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Oaxaca, Thursday 26 July 2007
Friends,
      Carmelo Ruíz Marrero is the friend whose fury at Alexander Cockburn's arrogance and stupidity about his position on global warming first restirred my interest in the Science for the People listserv. We lost Carmelo, who is doing yeoman's work in a way I believe SftP ought to function. We lost him because of the childish personal attacks then going on within the group. Carmelo, like Charlie Welch at TecsChange and Eric Entemann teaching at Roxbury Community College, are DOING Science for the People. Here's an item Carmelo sent today that rings true to all my experience. In particular it ought to speak to all of us who think of ourselves as middle class and yet want to be part of the struggle for human emancipation. The link is
http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_6262.cfm .
      The article begins
How Foundations & Non-Profits Prop Up Corporate Control Those who wish to promote change should look closely at what sustains the present system. One reason capitalism doesn't collapse despite its many weaknesses and valiant opposition movements is because of the "nonprofit sector." Yet philanthropic capital, its investment and its distribution, are generally neglected by the critics of capitalism. Most studies of the subject are generously funded by the nonprofit sector itself; few researchers have followed up on the observation of Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto:

"A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances, in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society.... To this section belong the economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organizers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind."

The United States is unique in the size and scope of this sector which spends over $400 billion annually. Its tax-free wealth is largely unaccountable: just imagine the land, the buildings, their contents, and the investments of churches, private universities and schools, museums, zoos, teaching hospitals, conservation trusts, opera houses, etc.
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      What the middle class does with the wealth over which we have control is a significant part of the problem, in my opinion. We ought to think about it. Maybe it would be good if more of us were, like Eric, compulsivly frugal (referring to the thread on the internet divide).
Sincerely,
George