A Gentle Introduction to Counter.Fund
The other day I was tinkering in my garage and I decided to build a new kind of political organization.
I. What is Counter.Fund?
The problem of crowdfunding for those outside the Overton Window is not a new one. Counter-cultural content creators are trapped into funneling income streams through platforms owned by their ideological enemies. A non-liberal on Patreon or Kickstarter is just one hack journalist’s hit piece or progressive cultural campaign away from being censored from their platform and losing their income stream entirely.
Launching a traditional company dedicated to “free speech” crowdfunding didn’t quite appeal to me. “Free speech” as a Schelling point for such a company is a relatively safe political choice but is too open to interpretation. It’s too easy to loudly proclaim support for free speech while simultaneously cracking down on it on your platform. Twitter, Google, Facebook, Reddit, and recently Patreon are excellent examples of this cultural phenomena.
I came to believe a better way had to exist if only I put some mental effort into finding a solution. The deeper problem I saw with crowdfunding platforms is simple: they weren’t forming the basis of any sort of community. Each fundraising campaign on Kickstarter or Patreon is unrelated to any other, and the donors giving to those campaigns are likewise just a cloud of disengaged individuals.
So I thought, “what if a crowdfunding platform was based on something more?” Could the platform have an ideological edifice built into its functional operations from its creation? Not just one that was built in, but one which, made explicit, would attract a community of members already on the same page? This being in opposition to the current progressive paradigm where the politics is covert — hidden behind the innocent appeal of a simple fundraising platform. Simply put, all platforms are inherently political. A “free speech” crowdfunding site would also be political, so why not openly embrace an ideological bent and maintain it as part of the platform’s foundations?
A community-based crowdfunding platform with an ideology sounded compelling, but it would still be vulnerable to the whims of its owner. Conceivably the platform could be destroyed or made useless if control fell into the hands of its progressive, postmodern and political enemies. Even with someone like myself as owner, I’m just one man. I could be hit by a bus and the site ownership might fall to someone not as ideologically reliable who might start censoring it. The example of what Rupert Murdoch’s sons are doing to Fox News comes to mind.
I was struck by another question: why not operate it less like a for-profit company, and more like a co-op grocery store? Why not set the organization up so that it would be fully governed by its users? Better yet, why not build a governance system that dynamically gave power specifically to those generating the most income via the platform? Those with the most to lose will be the most responsible stewards of the property. They have skin in the game.
Now this whisper of an idea was starting to grow some wings. An ideological crowdfunding confederation seemed like a necessary, and appealing, idea. The idea of leveraging people’s skin in the game with regards to getting them to take governance seriously led me adopt the idea of setting aside a substantial portion of all donations to be spent as determined by the governors. With 10% placed into a community fund, the governors of the confederation would have even more reason to set aside minor political differences in order to find an acceptable consensus for the use of their collective money.
I gathered a group to discuss the concept with, and we quickly realized that this idea realistically could form the basis of a brand-new kind of political party. A digital political party — native to the internet, proudly standing outside of the Overton Window, geographically distributed, and self-governed by design. The people paying content-creators are just like dues paying members of any political party. The content-creators themselves form a party elite. The top creators, as measured by dynamic real influence, would assemble to handle the party governance and spend the party’s money on party goals.
II. How does Counter.Fund operate?
Counter.Fund will accept applications from content creators and other influencers asking to create a page in order to raise money for their goals. It’s possible to use Counter.Fund for a one-time legal fund or event. However, the platform encourages longevity of participation by its content creators, and in doing so, enables you as a content consumer to have faith your donations are going to a person you trust to provide you content or accomplish goals you desire to see achieved. Influencers who wish to utilize the site will be strictly vetted on basic ideological compatibility (but not purity) and on their content quality.
Counter.Fund party members can sign up to contribute support, in the form of monetary donations, to those Influencers. One-time payments will be possible, but a monthly community-contribution model will be encouraged. Party Members can be anyone, and can split up their monthly contributions of $5 or more between any number of Influencers they support. Donating to an Influencer gives them financial support directly, but also entitles them an equivalent share of actual governance power over the party and its collective levies.
III. How will Counter.Fund raise money for developmental and launch expenses?
Counter.Fund doesn’t have a traditional owner. It’s controlled by the influencers raising money. It can’t sell stock, because it doesn’t generate profits. No investor can buy stock and thereby exert control over Counter.Fund. Here is where Counter.Fund really outshines its current paradigmatic competition — the traditional crowdfunding platform. However, this still poses a problem insofar as acquisition of seed funding is concerned. With no equity to sell, there’s nothing to offer to a venture capitalist in exchange for working capital.
The solution to this problem is the formation of an additional company, ConFed.Co. ConFed.Co is a privately-held cloud software and services company that will own the software platform and patents that Counter.Fund is based on, and will handle all payment processing, operations and customer service for Counter.Fund in exchange for 10% of the funds gathered.
ConFed.Co will issue Counter.Fund a perpetual license to use the platform and patents for a nominal yearly fee. Under the terms, Counter.Fund’s governors would be free to replace ConFed.Co’s services with someone else if that one day became necessary, and would have source code access (but not rights to redistribute) guaranteed by their contract.
If Counter.Fund proves successful, ConFed.Co could then move towards further growth by licensing the platform to other interest groups. A major market ripe for this innovation are political organizations like Counter.Fund based in other countries. The potential market for crowdfunding co-ops, however, could extend beyond politics, into church groups, local communities, and other confederations where collective interest exists.
Since ConFed.Co is a normal profit-making company, it can sell equity and take investment from venture capitalists like any other startup, without threatening the independent nature of Counter.Fund or any subsequent counter-collectives built on the platform.
For more information about Counter.Fund, visit the Counter.Fund website.
Continue to Part 2: The Governing Philosophy of Counter.Fund