It is time to build a media army that will fight for our right to imagine a new future. The way we move past the destructive online messaging of the Right Wing and its paid trolls is to invest in both the present and future of the Radical Blogger Fund, a partnership between the social media team of Occupy Wall Street and the Alliance for Global Justice. In the wake of the government repression of public gatherings, social media networks have sprouted like weeds, all over the global internets.
The ask is simple. We are building the first working class-funded radical left communications network. Support the telecommunications costs of bloggers and community-valued social media networks. Typically financed and built out of personal funds and volunteering, these networks are then leveraged to gain support and strength for on-the-ground actions and social justice campaigns around left demands.
What is our definition of "Radical?" Writers and media makers aligned with the international anti-austerity movement. It should be common sense to prioritize the needs of people over legacy wealth, hedge funds, and investors, but it seems this has never been the case in human history. We need a group of writers and thinkers dedicated to building a new economic reality that serves everyone, not a select few.
Which actions and campaigns? Think #Occupy. Think #Fightfor15. Think #BlackLivesMatter. Think about the many recent union and labor campaigns. What does “community-valued” mean? Growth, engagement, and evolution of group Facebook pages, Twitter handles, LiveStream channels, and more. We are looking to support admins of large group pages that have a broad viewpoint across the spectrum of the Left. Many of these large pages that exist do so through the pure passion of volunteers, who carve space out of their daily online work to post and grow these communities. For years, many of them have done this, with the only reward being the political change in the United States that they see growing in front of them.
When is the last time you have seen such sharp arguments for the end of capitalism in the mainstream media? Thank a radical blogger. Since 2011, the social media team of occupy has focused on a sharp anti-capitalist message. The recent development of a democratic socialist almost becoming President of the United States is the closest to “political revolution” that we have seen in this country in the past fifty years. Thank radical bloggers who amplified the messages of #SinglePayer, breaking up the banks, and ending the for-profit prison system.
Both the Republican and the Democratic parties are in full meltdown mode. In the face of global capitalism, they are affirmed irrelevant. Critiques levied online from Occupy Wall Street to UsUncut and Black Lives Matter have helped illuminate clearly to the mainstream that the economic system we live under, helps no one, and it can be changed. These conversations are now present over evening meals across the United States. Collectively, these pages reach as much, if not more, of an audience than the Republicans and Democrats combined.
This is how power is built.
A frustration felt by many of these bloggers have is that there seems to be more money to study the work of building online networks for social movements than there is to support the actual work.
At this moment, thousands of Ph.D.’s and “social movement experts” receive funding to explain the work that we do. They study our work and then present terrible versions of it to academia and the non-profit industrial complex. Okay, to be honest, not always terrible versions, but 80% of them are subpar to what we would be presenting ourselves if asked.
Radical online activism needs support. That support cannot be a paid position. The writers on the social networks built on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and others should be working class, of the world, in the world, with a proven commitment to creating and fostering networks for availability to activist groups needing to mobilize quickly. Crafting and driving content through social media networks are skills, skills that need practice and refinement every day.
At the moment, you can use communication technology as a tool to amplify new ideas, or you can use it as a consumer. Radical bloggers focus entirely on amplifying new ideas, challenging corruption, and raising the voices of thousands of people to speak truth to power. Bloggers have replaced the influence of the mainstream media and advertising. The effects of mainstream conversation being led by the working class are in infancy. Supporting this work, with an actual mutual aid-inspired fund, will provide the resources needed to both shift online political conversation and expand the voices in the online political conversation.
We know this will work because we have already changed the conversation to the political reality we find ourselves in today. The Radical Blogger Fund will be a source of sustainable resource support, raised by crowdfunding, distributed to working class people, by working class people, who know the craft of online communication. Further, the grantees will be brought into the fund as stakeholders in that they will be a part of approving future payments for new bloggers as well as being offered an opportunity to join a larger virtual community to review each other’s work and trade best practices.
Instead of asking individuals to submit complicated grant asks, we will be only asking for proof of work in the form of analytics reports and the work that we can see every day on the channels that they write on. Further, as the reach of the fund grows, the recipients will be involved in recommending and approving future grant recipients.
We are excited to partner with Alliance for Global Justice, an organization that helped to make the work of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Sandy possible. We are confident that with their support, we will be able to not only provide these mutual aid payments to radical bloggers in the Occupy network but many other networks that have been built to support the efforts behind demanding a new political reality.
We need a world that does not put us into prisons for profit, criminalizes our reproductive choices, shoves us into indentured servitude through bank loans, or forces us to choose between gas and food money because we are in debt to health care or who knows what else. Solutions are in front of us, we need the imagination to implement them, radical bloggers will help make that possible.