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The costs and funding of freedom activism
Campaigning to expose corruption is not free, but how to fund it?
My appeal against Capita’s false claim to be “TV Licensing” (rather than the BBC) has leapt back into life with some recent correspondence from the appeals court. I am now on the hook for £100+ to cover getting a transcript of the previous hearing. The judge has also threatened me with costs, wrongly in my view, but that’s a separate matter. That transcript is not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it’s nearly half of the gap between my negative bank balance and my overdraft limit. Which prompts me to write about the subject of financing dissident work.
I spent around £100 last week on IT outlays associated with the Palnackie story. I have recently paid around £300 on keeping various websites and domains alive (WWG1WGA, QAnon, The Storm, art photos, print gallery). I have a $300 invoice coming up for martingeddes.com hosting. I just gave £60 to Google for my work accounts. I am paying £85 a month to Starlink to keep myself connected come what may. I pay $5 a month to aWeber for a mailing list hot standby. It costs £40 a month for a PO Box to maintain my home address’s privacy. £30 a month goes to Mention to keep track of anyone abusing my name or making online threats to my safety. I even just paid £19 for my annual subscription to the app that backs up my Google email to my local hard drive.
I have been burning diesel and rubber going to events as photojournalist and participant — my car now needs some repairs and servicing. My pile of backup Blu-Ray DVDs is dwindling and I need more. My laptop is doing OK after 3+ years, but eventually I will need to budget for a replacement, as they physically don’t last forever — one of the USB sockets seems faulty, and the worn battery needs renewing at some point. Then there are costs I have for my art business (like a mailing list and MS Office 365) that’s “on hold” while I fight the battles on Council Tax and other justice issues. In my Amazon basket are a pile of books on law I want to get. You get the idea — this isn’t a free hobby done in my spare time.
If I am going to sue the various individuals at Durham County Council involved in trampling my rights — again as a public interest matter — then that will cost me hundreds of pounds in filing fees, even in the small claims court. There is no way in which I can fund that out of my own pocket. I have remained in honour with the council by saying I will pay their bill if they show me proof of their claim of a court order, but it would be nice to have that money to hand in case they ever actually turned up with the right documentation! I could go on… the purpose is just to show the reality of this job.
In the background I have spent quite a lot on resilience, especially given my wild experience of constant deplatforming a few years ago. I have multiple network attached storage devices, hard drives I rotate around, food and fuel caches with friends, bits of crypto and precious metals tucked away in case of emergencies, spare phones, lots of power bank batteries, and so on. There’s a leisure battery and AC power inverter I can put in my car so I can power my laptop and satellite Internet from anywhere, as a modern roving citizen journalist. Thankfully I have had no cause to use most of it (yet), and some past larger donations from supporters have given me the prepper budget so I can feel safe.
I know others are heading down a similar route to myself in terms of how they support themselves, and the kind of work they do, so to set expectations let me share my financial position. Substack is a great platform for monetising creative content, and I make about $45k a year from it, with nearly 500 paying supporters out of 24,000 readers. That’s almost exactly the same in nominal terms as my starting salary at Oracle in 1997, although a fraction in real terms. Building that mailing list has taken over a decade. On top of that, I have 55 people who give me money each month via SubscribeStar, coming to around $17k per annum. So that’s my core income, barring dribs and drabs from kind supporters, book sales, and special projects like calendars.
You don’t normally hire someone with my qualifications and experience at that price, so I’m obviously not in it for the money. I am grateful for what I have, as many live on far less. I was making a 6-figure salary working in America 20 years ago in my 30s, and my 50s should be my peak earning years. I know that this will all work out somehow. I am owed a fortune in compensation from all the racketeering tech companies that censored me. The modest bits of crypto I own could suddenly appreciate in value. After a mass awakening, my books will sell well (again — it was a nice burst of income at first). I have gotten over the idea I owe genocidal gangsters any money in taxes.
The world has my back, and a global restart will obsolete most financial issues. So this isn’t a solicitation for funds, just a chance to be transparent for the benefit of others. Being an activist means letting go of many of the more normal ways in which to participate in society on a commercial or professional basis. It is not just about where your time and attention goes, either. Once you take up the burden of pursuit of justice against the powerful, you don’t really have the same kind of energy and drive to engage with sales and marketing in the ordinary world. I have never gone without at any stage of this war, and I do not live in fear of lack or want.
When I was on Mailchimp, I stuck both Paypal and Patreon links at the bottom of each article. I have never added it all up, but it was easier to cover my costs then. Platforms like Substack integrate payment with distribution, and are optimised for the promotion and monetisation of content, but that’s a bit different from activism. When you give up a career and your former life, and take on risks for the benefit of all, you’re in the hands of the collective. Writing about art, culture, health etc. isn’t the same as fighting criminals who metaphorically cut your tongue out and literally threaten to steal your possessions. There are also other people in the freedom community who have sudden emergencies and need help.
The “where we go one, we go all” phrase is not just some empty slogan for morale. It’s the only way in which we can get through this together. Other people are better suited than me to staying in the conventional world to get those fiat “slave coupons”. There is a “soul cost” to the unavoidable compromises from being in traditional work, and I am not having to pay that. Being an activist mean never taking more “central bank debt tokens” than you need for the job — which is why you don’t see me promoting any kind of commercial offer, and only ever putting my hand out when I really need the help. Being an campaigner means taking on some new life hazards, but also graciously accepting the many free gifts that come your way.
My experience is that when you put good things out into the world, you “magically” get what you need back, in a way that is almost uncanny. When I went past my overdraft limit a few days ago paying for some patriot website hosting, an hour or two later someone bought a “founder” subscription to my Substack and wiped that cost out right away. It happens to me all the time. My learning over the years is that faith is far more powerful than funding. No amount of cash in the bank will make you safe — as the authorities can take that away from you. Real security comes from the fruits of your work, and the impact you have on others.
I have a document with hundreds of offers recorded from people around the world for me to come and hang out if I am ever around. You can’t buy that kind of genuine friendship and deep inner security. Around two years ago I was looking after a very vulnerable disabled friend and needed to relocate, which is an expensive activity beyond my means. I put my hand up as being in genuine need, and £15k came in 48 hours, which I really required, since I was spending cash like crazy on vehicle hire and hotels, and not for my own benefit. The more you lean into the activist role, and forego private profit, the easier it becomes to receive generosity when required.
The bottleneck to public service work is rarely money, and more your own morals and sense of worthiness to receive and be a good custodian. For instance, when I post up free photo art on social media, I always end with a Buy Me A Coffee link. I might typically get between £5-£50, which is enough to feed me. It covers my outlays in equipment and travel, and allows others to reciprocate in a social gift economy. All the time I see activists who bemoan lack of resources, but refuse to ask for aid and let others step up! If your are fully committed to your benevolent vocation, then the resources will find you. Plenty of people have spare money, whereas meaning is scarce. Give everyone a chance to exchange, and funding activism or art is not a problem.
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