The Triumph of the Diligent Dozen
By Richard W. Behan, AlterNet
June 6, 2003
"Can a society whose culture is so given over to excessive commercialization
ever function as a deliberative democracy? Can the public find and develop its
own sovereign voice, or has its character been so transformed by commercial
media . . . that public life will forever be a stunted thing?" - David Bollier,
p. 148 in "Silent Theft."
David Bollier's alarming and vital book, titled "Silent Theft: the Private
Plunder of Our Common Wealth," describes a stealthy, violent attack on public
life in America. The things we share freely and enjoy in common - our culture
and public knowledge, public assets, public services, public spaces, public
lands - define us as the American people. Slowly, deliberately, they are
becoming private assets and services, private spaces, proprietary knowledge,
and trademarked culture, to be marketed for corporate profit. The vibrant body
politic is becoming a mundane body economic.
This sea change in our public life is primarily the result of the efforts of 12
archconservative philanthropic foundations that set out 40 years ago to advance
an ideology known as "neoliberalism," or "free market theology." These
foundations - call them the Diligent Dozen - chose to fund not humanitarian
projects but ideological programs, and they were willing to do so decade after
decade, spending hundreds of millions in the effort.