We are at the 8th edition of the Three Seas Initiative (3SI) summit held in Bucharest. This article will be updated as events unfold.
At this edition it is expected for Greece to be formally approved as a full member. Additionally, this edition will feature the extraordinary participation of representatives from Moldova, Ukraine, Japan, the United Kingdom, France and Türkiye.
Contrary to rumours, Moldova will not be approved as a full member of the Initiative just yet. There are however hopefuls that Ukraine will be invited this year with a view to be formally approved next year.
In the following hours and days, we will strive to offer you as many details as possible (especially those ignored by bigger media) concerning the Intermarium/Three Seas Initiative.
Update 15:52 The delegations have started to arrive at the Cotroceni Palace (the seat of the Romanian Presidential Administration). It has been confirmed that President Zelenskyy of Ukraine will address the Summit through an online link.
The press core is tensed about the drone scandal. It is expected that this situation will eat up a higher amount of time during the summit.
Update 15:56 The Administration seems determined to protect itself from the fallout. The press core has just been announced that only one question per countrydelegation will be allowed at the Heads of State press conference.
Update 16:18 “If it is confirmed that a Russian drone fell in Romania at the border with Ukraine, then this is inadmissible and it constitutes a grave issue to the stability and sovereignty of Romania and NATO. As mentioned before, these attacks on civilian infrastructure are war crimes in and of themselves. The fact that they also take place in the proximity of the Romanian border keeps us alert.” – Klaus Iohannis
Update 16:22 ”Ukraine will be granted associated status in the 3SI. Ukraine will now be closer to us and will be eligible for further investments and reconstruction efforts.” – Klaus Iohannis
Update 16:26 President Zelenskyy’s link не работает.
Update 16:29 “We welcome our Greek friends as the 13th full member of the 3SI. Today we also welcome our Ukrainian and Moldovan friends as associated states and they should know that they can count on us.” – Klaus Iohannis
Update 16:34 President Zelenskyy addresses the plenary of the 3SI summit.
Update 16:40 President Zelenskyy’s feed is unintelligible.
The far-Left president of Brazil, Lula da Silva is in the headlines after a week ago he said the following:
Why can’t an institution like the BRICS bank have a currency to finance trade relations between Brazil and China, between Brazil and all the other BRICS countries? Who decided that the dollar was the (trade) currency after the end of gold parity?
After him, the president of Malaysia (who?!) uttered something similar and, from there on, the Cyrillic and idiograms-coughing shills started shilling. Tens of millions of words consisting of panic porn for Western audiences and hopium for ‘eastern’ audiences have already been written.
Both formats of shilling (which, by the way, is very profitable for moneyed interests) have cited some true facts – such as the dollar now representing 58% of the global reserves, down from 73% in 2001. Or the fact that the Biden administration’s fiscal policies suck.
Now, all of that is true, but does that mean dedollarization is actually happening? And if yes, at what pace? And, unless you’re a CCP shill, a Russophile or a moneyed entity (e.g. hedge fund), how is that likely to affect you?
Well, the answers are simple, but not easy: Dedollarization isn’t really happening; at the current pace (deemed “alarming” by panic porn) the yuan/renmibi will need 120 years (best case scenario!) to reach parity with America’s most profitable export. And, if you’re not a huge entity, it’s quite unlikely this will affect you in any relevant ways anytime soon (if over the age of 40 – at all in your lifetime, statistically speaking).
Graphs and numbers
Whatever your political opinion or preference concerning dollarization or dedollarization, one has to be mindful of reality.
(De)dollarization happens when enough players in the global market (both large and small) decide to trade or to no longer trade in Uncle Sam’s green notes.
While it is true that the share of dollars used for trade declined a bit in the last 12 months (as seen on the graph), that decline is mostly in favour of the Euro and the Japanese Yen, and not in favor of the renmibi/yuan, which is the only potential serious competitor (more on that further down).
This reality can be framed in propaganda terms as an inherent strength of the US dollar (which may very well be the case, though impossible to know just yet) but the more likely explanation is that the only entity that really started to use yuan/renmibi is the government of Russia. The entire economy of Russia was smaller than Italy’s before the escalation started in February 2022. Today, it’s smaller than that (though still unclear how much smaller). Of that whole pie, the government is a big player, but no more than half. The other half – the Russian people that is – continues to queue at banks for dollars and euros. And even most Russian state companies continue to hoard dollars a lot more than yuans.
So, in the end, the share of yuan/renmibi in the global trade shouldn’t have increased by much and, indeed, it did not.
Moreover, with all of the belt-and-road initiatives and other predatory loan schemes that the CCP has launched over the last decade, the share of yuan in the global debt is still to be rounded down to its nearest integer – specifically zero.
In other words, statistically nobody takes a loan in yuans. Not even Chinese semi-private otherwise huge entities such as China Construction Bank Corp. or Tencent Holdings. Even those prefer to take their loans in dollars.
Even Chinese companies who are in the business of financial predatory practices in Africa still denominate most of their stuff in US dollars, pound sterling or the local currency (which is routinely pegged with the euro or the US dollar).
Now, all of these entities could in theory decide to no longer do that. But they don’t. And won’t anytime soon because…
The CNY/RMB dual system
The vast majority of the people who write about this topic fail to mention this fundamental aspect: China has three currencies: The renmibi, the yuan and the digital yuan. Each with its own exchange rate, degree of convertibility, capital controls applied on it and a plethora of other issues.
If you have a $5 bill and you’re hungry, in more than 180 countries on Earth (including China, Russia, North Korea or Turkmenistan) you will eat something in exchange for the $5 bill. Someone will trust your $5 bill enough to give you something to eat in exchange for it. Does this hold true for the ¥50 bill? We all know the answer: and it’s a resounding NO.
The reason is not (necessarily) a geopolitical one. It’s not that most people on Earth hate China necessarily. After all, the same holds true with the Uzbek Sumy or the Zimbabwean Bond. Also, if geopolitical opinion or hate would play a role, then surely CCP and FSB officials wouldn’t be holding their own savings in US dollars.
The reason is much simpler: Convertibility. Uncle Sam’s greens are trustworthy enough to be convertible almost everywhere, almost all the time. And if you get a $50 bill in Russia and fly to Capetown, you know you can spend the $50 there too. And if you want to use it to buy American goods or services, that’ll do as well. Nobody cares you got the $50 bill in Russia. None of this holds true with the yuan.
The yuan (CNY) only exists internationally. You can use it to buy goods or services from places outside of Mainland China that also happen to accept CNY (which,… aren’t that many). If you fly to Beijing and want to use it, you first have to convert them into renmibi (RMB) which is the “people’s currency”. Depending on the amount, the degree to which the CCP despises you and your social credit score, this process may be denied to you. Imagine not being able to use your legally earned dollars in the US because you earned them in another country. This is the reality for holders of yuan.
And then there’s the digital yuan which is a form of CBDC with the worst negative aspects of it and none of the benefits. CBDCs should be convenient and easily convertible but the digital yuan is anything but.
Now, that’s not to say that the yuan couldn’t, in theory, in some future, replace the US dollar as the global currency. It could. But this yuan, as it stands now, won’t. For sure. And reforming this mess can’t be done in under 10 years and the necessary reforms won’t be made anytime soon anyway because Xi Jinping and the CCP show no interest in that (assuming they have the competence, which they might).
BRICS currency? Fun fact: NO
Beyond the yuan, there is no other potential competitor to the US dollar.
The yuan at least has the theoretical possibility of giving a shot because it comes from a large industrialized economy – but the internal dysfunctionalities of the Chinese economy are preventing this. In short: socialism is still bad for business.
In fact, given China’s size, it is indeed quite remarkable how low yuan’s share of trade financing is. As the world’s largest goods-trading nation, the CNY’s share should be bigger, but it’s not. Because internationalizing the currency is a complicated process which involves reforms that the CCP is either unable or unwilling to implement. For this reason alone (even disregarding all the other practical and financial reasons) the continued status of the dollar as a reserve currency is all but guaranteed.
The next competitor would be the Euro. But the Euro is the currency of a disparate group of 20 states with varying fiscal policies, debt, and equity markets that also suffered a significant sovereign debt crisis a little more than a decade ago. It’s the currency that tried to have inflation for years – and then got all of the wanted inflation all in one fell swoop in a single year, triggering a cost of living crisis that has still not resolved.
The chances of the Euro becoming the alternative for the US dollar in ways that matter globally are quite slim. But even if that were to happen, most €urozone countries are US allies so what you’d get would be DINO (Dedollarization In Name Only). In the end, roughly 84% of world trade is in US dollars and 6% is in Euros. And the Euro as a unified currency has been around for 24 years.
Now imagine a BRICS currency – which would be the currency of a disparate group of at least 5 states with varying fiscal policies, debt, equity markets and economic visions and models. Personally, I would love to see such an experiment attempted. The shitshow that the €uro is would look like an orderly and civilized currency compared to a BRICS currency. Though, upon further thought, such an experiment would deeply harm almost 2 billion people so… it’s better if this is not attempted.
One thing is certain though: a BRICS currency would not threaten the US dollar’s dominance basically ever. For roughly the same reasons the Euro can’t either.
One tool cited for advancing dedollarization are digital currencies – be them CBDCs or cryptocurrencies.
Well, just like with the Euro and the hypothetical BRICS currency – this is quite unlikely. CBDCs barely exist and are already encountering plenty of issues. For them to reach the level of trust of the people necessary to convince enough people and entities to switch to them from the US Dollar… that’s many decades down the road, if ever.
With crypto, things are even wilder. Bitcoin, barely used as a medium of exchange, saw its value in dollar terms collapse by 75% from late 2021 to late 2022 before bouncing back in April 2023. If you think enough people would be willing to denominate their real-world assets in electronic gobbledygook that varies so wildly that makes the Great Depression fluctuations look like a walk in the park… if you believe that, I have a nice beautiful bridge in Malmö for sale.
Cryptocurrencies have proven themselves to be a great speculative asset but… that’s about it. Cryptobros would argue that it’s a good store of value, but that’s a more complicated issue and quite far from the promises of the crypto evangelists (and yes, they unironically call themselves that).
But even if we grant that (at least some) cryptocurrencies are decent stores of value, that still doesn’t make any of them potential competitors for the US dollar anytime soon. When I’ll be able to take my satoshi and buy bread with it right now, then we can start that conversation.
Nobody in El Salvador and nobody relevant outside El Salvador praises President Nayib Bukele for his crypto policy. But everyone is curious how the murder rate dropped by more than 50% in a single year and by more than 1300% in the last 7 years. THAT is interesting and a stunning accomplishment to study! Cryptocurrency marginal nerd stuff? Not so much.
Other countries, such as Chile and Israel (in the 1990s) have adopted measures to reduce their direct exposure to the US Dollar in order to reduce market volatility and increase macroeconomic stability and investor confidence. The results were somewhat mixed if judged by the stated objectives but one thing is certain: None of them stopped trading in dollars. In fact, they both trade in dollars more today than before their “dedollarization” policies were implemented.
For all intends and purposes, the US dollar’s dominance is here to stay. This will change if and only if a freely traded and convertible alternative will appear and only if that alternative will gain enough confidence of enough people and entities and that alternative will be usable widely and easily for trade, reserves and finance. All of these conditions have to be met cumulatively.
That alternative might as well be the yuan. But might as well be the Indian ruppee (given that India’s economic growth is much more sustainable). But that’s way too much into the future and any prediction made now will only turn true by sheer luck. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Assuming things don’t get worse in CCP-land, the growth in Chinese trade will eventually lead to the yuan growing in importance – in the sense of going from 4%-ish now to… maybe 7 or 8, possibly outpacing the Euro. But the road to replace the US dollar is far longer and that assumes the US will always be under incompetent management as it is now.
Oh, and let’s not forget the real global currency – SDR (code XDR). Currently, the XDR basket consists of the following five currencies: U.S. dollar 43.38%, euro 29.31%, renminbi/yuan 12.28%, Japanese yen 7.59% and British pound sterling 7.44%. So, in other words, US-aligned interests hold 87.72%. I’d say the Empire is in good shape.
It took two world wars, multiple genocides, the slow-motion train-wreck of “decolonization” and quite a few other shocking financial events to finally dethrone the British pound sterling from its status as the main global currency. And, even now, it’s still relevant. Dethroning the dollar will be at least equally hard.
Governments and politicians (alongside their shills and some moneyed interests) will grumble, will whine, will complain, will grandstand, will throw a temper tantrum (see Putin) but, when push comes to shove, they will still be more likely than not to be using the US dollar as the global reserve currency for many, many years to come. Что делать? Нечего делать 🤷🏻♂️
In the ensuing reemergence of the topic into popular discourse, I would often wrap up the long list of reasons why assisted suicide is abhorrent up in a joke that all it’d be good for would be to cut expenses on elderly care and rid us of those god damn boomers.
It quickly occurred to me, however, that this joke, might actually be much less unlikely that I initially thought.
From leftism, to the Stakhanovite work ethic, crendentialism, over-regulation of the economy, the opening up of the Western world to mass immigration and the outright refusal to pass on any wisdom or wealth to the newer generations, boomers have done much to make the youth hate them.
Something that is further fermented by the youth worship coming from the climate crowd which has claimed over and over that the old in their ignorance have ruined the planet and it is up to the youth – by agitating for the right grifts of course – to save it.
The result? A consensus among millenials and zoomers – though still not formulated in these terms, that they have been born and raised to essentially function as serfs for their parents’ generation.
The pandemic has simply been the cherry on top. Showcasing that the boomers (through the political class) would happily ruin their children’s mental health, destroy their chances of future economic prosperity and take from them what should have been the happiest days of their lives, all so they themselves can live 89 years and 2 months, instead of 88 years and ten months.
For these reasons I doubt the understanding that assisted suicide will lead to the elderly euthanized against their will do much to dissuade the masses from its implementation.
If anything it’ll likely increase enthusiasm for the practice among some age groups.
Part Two: Economics
The other part of this is simple economics; The pension system was never intended as a simple means of care for the old, by design.
As most parts of the modern welfare state, the pensions were an invention of Prussia.
However, the stated goal of this system – a tax on the citizenry that’d go to provide for the elderly when they became too old to earn their own living, was never the intended goal of the Prussian state, as most Prussian citizens taxed for it would die before being able to enjoy the benefits of the system.
The actual goal of the pension taxes where simply that. Taxes to further finance Der Preußische Staat and fuel its war machine.
While most of the West no longer spends much of its budget on military, the pension system still serves its goal as a well propagandized tax.
It is here worth mentioning that the pensions paid to the State are not put in a personal savings account for the individual taxpayer, but treated as any other part of the state income. While the pension expenses are being paid out to those currently on pensions at any given time.
What is immediately striking about this system is how much it resembles a pyramid scheme.
In order for it to work there must at any given time be more people paying into the system than there are being propped up by it.
That will cease to be the case once the boomers hit retirement. Simply due to the shear size of their generation compared to the millenials and zoomers.
The resulting collapse of the pension system – as well as the exodus of such a huge part of the workforce, will likely be severe enough that it could crash national economies, should the state actually maintain the system.
As it is inevitable that the boomers will retire over the next ten or so years, governments will be pressed to deal with this issue under threat of financial collapse. And assisted suicide to slowly remove the excess retirees seems a simple solution. Especially as a centralized authority wouldn’t even need to enforce mass euthanasia. The hospitals and retirement homes, doubly so in the public sector, will happily euthanize any patients exceeding their budgets on their own.
Especially as any type of workplace tasked with helping people who cannot fight back will inevitably become flooded with sociopaths in search of easy victims to play with.
Conclusions and predictions
There will at least be a strong attempt to implement assisted suicide across the western world.
Due to the economic nature of trying to alleviate pressure from a dysfunctional status quo, the most likely parties to implement it will, in my eyes at least, not be ones on the far left, but the corrupt, managerial corporatist parties of the center.
The countries most likely to implement it will be Germany, and Denmark. Germany due to its predominant managerial corporatist politics, rampant progressivism and deeply totalitarian culture and Denmark due to it’s heavily ingrained disdain for its elderly.
The rest of Scandinavia I am less sure about; Norway has the most totalitarian culture in Scandinavia, but also has enough oil reserves that it could afford a pension crash. Sweden is undergoing too many social changes as a result of not only mass immigration but also a resurgent right to make accurate predictions for.
One last, though less likely candidate would be the United Kingdom, due the increasingly authoritarian states in the archipelago that have already done much to imitate their former colonial subjects (Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with the US being a notable exception). My guess is that it would first be implemented in Scotland by the SNP, though it would still be probable that the Tory government force it through in England.
Assisted suicide will likely not gain 50+1% support, nor does it need it.
The topic merely needs to be high profile enough in the popular discourse that it gives an excuse for implementation.
Since most of the public either does not understand that the policy will lead to mass killings in the retirement homes or view it as a good thing there will not be a public outcry, let alone any actions that’d actually prevent the policy from being passed.
And the aforementioned radical minority in support of the practice, will make it easy to maintain for decades to come.
And in this regard I most sincerely hope that I am wrong.
At the beginning of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, multiple countries (and not just Western ones) imposed various types of sanctions on the Russian economy. The imposition of the sanctions’ regime was relatively well executed but very poorly communicated to the public.
The public was told (or was given the impression) that the Russian economy would collapse within months because it’s the toughest sanctions regime ever imposed on a country. The latter part was absolutely correct, but the former was clearly not entirely honest.
As a result, the public’s trust in the sanctions regime was needlessly shaken due to the high expectations – leading some to lean on exaggeration in the other direction, so far as to believe Putin’s claims that the sanctions had little or no effect. That’s also wrong. So, how’s it going?
Withdrawal of major companies
For once, someone in Academia actually did something useful for the public. So the Chief Executive Leadership Institute from the Yale School of Management went into the enormous undertaking of actually tracking down all of the big non-Russian corporations with business in Russia to see if they actually do make any move as (so many of them) promised.
1586 companies ended up on Yale’s list which gets upgraded at least once a week (last update on February 26, 2023), graded from A (complete exit from Russia) to F (digging in).
The result? 521 companies fully exited Russia (grade A) and another 500 curtailed most or all operations (grade B). On the opposite end of the spectrum, 238 companies either continue as normal or are actively expanding in Russia (“digging in” – grade F).
This in itself is extraordinary. Over 2/3 success rate in fact beats the previous attempt at a global boycott, which happened against Apartheid South Africa 35 years ago.
With that said, there is still room for improvement. There are many companies from Austria, G*rmany, France, Italy, the USA or the United Kingdom that are on the “grade F” list.
Cloudflare, Buzzi Unicem (Italy), BT Group (UK) or Doka (Austria) are some of the Western companies that are still operating in Russia that can still be… persuaded into no longer doing so.
The automobile production in Russia took a nosedive by 67% – and that’s according to Rosstat (the official Russian Statistic Institute, hardly a trustworthy source). The Russian automobile plants churned out 450.000 cars in 2022, according to Kommersant. That’s less than Romania, whose plants churned out 507.000 cars in 2022, which is not a record for Romania. Keep in mind that of those ~450k cars produced in 2022, quite a few of them are Soviet-era Moskvich which we don’t even know if they work.
75% of car-related transactions in Russia are of used cars, mostly second or third-hand from Japan. The overall number of transactions and production are lower than the 2009 global financial crisis.
To make things worse, there are no chips for anything. Russian leadership hoped to replace what they can’t get from the West by buying from China. There’s just one problem: the Chinese-supplied chips have an enormous failure rate. 40% of the chips delivered to Russia are defective. Such a failure rate makes any sensible production planning impossible. And the goods that are produced with the non-defective ones, obviously, end up being more expensive.
Other industries are under all sorts of weird pressures. So, for instance, Russia can produce its own steel, right? Well, yes, but… some raw materials used to be sourced from Kazakhstan. But Kazakhstan is no longer willing to sell. So the Russian plants now have to source it from within Russia but from further away from the plants (geographically speaking).
Speaking of Kazakhstan, the country bounces between refusing to sell steel to Russia to selling enormous amounts at dumping prices – distorting the Russian market in unpredictable ways. This is reported by Kommersant, which can’t be suspected of a pro-sanctions or anti-Russia bias.
The Mayor of Moscow wrote in an official blogpost that things will get rough as hundreds of thousands of people are simply left with nothing to do in the city as everything relevant for them is closed or will be closed. That was in April 2022. Since then, the mayor has been subjected to a special persuasion operation to shut up about it. Even so… the numbers he presented were still real.
In response to multiple such situations (not just in Moscow) the government responded by trying really hard to absorb as many people as possible into various furlough schemes, fake or real government jobs or early retirement. Sure, over the short run, this eases the tension. But for how long can this be sustained? And who funds it? (more on that in a bit)
Nobody really knows how many people left Russia. According to research by The Bell, at least 512,000 people left Russia and did not come back (as of December 2022). This number is the most conservative estimate and most likely wrong, given that just Kazakhstan reported a bit over 200,000 border crossings one way (from Russia to Kazakhstan) without any returns.
Whatever number you choose to believe, one thing is certain: Almost all of the people that left are resourceful (and thus a lost tax base for the State).
This exodus (called “relocation” on Russian groups) strained the public resources of Georgia in particular but, eventually, slowly, things settled down on the host countries. Keep in mind that the exodus isn’t over. The industrial park in Tashkent (empty at my visit there in August 2022) is now full. With “relocated” Russians. After all, someone’s gotta fix the thermal energy distribution of the city, which is in dire straits, so why not fighting age Russian men?
But, Raiffeisen notwithstanding, the fact remains that nobody buys Roubles. Which means the current “official” exchange rate is wholly artificial and meaningless.
And since nobody buys Roubles, that means nobody is buying Russian bonds either. So how is Putin financing the enormous deficits? Well… the foreign currency reserves. According to the Central Bank of Russia, the state consumed between 7 and 11 billion dollars worth of foreign currency perweek. That sounds bad, but not so bad.
Just one problem: All of the statistics officers from both Rosstat and Банк России have been replaced at least three times since the onset of the war. Before the war, they used to be replaced every 6 years or so.
Here’s where things are a bit more complicated than both the West and Russia are willing to admit.
The EU countries “sold” the sanctions to their people as relatively easy to implement. The practice showed that it was a bit more complicated than previously thought. With that said, all things considered, things turned out quite okay. Europe didn’t freeze to death and, compared to other historical energy crises, countries of Europe fared better than expected.
Russia, on the other hand, “sold” to its people the message that Europe can’t decouple from Russia and that, if things really go south, there’s always India and China eager to buy in huge amounts as both countries are big consumers of fossil fuels.
Just one problem: Saying so is easier said than done.
It takes at least 6 years to build the necessary pipelines in order to deliver gas to China or India. So far, not a single centimeter of a new pipeline has been built. Translation: Russian isn’t selling excess gas to Asia. It can’t.
On oil, the logistics are easier, but India and China put a downward pressure on the price. Or, in common parlance, Russia is selling oil to India and China at a steep discount and routinely at a loss.
You see, extracting oil is not rocket science but it’s still a technologically complex process if you want to also be able to deliver it at a competitive price. And a year of sanctions and the departure of Western energy companies (and with them, their know-how) is taking its toll. Russia’s production price is now higher than the global norm. And continue to climb up as installations start to break down and fixing them is no longer that easy as it was in January 2022.
Ironically, it is in fact desirable that India and China continue to buy more and more oil from Russia at higher and higher discounts because, in doing so, it makes Russia lose money at an accelerated pace. And I have no doubt that’s exactly what’s going to continue to happen because China has no qualms in pillaging Russia for its natural resources.
What we don’t know
Russia stopped filing its paperwork with the IMF, the World Bank, the ITO and other institutions in July and hasn’t allowed the minimum scrutiny required ever since. In parallel, Russian ethnics within the IMF replaced the missing data with the reports from the Kremlin (unverified, even minimally, by anyone). This led to the IMF, World Bank et. al. to publish effectively Kremlin propaganda for months on end.
The situation has been discovered mostly by accident basically last week and hasn’t been corrected yet. So any report from IMF, World Bank, etc. on the GDP of Russia or any other economic data is, for the time being, untrustworthy.
Same goes for the Rosstat reports on some aspects of the economy (especially labor force and demographics) for the second half of the year 2022. the people working on them have been changed/reshuffled at least three times in the last 12 months. That’s a lot.
Even if we were to presume this was not done in order to get yes-men apparatchiks in place, that would twist the numbers to lie for the Kremlin – the mere disruption in the workflow is enough to render the reports for the second half of 2022 at least untrustworthy until further rectification. And there is no reason to assume any of that.
So when Putin says the Russian economy fell by 2.1% in 2022, there is no way to check whether that’s true. Same goes when a Western analyst says that it actually fell by X%. That guy doesn’t know that either. We have some reliable data (I presented some of it above) but we’re still missing quite a bit on other variables in order to make a semi-decent projection.
So, do the sanctions work? If by “work” you mean the way they were sold to the public in March 2022, then the answer is no.
However, if by “work” one means “steadily and consistently eating away at the economical foundations of the modern part of the Russian economy” – then the answer is yes. Faster than I expected, quite honestly.
I had expected that inertia will take 15 months at the very least to catch up but, as it turns out, many aspects worked-out faster.
Imposing sanctions was a good idea, all in all. But it was a mistake to sell them to the public as a silver bullet against Russia, because such framing needlessly lowered the Western public’s trust in them and gave free talking points to Solovyov et. al. for no benefit.
Luckily, for all of us, the quality of Russian propaganda also took a nosedive lately. And visibly so for anyone who has been following this topic for more than three years. It could be because some of the people at RT and other places were in fact Ukrainian and are now refugees in Kazakhstan.
And while I’m glad that Russian propaganda took a nosedive, it is alarming that the West’s strategic communication is in such a terrible shape. Слава Богу we’re facing Russia of 2023 and not Russia of 2014 in the propaganda department.
So in keeping with this tradition of gathering knowledge and wisdom and then delivering it to you as stories, we submit to y’all the proposal for a South East Asia Tour dubbed as either ”The Khmer Empire Tour of 2023” in order to avoid algorithmic suppression on social media or, more honestly, the ”Killing Fields Tour 2023” since what we’ll really study is the brutal totalitarian past of Cambodia and Laos.
The video above goes a bit into the itinerary and the minimum things to expect from this tour.
This article is focused on the financial details. Not all expenses are thoroughly detailed – only those funded through the fundraiser.
So, without further ado…
For consistency, all expenses are converted in USD at the median exchange rate for the period between February 1 and February 15, 2023. This is also because all donations are converted to USD as it’s the working currency for almost all operations of this Network.
In places where there is price variation (e.g. flights and trains within Cambodia and Laos) – the maximal option is listed. The rest of the list represents the median/most likely costs.
1. Cluj Napoca – Viena (round trip)
Housing in Vienna: $70 [2 nights]
Food in Vienna: $50
2. Vienna – Phnom Penh
Flight: $1000 (round trip, all fares included)
3. Visa costs
$30 per entry. $90 in total, since one will have to enter Cambodia twice.
4. Housing and transport in Asia
~$20/night on average, no more than 30 nights, no less than 26 nights [to be decided depending on flight availability if the first goal is reached in time]
This number represents the optimal in order for the tour to take place. The total cost may be higher, but not by much. The upper threshold will be placed at $4000.
Any excess will be redirected towards fulfilling the wishlist or towards funding another project in 2024.
Minimums and deadlines
The tour is due to take place sometime between in the month November and December and it will last no more than 35 days [including the 4 days needed to get from Cluj Napoca to Phnom Penh and back]. This means that plane tickets should be purchased no later than July 1, 2022.Update: All good ✅
As such, if the fundraiser doesn’t reach to at least $1500 by May 25, 2022, the tour is cancelled and all collected funds redirected to other projects.
If the fundraiser doesn’t reach at least $2000 by June 25, 2022, the tour is cancelled and all collected funds redirected to other projects. Of course, if it will be $1890 on June 25, it will be fine. But too much leeway downwards will lead to cancellation – because by June 25, The expensive flights must be paid for already.Update: All good. The plan proceeds as promised.
Anything beyond $4000, as well as any remaining shekel after the tour, will be redirected towards other projects or to fulfilling the wishlist.
The state of the fundraiser will be updated regularly on the main page of the website and semi-regularly on the Youtube channels.
If this convinces you, head over to the Donate page and pitch in. Every dollar counts!
How do you know a topic is over and you won? Well, the opposition speaks your language and the head of a multi-million dollar media empire that dwarfs CNN, MSNBC, BBC and France24 together in terms of audience basically speaks the exact same words you’ve been speaking when you ushered in your own narrative.
Daily Wire is in top 10 largest podcast publishers (bigger than Disney!), in top 10 most widely read websites from the entire Internet and gobbles up 8 and sometimes 9 digits (!!) audience figures per day across platforms. In other words, Daily Wire is as mainstream as it can possibly be.
The video above, where Ben Shapiro (whose wife is a doctor – let’s not forget this 😂) speaks the language of the opposition effectively ends the conversation. So the pandemic project is over (even if you can still see pockets of Branch Covidianism on Twitter and Facebook). So, as this is slowly coming to an end, it’s time to ask, in all seriousness, what have we learned?
Reading back to the article I wrote at the beginning of this panic, almost three years ago, I have to say I’m sorry I was right on the 5th point. I was really hoping that I’d be proven wrong, and not too many little dictators would emerge. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, things rolled more or less as I predicted. But the question is: How did I, and tens if not hundreds of millions of us across the Northern Hemisphere know?
I don’t have a Harvard Law education (thank God for that!) and my wife isn’t a doctor (Слава Богу for that too!) – and this remains true for every single individual who supported the Sofa message right from the get go.
Very well-educated and well-read men (and some women) are now coping with the fact that what they perceive as “the lesser” were entirely correct and they were wrong. Some are coping with it relatively honorably (by acknowledging they were wrong) while others maintain to this day that the rest of us simply got lucky. The latter category is worthy of scorn for many years to come, not only because they commit the sin of assuming shit but also because such hubris should be socially discouraged wherever possible.
We could’ve discussed luck if we had gotten one or two disparate things right while being just as wrong (or even more wrong) than the booksmart people. But that’s just not the case.
On everything – from survival rate, to the immorality, illegality and illiberalism of so-called NPIs, to the viability of the myocarditis-inducing experimental gene therapy clotshot… on everything we got things right, or at the very least closer to the truth than they did. That’s not a coincidence nor is it luck. It’s something else. Something that is now missing from those who profess to be thought leaders: street smarts.
Street smarts breed adaptable people
In the past, until the 1950s or even later, both the elite and the plebs had street smarts. In the past, the elites would speak 4-5 languages as a matter of routine, travel more or less with the plebs, and reality compelled them to learn how the world actually works once they step foot outside the reading room.
Now, however, most of these people live completely separate lives from the rest of us. In a very physical and concrete way. And that is to their detriment too.
Erika Fatland is the only writer that I’m aware of in contemporaneity that is both in the traditional elite chambers and still behaves like an elite used to. She makes good money off of investors and institutions for doing more or less what I do: travel the world by train with the plebs, speaking with the plebs rather than at them, and then report about it. Turns out the plebs are still willing to listen/read even a snob/elitist opinion as long as it comes from a place of authenticity (i.e. you’ve actually been there and know your stuff) – which is a nicer way of saying… having street smarts.
Us, the plebs, got the pandemic project right not necessarily because we were smarter (though in some cases that was the case too), nor because we were lucky. We got it right because we had a higher dose of a different type of smart.
Having street smarts is not just physical fighting skills and ability to manage difficult situations in an urban setting. Street smarts is also the ability to blend in with many different types of people.
By necessity or by choice, us plebs with street smarts didn’t stay in an physical or virtual silo during the pandemic project. We kept on talking to people who virulently disagree with us but also with people who probably agree with us a bit too much.
Street smarts does mean being able to assess risk. So for those with street smarts, it simply came natural not to freak out too much about the Wuhan Cough. It made sense not to automatically trust the “official sources” – precisely because down here, at the street level, we’d seen this movie before. We knew – not by luck, but by previous trial and error – that the official sources will lie if they’re required to do so or if they panic and get stupid in public.
Unlike the so-called “educated” we didn’t display the memory of a paramecium. So by September 2020, nearly 100% of the street smarts people had figured out most of the pandemic project. Face it: It wasn’t even hard. When you tell plebs that the Wuhan Flu spreads dangerously at the Church but not in crowded shopping malls, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that something’s rotten.
The shock and horror of the book smarts people when they learned that the plebs will go around the mandatory vaccination with impunity (see Germany, France, Greece and Bulgaria, Italy, and so on) also showed just how out of touch these people are. I could go on more but you get the point.
Ideally, one would seek a balance between street smarts and book smarts. But, when such thing is not possible, then more street smarts is preferable for most people, since most of what constitutes street smarts used to be called common sense which, yeah, ain’t that common anymore.
Get the nerds back in the closet
So if there’s anything we can learn from the pandemic project in terms of reference points, it’s this: While books are good, touching grass is far better. And not being a terminally online NPC is highly helpful.
Ultimately, the pandemic project was a long, costly and painful experiment of a society ruled by nerds manipulated by pseudo-elites who wanted money and power (not necessarily in this order).
Face it: Most doctors are either corrupt bribery-receiving psychopaths or they are nerds. Neither category is fit to run society. Yet that’s exactly what the pandemic project attempted to do: to run society as if it’s a gigantic hospital ward with the sole purpose of preventing one disease.
Such dogmatic unidirectional focus and utter disregard for collateral damage (i.e. trade-offs) can be found in many people but it is overwhelmingly concentrated in just two categories: psychopaths and nerds.
And most of the people directly tormenting us for the last three years were nerds, not psychopaths. And without them, acting as enforcers, the pandemic project wouldn’t have been possible.
Think about it. Who tended to be the most Stakhanovite about the pandemic project? Corporate middle managers (nerds), hyperspecialized previously obscure Twitter accounts (nerds), terminally online antisocial IT folks (nerds) and the writers at “serious” newspapers (most of them nerds). Everyone else not in these categories dropped the pandemic project from their mind by September 2020.
Sure, we can quibble about exceptions and all that, but, by and large, the nerds were very good enforcers of the pandemic project without whom the project would’ve failed even earlier.
Some people still think this is something new. But it’s not. In 2009, Mexico went into lockdown for a flu. But in 2009, it was still acceptable to respond to those proposing such crap with the perfectly sensible reply of: “Shut up, nerd! Touch grass!”
I cannot stress enough just how big of a civilizational mistake it was to let the nerds out of the closet. It’s bad for society and it’s bad for nerds themselves too.
Can this geenie be put back in the bottle? I don’t know. But I do know that it’s worth a shot. Start by not taking nerds seriously and by avoiding as many activities associated with nerds as possible. It’s definitely a good start. Also, discourage your children from nerdy activities. Get him/her to play football/volleyball/whatever outside.
The takeaway is to continue to do what we, the street smarts people, got correctly right from the get go: Touch grass!
Denmark is often held as some sort of Utopia by the Western world due to its welfare state and highly homogeneous culture. Much has been said about not just the positives, but also more recently, by the political right, the negatives of such a system. However, neither side has ever truly understood what the pros and cons of the Danish way are, nor what type of society would accept it in the first place.
The Danish way of thinking is, in many ways, self-contradicting and it is just as hard to wrap one’s head around it as it is with the Russian mindset. This would have been more apparent, were it not for the complete absence of conflict within the Danish state.
All societies have a more or less formal contract with their state, some founding principle that makes it legitimate in the eyes of the people: In the US this is the upholding of the Constitution; in China – to avoid a repeat of the starvation events under Mao and ensure everyone has food on the table. In Denmark, it is simply to preserve a state of comfort.
While the same is true of the rest of Scandinavia, the Danish mindset has evolved, for the most part, naturally, with little deliberation on the part of the state.
Danish culture has been in large part defined by the presence of the state, in ways that most free countries simply have not. The most apparent of which is family structure or, better said, the lack thereof as the individual is completely atomized.
Their middle aged parents do not fare much better, as divorce is frequent enough as to become ubiquitous. Here it is worth mentioning that Danish adolescents are among the first to move out of their parents’ home in Europe. While I do not see this as inherently negative, it does add to the overall state of disconnect within the family. This disentanglement is perversely mirrored in the usual treatment of the elderly in Denmark.
Children do not interact much with their parents after they move out, and the parents life is expected to go on as usual until they are too old to live on their own. At this point the overwhelming standard is to let your parents be institutionalized. This is so common to the point where any other arrangement is practically unheard of.
With the exception of the occasional visit, the parents are left completely out of sight and thus out of mind. It’s the polar opposite of Italy, where the child is expected to either move out at some point in their forties, or simply inherit the family home and take care of their parents until their death.
While abuse is not the absolute standard within retirement homes, it is frequently reported on. It is not unusual for horror stories of elderly, no longer capable of standing on their own and bedridden, to be neglected by social workers that simply don’t want to help them get to the bathroom, and instead leave them mired in their own fecal matter for several days.
Its not that anyone wants this abuse to continue per se, in fact the topic has had mainstream attention both in the media, among political parties, and in political satire for several decades now. The truth is quite simple, and quite depressing: No one cares.
This is not meant in the sense that people find the abuse mentioned above acceptable, they don’t. Instead no one really thinks about or wants to do anything to change things.
A far leftist and former friend of mine once said that the greatest boon of the welfare state was that it “liberated him from his own morality”. Thanks to it, he argued, there was no need to care about the homeless, the poor, his family, or anyone other than himself, because ”society will take care of it”.
While many Danes would feel repulsed by such a statement, there is a kernel of truth to it: The welfare state has in its own perverse way ”liberated” the individual from his morality and responsibility. This is at least in part what we are seeing with the disentanglement between families and the elderly.
Denmark is a deeply apathetic country, and the odd thing about this characteristic apathy, whether towards governmental overreach, abuse in the social sector or blatant corruption, is that there is barely any propaganda effort from the state itself involved. Rather there simply is a disinterest so ubiquitous as to become part of the background noise, as it permeates every part of the Danish worldview: both empathically, intellectually, and politically, in ways that often appear paradoxical.
The national self-image vexes between viewing ourselves as a small, irrelevant spot in the middle of Europe to extreme arrogance over our glorious welfare state, especially compared to those stupid Americans that are constantly shooting each other or going broke from their dysfunctional, obviously anti-human private healthcare system. Although self-contradictory at a glance, these two ideas can coexist in people’s heads at the same time without cognitive dissonance, as they are not two mutually exclusive ideas, but rather a single, logically coherent narrative that can produce diametrically opposed feelings depending on the context: This national narrative, referred to as “Lilliput Chauvinism” by the politician Uffe Østergaard, is best summarized as “we are small and irrelevant but our socially homogenous and deeply empathetic culture has resulted in the north – and in particular us, creating a much more humane, and happy society than the rest of the globe.”
Like how a faucet can produce either warm or cold water, depending on how you turn the knobs, the focal point of the narrative can be altered to hone in on either the inferiority aspect as a means to deflect criticism of flaws brought to the surface, or the superiority, to induce a delusional belief in the superiority of the Danish system – which therefore does not need to be altered, as there’s no need to change what is already as good as it gets.
Complementing this is the insular nature of Danish society. Not much is reported on or understood, or even paid attention to of our neighboring countries. There is some superfluous reporting on whatever happens in the United States, usually ripped straight from their legacy media, and sometimes Sweden (since the border with them is right next to our capital) but that’s about it. Rarely is anything ever reported about Norway, Germany or Britain. The cultural insularity of the nation solidifies it’s inferiority-superiority complex, since the country as a whole is simply not aware or interested in other ways of structuring a society.
man er som man er det kan ikke laves om
man går rudnt og ser ud som maan gjorde da man kom
du kan drømme om at være en kineser I new yok
men man er som man er og det er godt nok.
En hest er en hest en kat er en kat
de er ligesåforskellige som dag og som nat…
og tyskere og svenskere er også en slags menesker
og rødhårede piger er kønne
You are as you it cannot be changed
one walks around and look as one did when you arrived
you can dream about beign a chinese in New York
But you are what you are and it’s good enough
A horse is a horse a cat is a cat
they’re as different as day and as night
and Germans and Swedes are people too I suppose
and read-haired girls are cute
The song is quite indicative of the mentality here. Danes are not devoid of humour, especially not when at the expense of our neighbours, due to historical beef turned banter (as is the case with practically all Old World countries). But there’s also this notion that what you are is pretty good, so there’s no need to do anything about it, or change, or improve. What you are is more or less “good enough”.
This is certainly not helped by the populace’s disinterest in seeking out knowledge or wisdom on their own.
It’s not that Danes are stupid, as the over representation among Nobel price winners for instance shows, but that their thinking is rigid. Knowledge is only gathered and created, and expertise only acquired within already established fields, such as the hard sciences, and outside them, is a dearth of intellectual curiosity. Appeal to experts is commonplace and expert opinion is paraded around by the media on a daily basis.
It is not without reason Denmark has not had a renowned thinker – neither globally, nor domestically, since Søren Kirkegaard. On a related note, Denmark has not created many cultural movements of its own for at minimum the last 100 years. More often than not, ideas are simply imported from abroad, as was the case with Lutheran Protestantism by the priest Hans Thausen or with the welfare state itself, originally imported from Bismarck’s Prussia, until it developed a life of its own here.
Much of this lack of interest can be traced back to the 1800s: Following the loss of Norway to Sweden during the Napoleonic wars, Denmark entered a cultural period known as Romantikken, or the romantic period. The core idea was that ”what was lost externally, must be won internally”. No longer was Denmark to pay attention to anything outside of it’s own borders, as it refused to look away from its rural landscapes through rose tinted glasses; effectively romanticising what was left of the country in an attempt to ignore the nation’s sorry state of affairs.
It is here we find the source of Danish Lilliput chauvinism, as both a coping and a defence mechanism against harsh reality, as it reminded us of our own inadequacy.
This can also be seen in the notion of the Janteloven, a set of laws unique to the fictional town of Jante, made as a satire of Scandinavia’s stigma against excellence:
Don’t believe you are anything
don’t believe you are as much as us
Don’t believe you are smarter than us
Don’t believe you are better than us
Don’t believe you know more than us
Don’t believe you are more than us
Don’t believe you amount to anything
Don’t laugh at us
Don’t believe anyone likes you
Don’t believe you can teach us anything
At no point has this order of affairs ever truly been disputed. While the central focus of the following era, the modern breakthrough, indeed was that the nation ought to cease its nostalgic ruminations and face cruel reality, the cruel reality in question was the suffering of the poor and the working class, underneath the classicist society. It was essentially proto-socialism. Created a century before Marx was even born and complete with deconstructive reinterpretations of established folklore to serve the anti-idealistic bend of the era. Added to these is a fear of going outside of the system.
Dissent is allowed, but only in predetermined ways by going through the system itself, never around it, and it is frowned upon to criticise individuals working in the bureaucracy as “just doing your job” is a commonplace and acceptable justification for state overreach. The result? A society unwilling to engage in the historical arena (with the blessing of its geography), uninterested in learning from others and dedicated to the alleviation of harm from its citizens, and one which has effectively produced an “end of history”-like scenario.
There are no conflicts here and with the exception of a brief almost bloodless invasion by – and immediate submission to – Nazi Germany in the 1940s, the notion that you need to defend what you hold dear, that there’s something it must be defended against, and whether it was even worth defending in the first place, is mute. In its place there’s a perpetual state of nothing ever happening.
It can be seen even in the language too: For instance, the standard response to being asked how are things going is “stille og roligt/quiet and calm”.
Another example is the word “hygge”. Which is often paraded around as the quintessential Danish word, as it has no direct translation. The approximate is a mix between “cozy” and “comfy”. That feeling of sitting and chilling with your friends and feeling pleasant while nothing is really happening.
I’m defining it because Danish does not typically make use of a direct word for “scary” or “horrifying” instead the most commonly used word is “uhygge”. It’s much like how Russian does not have a direct mainstream word for “safety” or “security” but instead uses “undanger” [безопасность].
As nothing is happening, and will never happen, conflict is viewed as unnecessary and abnormal if not to some extend unnatural, if it is ever placed in bigger doses than the occasional joke about the Nazis or drawing of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban here and there. The ability for, and conceptualization of, conflict taking place is not only absent on a national scale but on the individual level as well. No one is capable of starting conflicts and no one has the necessary mental reflexes to handle it.
This conflict avoidance leads to an odd form of moderation, where the victim of the state will always react to abuse by pleading. If the state overreaches, the reaction will always begin by admitting one is themselves guilty before stating that what’s happening is absurd. There won’t be any backlash, only a plead for a slightly thinner slice of the salami to be served this time around. This is arguably why the country has some of the highest anti depressant consumption in the world.
It is not that we batter our children into soulless drones, it’s that we don’t need to. Because the concept of conflict simply does not exist inside the little Danish world. As there’s simply no practical way of venting frustrations people simply give up trying or become bitter and resentful, as the shadow parts of the human mind are not being allowed to fully integrate. The populace may act nice but it is not good.
And if you dig deep enough down underneath that outer layer of niceness in a Dane’s psyche, you’ll find something you won’t like looking at.
Following both practical necessity and strategic demand for increased transparency (to make delegation easier and also to simply keep track on things) we made a few changes around here.
For starters, we added the Resources page which documents the resources available for the public much better and also chronicles the resources developing for the benefit of those who choose to join the Donors’ Circle.
With this occasion we also cleaned up the site’s menu and removed some legacy pages whose relevance was deprecated.
Expanding the News Feed team
The News Feed that we’ve been maintaining on Telegram for over four years now has attracted a more diverse audience than we expected.
Initially, the Feed was made more or less for internal use so we can keep track on what’s going on and maybe pick up links to then use in podcasts/videos. However, it turns out there was a need for a curated news feed for others as well, attracting quite a bit of praise, including from people who generally disagree with us.
While we appreciate the positive feedback, the fact remains that the Feed was largely run by a team of four,… more or less. We are already underway to changing that by expanding the team and also opening up applications for new members.
As such, we published the first version of the guidelines for the Feed, making a step we stayed clear from for years: towards quasi-institutionalization.
We’re hoping to improve the quality of the news feed during 2023 and increase the status of the Feed as a reference point for relevance on politics.
Other less visible technical changes
In the background, we started managing our activities (or at least trying 😅) through a ticketing system that we’ve also made transparent (for the most part) to our donors. The same system will now be used for some internal communications.
The system is not (yet?) ready for public consumption and we’re still unsure on whether such a resource should be public to begin with. The risk of spam is much higher than the potential benefits.
The idea is to remove critical dependency from services we don’t control and we have limited trust in (e.g. Telegram). Social media (including Discord, Telegram, etc.) is great for growth and some coordination, but far from great when it comes to non-public conversations or, even worse, hinging a group’s very existence on one of them. Many good projects died as a result of their group being wiped out from social media.
While we are under no danger of that happening to us anytime soon, it is better to be prepared in advance. Besides, it simply is good practice to own your internal affairs, rather than outsource them on an opaque third party that doesn’t have your best interests in mind.
Also, we moved both torrent folders (for public and DC) on the same server.
Speaking of torrent, we’re still testing webapps for that. If we end up implementing one of them, it will not be announced on the website.
Still no consensus over the forum so the issue will thus be kicked down the road again.
As January draws to an end, so does the talk about change.
The Russian branch of the Austrian company Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI / Райффайзен Банк) continue to offer financial assistance to Putin’s regime and advantageous loans to Putin’s enforcers on the occupied territories in Ukraine.
The page about the reduced-rate loans offered to the armed forces (see photo) is pretty explicit and it says that among the conditions to getting a loan is “the borrower is doing military service in the Russian Armed Forces under a contract or is in military service for the troops of the National Guard of the Russian Federation […], subject to its participation in a special military operation on the territories of Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic“.
The law the bank is referring to is Law №377/2022 approved in October 2022 that provides for deference of payments, reduced rates for loans and extended grace periods for those engaged in Russia’s war of aggression and for their families.
It’s not the first time
The Austrian bank is accustomed to bowing to any demands by the Putin regime. In 2017, Raiffeisen was the only Western bank to help the Russian government provide passports and identity documents to those requesting them in the separatist regions.
Every year between December 20 and January 15-ish we change some things around. Some changes are recurrent (such as the Christmas hat on our logo in the videos), some changes are not visible (like the behind-the-scenes clean-ups and upkeep) and some changes are on the policy level and on the way we do things. It is this latter category that this short note is about.
To be fair, over the last 8 years, we had minimal troubles on this front – with the exception of Faceberg. Fortunately, Faceberg’s importance in the milieus we’re interested in has been steadily declining for 4 years in a row now so, overall, there was no serious issue. In fact, our effective reach increased after our already-throttled Faceberg page was finally shitcanned.
With that said, one of the reasons we didn’t have big issues is because we stayed ahead (or sometimes behind) the curve by implementing measures meant to absorb potential blows without compromising on what we need to say. Measures such as:
Moving to Telegram in 2017 (the rest of the world learned either in 2020 or in 2022 that moving to Telegram is a good idea).
Implementing our own IRC server for quick discrete chats in 2015
Big shoutout to the Discord moderation team who’ve been running our Discord server diligently and cleanly since 2018, entering in the 5th year without any major incident and keeping a much-needed balance between shitposting and serious chats
Getting a discrete (but consistent) presence on alt-tech [Gab, MeWe, Bitchute, Odysee]
Opening up this website in 2018 [using partners with a proven trackrecord of standing firmly for freedom of expression in the face of great adversity]
Acquiring a parallel physical infrastructure for backups-of-backups to make sure that if we are taken down, we’d be back within 72 hours
Implementing an internal sharing procedure and the Donors’ Circle in 2020
All of these (and others less visible) have made it very difficult to effectively censor us.
Going forward (with the approval of the Donors’ Circle) we are taking another two steps in the direction of both resilience and censorship-resistant infrastructure. As the Internet (re)Balkanizes, the opportunities present themselves.
As of this year, all of our public files and some of the internal ones shall be distributed using the BitTorrent protocol. This may seem like a step backward technologically (and it may indeed be) but the fact remains that distributing 7+GB files in an efficient manner and cross-platform compatible cannot be done more effectively and cheaper than the torrent protocol.
Sometime in the next 18 months (subjected to the Donors’ Circle opinion and technological constraints) we will try our luck with a semi-open forum. Open in the same way our Discord server is open, but also with reserved sections. The experience with the Discord server is encouraging enough to consider such an option – even though there are multiple reservations and concerns (not least in relation to privacy).
A heterodox approach to tech is the way forward and, just like we were right to switch to Telegram years before everyone else, we will very likely be proven right to set up the infrastructure for the rebalkanization of the Internet before it fully happens (mentally, it already happened).
The Network is not meant to turn a profit but activities costs money. And 2022 was a surprisingly good year in this department. So good that we still have a hard time believing it. In 2021 it could’ve been “blamed” on the exceptionally low-expense year of 2020. But last year exceeded the optimistic expectations. For the first time, there were no significant financial concerns.
We intend to work harder in 2023 to build upon this status quo. This will likely involve some legal changes too, though a lot of factors are beyond our control so no ironclad promises can be made in public. Suffice to say though that with a bit of luck, by 2025 we might be looking back at January 2023 as “late dark ages” in terms of the Network’s abilities to sustain itself financially.
Throughout 2022 we managed to delegate more and more tasks and activities away from the core without any noticeable difference in quality. We are very proud for that achievement and for the work done by those who were willing to take on the tasks.
Regardless of financial results in the near future, we intend to delegate even more in order to both increase the output from the core (by freeing up time now still spent on activities that can be delegated) and also to strengthen the Freedom Alternative community. More people than we imagined 6 years ago ended up coming for the videos and staying for the community. And we want to reward that.
The decision-making process is intentionally slow, in accordance with our general philosophy and because oftentimes no policy may indeed be better than a rushed/spontaneous/spur-of-the-moment policy or action. That’s why we roll out new things slowly – much to the annoyance of some.
We know we can’t please everyone and we’re okay with that. We also know that we’re all inherently flawed so the best that can be done is to strive to do better whilst keeping in mind that perfect is the enemy of good.
To all those who’ve been with us through various parts of this magnificent journey, we humbly thank you and we hope you stay with us for new heights.