Community Organizers

Community organizers, remember them? No, I mean before they morphed into “social entrepreneurs”, with the ability to strike out on their own for whatever was near and dear to their fluttering hearts, and fund themselves independently (through a variety of public, private, as well as crowd sourcing means). By becoming “social entrepreneurs” they could legitimate an occupation in place of having to find employment with some social organization, which, after the financial meltdown of 2008 and the ascendency of fiscally responsible GOP legislators, has become a little scarce (to say the least). But now, community organizers are back, baby, in demand and on the help wanted roster (coming soon to a jobs fair near you!). Peter Overby for NPR reports “Koch Political Network Takes A Deep Dive Into Community Organizing” (10-12-15). According to Overby “It’s one small part of a long-range plan by Koch Network to build a seamless and legal system of local community and national politics.” Overby points out some of the organizing aspirations: “free market principles, limited government, libertarianism” as well as “the basic message of less government and regulation, more unfettered free enterprise”. Who knew?

“OVERBY: The irony here – none of this is new. Back in the 1880s and early 1900s, political parties were often involved in local communities, but more recently…

THEDA SKOCPOL: Parties have mainly been about raising money and running election campaigns.

OVERBY: Theda Skocpol is a sociologist and political scientist at Harvard. She also leads a group of progressive academics – Scholars Strategy Network. And she’s been studying the Koch Network for several years. She said Koch strategists are emulating what political parties and labor unions used to do. Does the left have anything like this anymore?

SKOCPOL: No (laughter) not even close.”

Then again, Analysis finds no irony in the time period during which community organizers fled that identification for the more lucrative “entrepreneur” association. Who would it surprise, after all, if, upon his term’s expiration, our former Chicago community organizer didn’t himself enter the Washington revolving door and become a top paid Koch consultant?

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