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August 03, 2011


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Here's my (most likely) very stupid reasoning: The hyper-managerial strain in philanthropy abuses power and logic to keep our ambitions for social transformation small. I can't offer anything by way of power, but I can call out a stupid argument when I see it. The last two sections of the post you cite suggest that we just breathe, as you suggest. It wasn't written for people like you who have a feeling for language, for beauty, and the like, but for philanthropoids like me who've left some room in their pie-charts for the shadow of a doubt.

Phil Cubeta

An abuse of power and logic to keep our expectations small, and to keep the funder in charge and us busy, anxious and grateful. Agreed. I liked the series of posts and learned a great deal from them. In reading literature, the first thing you learn is how to identify the speaker and to ask how conscious that speaker is of the meaning of his or her own discourse. An unreliable narrator, a benighted narrator, is a standard trope of modern literature. Once you learn to read that way, it is very hard to read Strategic Philanthropy books without thinking of Ozymandias, or Hard Times, or The Bishop Orders his Tomb. "The frame of the normal" and maintining the normalcy of domination is the game, of which the MBA is blithely unconscious, he or she is just here to straighten us out, by managing us into small projects that ameliorate a status quo favorable to the manager/owner. The deadening effect of business language, and the obtuseness of these experts, all favors the ongoing status quo. They cannot and will not comprehend a critique that exposes the demonic nature of the enterprise. By demonic I mean Mock-Dionysian as in Wealth Bondage, where all desires are met, at a price. As Curator, may you restore our lost treasures.

Phil Cubeta

By lost treasures I mean the pearl of great price that is the ultimate return on social investment.


There is nothing outside the (business) text. There's nothing much inside of it either.

Speaking of close reading, I'm struck by the parallels between comtemporary business texts (The Power of Process, Castrating the Bull) and the monographs penned by foundation CEOs. Part formulaic self-deprecation, part myth, part sermon. The former throw in some inscrutable graphs for good measure.

Phil Cubeta

Yet we court them, serve them, and express great gratitude for small blessings. We write their moral biographies. And in the process write our own, which makes very depressing reading since, between bouts of drunkenness, we see what we are doing. Not that I am complaining. Before this I was turning tricks at the corner of Wealth and Bondage. Now at least I am a Serving Professional.


I also to get wear a uniform.

Tom Matrullo

"The hyper-managerial strain in philanthropy abuses power and logic to keep our ambitions for social transformation small."

It all happens behind the scenes. Before you can manage stuff, you have to convince people that the stuff is manageable - "small" is good. Once the basic terms are trimmed, all you need do is explain why your Executive Power Potion #9 is better than the clown next to you (generic "you" intended, of course).

This is where philosophasters come in handy. The smaller they make the world, the social, the universe, the more useful they are. Albert's point is very rich.

Phil Cubeta

When you kneel, be sure the hem touches the floor.

Phil Cubeta

Boosterism starts young. Young Babbitt heads off to college, apiring to B-school and a job as a Leader. In his backpack is Atlas Shrugged. No time for Dante. He will emerge someday as a Leader. Kiss up and kick down, until he can kick down all he pleases. Philanthropy will Save Capitalism. What other rationale could it have?

Phil Cubeta

Here's my (most likely) very stupid reasoning: The hyper-managerial strain in philanthropy abuses power and logic to keep our ambitions for social transformation small. Could this be debated at COF in the forum for social justice and peace? Or is the peace part code for not making waves?

Phil Cubeta

If we were directing a play about a strategic philanthropist, what would be say to the actor, when asked, "What is my motivation in this scene where I ask the grantee to demonstrate results by submitting paperwork? What is my through line?"

I would say, "The stuff about accountability is said by rote, mindlessly, like a religious mantra. This is all about power. Your through line is subordination and self glorification cloaked as desire for results. Act like a religious prig, where the religion in question is materialism and logical positivism. Act dumb enough to believe your own BS. Be full of pep. Inflict it like a curse on those less fortunate. Be oblivious to the insults you deliver. Enter and leave the scene utterly unchanged by the experience."

Tom Matrullo

There are many ways to work with this - here's one from a book that Kia loaned me:

"The reason that great truths do not register any further than conscious mind and remain there mummified like museum curios is that the natural desire for whole truth conflicts with an inner compulsion which will not allow the greatest desire to emerge easily, from fear that if the whole truth is faced once squarely the person will have no other choice but to act honestly and directly. This creates a compulsion to ignore truth."

Jon Husband

Did you mean "the principals that guide our goals" ? .. which is what we have now. writ large.

Or, "the principles that guide our goals" ?

Either might apply, but two very different sources and forms of guidance, with certainty as to an equally different ultimate achievement of said goals, no ?

Phil Cubeta

I had heard of the book from kia too and went to Amazon only to find it at $100 second hand. Of course markets are efficient, so it must be worth what it costs. Or it could just be a supply/demand imbalance in Marxist Cultural Critique.

Phil Cubeta

I meant scrupulous Principals as well as their Trusted Advisors, or Agents. The Serving Professional elicits the Vision based on Principles from the Principal. Then the super rich save us, if we do our bit for them, as Ralph Nader has in singing their praises. That is only fair, when there is not enough to go around. The future of democracy is now in the hands of the Oligarchs. Freedom will ensue.


Go to bookfinder.com. It will be cheaper. Don't give your money to Amazon.


Hey, the revolution will not be funded. just ask Kim Klein. She says "Foundations have so little money that I don't think about them very much."

We, the underclasses, have the money. Even now. We have the power to create change.

We also have the power to vote with our feet and run to foreign shores and watch the fireworks. I'm vacillating right now, believe me.

Choose apathy?


Phil Cubeta

The stats on who has the money show the underclasses, including those formerly known as middle, having less, and a very few having very much more - more affluence, more influence. Only the super-rich can save us, and they are quite selective. They save the deserving poor on a case by case basis. I was sent to find some, but could not find a one. The criteria for deserving included having made and retained a fortune. So the deserving poor turned out to be the less rich. Those in need of a spare jet, or a school named for them. We help the deserving rich by tax breaks to stimulate the economy. It seems to be working pretty well so far.

Jon Husband

The moral infection(s) that blight the USA are spreading, to Canada and beyond.

That, no doubt, means that the infection will have run its course in the USA sooner than elsewhere.

Phil's a seer in that respect. Why, because I complained to him about the spread of the infection, just today he invited me to take up residence in Texas, tho' I'd rather be asked to be in DC.

Why ? Euthanasia is illegal in Canada. So, too, in name only in the USA but it's clear that if you are poor or a dissident, they bend the rules for us and are preparing to let the lot of us just waste quietly away. They (aka TPTB) are counting on us avoiding being noisome ( aka DFHippies) at all costs.

Tom Matrullo

Phil, I could share it with you when I'm done with it.

Phil Cubeta

The Tea Part is a promising indication that the next worse off can be counted on to resent and grind down on the worst off. This works well in prisons, and in corporate settings too. The few at the top live in what seems to others to be a fantasy world. The fantasy that the losers will rise to the top keeps the whole thing going. And they may rise a little if they keeps their noses clean, do as told, and understand that it is the illegals, not the owners, who are ruining life for the rest of us.

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