'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How I Became An Anarchist 

Mel, known for the excellent Broadsnark blog, explained her evolution back in 2009. It remains well worth reading in its entirety today. Here's an excerpt that provides a provocative insight into the origins of Occupy:

. . . . . But, in the end, the nonprofit work wasn’t much better than the for profit work. We were helping people, but not as many as we should have been. We were government funded. When I calculated the percentage of tax dollars that actually went to direct services, it made me want to cry. Some of the grants went through so many agencies that, by the time each agency shaved their overhead costs off the top, there was virtually nothing left.

And even though the organization I worked for made a good pretense of listening to and caring about staff, much of it was for show. Additional funding we received went straight into raises for my boss and a fat consulting fee for a wealthy board member. Meanwhile, we were short-staffed and asking employees to start paying a portion of their rising health care costs.

Worse than the frustration, overwork, and disillusionment was how being a manager changed my relationship with all the people I worked with. Although I felt like I spent most of my day battling with my boss on behalf of the staff, in the end I was just one of the managers who was making decisions behind their backs – decisions they often did not like, decisions that were sometimes bad. It didn’t matter if I had fought the decision in those meetings. Once it was made I had to stand behind it.

I’ve worked for other nonprofits since that one. And while I have steadfastly avoided any more management positions, I have seen the same dynamic in every place I have worked. Larger nonprofits, especially here in DC, have the added issues of ivy league elitism and grotesque hierarchy (which they are in denial of). Yet somehow they think that they are going to make the world a more democratic, egalitarian, and just place from within an organization that is anything but.

It ain’t gonna happen.

In other compelling parts of this post, she relates her inability to attain fulfillment through her family and her subsequent work as a manager with a private law firm. In other words, she encountered, as many have, a world of social dead ends. Occupy is full of such individualistic, imaginative, independent minded people. And, as long as they continue to experience the hypocrisy and lack of opportunity experienced by people like Mel, social unrest in the US will intensify under a proliferation of banners.

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