NGOs Are Cages
By Stephanie McMillan / stephaniemcmillan.org

We really need to understand the methods used by NGOs* to undermine radical political organizing efforts and divert us into political dead ends. The climate march is a good case study because it's so blatant. 

In South Florida, we saw the exact same process after the BP oil spill. Once the NGOs came in to the organizing meetings and were given the floor, all potential resistance was blocked, strangled, and left for dead. NGOs will descend on any organizing effort and try to take it over, dilute it, and bring it eventually to the Democratic Party. We can also see an identical set-up with the established labor unions and many other organizations. 

If organizers are being paid, usually they are trapped in this dynamic, whether or not they want to be. While combining a job with organizing to challenge the system sounds very tempting and full of potential, it's overwhelmingly not possible. They are two fundamentally incompatible aims, and those funding the job definitely do not have the aim of allowing its employees to undermine the system -- the very system that allows the funders to exist, that they feed off of. Capitalists aren't stupid, and they know how to keep their employees chained to a post, even if the leash feels long. With NGOs, capitalism has set up a great mechanism for itself both to generate revenue, and to pacify people who might otherwise be fighting to break the framework. "The unity of the chicken and the roach happens in the belly of the chicken." 

Another problem is that the rest of us attending an activity or a demonstration have to wonder: when organizers are being paid to say whatever it is they're saying, how do we know whether or not they believe it? They follow a script, and can't reveal their true feelings. They attempt to promote their cause in a convincing way, but if their funding was cut off, would they still be involved? Would their orientation still be the same? It's hard to believe anything said by a paid spokespuppet -- it's like interacting with an embodied list of talking points. There can be no real trust, that the person could be relied upon when the money is no longer there.

Of course people need jobs, and NGOs provide them. I'm not blaming those who work for NGOs any more than who work for any other capitalist institution. We're all trapped in the enemy's economy. Instead, what I'm arguing for is to be aware of the nature of it, its severe limitations, and to do real political work outside the framework provided by the job. 

We should attend demonstrations like the climate march, because a lot of sincere people will be there who want to make a difference. But we should remain autonomous within them, bringing our own message targeting capitalism as the root of the problem, exposing the uselessness of working within the political frameworks it sets up for us, and building our own organizations with the people we meet.

To challenge, weaken and ultimately destroy capitalism, we need to build a strong, organized, broad, combative mass movement outside the influence of capitalist interests.

*(NGO: Non-Governmental Organizations, or "non-profits," usually in fact funded by governments and/or corporate foundations).
4.0 ·
1
What's Next
Trending Today
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 13,490 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
The Little Engine That Couldn't: How We're Preparing Ourselves and Our Children for Extinction
Daniel Quinn · 12,353 views today · In a recent semi-documentary film called Garbage, a toxic waste disposal engineer was asked how we can stop engulfing the world in our poisons. His answer was, "We'd have to...
Rap News Special Edition: Hillary Clinton Vs Donald Trump
7 min · 9,865 views today · Hello world. RAP NEWS is back for a special episode on the 2016 USA Election mayhem, feat. Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump + a touch of Jill Stein & Gary Johnson. This one's...
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 4,143 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
Debt, Inequality and the Logic of Financial Violence
David Graeber · 3,839 views today · Five years after Occupy, organizer and anthropologist David Graeber speaks to ROAR about the power of finance, the history of inequality and the legacy of the movement.
Prince Ea Just Put The School System on Trial and Found it Guilty of Killing Free Thought
6 min · 3,114 views today · Albert Einstien once said "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid". Today Prince...
Incredible Photographs and Witness Statements from Charlotte and Baton Rouge Protests
Mankaprr Conteh · 1,670 views today · On September 20, a black father named Keith Lamont Scott was fatally shot by an officer of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. It is not clear if he was armed...
How You Can Support Standing Rock
Thane Maxwell · 1,472 views today · This is your pipeline battle too. Whatever you have to offer, we need it. Wherever you are, take one step deeper. Find your voice. Find your own front lines.
Yemen's Forgotten War and Famine Fuelled by Weapons from The West
3 min · 1,414 views today · The world has forgotten the war in Yemen but you'll remember these shocking images of its starving children.
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 1,316 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
The Culture of Maximum Harm
Daniel Quinn · 1,080 views today · People have lived many different ways on this planet, but about ten thousand years ago there appeared one people who believed everyone in the world should live a single...
The Left Deserves Better Than Jill Stein
Kate Aronoff · 1,034 views today · Stein’s Green Party run doesn’t offer a plan to win, or to build power. The Left is capable of so much more.
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 930 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 884 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 858 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
Olympian John Carlos on the Power of Protest
3 min · 833 views today · 1968 Olympic athlete John Carlos protested racial inequality by raising his fist in a Black Power salute on the medal stand. He has some advice for athletes like Colin...
Kids Killed by Guns: America's Daily Nightmare
3 min · 818 views today · On an average day in America, seven children and teenagers will be shot dead.Gary Younge tells the stories of the lives lost on one random day - 23 November 2013. Ten children...
Gabor Maté: Why Our Culture Makes So Many Of Us Unhappy
3 min · 816 views today · Dr. Gabor Maté explains why it is that our culture makes so many of us unhappy, unkind to one another, miserable, alienated from ourselves, etc. Watch the full interview in Part 2.
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 733 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 570 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
NGOs Are Cages