Illusion And Reality

NGO–the Danger of a New Religion

Himadri Sengupta

[Within the neoliberal ideologies, the state is demonised. Civil society, often conflated with the NGOs, is privileged. NGOs are presented as the 'third sector', the other two sectors being the state—power, politics, and the private sector—capital, economics. This ideological presentation of NGOs also dominates self-perception in the NGO world itself. Yet it is based on utterly false historical and intellectual premises and posits serious political implications—Issa G Shivji, Africa's leading expert, 2002)]

Throughout the world the INGOs & NGOs are expanding very fast embarrassing a huge section of population and activities with the banner of "NO PROFIT'. The Life Line of Capitalism is "PROFIT". When the movements of the working class are on the way to attack this very lifeline then the philosophy of Capitalism is forwarding a new God of "NO PROFIT" under a new recasted Religion of Neo-Liberalism. "'Unity in this really revolutionary struggle of the oppressed class for the creation of a paradise on earth is more important to us than unity of proletarian opinion on paradise in heaven... the proletariat will wage a broad and open struggle for the elimination of economic slavery, the true source of the religious humbugging of mankind. " (Lenin—Socialism and Religion).

Every religion has got a philosophy and mission. Though Philosophy in true sense is different from Religion. All religions preach for emancipation of Human. But except Hinduism (though questionable as religion !) the other religions sprang from the down-trodden people under the leader patronization of kings. But, the new religion about which the author is speaking is developing from Civil Socity under the patronization of UNO. It's almost like a religion as it is working for the emancipation of the global society oppressed by the contradiction of Labor vs Capital. Till now no religion touched the contradiction between Environment & Production process (Now thought to be the Second Contradiction. Of course before capitalism such contradiction did not develop except Natural calamities & Ice ages still then one finds the story of NOAH'S Ark).

In India the most trusted figure by 2007 was 1 NGO per 400 Indians. lt can be assessed in 2013 the figure is much more. Internet resources give some disarranged figures though that could give a glimpse of the total scenario.

In the United States 1.5 million, Russia 277000, India 300 million in 2009, China 500,000, Argentina 622, Middle Africa 622, Western Africa 1961, Northern Africa 205, South Africa 390, Western Asia 730, Southern Europe 1054, Northern Europe 4628, Eastern Europe 8337, South Central Asia 3603, Eastern Asia 396, South Eastern Asia 934, Ocenia 642, Ghana 900. IN 1990-2013 at Bangladesh 2252, Japan 200, Philippines 1000, Vietnam 172, Bulgeria 115, France 37, Netherland 90, Egypt 40,000, Israel 13, Latin America and Caribean 100, Great Britain 1800, (But by conservative defination, otherwise it is much more). This is not exhaustive list and not the latest. By a very conservative way if one takes minimum 100 people involved with each NGO then the figure can be imagined. lt will be an alarming figure by this time.

"Our times demand a new definition of leadership—global leadership. They demand a new constellation of international cooperation—governments, civil society and the private sector, working together for a collective global good". (Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, Speech at World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland (29 January 2009). Again, "Today, according to the UN, any kind of private organization that is independent from government control can be termed an "NGO", provided it is non-profit, non-criminal and not simply an opposition political party". organization

But since 1970 Robert Macnamra (served as the President of the World Bank from April 1968 to June 1981) from the platform of World Bank pleaded NGO as the alternate to State(As if future alternate to Communism !)

For India a reference can be made. "NGOs were intended to fill a gap in government services, but in countries like India, NGOs are gaining a powerful stronghold in decision making. In the interest of sustainability, most donors require that NGOs demonstrate a relationship with governments. State Governments themselves are vulnerable because they lack strategic planning and vision. They are therefore sometimes tightly bound by a nexus of NGOs, political bodies, commercial organizations and major donors/funders, making decisions that have short term outputs but no long term effect. NGOs in India are under-regulated, political, and recipients of large government and international donor funds. NGOs often take up responsibilities outside their skill ambit. Governments have no access to the number of projects or amount of funding received by these NGOs. There is a pressing need to regulate this group while not curtailing their unique role as a supplement to government services. "( http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Non-governmental organization). Their unique role is nothing but to bolster "PROFIT" under the crisis ridden state.

However, it can be said, NGO is an Intra-Governmental Organisation considering its national & international functioning. Of course it involves Capital, Market Economy & Labour. Its birth is from Civil Society. But the very foundation of Civil Society is nothing but the production power of labour.

It started as INGO. Because, any society of a single country was not ripe to operate as Internally Non-Government-Organisation. So, it started as Intra-Non-Governmental Organisation. The first such organisation was "ANTI SLAVERY INTERNATIONAL" established in 1839. Later it developed as "INTERNATIONAL ORDER OF GOOD TEMPLARS'. It was an attempt of rising Civil Society.

In reality, such INGO by Marx & Engels in the name Communist League was founded in 1847. lt was the attempt of the working class, published the Communist Manifesto in 1847, Marx analysed the entire matter as Bourgeois Society and not isolated for Civil Society.

However, the total development as marked till now one cannot ignore that Bourgeois Society is not monolithic. Gramsci though developed his valuable thought in this respect yet without going in depth as the aim of this article is only with the NGO, so, it can only be said that Civil Society & Political Society though compose Bourgeois society yet in certain stages they do independently act particularly when the working class movement / revolutionary movement remains in low pitch. History depicts rise and fall of Civil Society and again rise with Political Society.

The International Workingmen's Association (IWA, 1864-1876) was founded in 1864 (First International). Variety of different left-wing socialist, communist and anarchist political groups and trade union organisations that were based on the working class and class struggle united. So, one finds since the beginning two opposite poles were moving from two different bases.

The IPB (International Peace Bureau) was founded in 1891-92. Behind it & after there is a history of Napoleonic Wars. Many Peace Societies developed during 1899-1907. The Hague Conference may be referred. An organised part of the Civil society under a fuzzy shade of INGO operated adopting technique of inter-Governmental lobbying to steer a conference in favour of disarmament. But it could not stop World War I that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. But on 28 April 1915 at the Hague Women International Congress against war, an INGO, developed (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom [WILPF], an organisation that still exists today).

Then in depth of the society a nascent global consciousness was emerging. But in the meantime the movements of working class in numerous trade unions and National Liberation movements in civil liberties organisations gained momentum and in 1917 Russian Revolution shook the world. Communist International as INGO flourished and later divided into two camps.

Today if one desires to look back into the past one thing possibly does not obstruct the apparent realisation that the unity of the world is real. But apparent reality and actualisation are different. For actualisation the Rule of Capital is to be destroyed and replaced. For sustainable development there is another thought. It needs to be stated to realise the operations of NGOs on NO PROFIT.

This is called Comprehensive (VOLITIONAL) Sustainable Development. It’s a new concept emerging from a theory "THREE FOLDING (TRI-POLAR WORLD)". It states, Businesses have economic power, Governments have political power, and civil society organisations have cultural power. None has a monopoly of power. Business cannot truly represent the interests of culture or polity. Nor can civil society truly understand the detailed workings of the economy or truly represent the political system. Nor can government articulate economic and cultural aspirations. Three folding means the autonomous interaction of the three realms of society, through any of its three institutional powers or three key institutions, to advocate for or to achieve genuine or comprehensive sustainable development. lt pleads for Volitional interaction. It SEEMS Utopia but it is mentioned that the operation of NGOs do carry a germ of such Utopia in the name of NON PROFIT which is nothing but appears as if VOLITIONAL move.

Complication which one marks is the movement of Bourgeois Society failing to move in a linear way, rather its parts—Civil Society, PohticaI Society and Working Class having a race gathering different momentum from real socio-economic condition and the tie is PRODUCTION RELATION. Until that is destroyed and replaced by abolishing Private Property the problem will continue.

During the phase of Hague conference emergence of intergovernmental organisations and the increasing number of intergovernmental conferences provided greater political opportunities for transnational civic actions but since 1845 till 2007 it has periodic rise and decline. According to one source, whereas up to 1854 only six INGOs had been founded, by the turn of the century this figure had reached 163, and by 1945 over a thousand INGOs had been established. By 2007 it is claimed that there are over 60, 000 INGOs in the world. This is rising. In its womb the NGOs are growing fast.

After the 1st world war in 1919 at Paris Conference the structure of the first biggest INGO was formed in the name of League of Nations in which America was absent.

So, naturally imperialist rivalry broke into World War 2. It is generally considered to have lasted from 1939 to 1945. At the end of the war The United Nations, an intergovernmental organisation was formed in 1945. Whose stated aims include promoting and facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, civil rights, civil liberties, political freedoms, democracy, and the achievement of lasting world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue. It contains multiple subsidiary organisations to carry out its missions. Imperialism is behind the back of this biggest INGO that is patronising to develop more and more INGOs & NGOs. But without the concept of the part of the Bourgeois Society as Trans National Civil Society one cannot proceed. Because it is just the utilising of the Gramiscian concept of Hegemony from another direction.

"In 1922 the International League for the Rights of Man; and new humanitarian assistance organizations were created, such as the Save the Children International Union, established in 1920. Many INGOs acquired considerable mass memberships in this period: for instance, two of the principal new INGOs founded after World War I, the Interallied Federation of Ex-Servicemen and the International Federation of Trade Unions, had memberships of eight million and twenty million respectively.... The scale of transnational mobilization that became achievable after the First World War is particularly well illustrated by the campaign for disarmament that took place in the 1920s and early 1930s. This campaign mobilized a uniquely broad spectrum of civil society groups (from Rotary International to the Communist International!), including the world's principal labor, humanitarian, religious, students', women's and peace organizations of the period. The campaign peaked during the World Disarmament Conference convened by the League of Nations in 1932-3, at which INGOs with a combined membership estimated to have been between two hundred million and a billion people lobbied delegates for a general disarmament convention. The scale of the activities that these organizations undertook is illustrated by the disarmament petition circulated by women's international organizations from 1930 to 1932, which remains the world's largest international petition in terms of the proportion of the world's population that signed it.... (Thomas Richard Davis, "The evolution of International Non Governmental Organisation").

Upon the above Nascent Base after the 2nd World War the formation of UNO laid the base of NGOs and after the fall of Socialist Camp it took a RELIGIOUS LIKE direction and the present GLOBALISATION on the wings of NEO-LIBERAL ECONOMY is spreading its tentacles covering every corner of the Globe and almost in every field in the name of NGO. That Profit is the motive of Capitalism is well established. So, they are hiding their motives like a Religious Sermon "NON PROFIT ORGANISATIONS".

Vol. 47, No. 1, Jul 13 - 19, 2014