Citizenship

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded

I’m curious about “The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex,” a new book by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence (Boston: South End Press). Though I happily work with non-profits, I’m skeptical that this structure can result in widespread social change.

The good thing about non-profits is that everyone should have the satisfaction of fighting the good fight in their work. Dedicated, brilliant people work in non-profits, and young people get opportunities for leadership. But it’s unsustainable, driven by grant cycles and funding trends. Non-profit work doesn’t always provide adequate training, and certainly doesn’t offer competitive compensation!

I realize how non-profits can be manipulated to ultimately reinforce the capitalist status quo, but still, the book title makes me cringe a little. It seems to minimize the much more sinister military- and prison- industrial complexes, whose human costs are very real.

One chapter, “Non-Profits and the Autonomous Grassroots,” is written by Eric Tang, one of the smartest revolutionaries I’ve met. I met him when I lead a mural project at CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities in the Bronx years ago. It’s probably worth the cost of the book just for Tang’s practical, informed analysis.

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