New Project: To Change Everything 9:59 am / 07 October 2014 by b. traven, at CrimethInc. Far East Blog
For many months now, we’ve been hard at work on a new anarchist outreach project that picks up where Fighting for Our Lives left off—drawing on everything we’ve learned since then and updating the contents and format. Now that work is completed—we just need your help to get it into the world.
To Change Everything is a full-color 48-page booklet. In fresh, accessible language, it explores the virtues of self-determination, illuminates why authoritarian power structures cannot resolve the crises they produce, and discusses how to weave our personal revolts together into a collective struggle for liberation.
We want to print 100,000 copies and circulate it for free, so as to reach the generations radicalized by the global movements and catastrophes of the past few years. We’ve worked with Submedia.tv to produce an accompanying video; we’re coordinating with comrades around the world so the text will appear simultaneously on at least three continents in at least a dozen languages. The video and text will be available in all those languages on a fully responsive website. With your help, we can accomplish all this by the end of 2014.
We’re using Kickstarter to raise the funds to cover printing. If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, you can learn about how to use it here. If you’re curious why we’re using a fundraising platform for this project, read our explanation Why a Kickstarter? Why Now?. If you think we do good work, please help us—every little bit counts, and you’ll be ensuring that this project is available to everyone for free. To sweeten the pot, we’ve come up with some fancy rewards for donors, including our first-ever t-shirts.
New anarchist outreach material is long overdue. Even entrenched representatives of the status quo are now admitting that it is necessary to change everything, but the best they can come up with is to appeal to the same authorities that are responsible for our problems in the first place. Meanwhile, the rise of the far right in Europe and the ongoing debacle in Ukraine show how high the stakes are and how bleak the future will be if fascists succeed in presenting themselves as the partisans of change. When the next round of uprisings arrives, it may be too late to reach out to people.
We don’t ask for much, but if ever there were a time for you to help us, this is it. Even if you can’t contribute financially, please send word of this project out on twitter or Facebook, yell it out from street corners. Thanks so much, dear friends.
Why a Kickstarter? Why Now?
For practically our entire existence, we have avoided using traditional fundraising drives and platforms. In the beginning, taking our cue from the bank robbers who financed the anarchist press a hundred years ago, we utilized nonstandard methods to produce and distribute our materials for free.
Once the scale of our operations grew too large to depend on inconsistent sources, we shifted tactics. We didn’t want our agenda to be dictated by funders, as in the case of so many non-profit organizations; we believe that this inevitably causes groups to water down their politics in order to pander to the wealthy. [For more on this, consult the excellent The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex by INCITE! Women of Color against Violence.] Nor did we wish to tire the patience of our grassroots supporters with constant NPR-style pleas. For a decade and a half, we have mass-produced materials to keep the cost per item down, sold them at close to production costs, and used any returns to fund free projects like Fighting for Our Lives—indeed, we sunk tens of thousands of dollars of our own money into that project. None of this would have been possible if we weren’t willing to work for free, living, in most cases, significantly below the poverty line.
This approach will remain the basis of our efforts. However, much has changed in the economy in the years since we set out on this path. As the majority of people get poorer, it is becoming more difficult to fund projects through sales alone, even as interest increases in our projects. It seems we are entering a sort of new feudalism, in which a small part of the population has disproportionate resources and leverage even when it comes to determining what materials are mass-produced: the question of patronage is almost inescapable. Today, some of our supporters can barely afford the materials they depend on us for, while others would gladly pay significantly more than we charge. Utilizing a crowd-funding model only acknowledges this already present reality. We don’t share the optimism of those who believe that crowd-funding is somehow liberating or “democratic”—it’s just the best sales system for an era of dramatic income disparities.
At the same time, we remain staunchly committed to setting our agenda with complete integrity and autonomy, regardless of financial incentives. We will not water down our politics to attract wealthier funders; we will not change the ways we speak and organize. The upshot of this is that if you appreciate what we are doing, we depend on you to help us to keep at it, even if your means are paltry compared to those big NGO foundations that are currently rendering toothless all the political campaigns they talk about in their press releases. Really changing everything will take a lot more than tax write-offs and paid publicity work. If you want what we want, help us however you can.