I haven’t posted for a while, but I wanted to make my annual “here’s where I’m donating money this year.” Though I am an anti-capitalist, I have long believed that our lack of understanding of and engagement with money on the Left has and continues to hurt our organizing. Of course it’s complicated, but it comes down to the question: What can we do within the current economic system to best work for systemic change?
This means we need to:
1. Examine our own consumption and participation in capitalism. How much money do I personally need to survive? What does survival mean? Can I act generously with “my” money in a way that directly contradicts the behaviors taught by capitalism? Once my (minimum) needs are met, what should I do with the other money I have? How do we find creative ways to work together so that we need less money to exist?
2. Generously support people and projects who are doing good work, so that they can struggle less and work more. While this support can come in many forms, direct or indirect financial support needs to happen until we all having housing and enough to eat and adequate medical care, because whether we like it or not, right now those things require money. How do we find creative ways to work together so that we can “earn” money when it is needed?
I guess it could be summarized as saying that we need to (1.) reduce our dependence on things that require money, and (2.) when we DO need money, we need to support each other.
I love hearing about all of the creative ways that people are working together on these things, but sometimes the best and most direct way to support someone is to give money, even if it’s small amount.
This year I’m tempted to just repeat everything I said last year, and I will be making donations again to all of those same places – The National Lawyers Guild, Riseup, The Electronic Frontier Foundation - who provide services, mostly for free, that I value. I will also renew my subscriptions to Mother Jones, The Sun Magazine, and Cooks Illustrated. Aside from this annual giving, I support a TON of crowdfunding efforts throughout the year (through Kickstarter, WePay, IndieGogo, or PledgeMusic). Although there has been some push back about using (or over-using) Kickstarter type campaigns, and there’s a lot to be said about what makes a good crowd-funding campaign, in general I still think they are a great way to raise needed funds.
I spent a lot of time thinking about whether to donate to the Strike Debt / Rolling Jubilee campaign and in the end decided to make small donation. Although there are many valid criticisms of the campaign, I’m impressed that some people decided to not only think big, but to invent and then implement a new and massive undertaking. Plus, the website is gorgeous and the roll-out strategy has been smart. Plus, I couldn’t help but be excited about this. What I want is for people to be clear what they are donating to and what the project is and is not able to do – which is covered quite well on their site as well as in several excellent critiques, such as “The Problem with Strike Debt” by Doug Henwood.
So, no, I don’t care who you give money to this year, but please give to someone.
2. If you’re wondering what I’m up to, I’m spending a lot of time working on these projects: Aid & Abet, Angel Cakes, the 18th Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair, and an as-yet-to-be-named Bay Area radical history series at The Holdout, starting January 31.