TCNXMNSM Crowdfunding Issues

Continuing the discussion from Mutirão Pataxó - Collective building Call /South Of Bahia, Pataxó domain:

The TCNXMN network is continuing its activities in Brazil where as so many people have left the country due to a restricted access to funding in the past years (due to exterior political manipulations) and the threat posed by the current fascist government.
In this context TCNXMN is seeking friendly support in their activities among another things to support the Pataxó communities they have been working with for years, and who also are having a difficult time to maintain the autonomy of their curing practices and healing infrastructure.


Do not give away information to the GMAFIA

While they were previously working with free software activists in Brazil those also have undergone difficulties and lost information belonging to TCNXMN. TCNXMN feel they should reach out to a large number of persons to gain the support they need and they want to get out of their usual bubble of supporters.

TCNXMN has turned to the GMAFIA to promote their festival project and a Brazilian crowd funding platform to raise the finance, this process is problematic for different reasons:
In times of crisis giving away the name and addresses of the people supporting indigenous cause, is risky and we can all see how this can backfire on the Pataxó themselves. Also using crowd funding platform that exchange financial support with a form of control, e.g.: the money will be in a specified way under the control of the platform. This is a colonialist approach, if I support the project, I trust the people who organize it to make the best use of that money, who am I to tell Pataxó people what they should do with the money I give them? Using a mercantile approach to crowd funding, selling cheap craftwork for “support” is not putting you in a position of resistance: instead, it demonstrates your submission to the capitalist order that only accepts exchange value and leaves aside true solidarity.

But, everyone is there!

No. I am not. My fellow resistors are not. It’s a matter of knowing your audience: who do you want to attract? “The public”, an abstraction covering many thousands of absent people, or activists who will engage personally in what they support? Attracting the wrong attention to your cause may as well bring problems, especially if government agents looking for a promotion in the fascist power play want to make an example of you.

Audience: Activists or “the Public”

Personal engagement vs. many thousands of absent people

The Pataxó are creating common time and establish their networks of solidarity through active presence and shared rituals. Intra-action marks the material relationship between the loss of trust in fellow alternatives following the loss of the wiki, and the correlation & consequence, losing the integrity of the people to the GMAFIA. Inseparation means that in doing so, the human gesture ceases to accompany technical resistance, and thus excludes participation of resistant allies refusing public capture.

Lets roll things back: the Pataxó need money to build an autonomous health center, and what they propose is to create common time and generously transmit us knowledge. My understanding is that they also need structured support, they need people they can rely upon who can relay their information. This is another form of common time we can construct together with people who engage with them both financially and providing means and access to their network. This is how they develop strong support and solidarity networks. The issue is particularly delicate because this induces sharing very personal moments and we all have different strata of intimacy that we can share depending on the relation we create with the concerned people.

TCNXMN is an international network; in Europe many of their networks are part of alternative and free software communities, and not only do they receive reproaches for using surveillance capitalism, but even people cannot forward TCNXMN material because they are not using those platforms themselves. This is very good news, it proves that we are building growing autonomous solidarity networks that support our projects in a meaningful manner: from our own forces, an intra-active model.

What we are striving for is a systemic transformation, as patching problems most of the times reinforces the system in place, because it hides its most visibly harmful effect. In consequence we consider the inseparability of the issues towards a mutation. What we want and the reason why we wish to support projects such as TCNXNM and the Pataxó people is a transformation outside capitalism, and that includes our own transformation and the transformation of our interaction models. Far from an impossibility, such transformation concerns most of us, not just a few ; we are many, and we are strong.

Without responding at too great a length or entering too profoundly into the matter of surveillance capitalism, whose all-pervasive nature is known to all of us and may be considered a question apart, I’d like to correct some observations about the nature of crowdfunding and its relation to the Pataxó.

To put it briefly, it’s quite simple: We, a group of people from the technoshamanism network, wish to organize a mutirão in Aldeia Pará in order to create a much-needed health centre there. The work will be performed by the Pataxó themselves as well as incoming volunteers, but we need money to cover the cost of materials, to the tune of R$ 30,000.

We’ve decided to raise this money using a crowdfunding platform, a strategy that is difficult and has its problems, but has also been important for many activist project; among other things, this was how the Hacker Bus (Ônibus Hacker) from São Paulo was funded back in the day. The I International Festival of Technoshamanism, in 2014, was also funded with a crowdfunding in Catarse.

It’s possible to reject such a strategy from various positions of purism, but at the end of the day we need the money to realize this project, and we decided to do it this way. We don’t otherwise have access to rich sources of funding (none at all, actually), and as you may know, all potential sources of funding inside Brazil are being cut off. We have, pragmatically, decided upon this strategy because we believe that we have a chance of achieving our goal of creating the mutirão, providing a health centre to a remote community, strengthening the Pataxó culture by supplying a house of traditional healing and hopefully also creating an important cultural exchange between indigenous and non-indigenous people.

Now to the specific points:

  • using crowd funding platform that exchange financial support with a form of control, e.g.: the money will be in a specified way under the control of the platform

Not so. The money is collected by the platform for the purpose stated, but afterwards it will be liberated to the Pataxó (going to the pajé of the Aldeia Pará) and the platform does not exercise any control over how the money is spent. In all cases, the people who specified that they would like a common initiative to produce a health centre were the Pataxó themselves, so they and we agree that we wish to raise the money for that purpose. I see that as collaboration, not colonialism. And exactly as you say: Nobody is telling the Pataxó or anyone else what to do with the money.

  • “_ Using a mercantile approach to crowd funding, selling cheap craftwork for “support” is not putting you in a position of resistance_”

First of all, it hardly constitutes “selling” - the value of the gifts given in return for donations don’t stand in a direct relation to the donations, and the crowdfunding site itself specifically states that it’s not a shop - if a project doesn’t attain its goal, these gifts may not be delivered.

Secondly and more importantly, it is a support for the Pataxó. The Pataxó live in a quite remote place and to a large extent get by with subsistence farming, but they also need money - of which they have few sources. In order to supply gifts for supporters we have to buy them from the Pataxó who make them, which constitutes a strong and much-wanted support for the local economy. Craftsmanship is, indeed, already one of the Pataxó’s most important sources of income, others being low-paid jobs in the tourist and agrobusiness industries. Recognizing indigenous people as financial partners and entering into non-exploitative business relationship with them is indeed an act of resistance and solidarity - believe me, there are forces at work who do wish to keep them in a state of submission. Of course, nobody wants large-scale capitalist exploitation of indigenous peoples. However, exchange of value between people is not always capitalism or even evil.

As for the question of collecting names and addresses of people supporting indigenous causes: I have, through the years, written many articles and letters to the editor against the racism and rising fascism in Europe which have been printed in a range of Danish magazines and newspapers. They have all been published under my own name, often accompanied by my home address. In a limited number of cases, this has resulted in death threats and accusations of being a “traitor” being mailed to me, presumably by some sort of right-wing extremists.

However, this has not in any way disabused me of this: We need people who will stand up, under their own names, and be counted as being against the destruction of our Earth, against the neoliberal havoc being wreaked on our societies, against the racism infecting our countries, and in favour of indigenous rights. The Pataxó want and appreciate open support. They, indeed, often go to Brasília to defend their own rights, and supporters who are willing to do so under their own name - exposing themselves to have their names and addresses “gathered” - are more worth to them than those who affirm their support but choose to remain anonymous or silent. The indigenous people can’t hide, their indigineity is stamped on them, it is who they are and they can never escape it. They need people who are not afraid of sharing some of their destiny by openly declaring their support. Hence, I’ve never been nor will ever be worried about having my name associated with their cause, and hence I also don’t have any problem putting my name on a crowdfunding in their support.

Hey @agger thanks so much for this long and complete response,
Indeed I understand what you mean, and I want to be certain that you understand that we completely respect and support TCNXSNM decision of doing a crowdfunding we even did quite some promotion for it, we have different view point but certainly are not purists.

Only in the context of the work we are currently doing with 3ts it brought to our thoughts a number of issues that we tried to explain in this small text. We really wish to bring through processes that are a complete gesture resonating with the problematics we are facing. These resonances make the sum of our fight strong enough to change paradigm. We work towards ways of doing that engage completely our networks that we think are stronger than what we imagine. In this prospect we need to be included ahead so that we can propose tools and ways of doing that engage more than an emergency response but contribute to lasting commitment. I feel the collaboration can be stronger as I feel already indebted to indigenous people for all the fights they face daily on their territory.

I hope you understand this is not an attack on TCNXMNSM rather an expression of my independent opinion and a proposition to work differently together we are 100% with you on this project.

Coincidentaly just found this online:
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because our liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Lilla Watson / Aboriginal activists group, Queensland Australia, 1970s.

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Thanks Natacha, we really appreciate your support! I just wanted to clear up a few things regarding the way we go about this. :slight_smile:

A thing that one could add about the Pataxó is that even though it is important, indeed very important, that we reach out to them transversally and not vertically (like governments, NGOs and churches do), as partners not as colonizers, in some ways we should not worry too much about them.

The Pataxó are not (and I apologize for repeating something you, Natacha, already know, but also for the benefit of other readers) like an isolated people in the Amazon. They’ve always lived in southern Bahia, on the very shores where Cabral landed back in the year 1500. Thus, they have 500 years of experience resisting colonizers.

In more recent years, until 1951 the Pataxó were concentrated in their “mother village”, present-day Barra Velha (5 kilometers from Pará); at that time, they suffered a major police attack and for many years they were dispersed and prosecuted - they had to live more or less in hiding and pretend not to be indigenous. There are reports of people in Barra Velha speaking the Pataxó language in the 1930s and 1940s, so presumably it is this “fire of '51” that led to the loss of their own language and the adoption of Portuguese, which today is their main language.

From that point - of being nearly totally vanquished - the Pataxó managed to fight their way back, conquering huge areas of land especially near Monte Pascoal and around Santa Cruz de Cabrália (around the largest settlements Barra Velha and Coroa Vermelha), with many smaller villages, e.g. the Aldeia Velha in Arraial d’Ajuda that we worked with in the festival in 2014. Today, I believe the Pataxó number more than 12,000 people in 27 villages.

My point is that all this didn’t fall from the sky, and they also weren’t granted the land by a benevolent government. They had to fight for every inch, and the road to where they are today has been paved with many confrontations, occupations, petitions, trips to Brasília and court cases. Large parts of the area around Coroa Vermelha are still in danger of repossession, but fortunately the Supreme Court in Brazil recently granted the Pataxó all of the land around Monte Pascoal between Caraíva and Corumbau, some 30,000 hectares (previously, it was considered theirs but only 8,500 hectares were final, the rest was in dispute).

So they already know the ways of modern society very well and have been able to fend very intelligently for themselves over the years. If we could find some way of selling their handmade jewellery directly to customers through a web shop (as is not happening with Catarse) they would love it as they could probably charge much better prices than when selling to tourists in the street. They have been living that kind of exposure to the colonizer society for centuries now.

That’s not to say that they’re just holding their head high and have no problems; the truth is, they have many problems, and there are many dangers too: Conflicts with land-owners, aggressive evangelical churches, a fascist government, lack of essential health care.

The Pataxó have, in fact, also had some exposure to the free software movement. A man called Regis operated Bailux, one of the first hackerspaces in Brazil, in Arraial d’Ajuda and helped out with their Ponto de Cultura or GNU/Linux lab. Our friend Paty Pataxó spent years working with free software in Aldeia Velha. Generally speaking, of course, people in Aldeia Pará know very little about computers and technology, but this knowledge is present in their community. They also know about surveillance capitalism, but for now they are much more concerned with visibility than with not being tracked - given that they live in a community with only one Internet access and hardly any cell phone signal, maybe rightly so. Visibility is a very important part of their struggle for their land and culture, at all rates.