« Every man an investor | Main | True to form »

Goo-goo clusters

By Owen Paine on Tuesday March 24, 2009 11:28 AM

Just read a piece over at Counterpunch on the state of the non-profit social-change subsector of our American class struggle.

Point of attack? Bad-spirited nonprofit orgs -- the spotlight-hogging, power-grabbing, unscrupulous grant-hound outfits.

The Counterpunch writer, Chris Irwin, calls them "someprofits" and he develops a nice Jeremiah-like head of steam describing their iniquities:

They are the ones always 5 years late on the true populist grassroots campaigns. Someprofits become so oriented in following the campaigns that are being funded they miss the ones that will be and always come to campaigns late in the game to start a non stop campaign to seize control of what they do not understand.

Someprofits come into campaigns late in the game and then drift towards centralizing control. They call them “steering committess” where they form “coalitions” that always seems to boil down to fewer people making decisions.

Someprofits think that since they are getting paid to organize—that they must be professionals and really good at it. This expert head cripples in that the very nature of conflict is that no two are the same. It also makes them arrogant and gives them a sense of entitlement when they seize, and then drive right deep into the dirt—the campaigns.

Wow -- some bad dudes, eh?

After all this, the enraged Irwin suggests how a real progressive non-profit outfit oughta be missioning itself: not "to fund themselves -- but to provide resources and tools for the betterment of our world." Now you can't find much in that to quibble over.

Irwin kinda stumbles at the finish line, unfortunately. Those that know need to name names -- which Irwin doesn't do. (I bet he's got the Sierra Club in mind, though.) The dark side orgs need to be outed and vilified by name. There's no room for love-thine-enemy cure-the-patient shit in this scrap. And his peroration is downright social-workerish:

If a someprofit was an adult you would confront them with their behavior and offer clear consequences if they do not modify their antisocial behavior.... we as a community need to confront these someprofits with their behavior because how many of them are acting is damaging, inappropriate and just plain bad manners.
"Damaging"? "Inappropriate"? That hardly gets it done -- and to sling at 'em their "bad manners" kinda frames the misbegotten googoo aspect of the diatribe.


Posts along these lines are comparatively rare in the larger left indy media, so I salute it despite the fizzle factor.

Comments (9)

The moral theatrics industry, like political campaigns, is a very controllable commodity. Their dependence on the largesse of the ruling class, as such, limits their strategies. I salvaged some relevant discussions from the Scruggs' Seminars here:

Nicholas Hart:

I read that article too. Though I liked the gist of it, I felt like it was way too lean on specifics--and was rather poorly written to boot. There was a review of an interesting-sounding book in ISR a while back, called "The Revolution Will Not Be Funded" that looks at this issue in more depth...



nice memory lane trip


that scruggs character
was quite a phrase twister ...eh ??

i hear he went back into
the family business
training great apes
to square dance....

wonder if that's really enough
of a challenge
for a powerful
creative intellect like his

ah well who can say
maybe he's with us still ...in spirit


i got to this line

"Revolutionaries have taken a highly critical view of this phenomenon"

and my inner reading lamp blew out

but the topic deserves to find its
robert burton

as zero revolutions "revolutionary"
i could enjoy a vast thick book
full of npo tales and excurpted wisdoms


i can't ever eat just one ...

"Dylan Rodríguez defines the NPIC as “the set of symbiotic relationships that link together political and financial technologies of state and owning-class proctorship and surveillance over public political intercourse,” which Andrea Smith accepts as a working definition in her Introduction"

working definition ???

only in laputa ..
why this would be like using
a table saw
to remove a gall stone

oh these trotulates are just .. the most !!!! ain't they ???

"Alienation of constituents from material supporters is characteristic of the NPIC.."

pig latin ???

“In a neoliberal climate of disenchantment with the state…multilateral donors and their bilateral partners channeled increasing amounts of funding from the early 1980s through…NGOs.”

thumb nail Cliography

"This is, for instance, a respectable way for rich families to provide their idle youth with a nice office and six-figure salary."

and what's so wrooowwwwnggg with that ???

i'd swap what we got now for a system
that at death gave two options
put it all in a foundation
set up along the above lines
uncle snatches it all
for public debt service

"Many people will get involved…but avoid rocking the boat on an ongoing basis because if they do, they might lose their funding.… People in non-profits are not necessarily consciously thinking that they are “selling out.” But just by trying to keep funding and pay everyone’s salaries, they start to unconsciously limit their imagination of what they could do."

can't argue with that
i'll quit on a high note


just over the next rise was this
show stopper:

"Suffice to say that,
with the evidence of history at hand,
the principle of horizontality cannot command the uncritical enthusiasm it receives"

with the submission of this final exhibit
your honor
the prosecution rests its case


""Alienation of constituents from material supporters is characteristic of the NPIC.."

I kinda like that one.

This general subject deserves further treatment. Non-profits, like NGOs, may end up running a lot our lives.



u got a tin left ear ????


What? You don't like "alienation. . . from material supporters"? Well, I thought I got it, but maybe you're right. "Material supporters" being the upper class kids who run the non-profits, and "constituents" being the earnest liberals who support the issues?

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Tuesday March 24, 2009 11:28 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Every man an investor.

The next post in this blog is True to form.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31