• jon

    Posted 98 days ago

  • I couldn't help but notice the irony in this piece: the authors are challenging the technocratic evolution on non-profits and their dominance in society by publishing an academic, technocratic article in a non-profit journal. The Jacobin Foundation is a 501(c)(3) that receives funding both through user subscriptions, donations, and advertisements that it publishes in its pages. Its ads can't be compared to those you find in other publications (they almost only publish ads for books), but it still counts as following this same thread.

    I'm not at all saying this is a bad thing, I really like Jacobin and Catalyst and a bunch of the stuff they produce, but I think the critique of technocratism through a scholarly journal is ironic. The main people reading this article are technocrats, and although I agree with their main point, that non-profit might take away from building mass movements, I think it missing some huge points.

    Firstly, organizations like the NAACP are non-profits. People might have their grievances against it for supporting some misjudged policies, but I don't think anybody can deny the positive impact it has had on society. Smaller-interest groups are crucial to a democratic society, because voices that don't make up a majority of public opinion have to get their voices heard.

    I mean, just look at this journal for example. Socialism, although its writers would love to believe otherwise, is a small-interest group of intellectual technocrats. This journal would not exist if not for non-profit NGOism. The New York Times, The New Yorker, etc. can all publish for profit because they represent large swaths of society, but Catalyst must be a non-profit because it serves a small niche, a tiny interest group (that although is growing, is still very small).

    I do understand their main point and agree with it:

    the underlying dynamics of the third sector — specifically, its role in supplementing and supporting the provision of social welfare with undue influence from private interests — leads to certain consistent features of its activity, and these features dictate that that activity, regardless of ideological orientation, will not challenge the basic structures of capitalism.

    But quite frankly, there is no other choice - as the structure of this very journal indicates. The focus on the revolutionary change to break free of the "structures of capitalism" is good an all, but not rational given the current social structures. If it were another way, this article would have been produced as a pamphlet accessible to all, but it's not, it's published in a technocratic, academic journal (which I really like reading) that targets a small interest group of readers who donate and perpetuate it.

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