Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Karl Marx, 200 years later

Monday, May 21st, 2018

by RAMIN JAHANBEGLOO

To ignore Marx the philosopher is to remain impoverished in a market-driven world

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, the author of Das Kapital and the leading spirit of the International Workingmen’s Association (known as the First International). In the words of Oscar Wilde, the Irish playwright and writer, “An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” If this statement is true in the case of only one thinker in the history of ideas, that person would certainly be Marx.

If Marx had not decided to change the world, he would have been remembered today only as a name on a gravestone in Highgate cemetery in London. Thus, there is no question why a thinker like Marx was at the same time a great influence on the most important thinkers of the twentieth century and a victim of a terrible misunderstanding for all those who made a revolutionary prophet out of him.

Not of gulags, killing fields

For over a century the fate of Marx’s thought was tied to that of Marxism. Even today, three decades after the fall of the Soviet empire, many still blame Marx for the cruel atrocities that happened around the world in the name of Marxism.

However, to think and to repeat that Marx is responsible for the Stalinist gulags or the killing fields of Pol Pot in Cambodia would be nothing but pure nonsense. No doubt, he would have been one of the first victims of Stalin, Pol Pot or any communist dictator. As such, the responsibility for the horrors of communist totalitarianism would be on the shoulders of no other ideology than Marxism-Leninism, which turned the materialist and historicist philosophy of Marx into a revolutionary eschatology and in many cases into a thermodynamics of terror. As Voltaire says majestically, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

Despite what happened in the past hundred years in the communist countries, Marx remains an important thinker and a central figure of the modern canon around the world. In other words, he should be read closely, with precision and patience. As such, any loosely philosophical approach or iconic view of Marx would turn the critical edge of his analysis of modernity and capitalism into wrong principles of a wrong struggle.

This is not to say that Marx provides us with all the answers to all our problems.

Hindu for more

Nikki Haley: The occasional activist

Monday, May 21st, 2018

by COLUM LYNCH

Nikki Haley, U. S. ambassador to the U.N., at the United Nations Plaza in New York on March 6, 2017.

Trump’s U.N. ambassador promised to promote human rights. Then politics got in the way.

“I will never shy away from calling out other countries for actions taken in conflict with U.S. values and in violation of human rights and international norms,” Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor-turned-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, assured senators during her January 2017 confirmation hearing. It was a remark primed to set her apart from the new U.S. president and the rest of his administration, who have seemed more inclined to cut deals with the world’s autocrats than to lecture them for mistreating their people.

Haley has used her current job to make the defense of human rights part of her political identity. She has denounced Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a coldblooded “war criminal,” warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin could never be a “credible partner” of the United States, organized U.N. Security Council sessions on human rights, and traveled to refugee camps to draw attention to civilian abuses. She has also strongly condemned the ongoing atrocities in Myanmar.

Yet critics say Haley, like many of her predecessors, is often inconsistent in her championing of human rights, and her strident “America First” rhetoric has rankled her foreign counterparts. The picture that has emerged is of a sometime crusader: one who seems to believe in the power of America’s moral voice, even in the era of Donald Trump, but who cannot be consistently relied on to use it.

When Haley is acting as a human rights advocate, she occupies a space the rest of the U.S. leadership has all but abandoned. Take what happened in September 2017. Saudi Arabia was fighting off a diplomatic offensive at the U.N. Human Rights Council led by the Netherlands, which wanted to establish an open-ended commission of inquiry probing atrocities in Yemen by the Saudi-led military coalition and the Houthi insurgents. David Satterfield, the acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, was reluctant to support the Dutch initiative, fearing American backing would chill U.S. relations with Riyadh. The Defense Department also opposed an open-ended investigation since the United States provides targeting advice to pilots in the Saudi-led coalition and refuels the bombers responsible for the majority of atrocities committed during the war.

Haley was the sole high-ranking U.S. official to recommend that the country vote in favor of the commission of inquiry; in the end, a compromise preempted a vote.

But her advocacy has been viewed as self-serving. After anti-government protests erupted in Iran in early January, Haley convened an emergency session of the Security Council to address the regime’s attacks on peaceful demonstrators.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s U.N. ambassador, accused Washington of insincerity, and even France’s U.N. ambassador, François Delattre, told the council, “It is up to the Iranians, and to the Iranians alone, to pursue the path of peaceful dialogue.”

Yet Haley has been credited for drawing attention to abuses in parts of the world that the Trump administration has otherwise overlooked. In October, she was moved to tears when she visited camps for refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. Haley took a series of photos and presented them to South Sudan’s leader, Salva Kiir, warning that his government risked losing further U.S. aid if he did not allow humanitarian assistance into his country. When she came back from Africa, she was “eloquent in defense of the need to take care of the most vulnerable and the victims of these wars,” says Akshaya Kumar, the deputy U.N. director for Human Rights Watch.

Advocates say that while they appreciate Haley’s stance on such issues, they believe her positions are sometimes calculated to promote the White House’s goals, enhance her own political fortunes, and protect key allies, most notably Israel.

Foreign Policy for more

Weekend Edition

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Is Trump a complete fascist?

Friday, May 18th, 2018

by B. R. GOWANI

CARTOON/Pierre de Senarclens/Le Temps (Switzerland)/Watching America

factors required for a person to achieve a complete fascist status?

one should be a racist
one should have a big ego
one should be self-obsessed
one should be over-confident
one should be a consistent liar
one should never ever say sorry
one should be an ultra nationalist
one should tolerate no opposition
one should have a fascistic temperament
one should be in control of a friendly media
one should be endowed with an utterly cruel nature
one should have endorsement from religious leaders
one should have a base which blindly follows him/her
one should have a compliant party at her/his disposal
one should have a greedy/selfish rich class on his side
one should have support of a violent/racist police force
one should have at his command a strong/warring/hawkish military
one should possess a demented mind which thinks it’s always right

a bigot behind whom is his base and most of the Republican Party is Trump
a thug who has the support of hawkish military/violent police is Trump
a racist with a big ego who’s self obsessed with himself is Trump
a liar who’s overconfident and would never apologize is Trump
a very cruel person with fascistic temperament is Trump
an ultra nationalist with demented mind is Trump

a case in point about Donald Trump’s cruel nature:
there was no urgent need for Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem
he did it to please the fanatic evangelists at the expense of Palestinians -
about 60 Palestinians were murdered by the Israeli soldiers

Trump has nothing to do with religion/Bible/Jesus
if Trump ever came across Jesus
Jesus who’s not a violent person, according to the Bible
wouldn’t hesitate to pump some bullets in this bigot’s body
(National Rifle Association (NRA) would of course blame Jesus
not the hundreds of millions of guns sold by merchants of death)

but three things are not yet under Trump’s control:
(1) the news media
except FOX (Farts of Xenophobes) TV channel
none of the major channels are supports Trump
(2) the opposition Democratic Party is still strong
(3) the rich class is not totally in Trump’s favor
it’s divided between the conservative and liberal sides
though the liberal side is not too vocal in its opposition
it has benefited from Trump’s reduction of corporate tax from 35% to 21%

conservative or liberal, rich class’s god is money
even if a fascist government, they’ll join it
it’s not difficult to sway the rich class

it’s the opposition which is a difficult thorn for Trump
if he succeeds in getting the Democrats on his side
the liberal media will quietly follow suit

one may wonder is it possible?
well, most people, including Trump, was not sure he’ll win the presidency
but he did
in today’s environment
nothing seems impossible …

B. R. Gowani can be reached at brgowani@hotmail.com

Norman Finkelstein: Palestinians have the right to break free of the “unlivable” cage that is Gaza

Friday, May 18th, 2018

DEMOCRACY NOW

Palestinians carry the victims of the Israeli soldiers PHOTO/Palestine Chronicle

This spring’s mass nonviolent protests in Gaza come as the human rights conditions in the “open-air prison” have even further deteriorated. Last year, the United Nations issued a report warning Gaza is already “unlivable.” The majority of its water is contaminated, and electricity is limited to only a few hours a day. About half the population is children. Almost all are refugees who are prevented from ever leaving the tiny Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places on Earth. For more, we speak with Norman Finkelstein, author and scholar whose most recent book is titled “Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom.”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I want to turn to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, speaking on Tuesday.

HEATHER NAUERT: But let’s go back to something that we have covered extensively here, and let’s go back to the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. We have had many Gazans who have suffered at the—from the loss of medical care, not being able to have access to enough medical care, not having access to consistent electricity, food, jobs and many other things, as well. The misery that is faced by people in Gaza is because of a result of Hamas. That is something that we come back to. People want to blame Israel for all of this that is going on over the past few weeks. Let’s take a look at the dire situation that people in Gaza are facing, and that is a result of Hamas’s governing.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was the State Department spokesperson. Norm, this whole—people forget that the blockade, how the—the origins of the existing blockade around Gaza as a result of Israel’s reaction to a democratic election that occurred in the Palestinian territories. Could you refresh the viewers’ minds about this? And who is responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: OK. First of all, as Amira Hass, the respected journalist from Haaretz, pointed out today in the newspaper, the blockade of Gaza, in its milder form, but still severe form, it goes back 27 years. It started in 1991 during the first intifada. The blockade was then significantly, qualitatively intensified after the Hamas won the parliamentary elections—what Jimmy Carter, who was an observer, called a completely and honest—completely honest and fair elections, in January 2006. The immediate reaction of Israel, followed by the United States and then the EU, was to impose this brutal blockade on Gaza, which at a certain point even blockaded, prohibited chips, potato chips, baby chicks, chocolate from entering Gaza. And then, after Hamas preempted a coup, orchestrated by the United States, Israel and elements of the Palestinian Authority in 2007, Israel ratcheted up the blockade of Gaza.

Now, who is responsible for the current crisis in Gaza? First of all, we have to be clear about—OK, let me start with who’s responsible. As you are no doubt aware, there’s been a—there’s a proliferation of reports, from the World Bank, from various U.N. agencies, UNCTAD, the IMF. They put out report after report after report after report. And there’s a complete—there’s a consensus. There’s a consensus that the proximate cause of the horror in Gaza, the proximate cause, is the Israeli blockade. It’s not Hamas. There might be some Hamas responsibility, but it’s so marginal, so minimal, as compared to that blockade.

Now, we have to be clear, and I don’t want to get too dramatic about it, too emotive about it, but we have to be clear about that blockade. Number one, it’s a flagrant violation of international law, because it constitutes a form of collective punishment. Number two, since 2012, the United Nations—and these are very staid, conservative bureaucrats, who don’t use—they don’t use poetic language. They start, in 2012, by saying—issuing a report in the interrogative: Will Gaza be livable in 2020? In 2015, UNCTAD issued a report. It then used the declarative. It said, on its present trajectory, Gaza will be unlivable in 2020. Now, bear in mind, literally unlivable. These are U.N. reports by professional economists. By 2017, the U.N., Robert Piper, he said, “We were too optimistic. Gaza passed the unlivability threshold years ago. Gaza, as we speak, it’s unlivable.”

Now, what does that mean concretely? Ninety-seven percent of Gaza’s drinking water is contaminated. Now, bear in mind, of the 2 million people in Gaza, 1 million or more, 51 percent, are children. One million or more are children. Sara Roy, who’s the world’s leading authority on Gaza’s economy—she’s at the Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies—in the latest edition of her standard work on Gaza’s economy, she says, “Innocent people, most of them young, are slowly being poisoned by the water they drink.” Now, Sara is a very respected, cautious economist, or political economist, as she calls herself. “Innocent people, most of them children, are slowly being poisoned.” That’s what Gaza is today.

Now, to get back to Nikki Keddie—Haley, excuse me—to get back to Nikki Haley, she said, “What country in the world would do anything different to protect their border?” Let’s be clear: That is not a border, and that is not a border fence. Baruch Kimmerling, the sociologist in Hebrew University, the late sociologist, he said Gaza is the biggest “concentration camp” ever to exist. David Cameron, the conservative British prime minister, he said Gaza is an “open-air prison.” Haaretz, the most respected of Israel’s newspapers, referred to the “Palestinian ghetto.” Israel’s snipers are poised not on a border. They’re poised on the perimeter—call it a concentration camp, call it a ghetto, call it an open-air prison.

And the people of Gaza—it’s unusual in the world today. As the United Nations Relief and Works Agency pointed out, they said Gaza is different than all the other humanitarian crises. Why? If there is a natural disaster, like a drought, people move. If there’s a human-made disaster, like Syria, people move. Gaza is the only place on Earth where the place is unlivable and the people can’t move. They can’t leave. They’re trapped.

And then that raises, for me, what’s the fundamental question. Even the human rights organizations which haven’t been bad, even they refer to Israel’s use of excessive force. They refer to Israel’s use of disproportionate force. Implicit in that language is, Israel has the right to use proportionate force. Israel has the right to use moderate force. In fact, leaving aside the legalities and the technicalities, let’s just look at the picture raw. Israel doesn’t have the right to use any force. Two million people, half of whom are children, are trapped, caged in an unlivable space where they are, to quote Sara Roy, “slowly being poisoned.” Unless you believe that Israel has the right to poison 1 million children, it has no right to use any force against the people of Gaza. They have the right to break free from the cage Israel has created for them.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Norm Finkelstein, as we begin to wrap up, what do you think is the solution?

Democracy Now for more

The internet apologizes …

Friday, May 18th, 2018

by NOAH KULWIN

PHOTO-ILLUSTRATION/Joe Darrow

Even those who designed our digital world are aghast at what they created. A breakdown of what went wrong — from the architects who built it.

Something has gone wrong with the internet. Even Mark Zuckerberg knows it. Testifying before Congress, the Facebook CEO ticked off a list of everything his platform has screwed up, from fake news and foreign meddling in the 2016 election to hate speech and data privacy. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility,” he confessed. Then he added the words that everyone was waiting for: “I’m sorry.”

There have always been outsiders who criticized the tech industry — even if their concerns have been drowned out by the oohs and aahs of consumers, investors, and journalists. But today, the most dire warnings are coming from the heart of Silicon Valley itself. The man who oversaw the creation of the original iPhone believes the device he helped build is too addictive. The inventor of the World Wide Web fears his creation is being “weaponized.” Even Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, has blasted social media as a dangerous form of psychological manipulation. “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he lamented recently.

To understand what went wrong — how the Silicon Valley dream of building a networked utopia turned into a globalized strip-mall casino overrun by pop-up ads and cyberbullies and Vladimir Putin — we spoke to more than a dozen architects of our digital present. If the tech industry likes to assume the trappings of a religion, complete with a quasi-messianic story of progress, the Church of Tech is now giving rise to a new sect of apostates, feverishly confessing their own sins. And the internet’s original sin, as these programmers and investors and CEOs make clear, was its business model.

To keep the internet free — while becoming richer, faster, than anyone in history — the technological elite needed something to attract billions of users to the ads they were selling. And that something, it turns out, was outrage. As Jaron Lanier, a pioneer in virtual reality, points out, anger is the emotion most effective at driving “engagement” — which also makes it, in a market for attention, the most profitable one. By creating a self-perpetuating loop of shock and recrimination, social media further polarized what had already seemed, during the Obama years, an impossibly and irredeemably polarized country.

The advertising model of the internet was different from anything that came before. Whatever you might say about broadcast advertising, it drew you into a kind of community, even if it was a community of consumers. The culture of the social-media era, by contrast, doesn’t draw you anywhere. It meets you exactly where you are, with your preferences and prejudices — at least as best as an algorithm can intuit them. “Microtargeting” is nothing more than a fancy term for social atomization — a business logic that promises community while promoting its opposite.

New York Magazine for more

Capitalism is unfolding exactly as Karl Marx predicted

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

by OLIVIA GOLDHILL

Karl Marx is still relevant. PHOTO/Reuters/ Dinuka Liyanawatte

One hundred and sixty years ago, at a time when the light bulb was not yet invented, Karl Marx predicted that robots would replace humans in the workplace.

“[O]nce adopted into the production process of capital, the means of labor passes through different metamorphoses, whose culmination is the machine, or rather, an automatic system of machinery,” he wrote in his then-unpublished manuscript Fundamentals of Political Economy Criticism. “The workers themselves are cast merely as its conscious linkages.”

Gradually, in the century and a half since Marx wrote those words, machines have taken on more and more jobs previously done by humans. The 20th century political movements that attempted to make Karl Marx’s ideas reality may have failed but, 200 years since the philosopher’s birth on May 5, 1818, his analysis and foresights have repeatedly proven true. We are, in many ways, living in the world Marx predicted.

Marx showed that recurrent crises were not an accidental side effect of capitalism, but a necessary and inherent feature, explains Nick Nesbitt, Princeton University professor of French and Italian and editor of The Concept in Crisis: Reading Capital Today. “?He shows that the source of value in capitalism is living labor. He also shows that capitalism nonetheless tends to eliminate living labor as a necessary dimension of its development,” Nesbitt says. That contradiction means capitalism is never stable, but forever shifting in and out of crises: The system depends on human labor while simultaneously eradicating it.

And the stakes are high. Marx analyzed capitalism as a social system, rather than a purely economic one. “Humans and human relationships depend on our place within the system of capitalism itself,” says Nesbitt. “If we don’t find a place within the system as individuals and human beings then we live under exclusion.” Capitalism doesn’t just determine our source of income but how we relate to each other, our surroundings, and ourselves. To be rendered superfluous by the system is damning to social wellbeing as well as economic livelihood.


“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

It may be tempting to dismiss Marx’s analysis given that his communist vision failed in practice. However, the politics that developed in the Soviet Union were “not part of Marx’s vision of a social structure” says Nesbitt, but “developments of Leninism and the Russian revolution.” Most of Marx’s work was focused on critiquing capitalism, and he wrote relatively little about exactly what it would take for communism to become reality, or how it would function. Marx famously popularized the slogan, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” meaning that all would have the opportunity to reach their highest potential and to receive the needed goods, such as food and shelter in turn. But, notes Carol Gould, philosophy professor at Hunter College, City University of New York, Marx didn’t say much about what this mantra would look like in practice.

Besides, Marx thought true communism would develop only under certain conditions. “Marx predicted that for a communist revolution to survive, it would need to involve the countries with the most developed industries, and become at least as broadly international as the capitalist system it would replace,” Vanessa Wills, political philosopher at George Washington University, writes in an email. “Neither of these conditions were met in the case of the Soviet Union, which was always highly economically isolated.”

Quartz for more

I watched an entire Flat Earth Convention for my research – here’s what I learnt

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

by HARRY T. DYER

PHOTO/dsom/Shutterstock.com

Speakers recently flew in from around (or perhaps, across?) the earth for a three-day event held in Birmingham: the UK’s first ever public Flat Earth Convention. It was well attended, and wasn’t just three days of speeches and YouTube clips (though, granted, there was a lot of this). There was also a lot of team-building, networking, debating, workshops – and scientific experiments.

Yes, flat earthers do seem to place a lot of emphasis and priority on scientific methods and, in particular, on observable facts. The weekend in no small part revolved around discussing and debating science, with lots of time spent running, planning, and reporting on the latest set of flat earth experiments and models. Indeed, as one presenter noted early on, flat earthers try to “look for multiple, verifiable evidence” and advised attendees to “always do your own research and accept you might be wrong”.

While flat earthers seem to trust and support scientific methods, what they don’t trust is scientists, and the established relationships between “power” and “knowledge”. This relationship between power and knowledge has long been theorised by sociologists. By exploring this relationship, we can begin to understand why there is a swelling resurgence of flat earthers.

Power and knowledge

Let me begin by stating quickly that I’m not really interested in discussing if the earth if flat or not (for the record, I’m happily a “globe earther”) – and I’m not seeking to mock or denigrate this community. What’s important here is not necessarily whether they believe the earth is flat or not, but instead what their resurgence and public conventions tell us about science and knowledge in the 21st century.

Multiple competing models were suggested throughout the weekend, including “classic” flat earth, domes, ice walls, diamonds, puddles with multiple worlds inside, and even the earth as the inside of a giant cosmic egg. The level of discussion however often did not revolve around the models on offer, but on broader issues of attitudes towards existing structures of knowledge, and the institutions that supported and presented these models.

Conversation for more

Syria controversy: Who supports Assad in the civil war?

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

by SONALI KOLHATKAR

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, protesters wave flags and portraits of President Bashar Assad as they march during an April 16 demonstration to show solidarity with the Syrian armed forces. The scene was at Omayyad Square in Damascus. PHOTO/SANA via AP

Truthdig Editor’s note: Reports of a chemical attack in Syria have generated conflicting claims about what happened and who was responsible. The April 7 event is still under investigation. On April 19, Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatzar wrote a column titled “Why Are Some on the Left Falling for Fake News on Syria?” Truthdig contributor Max Blumenthal questioned her analysis. Below is Kolhatkar’s response. You can read Blumenthal’s take here.

Max Blumenthal asserted that I made a “sweeping characterization” in my column about fake news in the Syrian civil war. But I was careful to say that the propensity to back Bashar Assad, the dictator of Syria, is seen only in “some sectors of the left,” which is accurate. Judging by the many emails I received from progressives grateful for my column, I am happy to confirm that only some on the left take this pro-Assad position. Others, like me, are disturbed by the pro-Assad trend.

I admit my one mistake was to miss the fact that The Guardian reporters, whose article I cited, were not in Douma. Their bylines clearly noted that they were reporting from Istanbul and Beirut. I take full responsibility for that oversight and asked Truthdig editors to publish a correction, which they did.

Whether The Guardian’s reporters are “notorious sympathizers” of Assad’s opposition is not relevant. Robert Fisk, whose flawed reporting I cited, might well be an ardent supporter of Assad, which I also did not mention. The merit of the reporting is what is at stake, rather than the reporters’ sympathies. In fact, The Guardian reporters based their writing on interviews with the head of an aid organization operating inside Syria who has been in contact with medics fleeing Douma. The Guardian also spoke to medics who wished to remain anonymous, and I have no reason to doubt the paper’s reportage. Most critically, they interviewed a survivor of the attack who spoke on the record.
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Regarding a report by The Associated Press, its reporter corroborated that a chemical attack had occurred and reported noticing a “strange smell.” The witness who accused the rebel group of carrying out the attack mentioned an intact gas cylinder, which is likely the same one The Guardian cited in its interviews with survivors and medics—a cylinder, “of the type used by the Syrian military.”

Indeed, on-the-ground reports were contradictory, but how did multiple reporters corroborate a chemical attack with medics, survivors and witnesses, while Fisk only managed to meet people who claimed no chemical attack had taken place?

That is the point I was making. Pro-Assad sympathizers have used Fisk’s report to demolish any and all claims of government responsibility for the attack, as have those who claim no attack occurred at all. In fact, Fisk’s report does not even mention the gas cylinder, which both The Guardian and AP cite, because no chemicals existed whatsoever in Fisk’s version of the story.

Truthdig for more

Minds is the anti-Facebook that pays you for your time

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

by LOUISE MATSAKIS

Elena Lacey

During Mark Zuckerberg’s over 10 hours of Congressional testimony last week, lawmakers repeatedly asked how Facebook makes money. The simple answer, which Zuckerberg dodged, is the contributions and online activities of its over two billion users, which allow marketers to target ads with razor precision. In which case, asked representative Paul Tonko (D – New York), “why doesn’t Facebook pay its users for their incredibly valuable data?”

It’s a good question, one that alternative social networks like Minds have attempted to answer. The idea isn’t entirely new—Minds launched in 2015—but the site and others like it feel especially relevant as people begin to reexamine the bargain Facebook has made with them.

Meeting of the Minds

Minds is tiny compared to Facebook—it only has around one million users, 110,000 or so of whom are active each month—but it’s a prominent example of what it looks like when a platform inverts the traditional ad-supported model. It doesn’t feel entirely different from Facebook, at least not at first. The site’s home page is a news feed, with tabs for browsing images, videos, blogs, and groups at the top of the page. If you don’t follow anyone in particular, it quickly fills with the equivalent of ads, which Minds calls “Boosts.” (You can also banish all the boosted posts from your feed with a $5 Minds Plus monthly subscription.)

In a refreshing change from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the rest of the major platforms, Minds has also retained a strictly reverse-chronological timeline. The core of the Minds experience, though, is that users receive “tokens” when others interact with their posts, or simply by spending time on the platform.

“Helping people make money online is such an important focus of ours,” says 32-year-old Minds founder Bill Ottman.

It doesn’t feel entirely different from Facebook, at least not at first

The tokens users receive for contributing to Minds don’t yet translate to real money, but they can be used within the platform to buy two kinds of Boosts. News Feed Boosts largely work in the same way as traditional digital ads, injecting a post into other people’s feeds. Peer-to-Peer Boosts, meanwhile, formalize a part of the digital economy that has always existed, letting you pay another Minds user to share your post to their followers. It’s the Minds equivalent of a brand paying an Instagram blogger to wear their shoes, or a musician paying a popular Twitter account to tweet out their SoundCloud mixtape. The difference is that the financial relationship is disclosed in the open. “If you use the Boost well, you could have no audience and easily gain like five to ten-thousand followers,” says Ottman.

Minds doesn’t let you use a Boost to target specific users on the platform; your post instead gets shared to 1,000 random people for each token you spend. Ottman says that if Minds ever did build out a targeting capability, the entire system would require users to explicitly opt-in. If you haven’t earned enough tokens from contributing to or using Minds, you can also choose to pay for either type of Boost using a credit card: 1,000 views costs $1.

Wired for more