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I’ve added a paid subscription option to this substack. If you like AE it would be cool if you sign up to become an AE backer.
In the long run, I want to have 90% of the content free and just 10% paywalled. I mean, what’s the point of writing articles if not for people to read them? Hiding them away seems counterproductive.
However, in the short term, I am going to start paywalling titles aggressively (up to 50%) to encourage readers to choose to back AE. It isn’t because I’m greedy and I want to squeeze every last possible cent out of you. It’s because I need the feedback.
I need the feedback to see if this is viable, and I need it fairly soon.
In July I gave myself six months to try and put AE back on its feet. After which I have to reassess if this is going to work out and perhaps call it quits and go back to offline work if it won’t. This time is soon running out.
I think that my writing has the greatest “social value” of anything that I could be doing. But if it doesn’t also have a small market value then it just isn’t viable.
I’m not looking to get rich writing, nor will I ever. But if I can’t even make rent then it’s not viable.
Every year of producing AE has meant taking a big pay cut compared to what I could be making working a lathe, driving a van, or shilling for RT. Taking “opportunity cost” into account I am the single biggest donor to AE. And I’m not complaining, and I’m not sorry for it. Because AE is absolutely worth it. It’s worth a thousand times the pittance that I left on the table for it. But I can’t do it all alone. I do need some help.
So if you also think that AE is cool, that it’s worth keeping around, and that you’d rather live in a world that has AE in it, then please do hit that “paid subscription” button and become a backer.
The best part about it is that I don’t see why we can’t make it. AE isn’t exactly a publication with mass appeal, but between the website, the substack, and the email list it absolutely does have the readership to pull it off if we stand together and hit that 2% backers figure that I’m told is typical.
If you’ve already donated to the fundraiser over at the website then don’t sweat it. As I start paywalling things I’m going to “gift” you a subscription to get around the paywall. Also if you’ve donated to the site generously in the past just hit me up and I’ll do the same. Also if you’re poor or in dire straits momentarily just drop me a line and we’ll get you a paywall pass. As I said, this isn’t about trying to squeeze every last cent out of everyone. This is just about me needing the feedback on how much support is out there so that I know how to proceed.
Everyone is biased toward their own product, and it depends on taste and interests, but I really do think AE is the best long-form commentary on the current war in the English language. Alternatives are nearly all just utterly out of their league but AE oozes quality, that’s my impression. In fact, even a few Russian speakers have told me that AE is their favorite and that they’ve been influenced by me the most. Naturally, there are great Russian sources for raw information, but where AE shines through is writing skill, and piecing things together, and big-picture stuff, and pointing out the meaning, whether historic, or strategic, political, social or personal.
In the past, AE was mostly about republishing texts from elsewhere. Because that is the way I could leverage myself the most. I’m not chasing fame, looking to start a cult, or trying to bedazzle anyone with my smarts. I don’t need to write. I’m not seeking notoriety for my byline. So it just made a lot more sense to find good texts and find a good audience for them (and rework their presentation so people would actually click on them), because that was the way I could provide more value. As long as there already are decent articles around then republishing 10 good-enough articles as an editor is simply more valuable than writing 1 great one in the same time. So I would only ever write when something important wasn’t already being said by someone else.
But with this war, the disconnect between what is available out there and what needs to be said has just grown intolerable forcing me to jump in as a writer. (Jesus, the rest of the alt-media didn’t even comprehend the war would happen.)
This has meant fewer overall headlines on AE which has naturally depressed the numbers. Gone are the days of the 250,000 monthly views. (But base readership has actually remained stable. The regulars are still around just no longer multiple times a day.) In these changed circumstances the old way of raising money for AE via quarterly fundraisers seems to have broken down. My hope is that Substack and its system of recurring monthly micro-donations will prove to be a reliable replacement.
I feel I’ve got plenty to write about. There is no writer’s block. If anything I sometimes feel I could write about 5 or 10 things and it’s difficult to pick out just one that really jumps out ahead of the others. Or at other times I’m abandoning texts half-finished at 2000-word length as they start ballooning and becoming unmanageable. The challenge is really more in picking just one subject and keeping it under control, rather than in finding things to talk about. There is so much to talk about, and so many angles to cover. But the most often request I get is to do more take-downs of the 5D club. So if you help me keep AE around you can look forward to more of these.
It’s punching down alright, but of course, we must also have our fun from time to time. We deserve it. If you appreciate AE then you really are the elite of the elite. To be broadly in support of Moscow’s pan-Slavic goals in principle, but to at the same not be a blind cheerleader for the war but to question the suitability of the means, as well as critically examine the competence and the commitment of the Russian government is a complex position to come at it.
Few people are capable of comprehending that complexity, much less of appreciating it. It means that if you are a happy AE reader you are elite, but as an elite, you are also naturally few. I’m happy to write for you anyway, but I do need some help.
We are few but we do have our little outpost. Let’s keep it.
(Sorry to any Brits.)