Alicia Garza attacks Jill Stein at Behest of the Working Families Party and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex
Servile to corporate power, Garza repeated the racist “Bernie Bro” trope to vilify the most multiracial base of the Democratic Party.
“Non-profits function as both an economic engine for the rich and a tool of surveillance of the poor.”
The Black uprising otherwise known as Black Lives Matter struck fear in the heart of America’s racist state. That fear materialized into a two-pronged war to neutralize the movement’s growth and impact. Black rebellions in Ferguson and other cities across the country were first met with a militarized police occupation and an ongoing FBI operation to subvert “Black Identity Extremism.” State repression was reinforced by an ideological war waged from the board rooms of the corporate media. Black rage was criminalized while respectability politics was rewarded with non-profit careers. The movement was swept off the streets and into the halls of the non-profit industrial complex.
The non-profit industrial complex is a trillion-dollar operation. Oligarchs not only receive a tax deduction for their investment, but many of the richest individuals sit on the board of foundations and non-profits to steer their “mission driven” organizations. Non-profit boardrooms are not accountable to the people, but to funders. In the social justice sector of the non-profit industrial complex, donors mainly reside in the Democratic Party “liberal” camp. Robert Allen’s seminal text, Black Awakening in Capitalist America, traces the genesis of non-profit surveillance of Black politics to the Ford Foundation’s support of mainstream Civil Rights organizations such as the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The Ford Foundation, a conduit for the Democratic Party, once has again immersed itself in Black politics by giving over 100 million in donations to Movement for Black Lives organizations starting in 2015.
“Non-profit boardrooms are not accountable to the people, but to funders.”
Reliance upon the Ford Foundation and other corporate philanthropists ensures that the movement is, in the final analysis, controlled by the very white capitalist system responsible for Black misery. Subservience to the non-profit industrial complex requires that one also pledge loyalty to the Democratic Party. This explains why Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Network organization, was so quick to condemn former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s critique of the Working Families Party. Stein’s comment that the WFP’s endorsement of Elizabeth Warren mirrors the DNC’s hit job of Sanders in 2016 struck a visceral chord with Garza. Garza proceeded to devalue Stein’s opinion with her followers and hand pick a few trolls on Twitter to demonstrate just how anti-Black Sanders’ base can be.
Attacking Bernie Sanders and the Green Party is likely to please many corporate philanthropists in the Democratic Party camp. Tax documents from Demos, a Democratic Party think-tank once headed by Elizabeth Warren’s daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi, show that the organization made three different donations of $15,000 to the WFP in 2017-2018. It is no wonder then that the WFP’s leadership opted for Warren over Sanders. Garza claimed she was defending the WFP’s director Maurice Mitchell from racist attacks and penned an open letter that avoided the substance of Jill Stein’s critique of the WFP altogether. Garza opted to publicly shame Stein and the Green Party because there was little else to defend about the WFP’s decision to endorse Warren. Warren stands markedly to the right of Bernie Sanders on every issue of concern to Black Americans, workers, and poor people. Her deplorable white liberal racism toward indigenous people is also a liability in a general election against the arch racist loose cannon, Donald Trump.
“Subservience to the non-profit industrial complex requires that one also pledge loyalty to the Democratic Party.”
Garza and the WFP’s endorsement of Warren demonstrate clearly that non-profit leaders are primarily interested in advancing their careers within the non-profit industrial complex. The non-profit industrial complex builds a network of careerists by tackling social problems through a single-issue lens. Single-issue campaigns channel grassroots energy away from the principles of class struggle and self-determination. Class struggle and self-determination only materialize when oppressed people and workers unite against their common enemy and demand that power and wealth be redistributed back to the producers of society. That enemy, the capitalist class, is committed to retaining its dominance at all costs and has deployed non-profits to curtail the power of the people at the public’s expense.
Non-profits function as both an economic engine for the rich and a tool of surveillance of the poor. This aligns well with the Democratic Party’s own function as the graveyard of social movements, so it should come as no surprise that the DNC’s influence over social justice-oriented philanthropy is palpable. DNC-influence over Black Lives Matter affiliated non-profits is clear in the Garza-led Black Census Project. According to Executive Editor of BAR, Glen Ford, the project “performed a kind of lobotomy on the Black polity in the United States, excising from public policy discussion Black Americans’ views on the nation’s endless military and economic wars against people of color around the world.” Instead of asking Black Americans about their position on endless war, the Black Census Project focused on how Democratic Party candidates can perfect their engagement with politically active Black voters and ensure Black loyalty to the Democratic Party. Garza’s project collected information that the Democratic Party will need when formulating its lies and false promises for the 2020 election cycle.
“Non-profit leaders are primarily interested in advancing their careers within the non-profit industrial complex.”
The Democratic Party cultivates Black leaders who will speak to the needs of the party’s donors over the needs of humanity. Non-profits create optimal conditions for the development of leaders, Black and otherwise, who are servile to corporate power. Most non-profits look and act like corporate enterprises. A Board of Directors (mainly white oligarchs) chooses an Executive Director to generate revenue in the same manner that a CEO of a major corporation is chosen to run the affairs of a multinational giant. The most influential players in a non-profit, the donors, operate behind the scenes to shape the agenda of the agency just as shareholders wield their influence over corporate enterprises.
Thus, non-profit and for-profit corporations are two of the most undemocratic institutions to evolve from the process of capitalist exploitation. These institutions are not accountable to anyone but the capitalist class. Unlike corporations, however, non-profits are heavily branded as institutions that stand for and work toward social justice. Yet most non-profits do not practice social justice within their organizations, let alone outside of them. Neither the Working Families Party nor the Black Lives Matter Network organization share their financial information with the public. Doing so would burst asunder their social justice veneer, leaving only the naked hypocrisy of the non-profit industrial complex for the people to wrestle with.
“Non-profits create optimal conditions for the development of leaders, Black and otherwise, who are servile to corporate power.”
The non-profit industrial complex is the institutional mechanism from which the Democratic Party turns social movements into business opportunities. Non-profits are so prominent in the political and economic life of the United States that they comprise a vital sector of the capitalist economy. Workers and oppressed people have come to know non-profits as hospitals, workers centers and social service agencies. Thus, the non-profit industrial complex is not merely an agent of co-optation. Non-profits have fueled their growth by exploiting the impoverished conditions of workers, especially Black workers. Excluding the misleaders and careerists, millions of workers and well-meaning activists are employed by the non-profit industrial complex. This means that opposition to the material and ideological stranglehold of the non-profit industrial complex over the political development of the masses must strategize over how to win people over to a form of political organizing that is independent of donations from corporate and state actors.
To begin this process, the most visible and prominent leaders of the non-profit industrial complex should be held accountable for their attacks on progressives and leftists who challenge the Democratic Party. Jill Stein is not the enemy of the people. The Green Party platform is far more progressive and left politically than even he most leftish elements of the Democratic Party’s agenda. Elizabeth Warren’s milquetoast candidacy is being used by the Democratic Party to thwart the immensely popular anti-austerity agenda of Bernie Sanders. Garza repeated the racist “Bernie Bro” trope to vilify the most multiracial base of the Democratic Party. Garza and her partners in the non-profit industrial complex are silent over Warren’s acceptance of being labeled the first female of color professor at Harvard Law. They also remain silent over the DNC’s undeniable loyalty to candidates such as Bill Clinton and Joe Biden, two of the foremost architects of the mass incarceration regime. The message is clear. If you are seeking upward mobility in the non-profit industrial complex, then protecting the Democratic Party and attacking the real left is just part of the job description in the non-profit industrial complex.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News--From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing).He can be reached at [email protected], on Instagram at danny_haiphong, and on Twitter at @SpiritofHo.
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