Tuesday, May 7, 2013
I've worked for three non-profits and that (along with my reading) has opened my eyes to a thing or two.
Basically, I'm pro non-profits. They are one of the "ameliorating factors" in the spiritual wasteland of capitalism (which isn't capitalism at all, as I've previously discussed), putting band aids on the massive socio-economic problems all around us. They do some wonderful work; help a lot of people; even break new ground here and there. So that's not to be sniffed at by any means.
But, for me, that's where the love affair ends.
In many ways, non-profits, particularly for the people working in them, are not much different to businesses in the private sector. You have a hierarchy, often accompanied by a thinly veiled elitism; they tend to be dictatorial; they only sometimes encourage democracy (How do you get what everyone has to give? How is this fair?); and, worst of all, non-profits are illustrative of the costly atomization of the Left in America and do virtually nothing to try and change the institutions and structures that create many of the problems they deal with in the first place.
A huge problem in getting real, fundamental change in this country, is that the Left is so atomized, splintered -- a sea of single-issue life rafts refusing to form a fleet. And, generally speaking, non-profits are out there fighting for the same dollars and trying to get the jump on each other. Why not join forces? First, non-profits working on the same issue could come together, removing a lot of duplication, and, as a result, money would be saved (there wouldn't be a need to cut staff either), and each merging would translate to stronger base units. (This would involve sharing information, resources and leads -- things non-profits usually protect zealously.)
Later, these "clusters" could come together as one big network, using its numbers to subvert the current faux capitalist, imperialist paradigm (or at least exert enormous, unprecedented pressure). By this stage of the metamorphosis, other leftist groups and individuals would undoubtedly have come on board, and alternative institutions to replace those of the current status quo may even have been developed. This is all entirely possible. We have just been trained not to think about such things.
And non-profits don't. They play ball with their funders -- some of dubious background -- and keep very much within the rigid rules and conventions of the status quo. More than they would like to think. Why shouldn't non-profits be completely democratic? Personally, I would rather have contributions from all than a course set from "on high." I would rather belong to a non-profit that dared to show a new way to a more enlightened destination than just go through the motions each day and make only incremental progress.
Whilst I don't deny their good intentions, non-profits tend to be near-sighted and territorial. And yet they could be at the very head of fundamental societal change.
There are a lot of smart people working in non-profits. But their genius is in the small picture and, sadly, that is not what this planet really needs.
Monday, April 15, 2013
I was working on another piece but it will have to wait.
As you probably now know, a few hours ago three bombs went off here in Boston -- two near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, and one outside the JFK Library.
So far nobody has claimed responsibility and we can only speculate about motive.
But at this time let's keep all those killed or injured, and their loved ones, in our thoughts. And let us remember that such nightmarish events happen around the globe with terrible regularity and we must think of all victims and do what we can to remove the scourge of violence from the planet.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
|Don't Accept Any Substitutes -- support a real American hero.|
Do you still remember Bradley Manning?
I certainly hope so because he has given a lot for you and me. And now he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Are you ready to say "thank you"?
Bradley is the young Army private who leaked documents, exposing gravely illegal actions by the U.S. government/military, to Wikileaks. For this he has been imprisoned for years and only recently been given a trial; and been exposed to extended solitary confinement (torture) and other mistreatment by his military guards.
You can read a more detailed account of Bradley's situation HERE.
If there is an American hero in this time, it is not a politician or a businessman, an athlete or an actor, it is most definitely Bradley Manning. And yet he is facing life in prison!
Please sign this petition in support of Bradley's Peace Prize candidature. And here is the link to the Bradley Manning Support Network.
The U.S. government is terrified of the Bradley Mannings of the world. The courageous few who will pull the curtain back and expose the ugly deeds of our evil leadership. (The more you read about these things, the more you realize that "evil" is indeed an appropriate word.)
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION TO HELP BRADLEY WIN THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE. Please read more about Bradley. Please make your voice heard in Washington. And please contribute to the fund to cover his legal fees.
Bradley Manning is a true hero. And we owe him.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
|It's Hard to Believe Those Tears Now -- Hey pal, time to roll up your sleeves, put your boots on, and be a man.|
I just got this news flash in my email:
"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says an assault weapons ban will not be part of a comprehensive gun control bill, though the ban's sponsor Sen. Dianne Feinstein could still offer it as an amendment."
Translation: Following Obama's crocodile tears speech in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, our government's commitment to seriously producing a real gun control policy, to seriously safeguarding our kids, to seriously doing its job, have once again been shot down like a helpless nine-year-old. The roars of outrage have turned to whispers and the NRA has bought off the D.C. pigs again.
A little harsh? NO! Walk through a maze of 20 children's bodies, then get back to me and tell me what the hell is harsh. If any of the greed-mongers in Washington had a single fiber of decency and empathy, if they had cojones even the size of grains of rice, they'd cut down all this gun bullshit once and for all. (Assault weapons!!!! Are you friggin' kidding me?) It's been done elsewhere, it can be done here. Everything else is just money-grubbing conversation.
Get on the phone to your senators, reps, and the stinking White House and let them know that this isn't good enough. Not by a bloody long shot.
Who's next? Your kid? Mine? Time to stand up and be counted or forever hold your goddamned peace. Sorry, there's no third option.
Monday, March 18, 2013
"House on Fire" turned 3 on St. Patrick's Day and I figure the shout out should go to all of you who follow/read it.
Thank you so much! It's folks like you that convince me we can turn things around and make this world better for everyone -- from the laid-off workers of the U.S. (and elsewhere) to the hungry children of the Third World.
You may have noticed a couple of changes to the blog in this past year. Firstly, I've taken a slightly more aggressive tone in many of the pieces. This was a conscious decision to go with how I was feeling at the time. I will continue to think about this. My acquaintance, Noam Chomsky, (whom I'll be interviewing again in late April and will include an excerpt here), is of the opinion that emotion has no place in social change discourse and the like; that people should think rather than react on the basis of emotions stirred up by others. I tend to feel that they should do both -- but since Professor Chomsky is about a thousand times more intelligent than I, I'm still thinking this through.
The second thing you've possibly noticed is that I wrote less during this past year. There were a number of reasons for this that there's no need to go into. A lack of desire was not one of them. There have been many issues/events/ideas I was dying to address and didn't get to. My solution is that I will write more blogs as digests: each one addressing four or five things, but much more briefly. This decision was also driven by the fact that I'm planning to gradually merge the blog more with the world of action. I have ideas for this and will announce each stage or event when they are on the verge of realization. But the written blog will still exist.
That's about it for now. There's a lot to be done: The planet is in trouble, no doubt. But we have the numbers, and we have decency on our side. For our children, and nothing less than survival of the species, we must, and will, win.
Again, thank you so very much.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Today, March 8, is International Women's Day and we might all pause to think about that.
For me it means a lot of things: from remembering how much a woman did to raise me, to feeling for the women trying to raise their own children in war-torn or poverty-stricken countries. From the accomplishments of kind and selfless women whether heralded or unseen, to the issue of rape and how it is such a blight around the planet. I think, too, of the little girls who will grow to be women and how they should be loved and nurtured and given the mental space to become their own people.
I hope you too will take a moment to think about women, their struggles and victories, and perhaps do something a little concrete, such as add your name to a petition, or, better yet, your voice wherever it might count, for a women's issue.
As we work towards a better world, let's do so with true equality.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
|Doug Stanhope: "Go in to work tomorrow and quit. And when you do, steal a bunch of stuff. I don't mean stationery. Take big shit like computer monitors."|
"Your piss sample looks a bit cloudy. Have you been having fun on the weekend? Are we not enough fun for you here at the Verizon Wireless family?" -- part of a bit by comedian Doug Stanhope
In a capitalist economy, the tail is always wagging the dog. Does this sound familiar: "I'd love to go but I have work in the morning"? Case closed.
I was thinking about this for a couple of reasons. One, because I dared to stay out all night the other night and, y'know, have a good time. Then I felt like crap at work the next day. Two, because I'm reading an excellent book put out by the Crimethinc. people called "Work: Capitalism, Economics, Resistance." If you have any interest in why things aren't the way they should be and how we can create change, get this book, read it, share it, live it.
I read a lot of books about social change and how a truly democratic, fair, caring and satisfying society could exist and has existed before. Since that's the heart of House On Fire I'll try and devote a couple of entries to the subject at this point, and include some very fine references. That is, if I don't get wagged too hard.