Citizens at Large Feed

Kundera, an Informer?


The Czech Republic's best-known author, Milan Kundera, has spoken to the media for the first time in 25 years to deny claims he informed on a suspected Western agent in 1950. 

We live lives of laughter and forgetting, yet all the while someone is taking notes, taking names, transcribing calls, sending those denounced to a shadowy systems of torture cells via procedures beyond, above, or outside the law, outside morality, all in the name of sacred things.  Collaborator? Be careful how you use that term, my fellow Americans. We all have our patriotic duties.

Legitimacy in and of the Ownership Society

Tom Matrullo:

For the record co's, the thing that makes their pay-for-it files "legitimate" has nothing to do with the listener, or with the music, or with the quality of the file. It has to do with the contractual relationship of the corporation to the property.

This is the working definition of legitimacy in USia. It's also the reason we have no culture, no community, and no public forums for consensual intelligence. Legitimacy by contract is not love. It is the blood of USia, and it's poison.

If ownership is theft what does that make philanthropy?

Added later: Tom responds.

Professing the Sciences of Civil Society

Heather Carpenter at Nonprofit Leadership:

Obviously I am an advocate for specialized PhD programs in nonprofit management because I am in one of those programs. I want to study the nonprofit sector and be a professor of nonprofit management. I believe that my specialized field will help me be more effective at teaching the next generation of nonprofit leaders.

I dream that some day I will be a Master of Dumpster Science or maybe a Doctor of Moral Physic. "Dr. Satire will see you now. If he can't heal you, he will have you stuffed and mounted. Either way your kids will get their parent back. Hop up on the table, please."

Gen Y and The Changing Leadership in Philanthropy, Reflections on a Conversation with Sharna Goldseker

A few days ago I had interviewed a remarkable woman, Sharna Goldseker. Rather than posting my thoughts I have been mulling over her remarks. Here is something she wrote at age 26, the beginning of her life story as a wealthy heir within the Jewish tradition of love and justice. Here is a piece about her one year later. Here is where she works now, at age 33. And here. And here is a recent piece she wrote about generations of Jewish giving. What have I learned from Sharna?

  • There is hope, if Sharna and friends are any indication.
  • A prior generation made much of the dark side of money, and the baleful effect of inheritances. The literature of sorrow on that score is vast, but Sharna seems to bear no such resentment towards her forbears. She speaks for a generation (Gen Y) that is online, connected, alert, and not given to secrets, privacy, and safe places. She is out there.
  • When I work around major money I try to ask, thinking of advisors, clients, and nonprofits, "Who leads and who follows in the dance?" Sharna has taught me to ask that question of the heirs as well. In the inter-generational wealth transfer process, thinking now of grandparents, parents, and grown children, who leads in the conversation about giving? About social responsibility? About all the money? (Not just the charitable budget or foundation money.)
  • Increasingly, I am hearing that it is the Gen Y heirs who are stepping forward to say, "Mom and Dad, please, why the secrecy? I Googled you when I was 12. I know more about the family finances that you may think. Let's talk about our money, the future of our family, where and how to make a positive difference."
  • Along with Sharna's network I would also instance Resource Generation, and I am sure there are others, in which Gen Y heirs connect as peers, raise their own awareness and prepare to enter the family conversation and family traditions of giving.
  • Since age-mates have more influence on children than do parents in those critical years from puberty through early adulthood, it makes sense for wealthy parents to find a healthy and engaged peer network for the rising generation. Sharna tells me that this is getting easier, since the up and coming generation is networked online. So, national conferences and local meet ups are good, but less necessary than in the past.

One further line of thought. As an aging Boomer who has been online now for almost 10 years, I find I have two networks of close colleagues and friends. One is work related and my age, more or less. The other is online-related and Sharna's age, more or less. Connecting these generational networks and conversations may be critical for the health of our society. If Sharna's networks are online they have a stake in the all these emerging technology based communities we see springing up from Facebook, dating sites,  to Ning, Civicspace, Razoo, and many others.  How will the new funders collaborate with their equally talented but resource starved peers to create a better and more just, a more truly "flat" networked world? Who will lead in the generational dance, as Boomers become inheritors, while simultaneously planning their own legacies? Will Gen Y stakeholders insist on entering the space in which all the family money is planned, not just the philanthropic money? Will they be active in helping set the family vision of what a great inheritance and legacy might be? I hope as I age that the Gen Y world-changers, including my own children, will wheel me into their circle and let me listen, babble a little, and dribble on my bib.  If they need a token elder to murmur a secular blessing, I volunteer.  Would a beard long and white add gravitas?

Social Capital Markets Closed by Order of the Northern Command: Wirearchy and Hierarchy

Stuart Henshall on Jon Husband's presentation at KMWorld.  Jon, along with others like Tracy Gary and Catherine Austin Fitts, works at a deeper level, not from what will advance his career, or garner praise, or make a buck, but from the demands of his own disciplinary logic and the demands of the future.  All three of these intransigent figures meet resistance from the entrenched present. Jon's expertise is in human resources for large organizations. He worked with Hay. Now he is intuiting a world that runs on networks, swarms, coalitions, on love and love of the work as much as on money, whether inside or outside the corporate firewall. His  vision, no less than Tracy's inspired, grassroots progressivism, or Catherine's Solaris are a fundamental critique of today's corrupted and malignant Wall Street (not Main Street) capitalism. He like they are limning radical (from "radix," or root) alternatives to the world we know today. The three envision a decentralized, less hierarchical future, flattened but not as Thomas Friedman thinks of it.

Today we have a world controlled from the top down and the center out, by corporate power in cahoots with what remains of government, and enmeshed in philanthropy to support rather than challenge vested interests.  Tomorrow we will have progressive social change with social justice paramount (Tracy). We will have our money flowing from and to local Main Street businesses, including ranches, farms, and ordinary Rotary Club firms, that support the quality of life in towns, villages, and cities (Fitts).  And, we will have citizen/employees creating ever changing networks (online and off)  of purpose for commerce, politics, civic friendship, and profit.  Against that stands what? Well, most of you see in the newspapers, most of the figures you see on tv, and most of the mind-corrupting material supplied to us via think tanks, pundits, marketing, and the mainstream media by those currently in power.

Change starts on the margins, in the Dumpsters, not inside Wealth Bondage, nor outside, but where it abuts the public square, where as with garbage, ownership is not what it was, and pariahs congregate to promote the public good. Meanwhile,  let us  respect those set above us.  I am grateful to have a job at all, and to be allowed to blog, subject to editorial style guidelines, and approval by the higher ups.  I speak subject to correction.  Unlike The Happy Tutor, I am not looking for any trouble.  Until the new day dawns, I need to make a living.  My morals tutoring business may be a sham, but I will live in comfort until everything falls apart.  I will leave it to Jon, Tracy, and Catherine to buck the system.  I suggest you do the same.   

Networks of Common Purpose? Rather than Fundraising Per Se?

Holden, a new grantmaker, in the first year or so of giving away his own money, writes:

For-profit marketing might be soulless and salesy, full of people persuading others of what they don’t believe themselves. But nonprofit marketing should be just the opposite. Marketers shouldn’t want to “serve” the donor; they should want the same thing the donor wants. As a nonprofit employee, you’re presumably sacrificing some income to help the particular organization you’ve chosen - that makes you the donor.

Susan Davis's KINS Method seems to address some of what Holden seeks: Donors and nonprofits united in common purpose where each participant is a giver in his or her own way. If we think in terms of a few dozen donors and nonprofit leaders as the epicenter of a field of interest, it would seem that Susan has created a transferable model. In his Beyond Success, Randy Ottinger describes how Michael Milken created such a community around his area of interest, prostate cancer, and how successfully that model has worked. Holden's issue areas are here. Where might he go to tap into a learning and doing community around each? Why is it so hard to get new donors connected to thriving donor networks? Is there or could be there be a clearing house, or is it just a matter of being passed from friend to friend?

Guerrilla Gardening, Freegans, the Forbes 400, and other Hot Topics

Maya Khankhoje reviews  David Tracey's Guerrilla Gardening: A Manifesto, via Dialogic. Guerrilla Gardening tips here. Then, of course, there are the Dumpster Diving Freegans. In other news, it now takes more than one billion to make the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. (82 billionaires did not make the cut.) Dynastic Wealth Planning is hot. Mainly we talk to wealthy families about their values and virtues, their human capital. This seems not to strike anyone but me as surreal. They got used to this kind of dual track cultural system in India and South America. We can get used to it here. On a positive note, the growth of private police forces in America accelerates. Might be a good way to do well and do good if you have a few bucks to invest. Or, you could align the mission of your foundation with ordered liberty by investing in private prisons.

What's your theory of social change?