that my blog posts have gotten a little more. . . political in the last year.
Why is this, do you think?
I could tell you, but instead, I’ll let Chris Hedges tell you.
Because you might recognize yourself in his words.
Why I am more political has to do with Occupy. But Occupy is not the reason.
Chris Hedges writes, in an article entitled: “Colonized by Corporations“:
“The danger the corporate state faces does not come from the poor. The poor, those Karl Marx dismissed as the Lumpenproletariat, do not mount revolutions, although they join them and often become cannon fodder.
The real danger to the elite comes from déclassé intellectuals, those educated middle-class men and women who are barred by a calcified system from advancement. Artists without studios or theaters, teachers without classrooms, lawyers without clients, doctors without patients and journalists without newspapers descend economically. They become, as they mingle with the underclass, a bridge between the worlds of the elite and the oppressed. And they are the dynamite that triggers revolt.”
Let me repeat it.
“The real danger to the elite comes from déclassé intellectuals, those educated middle-class men and women who are barred by a calcified system from advancement.”
Are you a declasse intellectual? I am.
Are you barred from advancement through mounting debts, lack of health insurance, or a nonprofit that “just can’t afford to pay you more”?
Do you have a college degree (or two, or three) but still can’t seem to get ahead?
You’re not lazy or crazy. You have been deliberately enslaved. Student debt has outpaced credit card debt for the first time ever.
Our government used to believe that subsidizing education was preparing our nation to be more prosperous. The California University system used to be free. Now our government has allowed schools to raise their fees to obscene levels. Now institutions like Bard College charge “What the market will bear,” namely $50,000 a year, so students come out a quarter million dollars in debt.
Is that any way to start a life? How can you be neutral when this is happening? How can you be apolitical when this affects you, your family, your children?
Chris Hedges continues: “This is why the Occupy movement frightens the corporate elite.”
“What fosters revolution is not misery, but the gap between what people expect from their lives and what is offered.”
“This is especially acute among the educated and the talented. They feel, with much justification, that they have been denied what they deserve. They set out to rectify this injustice. And the longer the injustice festers, the more radical they become.”
I have become more radical because I have started to understand the systems of oppression and the systems of power, and I have talked with hundreds of unemployed people who deserve justice. Who deserve a better life.
What you have probably noticed about your own life is that you’re in massive student debt, you are working at a nonprofit for a wage that does not allow you to save, and you are encouraged, at every turn, to give up, to sink into bread and circuses instead of asking “Why does it have to be this way?”
Maybe you have asked yourself, as you see the people who you serve, “Why does life have to be this hard for so many people?”
I have asked myself, because I worked in the racial justice movement, in the domestic violence movement, in the reproductive rights movement,
“Why does life have to be so hard, for those we serve, and those of us who want to make the world better?”
Why do we have to make so little? Why is it so hard to get ahead, though we are resilient, resourceful, and try our best to get up each day and give our all at work?
Chris Hedges goes on: “The response of a dying regime—and our corporate regime is dying—is to employ increasing levels of force, and to foolishly refuse to ameliorate the chronic joblessness, foreclosures, mounting student debt, lack of medical insurance and exclusion from the centers of power. Revolutions are fueled by an inept and distant ruling class that perpetuates political paralysis. This ensures its eventual death.”
Remember Laurie Anderson, who says, in her most famous song, O Superman,
“When love is gone, there’s always justice. And when justice is gone, there’s always force.”
Chris Hedges goes on:
“In every revolutionary movement I covered in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, the leadership emerged from déclassé intellectuals. The leaders were usually young or middle-aged, educated and always unable to meet their professional and personal aspirations. They were never part of the power elite, although often their parents had been. They were conversant in the language of power as well as the language of oppression. It is the presence of large numbers of déclassé intellectuals that makes the uprisings in Spain, Egypt, Greece and finally the United States threatening to the overlords at Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil and JPMorgan Chase.
They must face down opponents who understand, in a way the uneducated often do not, the lies disseminated on behalf of corporations by the public relations industry. These déclassé intellectuals, because they are conversant in economics and political theory, grasp that those who hold power, real power, are not the elected mandarins in Washington but the criminal class on Wall Street.
Laurie Anderson sings, “Who is this, REALLY?” And the voice said, “This is the HAND, the hand that takes”
This HAND is the 1%. But I am not trying to vilify the 1%.
Looking out upon the withered American Dream, many of us feel a deep sense of betrayal. Unemployment, financial insecurity, and lifelong enslavement to debt are just the tip of the iceberg. . .
The American dream betrayed even those who achieved it, lonely in their overtime careers and their McMansions, narcotized to the ongoing ruination of nature and culture but aching because of it, endlessly consuming and accumulating to quell the insistent voice, “I wasn’t put here on earth to sell product. I wasn’t put here to increase market share. I wasn’t put here on Earth to make numbers grow.”
Speaking to our brethren on Wall Street. No one deserves to spend their lives playing with numbers while the world burns. Ultimately, we are protesting not only on behalf of the 99% left behind but on behalf of the 1% as well.
We have no enemies. We want everyone to wake up to the beauty of what we can create.”
. . .
Chris Hedges reminds us that-
“Revolutions take time. The American Revolution began with protests against the Stamp Act of 1765 but did not erupt until a decade later. The 1917 revolution in Russia started with a dress rehearsal in 1905. The most effective revolutions, including the Russian Revolution, have been largely nonviolent.” . . .
“The power of the Occupy movement is that it expresses the widespread disgust with the elites, and the deep desire for justice and fairness that is essential to all successful revolutionary movements. The Occupy movement will change and mutate, but it will not go away. It may appear to make little headway, but this is less because of the movement’s ineffectiveness and more because decayed systems of power have an amazing ability to perpetuate themselves through habit, routine and inertia. The press and organs of communication, along with the anointed experts and academics, tied by money and ideology to the elites, are useless in dissecting what is happening within these movements. They view reality through the lens of their corporate sponsors. They have no idea what is happening.”
When it comes to being flexible, nimble, and resourceful, both as individuals and as nonprofits, you cannot help but notice that nonprofits are doing work that government should be doing. And yet being paid by government to do it. And sometimes being outbid by private sector to provide services, at the expense of the dignity and humanity of those being served.
How can you stay apolitical when this is happening? How can you stay neutral?
How does this affect fundraising for YOUR nonprofit?
Kim Klein writes in her article, “Building Resilience Into The Nonprofit Sector“:
“In the nonprofit sector we are experiencing “money deserts.”
I help individual organizations diversify their funding streams, build their donor base, make themselves more attractive to funders, and strengthen their capacity to raise money. But strengthening the capacity to raise money assumes that there is money to be raised, and sometimes that is a false assumption. Those organizations which have relied on government funding to do work that governments should fund–meeting basic human needs, providing public education, protecting our open spaces, insuring that people who can’t afford lawyers still have access to the law, the list goes on–are currently in a “money desert” and only the concerted joint effort of all kinds of nonprofits will solve this problem.
Resilience—the ability to be flexible and nimble, to thrive in a variety of circumstances, depends on all of us thinking about the nature of funding and how organizations should be funded.
- What kinds of organizations should be funded mostly by foundations?
- What kinds of organizations should focus on a variety of individual donor strategies, and what kinds of organizations really shouldn’t?
The conversation has to go beyond what you are able to do and move into what makes the most sense for your mission.
For example, just because you are good at getting grants doesn’t mean that is the best way to do your work. Many organizations that used to get government funding have been successful raising money from foundations and individuals, but does that mean their work should be privately funded?”
Does the lack of money from government hurt the marginalized, the common spaces, the developmentally disabled, the physically disabled, and the poor?
I think we can all agree the answer is yes, This is Bullshit.
If we as a sector do not organize and agitate for the city, county, state and federal government to step up and start taking on its proper role in helping do the things it used to do, then how will we ever get the money we need to make LASTING change for the majority of people and places? The money is there. The government just isn’t taking it.
If you’re asking yourself, “How does the Occupy movement affect me?”
The answer is “How DOESN’T it affect you?”
If your nonprofit has never gotten government money, or tried to get government money, Did you ever go to school? Did you ever try to own a house? Did you ever try to save for retirement? Did you ever have credit card debt? Did you ever go without health insurance?
If the government taxed the wealthy, they would have more money to provide for every person in society.
What do you think is worth fighting for?
Better schools for our children? Libraries? A cheaper college education? Healthcare for all?
Raising the minimum wage to $50,000 so our lives can be easier and we can save for retirement?
Asking government to tax financial trading?
Asking government to make offshore tax shelters illegal?
Taxing the rich 50-70% like they do in Scandinavia?
A debt jubilee? Debt forgiveness of all student loans? Debt forgiveness of mortgages? Forgiveness of credit card debt?
Have you recognized yourself or anyone that you know in any of this?
What are your thoughts? What do you think is worth fighting for?