… oh well… it appears to be working.
So, if it is working, let me tell you a story. I should mention before proceeding to the story that I’m writing this exactly 24hrs before my train towards Budapest departs and I still have some rather minor side effects from the YFV shot. Though I can assure that my speech has gotten better :))
Just like some of my videos, this might get a bit long. So grab a cup of coffee and a few cigarettes.
Anyway, the story is about how this place – the place you are reading this – came into being. And what I want from it. Spoiler alert: nothing grandiose.
Taxes. And by that I mean theft
In January 2016, Patreon was announcing me that they will bend the knee to the
EUSSR European Union and start charging VAT for the patrons who happened to be living in the 28-member bloc.
Morally, this is preposterous. Not even North Korea charges a consumption tax on donations. In fact, nobody wanted this per se (as no country in Europe has such insanity in their national laws) – but the European Commission decided that the national governments could use some more shekalim even if those said national governments didn’t require it and even if the implementation essentially makes a mockery of Europe’s long standing tradition in which the patronage of the arts is regarded as noble and not subjected to taxes, least of all consumption taxes.
Consumption taxes (and VAT in particular) are the kind of regressive taxes meant to punish the consumer for being smart enough to afford to still buy something with the shekalim left to him after
When someone is engaging in patronizing the creative work of someone else, that someone is not engaging in consumption, but rather investment since the patron is taking a risk – namely the risk that the work he patrons might not be to his liking. There’s a reason why most sane countries have tax exemptions (or schemes similar in effect) on (re)invested profits. It’s the exact same reason for why you shouldn’t be slapping VAT on patronages to creators.
Of course, what I’m saying here comes from a reference point of a normal, non-insane world. Which is, of course, a world that may have existed for a brief period of time (or, I would argue, for multiple but separate brief periods of time) in Europe – but which most definitely does not exist in the current-year+4 European Union.
At the time, though, in 2016, only a tiny portion of the patronage was coming from the EU and the whole operation was small enough that I could basically work out alternatives individually with each affected patron.
But the bullshit kept on piling up
2017 gave a few more redflags – specifically the ban of Lauren Southern under the MOB Rule (seriously, that’s what they called it – Manifest Observable Behaviour Rule) and the total clusterfuck of the so-called “new service fees” which, although withdrawn in the face of the backlash, it showed (to me, at least) that in this business, like in economics in general, diversity is strength.
To put it bluntly, the idea of allowing Patreon not just a disproportionate influence on this operation but also the power to impose fees that would make EU patrons pay $1.57 for a $1 pledge seemed atrocious to me.
On the other hand, there was also the negative experience with Maker Support (who still owe me a few shekalim, btw) and I knew since then that there won’t be a magical bullet to the problem. So I started pondering upon a network of tools that would gradually become a good-enough workaround.
Things have gone from bad to worse during 2018 on this front, but by February 2018 I already had a broad idea in mind on how to work this. Now all I needed was… time.
And here’s the first world problem moment: I had the financial resources and the operation was growing faster than ever and that’s precisely why I didn’t have the time. Tough spot to be in.
The slow and gradual transition
Nevertheless, slowly, especially in the second half of 2018, I started the process that will likely last throughout 2019 and most of 2020, really.
You see, it’s not just Patreon. If it had just been that, I could’ve asked everyone to make a recurring PayPal payment and call it a day. But it’s more than that.
The operation needs (and needed) a place where I could easily share a message with all the donors, but also a place where I could share premium content. In addition to that, the operation also needed a place to publicize announcements. And no, Faceberg and Twatter aren’t particularly great. Particularly Faceberg whose “Community Guidelines” have become so elusive that it now makes Ceaușescu’s criminal Securitate a pipe-dream of law and order by comparison.
Gab has been looking better lately. Taken down from the Internet because some loon had an account there (the same loon had an account on Faceberg too, but let’s not expect consistency here) and then returning from hell and doubling down on their commitment to freedom of expression – that’s already a decent trackrecord. So Gab, for now, is one tool.
Then I needed something reliable to chat in real time with people that is not subjected to the whims of the far-Left. For that, I grudgingly adopted Telegram groups because it’s also available on Desktop and also because the founders preferred to lose money than to bend the knee to the other authoritarian progressive of our world. Also in that direction, I opened up the IRC server which, although public, it is mostly used for insta-chat by what I jokingly refer to as the inner-party.
Then came the issue of having too many e-mails that basically amounted to:
“Hi Lucian! You said, once, X years ago, quoting a study from Z years ago from [whatever-country] that [whatever-conclusion/fact/assertion]. Can you please give me the link?”
When it’s 5 people a week, that was not a problem. When it reached 15 a day, it became a problem. When it exceeded 30 a day, I considered shutting down my social media accounts. And that’s when the idea of a Library came into being. A place where we would put links as they become available (preferably with a permanent archive link too) so they can then be found by those seeking the knowledge. Yes, this makes it harder for the seekers, who I am sure find it a lot easier to just ask and get the tailored answer in an instant, but knowledge accumulation requires effort. And maximal effort from me and zero effort for the seeker is a terrible trade-off for me.
So, as of this moment, unless willing to pay a consultancy fee, I will start directing people to the library or simply avoid answering altogether. Cutting down social media usage has done a tremendous amount of good not just for me personally, but for this operation as a whole.
In essence, social-media gets rolled back to its status as a mere tool among many others, rather than the main focus. Time is money. And the ROI on it being used on social media has reached the diminishing returns in the last year so it’s time to cut the losses.
And then we get back to finances. With Patreon slowly being fazed out, the alternative will have to be a mixture between individual concerns and a network of alternatives. That’s why the list in the Donate page is pretty lengthy and will likely get even longer.
There will be no magic bullet or some miracle that will fix the mess in which Patreon AND payment processors have gotten everyone in. A cohesive alternative will rise – but not this year. Or in 2020. More like 2025 is a reasonable timeframe. Mastercard needed 20 years to become the reliable behemoth that it still is today. And another 20-ish years to achieve the kind of power that it can now wield to bully companies into un-personing video bloggers and/or political commentators. So the idea that some Youtube personality will build a solid alternative to that in a few months is either hubris or ignorance-driven nonsense. But nonsense nonetheless.
I have no doubt that reliable alternatives will emerge. But it won’t happen overnight.
Until that moment comes, we have to be realistic and work with what exists.
Well,… now we work. More. A lot more.
Even keeping this site running is quite a lot of work for which I don’t have the time. But once it’s fully configured and decently-operational, I will open this blog for contributions. Look at this as a training place.
It is not my intention to run a written publication in the classical sense (hence, no comments – I already have completely uncensored comment sections on Youtube and Bitchute. And open Contact form on the site).
This place should be regarded more as a library and a display board (or avizier as they used to be called back in my days in Romania in schools and universities – before the profs and the students got lazy and now all students are mandated to have Faceberg and/or WhatsApp because fuck those people who would prefer not to be public persons).
This is why the site is organized more in pages and the blog (this blog) left more marginal. Because the library and the announcements are what matter the most.
The blog, as I said, will be used for Miscellaneous. I even considered archiving my previous writings (especially pre-2014 writings) on it, but that sounds like too much work so the idea will be shelved for now. So the blog will be for people to train their writing skills and for me to make announcements or simply post news that won’t make it into a video or in a podcast and are also not important enough to make it into the Library.
I don’t expect this website to be something big. It’s not its purpose. Its purpose is to be useful. At least for now. Who knows what the future holds?
In the meantime, I do expect and accept contributions to the library and will soon appoint several contributors to do this because with all the things happening – there is no realistic way I can take on the task of maintaining a website. I gave up writing to get into video making. Doing both is simply not possible. Not without sacrificing quality in one of them.
And… with all of that being said,… thank you all for reading (lol), many thanks for your consistent and generous support and… I will see you all soon in Budapest. And then on the video platforms.