Tag Archives: nonprofit industrial complex

Finding Our Revolutionary Agency: A Reflection on Peacock Rebellion’s “Agen(c)y”

by Mara

The NonProfit Industrial Complex

Image from an excellent zine and comic book on the NPIC posted at http://zeeninginlaos.wordpress.com. Click the picture to check it out!

I’ve grown up in the bay area and my political development started when I worked for a nonprofit. I was about 19 years old, had gotten kicked out of my parents house for drug use and related family conflicts revolving around mental health, and had to find work in order to pay my newly acquired housing expenses. Not having many marketable skills aside from being bi-lingual, I turned to Craig’s List and eventually got a series of interviews that lead me to an after-school tutoring job at a public school in Oakland. The program was funded and organized through a social justice nonprofit.

It was through my work at this nonprofit that I met people who were politicized around issues in education, pedagogy, and racial justice. Though no one helped me develop my politics through direct mentorship, being around a scene of people who had radical ideas and were doing work with working class students encouraged me to follow my interest in working students to the point where I decided to finish community college and get a teaching credential. It was through this process that I started researching people like Paulo Freire and through this being opened up to the world of revolutionary theory and history . . .

How many people have become radicalized through nonprofits? Found them to be useful forums for expressing radical political energy? How many have found them to be incredibly limiting and de-politicizing after spending some time in them? Continue reading

Van Jones’ Resignation Helps Save Obama’s Credibility with Racists

Big L writes:

So, Van Jones resigned and took one for the team by backing down from his position as “green jobs czar” for the Obama

Van Jones & Obama: representing the pitfalls of the left in 2009

Van Jones & Obama: representing the failure of "leftist" strategy in 2009

administration.  This is happening after Glenn Beck, reactionary Fox News anchor, smashed on him and called him out on his show for being a “communist” and part of STORM.

Interestingly, Glenn Beck’s right-wing, reactionary red-baiting actually contains some useful, truthful facts about Van Jones’ strategy.  Specifically, Beck’s racist-ass (and let’s be clear, this dude is completely reactionary) brings up the way that Van Jones saw his work alongside Obama as the way to be a “more effective revolutionary.”  Van Jones, and many in the non-profitized left, see this “inside/outside” approach as the most effective way of organizing (and as we’ve seen this includes many post-STORM nonprofit organizations.)

What lessons will we draw from Van Jones’ effort to infiltrate the system and change it from within?  Is it possible to have an “inside/outside” combination approach to revolutionary organizing (where we work within bourgeois electoral circuits, and outside of them) like the one that Bill Fletcher Jr. advocates for?  This Van Jones example is yet another strong sign that it doesn’t work.

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Unfortunately, many self-proclaimed revolutionaries see this type of strategy – basically, working within the system – as the only way to engage in day to day struggles: fighting budget cuts means working mostly within the existing student government/organizations and teacher’s union; battling exploitation on the job means working within the official union which is  supposed to represent a particular group of workers interests.  Etc, Etc.

Perhaps revolutionaries should consider taking the road of building autonomous organizations as vehicles capable of challenging budget cuts, exploitation on the job, police brutality, and other forms of capitalist oppression and exploitation.  These autonomous organizations may relate to unions, student organizations, etc, but maintain ideological and organizational independence at the same time.  This independence would allow revolutionary minded folks to actually create a magnetic pole of radicalism; providing space for individuals who are ready to take the system on more militantly, and also serve to pull existing organizations like unions and student orgs leftward.

These are some of the most burning questions revolutionaries should be discussing.