A short reflection on the asymmetry of dependence and options.
Might does not make right
Yesterday I deleted my Patreon account. I shared this news and it was well received. If you aren’t following the decisions that Patreon has been making and if you’d like the full context, I suggest checking out Matt Christiansen’s transcript, or review the legal language being used by Patreon in defense of their decisions.
In short, Patreon has revealed the following:
- Patreon is a community, not a service. Therefore, they can (will) police the behavior of the members of their community.
- Patreon will police member behavior according to subjective whim.
- Patreon’s enforcement of member behavior includes (as a first step, and without warning) a serious hit to people’s livelihood.
As I was a member of Patreon, and a colleague “content creator” of some of the individuals who were negatively affected, I believed that neutrality was not an option.
While I don’t contest the legality of any action, I do contest the morality. Might does not make right, Patreon.
But it does make capable
I was able to make a moral stand because I was capable. If you read my first reflection (… and my last), you’ll know that life has been changing rapidly, in accordance with my stated, understood, and lived philosophy.
On the one hand, this has potentially brought me more in tune with moral awareness and action. On the other, the moral awareness was always there (ala Kant, we simply know what is right), I am just better able to access it through greater options in life as the result of greater capability.
I don’t feel the need to have a debate about which one of these is more important or more true. They are both true and both important. True enough and important enough to be recognized and developed in tandem.
I’m reminded of a line about Isaac Newton. Posterity remembers one set of his achievements and has reduced the man to these achievements, while forgetting that great achievement, no matter how singular or focused in scope, forms from a greater whole.
Newton was deeply religious. It is said, of the time, that the greater he grew in his faith, the greater he grew in his science.
I love this idea.
Because it takes serious mettle to plunge into the unknown. To risk without promise of gain. To labor without popular support.
Where some see division, I see union.
And just like religion and science are the grand complements of living, generally; capability and ethics are the grand complements of living, specifically.
How to become independent
Independence (or rather, non-dependence) is not a static state, but a statement of conditions and competencies.
My moral stand was allowed by several truths: non-dependence on Patreon today, confidence in my future income potential, the will to maintain (and grow) my independence, a preference towards long-term thinking (obviously), and a serious aversion to having toxic or questionable relationships.
In this sense, Patreon’s subjective banning of people who too-popularly express divergent political views (and who make mistakes, and thus put themselves in a “justifiable” position to be sacrificed), is a good enough definition of a toxic relationship. Staying with Patreon would require me to ignore my morals in one area of life. This is the equivalent of “looking over my shoulder,” praying nobody notices the opaque corner of my integrity. I would then be forced to begin to justify (to grow, to strengthen, to empower), this negative element.
If I played that game, I’d grow in dependence, not independence.