My favorite bard once wrote, "Money doesn’t talk, it swears." It is true, of course, in so many ways, at least in the world we inhabit. We all know "money swears." We all hear the curses, over and over.
But as true as the bad rap for money is, it is also true that money matters. And it is true that it matters not just for bad but also for good things. So the trick is for those with good agendas to get use money in ways that avoid the cussing conundrums that money usually imposes. This applies in daily life. It applies in projects. And it applies in movements. And it is never easy.
For example, we at ZCom can’t do our radical tasks without money. And not just any money. We can’t have Bill Gates’
or Warren Buffet’s money. We can’t have some kind of government subsidy. There is no big check we can have. No, it has to be your money. And that means we have to get support from you, and to avoid the cussing conundrums we have to get it in ways that don’t disrupt or corrupt our efforts, that con’t diminish your participation, or, for that matter, that don’t corrupt anything else. So how do we do that?
Well, we can’t use "advertising signs that con you into thinking you’re the one, that can do what’s never been done, that can win what’s never been won." And we can’t put a price on our souls by weakening our message to attract Daddy Warbucks donors. By process of elimination, sifting through all imaginable options – it follows that we have to get funds from our normal operations (such as payments for subscriptions and videos), as well as from user donations.
So – it is that stomach churning, gut wrenching, everything on the line, fund raising time again.
And as usual, we will either succeed – which is to say, you will make us succeed – or, if not, ZCom will decay or perhaps even die.
In short, for us to operate in the grimy capitalist market system to provide information and community, we need our readers, participants, and writers to come to our emotional, psychological, and material rescue – yet again.
The economy, however, right outside all our windows, is profoundly messed up, even relative to its usual cruddy, vile, unjust self, and it will probably get messier not far in the future. Further, its escalating messiness has led our readers and sustainers to reduce their financial outlays for all manner of things. We are all trying to spend less on food, gas, medicine, books, and, yes, also on Z Magazine, Z Videos, and donations to ZCom. Often this retreat from spending isn’t even an overt decision. Rather, the cavorting crisis instills a frugal mood. Then, when credit cards expire, new dates aren’t entered. When subscriptions expire, renewal cards aren’t sent. People’s rational frugality dramatically reduces Z’s revenues. Even as our number of users keeps climbing, the total outlays of our users for subs, videos, and donations – declines. When the mainstream media informed the world that the economy was in the toilet, not because millions around the world were dying, as before, of preventable disease and starvation – but because the rich were suddenly newly losing too, the ensuing bedlam induced the Z revenue decline that we now have to reverse, even as hard times persist.
Thus, we need $50,000 in direct donations in the next few months and we need to raise the Sustainer donations that are committed for the next year by upwards of $150,000 by the beginning of the new year. The figures may seem daunting but actually they are readily achevable goals if, and only if, users take notice of our situation and energetically help out as they are able.
How can I possibly say that getting so much money is readily achievable?
Roughly 400,000 people regularly use our online systems. A small fraction of those users making one-time donations commensurate to the use they make of the sites, and then another fraction (who make still more use of the operations but who are not yet sustainers) becoming sustainers, would together easily solve all our problems. We also have about 5,000 Sustainers - each of whom has been donating already and most of whom have the means, even in these difficult times, to up his or her monthly donation by $1, $3, $5, or even $10, and this too would get our fund raising job done. If all 5,000 sustainers did without one pizza or pizza equivalent a month, and donated their saving to us, that would do it. Yes, just that would do it.
But why might you help us?
The obvious answer is that you would send us a one time donation or become a sustainer or raise your recurring donation to keep the flow of print articles, online articles, multimedia, visionary insights, strategic projects, dvds, etc. all coming in steadily enlarging abundance and with steadily growing insight – and also to further enrich the online infrastructure and the benefits it conveys – (and I will offer another blog post about the coming online improvements shortly).
So, it seems I have to try to make a case for you – yes, literally, you – to give us some money – whether you prefer to directly donate, become a sustainer, or increase your sustainer donation.
Well, does Z matter? Is keeping Z alive and helping Z flourish important enough to warrant your attention?
Wait. Maybe I don’t have to make the case that it is. For one thing, my assessment is suspect – I work here. Maybe I can let others who are more eloquent, knowledgeable, and diverse, provide the assessment.
Noam Chomsky writes about our current situation, "It is of inestimable importance, in my judgment, that Z and ZNet now composing ZCom, expand and flourish, along with their various other projects such as their growing video efforts and incomparable summer school, arguably the most exciting and instructive I have ever encountered. Again, I do not think it is possible to exaggerate the stakes." Okay, the case is made – or, well – could Chomsky be wrong about this?
From the U.S., Howard Zinn adds that "Z deserves all the help we can possibly give it. I hope people will come through at this critical time, when Z’s work is especially crucial to the nation." U.S. innovative and visionary feminist and grass roots organizer Cynthia Peters adds, "Countless activists have joined struggles, started organizations, and brought vision and strategy into their existing efforts because of Z. You won’t find an organization more capable of consistently providing accessible analysis of current events, explaining the workings of systemic oppressions, and making it possible to seriously address questions of vision and strategy." And the incredibly prolific and productive Paul Street takes it up a notch, "Z is unmatched as an accessible and sophisticated source of radically useful information and inspiration. I refuse to imagine a world without Z." And Green feminist activist Sonia Shah adds, "I tell all my friends to check out ZCom if they want to learn about progressive movements around the world; Z has always been my first source for left commentary and reportage. It’s huge, vital, unique and necessary."
From Australia, reknowned internationalist John Pilger weighs in, "The range of good journalism, good writing and good scholarship on Z is astonishing: from the pen of the well-known to the raw, eyewitness reporting of ‘citizen journalists’."
From Argentina, organizer and scholar Ezequiel Adamovsky adds, "The prodigious ZNet, the excellent monthly Z Magazine, the growing ZSpace, Z Video, and ZMI are together unique and fundamental for people and collectives trying to build another world."
From the UK, tireless media commentator David Edwards says, "Z is an authentic flagship of internet-based activism. Much of our work has been inspired by the example of Z, and much of our output has been enhanced by resources accessed via Z." And the equally tireless partner of Edwards, David Cromwell, says, "Z Communications is quite simply one of the best resources in the world for anyone concerned about justice, peace, compassion, the environment and humanity." British international relations analyst and anti war activist Milan Rai adds, "People struggling for a better world need a way to cut through the lies created by the Western mass media. ZCom aids that effort. The dynamic projects that spring out of Z, and the extraordinary evolution of ZNet express and reinforce the vitality of our movements." And finally, the incomparable Guardian journalist democracy and climate activist George Monbiot adds, "Whenever people ask where they should go to understand what’s really happening in the world, I direct them to ZNet. It’s the starting point in the great global conversation the internet permits. ZCom does it better than anyone else. I would be devastated if Z went down."
From deep in the heart of the Balkans, grass roots organizer and insightful author Andrej Grubacic reports, "As an editor of Z Mag for the Balkans, I can attest to the attraction and power the politics of Z has. The global- political message of Z has been successfully translated into the language of our local struggles in Serbia, ex-Yugoslavia and the Balkans."
From South Africa, economic analyst, activist, and institution builder Patrick Bond adds, "Amongst other sites of struggle, Johannesburg is in continual need of international networking. No service is as good as ZNet, and the comrades – from social movements to trade unions to NGOs to academics like myself – cite Z repeatedly."
And from the U.S. and India, intercommunalist Vijay Prashad proclaims, "ZNet is my ZNN — I get my dose of global reality from it. It keeps me in touch with developments around the planet, including my own back yard. The debates and commentaries provide a lively community, a vital institution of the global left. ZCom must stay alive." Also from India, organizer C.P. Pandya reports, "What sets Z apart from other internet providers are its unrelenting commitment to diverse voices and accessibility to writers and activists. As a young journalist of color looking for both safe spaces to write and reliable sources of information to cite – there is no organization comparable to Z. It must continue."
But does anyone else agree with these folks?
From the U.S. Tim Wise, the most energetic public speaker on the planet, who is on the road almost as much as Bob Dylan, tells us, "Z is like a beacon pointing out the problems with current power structures and institutions, but even more, examining alternative futures. Z is indispensable to me, and I have heard the same from thousands of people around the country." And also from the U.S., Ed Herman who knows Z, with Noam Chomsky, longest and best of all writes, "Z Magazine and ZNet have been my primary vehicles for communicating messages to a sizable audience for two decades. I consider the Z family a model of an open and democratic media."
From Sweden, feminist and decentralist political activist and writer America Vera Zavala says, "ZNet makes me think; I feel a part of something bigger. I feel connected to other struggles that I don’t share in day to day work. ZCom/ZNet is a tool for sharing visions and goals."
And from Greece the incredibly eloquent engineer and activist Nikos Raptis adds, "Greek journalists have been using ZNet and Z Magazine for years. They know these are sources for honest information and deep analysis of what is going on in the world. The Greeks as most peoples in the world base their hopes for a better world on a future moral reaction of an informed American people. ZNet and Z Magazine offer valuable help to this end."
Okay, so maybe I don’t have to make the case for the importance of ZCom. Maybe the people quoted above have done it already. But surely I have to entreat, extol, exhort, plead, and get down on my knees and beg you to actually take the time to help, given all your other time consuming responsibilities – don’t I?
Honestly, I think the real problem isn’t Z’s users doubting the value of Z. I think, instead, perhaps the begging part is the core of the matter, not the case that Z is worthy. I am sure, for example, that there are many more than enough folks, among our hundreds of thousands of users, who, like many of those who weigh in above, would be incredibly saddened, hurt, and even devastated, were Z to have to cut back dramatically, much less fold up shop. The problem is those people finding some time and energy to do something about their perceptions. The problem is, your clicking a link or writing a check, to help with the situation – rather than your simply hoping other people will do it as you understandably move on to other tasks under the crushing burden or your nearly endless responsibilities.
So, must I do some heavy entreating to inspire you to not just say "yes, Z is worthy," but to also actually take the time to cough up some cash for Z? Maybe not. Maybe this too, others will do for Z.
From the U.S., Noam Chomsky, a living scalpel forever hard at work cutting to ribbons the lies of the mainstream, writes, "I hope that all of us who are committed to resisting and reversing the powerful currents of reaction and oppression and violence, and showing that another world is indeed possible, will contribute as best we can to ensure that the remarkable achievements of Z and ZNet will be carried forward." The incomparably astute Edward Herman adds while toiling away on still another brilliant essay, "We should do all we can not only to help them survive but to expand." The energetic feminist Betsy Hartman adds between all her other responsibilities, "ZCom is boldly visionary at a time when the Left needs vision. It is a force for change — and hope. It is important that people who use it support it." And the endlessly persuasive media activist and scholar Bob McChesney, amidst all his responsibilities, joins in saying, "I read ZCom nearly every day and find it of tremendous value. I strongly urge people to support ZCom including ZNet and Z Magazine to the fullest extent that you can."
And from down under, the multi-talentd writer and filmmaker John Pilger, never without a profound project in process, chimes in by urging: "Please do support Z; we need it; you need it." And, Green activist and scholar John Hepburn, also Aussie, writes: "ZCom is for people who dare to imagine that another world is actually possible. It has been a kind of radical, online university for social change. More than ever, we need vision, we need strategies for how to get there, and we need independent media that cuts through the crap. We need ZCom, and ZCom needs us. Put your money where your vision is – become a Sustainer." And from the UK, media savvy David Cromwell writes, "Please support ZNet wholeheartedly!" And his partner in media savvy activism, David Edwards adds, "I would view it as a genuine disaster if Z was to disappear. That can’t be allowed to happen."
Okay, so by now surely you get the point: Lots of people with lots of experience and varied outlooks think ZCom is important and that supporting ZCom is a priority. The question is, do you agree?
We hope you do. And we hope you avail yourself of the opportunity of our upcoming fund raising drive to help us out.
Just keep watching the top page of ZNet. Our appeal will appear there very soon, including links to use to help. Then, pick your preferred avenue to help us, and – well – do it.
And, by the by, the benefits of our imminent upgrade for those using the site regularly and especially for our Sustainers, are going to be huge – and that will be the focus of my next blog in which I will try to describe the history of recent site renovation, the logic involved, the difficulties encountered, and what the successful implementation can mean for you!