Miss Independent?

Interesting post from Rich Tafel on the SSIR Opinion blog about the Komen/Planned Parenthood clusterfrak. His argument is that the social sector is becoming as polarized as politics. “Until social change leaders really understand the depth of ideological diversity and the hold it has on our culture, our causes will rise and fall on the political wins or losses of those with whom we agree.” Hmmm.

Makes me think about the old idea of civil society as an “independent sector”. I usually tend to think of it in terms of independent from government or business. But there’s something to the notion that it’s about independent from politics. This is countercyclical to the trend of philanthropy being an extension of rich people’s social-change portfolios – a foundation alongside a c4 alongside contributions to candidates alongside impact investing. Perhaps a truly independent sector can’t be about efforts that are subsidiary to someone’s overall agenda. Rather it should be about mass movements, and not always organized through professional nonprofit organization.

Reminds of the meme going around this week on Facebook about X job – what I think I do, what my mom thinks I do, what I really do. The “Occupy Wall Street” has what I do, what the right thinks I do, what the left thinks I do, what liberals think I do, and what I really do – the last of which is an image of the earth with hands and arms linked together around it. I honestly have no idea what that means, but it seems like an image that resonates broadly. And the way the author think of OWS in opposition to right, left, and liberals – talk about independent!

I’ve written previously about locavorism as a potentially bipartisan issue. There’s something exciting about the possibility of brand-new political cleavages (the polisci term for issues around which people organize and argue). And to Albert Ruesga’s point about the “meaning of a nonprofit,” there may be something to the idea of the nonprofit sector as independent from politics.

To be continued….


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