I wish we lived in a perfect world, populated by perfect people, and nobody would ever have to worry about or, even less so, ask for financial help (which I *really* hate doing, to put it mildly). Alas, we don’t.
The truth is that even a purely peaceful resistance like ours still runs on the “fuel” of money.
Here are some the real world good news first: the blog is doing great, better than ever before, readership is stable, we are slowly getting rid of the trolls/nutcases and our (superb!!) guest contributors are coming in with a quasi-miraculous regularity (a big thank you to every one of them!!!). I can also report that we have easily outlived all our “detractors” (being polite here, see note at the bottom) by simply ignoring them! I knew that this was the correct strategy and eventually what had to happen happened: now they are either gone or stuck in total irrelevancy, while we are still here and doing better than ever :-)
So all is perfect? Almost.
But here is another truth: we just lost two major donors (one over COVID and another over my article about Kabul). And let me clarify something: I could have kept both donors “if only” I did what they wanted me to do. I refused on principle for two reasons:
- Neither I nor the blog is for sale nor will donations (or lack thereof) ever influence what I wrote or how I write it.
- I refuse to believe that our resistance revolves around, or depends, on folks with deep pockets (I may be naive, but that is what I choose to believe!).
[Sidebar; to be totally honest, selling out (or caving to pressure) only works in the short term anyway. In the mid to long term this approach is always counter-productive and self-defeating. So while I refused mainly on moral, ethical, grounds, I also knew that caving in would be simply stupid. Others have done so, and where are they now???]
Can the blog survive without these two donors? Yes, of course, it can and it will. But with some real difficulties as our expenses have not gone down by a penny. Here is a metaphor: there is still enough ammo in our bunker to continue our resistance, but the ammo is running out, so we now have to be rather frugal in its use while our enemies have, literally, an infinite supply of the said “ammo” to try to silence us. We all know that.
Of course, donations are still coming in (my heartfelt gratitude to all those who helped), but I cannot deny that the loss of these two donors will hurt both the blog and my family (and, possibly, another family). Also, most donations come from readers with very limited means who donate mostly small sums, but these modest but heartfelt donations always touched me the most. Considering the political and economic chaos in the US (where most of my readers live), I don’t think that we can reasonably hope that these modest donations will grow bigger with time, if anything, a lot of people will now have to choose between getting food/meds or contributing to the Saker blog.
Asking those donors who are already struggling financially donors to donate even more would be simply immoral. I rather shut it all down and move back to blogspot or, more likely, some free/cheap Russian servers than to do that.
So this appeal is not, repeat, NOT directed a you, my wonderful friends with limited means.
[Sidebar: I know for a fact (I have good info sources who alert me to these things) that some of our foes have been scratching their heads and wondering what my “financial model” was! They simply cannot even imagine that I post everything for free without any quid pro quo or any kind and that I solely rely on the kindness and generosity of my readers! Just like a blind person cannot imagine a sunrise, these folks have lost even the concept of “generosity” and they sincerely believe that they need to find a way to yank your money into their pockets :-) I can reveal one truth here since my foes will read it, but never believe it anyway: I have no “financial model” other that my faith in the kindness of millions of people out there. Even after they read this, they won’t understand it or believe one word of it!]
This is why I can promise you again that in spite of this recent setback, all of the following will never appear on the Saker blog:
- Pop-ups of any kind
- Advertisements of any kind
- “Donors only” sections or any types of “member only” articles (which are accessible only to the rich, and not to the poor!)
- “Attacks” on perceived competitors (which our detractors tried, and failed)
- Copyrighted (I call it “copywronged”) articles
- Paid for “articles” (I get 3-4 offers for this every week, and they are only increasing with time!)
- Constant appeals for money (last time we did that was a full year ago!)
- The blog becoming “ideologically pure” (i.e. “lining up” with the demands of somebody with money, be it from the so-called “liberals” or from the so-called “conservatives”)
- Posting links to other websites in exchange for money
- Shaming readers (à la “I have a gazillion readers, but only 0.0000001% donate!!!”)
The above are all the “garden variety recipes” for “making some money with a blog”. I never wanted that, as I find this entire model, frankly, rather disgusting.
From day 1 this blog never did any of that. In fact, originally since I had almost zero costs (here is the old blog if you want to check it out). At that time, the idea of donations had not even crossed my mind, and you – the readers – were the ones who suggested it to me! (are any of those oldtime readers still around and remember that?)
Since, I moved away from blogspot and with the help of many, we now have our own servers and, let’s just say that we have also invested in a few things I cannot mention in public to deal with any possible attacks. Again, I ask you to trust my word that this is true, but please understand that we cannot publicly say how we prepared and what we did in order to react quickly and effectively if/when we come under attack. But yes, a solid IT posture also costs money. You/we get what you paid for.
Did I mention that I *hate* asking for money? I did, but let me repeat it again: the last time we asked for donations was a full year ago!
To be totally honest, a year ago we still had these two relatively bigger donors (with more disposable income than most people), so I tried hard to avoid doing what I am doing now like the plague: asking for help.
I much rather get support from those who can easily afford it than to get it from somebody who is already struggling with making ends meet. But both of these donors put me before a stark choice: comply with our demands or we stop donating.
Needless to say, I refused in both cases.
But now I have to do two things: first, report the true situation to you and, second, appeal to you, the “regular” reader and ask those of you who live relatively comfortably or have at least some disposable income your help us in our struggle.
So far, every time in the past, when I asked for help (which I have not done in a very long time) the Saker community *did* help and saved the day time and time again.
So here is my first hope: that you will prove to everybody that we, the regular people with modest means, can resist the pressure and prove the Big Guys wrong: there is enough of us and we can resist without selling out our principles (like true “ideological diversity” for example).
My second hope is that somebody living comfortably will step in and mitigate the damage done to us by these two former donors. I choose to believe that money does not “buy everything” or that “everybody has his/her price”. I also choose to believe that there are enough financially well-off people who also agree with this, and who will help simply out of the kindness of their heart.
I also want to mention another thing here: I regularly get suggestions that I should put up a (usually red) “thermometer” to show who much donations already came in and how much is needed to “plug the holes”. This is a very popular idea, and its intention (transparency) is good, but it has a HUGE flaw: it lets the enemy know how our “ammo stocks” are doing. Bad, very bad idea. First, it does not really work (I am still not quite sure why). Even worse, it exposes the blog too much to more targeted attacks. There is a very good reason why the very first step of any resistance movement is to let your enemy guess what you can, or cannot, do/afford: keeping the enemy guessing is crucial, especially when the enemy is more powerful by many orders of magnitude: So it is crucial that we keep out detractors in the dark about many things, including what our IT posture looks like, how much funds we have, where we get our info (especially about them!) or what our potential weaknesses might be.
I also have to mention another thing: while there are a lot of people outside the US/UK/EU – I call that ‘Zone A” (where most of my readers come from), many of them cannot help even if they wanted to. Two reasons for that: first, many people in Zone B don’t have the means to help or/and it is hard to send money from some Zone B countries. Worse, the US government has made it illegal to get funds from countries Uncle Shmuel does not like. So most of what our friends in Zone B can do is pray for us, which is far more precious than financial donations, but which is a major limitation on the way we operate.
Sorry for the long text, but I feel that at this moment in time, I had to share as much info with you as possible (but without inadvertently helping our foes). Yes, full transparency is ideal, but when under attack (which we ALL are!) you absolutely have to keep the other guy guessing. I don’t like this, but I also know that this is true.
I think I said everything I wanted to share. If I forgot something, I will add it later :-)
I will conclude with words from Saint Basil the Great:
Oh mortal, recognize your Benefactor! Consider yourself, who you are, what resources have been entrusted to you, from whom you received them, and why you received more than others. You have been made a minister of God’s goodness, a steward of your fellow servants. Do not suppose that all this was furnished for your own gullet! Resolve to treat the things in your possession as belonging to others.
Thank you in advance for any and all help!
PS: I also want to single out SouthFront as true friends and allies who, in spite of the fact that I was strongly advised by competent and trusted friends (including lawyers) to immediately stop reposting their videos and articles, never said a bad thing about me and never took offense (they also probably understood better than others what my reasons are). If/when the situation changes, I will gladly and immediately resume my collaboration with them and until then, I urge you all to support them in any way you can (but do not ask me to forward donations to that, that is something I cannot do, sorry). Sorry, but that is the most I can do right now.
Note: when I use the word “detractors” I am being polite. Many of these folks “forgot” how I helped them when they launched their websites, how I even posted donation appeals for them. They also apparently “forgot” that they used to praise my work (some even tried to imitate a few things we did), only to now disparage me. Some even tried to threaten me personally and my family. And what did all that bring them? Absolutely *nothing*. Why? Because it is much easier to trash somebody somewhere on the Internet than to write an original article, that’s why. And while they saw us, the Saker blog, as a competitor to eliminate, we never even took them seriously. And, where are they now? :-P