About 20 years ago, in a conversation with a Bangladeshi organizer, the topic of non-government organizations (NGOs), or non-profits as they’re often called, came up. He said bluntly: “I hate NGOs.” His vehemence was surprising. NGOs are far from revolutionary organizations, but their work still seemed more helpful than not. Political differences with them aside, it seemed dogmatic to denounce free health care and anti-poverty programs. Short of more radical measures, NGOs seemed to serve an important interim function.
Since that conversation, NGOs have proliferated across the globe. First deployed in dominated countries, they have now become a staple of the political landscape in the imperial core as well. Today, the reasons for the organizer’s hatred of NGOs is clear. NGOs are destructive, both in their current work and in their preclusion of an alternative future beyond the capitalist present.