[Marxism] Nonprofit careerism
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Dec 27 15:24:48 MST 2004
Counterpunch, December 27, 2004
How Nonprofit Careerism Derailed the "Revolution"
Greens and Greenbacks
By MICHAEL DONNELLY
My good friend Lisa Goldrosen is a veteran of many left causes. Lisa has
spent her entire adult life working in various coop endeavors. She has a
wonderful collection of buttons and posters from back when America rose
from the slumber of the Eisenhower years. She has buttons from the early
days of the clean-up of the Hudson River Pete Seeger's precursor to
Greenpeace. More are from the early Civil Rights Movement. Others are from
the anti-Vietnam War effort and the SDS era on campus. She has one anti-war
poster that could be recycled as is and still be useful today.
Lisa has arranged them all in a wonderful historic collage. She regularly
uses it to give history lessons to young radicals here in Oregon. Someone
always asks, "Why didn't I ever hear about this in school?"
Being a 60s activist myself, having grown up in Flint -- steeped in the
history of the Labor Movement, a Civil Rights activist at fourteen, a UAW
member at eighteen and a draft resister/ Conscientious Objector/anti-war
activist later -- I always enjoy my discussions with Lisa.
Recently, she put my frustrations with the current state of activism in
The Three-legged Stool of Counterrevolution
Lisa notes, "The Revolution was derailed by three things: the end of the
draft; Roe v. Wade and the rise of the nonprofit sector. Once the children
of privilege were no longer subject to any personal pain, it was over. It
was a brilliant strategy by predatory capitalism."
While I'm not sure if Revolution, or even Reform, was/is inevitable, I
agree. Once the draft and the possibility that middle-to-upper class kids
would be sent to fight Imperial Wars was over, it's easy to see how the
bottom fell out of the anti-war movement. Recent Imperial Wars, fought
predominantly with "volunteers," are just as heinous as Vietnam, but with
few highly-educated, comfortable kids' lives being on the line, we have yet
to see anything approaching the across-the-board, massive opposition that
Vietnam engendered. (Astonishingly, this very year during yet another
ill-fated Imperial misadventure, we saw the "Peace" Movement line up
vociferously behind a proudly-stated "I'll hunt 'em down and kill 'em"
warmonger for president!)
Same with Roe v Wade. A whole lot of steam went out of progressive social
efforts once this same socioeconomic group could gain access to affordable,
legal abortion. (It appears to be the sole bottom line litmus test still
applied to the Democratic Party.) Remove the pain and the rulers gain.
It really did become -- remove the personal pain from these me firsters and
the hiccup of resistance vanishes. I already felt that way about these two
issues. But, Lisa's expansion of the concept to include the rise of the
"Nonprofit Sector" put the final piece of the puzzle in place.
Back there in Eisenhower days, an educated, middle class American youth
could look forward to a future laid out lockstep towards either a position
in the "Private Sector" (read: corporate drone) or in the "Public Sector"
(read: political hack).
Those who got too far out there protesting the War or Racism or any other
outrage soon found themselves with a blot on the resume. Not to worry; soon
corporate America set up the "third" leg of the stool. The entire domain of
nonprofit institutions (arts, culture, environment, etc.) found and
embraced a collective identity as the "Nonprofit Sector" sometime in the
early 1970s. Ludicrously, their self-declared title has recently become
"The Independent Sector."
Prior to that time, most of these types of organizations, were for-profit
entities. With the advent of tax incentives, a plethora of corporate-funded
grant-making foundations arose as companies morphed from private to
nonprofit to take advantage of the tax rules. For example: In 1930, only a
quarter of hospitals were nonprofit, about 35% government run and another
40% were private for-profits. By 1970, over half were nonprofit and just
12% privately owned.
Entire college programs have sprung up, such as Wayne State University's
Nonprofit Sector Studies Program (NPSS). The NPSS mission sates, "The
nation's fastest growing sector needs administrators, policy makers,
program managers, and advocates who will guide them into the future"
According to The NonProfit Times survey, the mean salaries for top
nonprofit employees for 2003 were:
Executive director/CEO/president- $88,749
Chief financial officer- $60,675
Program director- $52,253
Planned giving officer- $62,019
Development director- $55,807
Major gifts officer- $56,850
Chief of direct marketing- $52,812
Director of volunteers- $35,267
Chief of technology- $58,595.
Lisa is correct. People could have their little impact antiauthority flings
as a college youth and still have a well-compensated career as one of those
administrators, etc. And corporate America could continue its depredations
and whitewash its impacts by sending out an army of increasingly
ineffective nonprofit professionals.
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org
More information about the Marxism