Friday, 8 February 2013


"Funding a civilisation through advertising is like trying to get nutrition by connecting a tube from one's anus to one's mouth." 

I could quibble with a few of the sweeping generalisations of Obey. I could point out the hypocrisy of declaring war on the corporate state by using the very tools it employs to subjugate us. And I'm sure you could do a better job than I at picking faults in its Marxist view of our certain fate. But I do agree with the thrust of this video: We are to varying degrees sleepwalking into a corporate world that we will no longer want or be able to live in, if in fact we are not already there yet. And I agree with the final point, that hope, and its daughters -- anger and courage -- are about the only things we have left on our side. I could go on, but there's plenty to sink your teeth into in the video, if like me, you are feeling a tad apocalyptic tonight.

The counter argument is that there is a middle ground of Norwegian welfare state utopia for all or we can harness technology to combat corporate greed, tech being neutral and all that. Remember Quakebook? But I think the corporations have just about sewn it up already, despite the odd fig leaf exception. Here's a quick true story by way of illustration. Remember the freetohoku DIY charity my wife and I run to help folks in tsunami hit places up north? We raised small amounts of money to run DIY relief missions, buy Christmas cakes for kids and most recently bring two orphans down to Abiko to have a great Christmas. We have detailed all our activities and money raised and spent on the website for all to see.

But we haven't gone through the cumbersome process to declare ourselves a bona fide tax deductible charity yet (we are not interested in becoming a big money-raising institution), though we plan to just to keep everything shipshape. PayPal had different ideas however, deciding that since we were not offering services or goods for profit, they couldn't allow us to continue to have an account. After I explained the situation in a long e-mail to the company, PayPal Singapore yanked our Japan PayPal account with a one-sentence cut-and-paste ruling and no right to appeal.

That's fine. Really it is.

In fact, I thank PayPal for the valuable lesson: they don't give a shit about people, why on earth did I even imagine they would? We shall continue to do what we do, but on a human scale. If we need to raise cash to do that, we shall ask our friends.

We'll just remove the tube from our anus.

Secret handshake to Brainpickings for the video. I wonder how long before it is pulled with complaints from some of the corporations whose logos grace the end of the video citing copyright infringement? Best watch it now if I were you.


Brian B. said...

It's been a while since I tried to use Paypal in Japan, but I remembered that their Japanese service was incredibly restricted compared to their American service due to Japanese banking regulations designed to prevent 振り込み詐欺. So, I can't say for sure, but your shitty treatment might be the result of them complying with Japanese banking regulations.

Dan Ryan said...

No, the assholes at PayPal treat us like shit here in America too. I've been ripped off several times by eBay customers who claimed they never got an item I sent, even though I had proof of delivery from the US Post Office. So, customer gets item, but files a non-delivery complaint with PayPal, and then PayPal treats me like a fucking criminal and forces me to refund customer's money by suspending my account until I do. Unscrupulous customer takes all, PayPal gets their fees, and I get to munch on a shit Popsicle.

njr said...

I am so sorry to see this. You have worked hard to create something worthy. I am sure your ingenuity will find a way to create something even better next!

Our Man in Abiko said...

Oh, it's by no stretch the end of freetohoku. Just means PayPal and their ilk will not play a role. It actually makes what we do more focused. Freetohoku has always been about hands on volunteering not raising money.

Winston Saint said...

What I've found, Our Man, is that we are compelled to keep our efforts at the small and personal level. Big Business and Big Government do not want to help; they want to make your life more difficult than it already is.