[Marxism] Succumbing To PayPal

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 2 09:59:36 MST 2009

Succumbing To PayPal
by Gilles d'Aymery

FUNDRAISING TIME: As a reader-supported publication we are totally 
dependent on the solidarity and generosity of our readers. Quite a few 
have often asked us to get a PayPal account. Well, we finally did. So, 
you can use PayPal or send us a check or some cash. We need to raise 
$3,000, without which we won't be able to continue to bring to you and 
the larger community this cogent bi-weekly magazine. Please, Donate now!

     "When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? 
Perhaps to be too practical may be madness. To surrender dreams, this 
may be madness. To seek treasures where there is only trash. . . Too 
much sanity may be madness, and maddest of all is to see life as it is 
and not as it should be."
     —Miguel De Cervantes

  (Swans - November 2, 2009)  Ever since we began asking for financial 
help in 2005, as Swans needed to either become a reader-supported 
independent publication or try to turn into a commercial endeavor with 
advertising galore and different content (which we could not fathom to 
do) or simply fold down (neither could we fathom), we have been advised 
by many readers and well-wishers to set up an account with PayPal -- a 
step that we have persistently resisted...until today.

 From the day Swans was launched in May 1996 we've always operated with 
two aphorisms in mind. "The only way not to play a game is to not play"; 
and "attempting to solve problems using the tools, techniques, and 
thoughts which create them is silly" -- both came from our good friend 
Milo Clark. (Albert Einstein once said something similar: "We can't 
solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we 
created them.") In this vein, we've always tried to think out of the box 
and, while fully aware of the socioeconomic system in which we live, 
we've been using as seldom as possible the most flagrantly destructive 
and exploitative tools that the system uses to enrich its elites, 
impoverish the masses, and gut local communities. Anyone who's familiar 
with the publication cannot miss our long-time advocacy in favor of 
local businesses, community banks, labor unions, etc. A careful look at 
the front page of Swans should make it plain and simple. We've 
consciously chosen to stay away from big boxes and megastores, as well 
as to the extent possible the financial markets including the dreaded 
credit cards. In that context, PayPal, a wholly-owned subsidiary of 
e-Bay (which we have never used), was an instrument that deserved to be 
utterly shunned, as the company makes huge profits on the backs of 
people who use it for their own "convenience."

So, every time a reader recommended that we take a PayPal account we 
kept responding with the same explanation: As we do not want to shop at 
Amazon, or Home Depot, or Wal*Mart, etc., we wish to avoid PayPal -- and 
we kept asking instead that contributions be sent by check, cash, or 
money order, to sadly little avail. Most people who recommended PayPal 
would not hear our request, and quite possibly would not agree with our 
reasoning, which might appear too quixotic and stubborn.

Swans Commentary now has a PayPal account.

What made us take this step with dire reluctance?

First of all, we are desperate -- or perhaps should I write, "I am 
desperate" -- to cover at least the operating costs of the publication. 
Jan Baughman, my companion and wife, has been sustaining this endeavor 
and supporting me through her work and sacrifices (and her devoted 
editing help). Both financially and emotionally it is taking a toll on 
me. Moreover, the lack of overall revenues forces us to call upon our 
modest savings year after year (except in 2007, when a reader from 
England put us over the top with an amazingly generous $2,000+ donation) 
and forbids us from developing Swans. The publication depends on a bevy 
of intriguing, talented, and thoughtful contributors, none of whom we 
can afford to compensate financially -- and, evidently, the lack of 
resources prohibits us from attracting a wider pool. (As Jeff Huber 
wrote to me recently: "If you ever reach the point where you can pay for 
exclusive content, I'll be more than delighted to write it for you." Of 
course, Jeff is not in the solidarity "business," but he sure is a good 
writer...on the libertarian side of the chessboard.)

Second, money orders do not work. Last year, Walter Trkla, a reader from 
Canada who's followed Swans ever since the unjustified, illegal, and 
brutal air war against Serbia in 1999, sent a US$100 check drawn on a 
Canadian bank. Our credit union (Redwood Credit Union) refused the 
check, alleging that it was not drawn in bona fide USD. We went back and 
forth over a few weeks. Every time I had to address the issue, I also 
had to drive back and forth 25 miles to the nearest branch. (One year 
earlier, Walter had sent me C$100, suggesting that since the Canadian 
dollar was higher than the USD, I would get a larger cut. It cost me 
(and Walter) a fee of $25 and they credited me for only $75 -- not 
taking into account the spread between the two currencies.) So, I 
eventually gave up and told Walter: "Look let's forget about it. Next 
time do send me a money order drawn in USD." He just did that this year 
(2009), taking the trouble to go to his bank and make sure it was a USD 
money order. Yet, when I tended the money order to the teller, once 
again it was disputed. Yes, it was in USD, but it was drawn from a 
foreign (Canadian) bank. I felt so darn embarrassed that I paid the $25 
fee and did not let Walter know. In the eye of the capitalist beast, a 
local community bank cannot figure out the international banking system. 
I once asked a teller there, in Ukiah, Mendocino County, California, if 
she knew anything about the Euro. Her answer: "Euro? What is that?" To 
say the least, money orders are an expensive proposition!

Third, a reader from Sofia, Bulgaria, in Eastern Europe, sent an e-mail 
telling me that he wanted to send some money our way. Problem was, he 
had not written a check in ten years, had no US$ bills in his 
possession, and could not send a money order. He recommended: "Get 
yourself a PayPal account. Très facile. I'll send you 50 bucks." 
Thinking -- erroneously, as it turned out -- that he was a young man, I 
answered that I was in the process of getting a PayPal account, adding: 
"You know: I am getting real old, because I pay by check or in cash for 
all my expenses. I have only one credit card and use it at the very most 
5 or 6 times a year." He answered:

     Quand vous êtes dans le ventre de la bête, vous devez manger ce que 
la bête se nourrit. [When you are in the belly of the beast, you must 
eat the beast's food.]

     PS: Je suis aussi vieux. 76 ans. Mais je dispose de 20 cartes de 
crédit, et de nombreux comptes en ligne. [I am old too. 76. But I use 20 
credit cards and have numerous on-line bank accounts.]

Whether he was facetious regarding the number of credit cards and 
on-line bank accounts is beside the point. A 76-year-old reader was 
telling a youngster (I'm 59) to go on with life as it is (not as it 
should be).

Which is what various other friends and contributors have kept telling 
me, the latest being my brother from Africa, Femi Akomolafe. He wrote me:

     My Yoruba people are very practical people. Among our wise saying 
is: omo ina la nra sina. Literally it means that you send a message to 
the devil via its offspring. I don't think that you should hate yourself 
for using PayPal to keep doing the great job you and Jan are doing 
editing and publishing Swans.

But the one who broke the camel's back has been Mark Lause, an assistant 
professor of history at Cincinnati University, a once-contributor to our 
publication, a third-party political activist in the Marxist tradition, 
and a member of and almost daily contributor to the Marxmail list owned 
and maintained by another Swans friend and contributor, Louis Proyect.

full: http://www.swans.com/library/art15/ga275.html

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