working within Capitalism to fund people who are trying to do something outside of it.  The way around both of those problems would be seizing the ‘means of production’–creating non-corporate crowd-funding sites and, of course, ending Capitalist exploitation of work.  In short–a large-scale return to the Commons.

By the way, I’m not the only one using Patreon (I’ll be adding a new goal soon), once I’ve caught up with my current patron obligations, likely this weekend.

Others you might also consider supporting include Lupa Greenwolf (who’s early adoption helped inspire me to try), Galina Krasskova, and now T. Thorn Coyle.