Big NGOs—Greenpeace, 350.org, Avaaz, and so on—play an important role in maintaining capitalism and the status quo.
These organizations protect the industrial economy and distract us from real solutions. By focusing on technological solutions (which destroy the planet, and are also lucrative industries for green businesspeople), divestment (which also represents a major investment opportunity, and which doesn’t actually slow or stop the burning of fossil fuels), and the commodification of nature through programs like REDD and the concept of “ecosystem services,” mainstream NGOs actually defend the economic system that is killing the planet.
When thousands of people rally for giant public subsidies for industrial energy projects (wind, solar, biomass), the chain is complete. Wealthy individuals donate their funds to big foundations, which fund big NGOs, which mobilize millions of people to support further industrial development. Meanwhile, funding and mainstream support for the real, physical world—to save salmon, or protect forests, or stop overfishing—remains nearly impossible.
That’s not to say that these organizations don’t contain many good-hearted biocentric people who truly care about the natural world. But that is the brilliance—and the danger—of these organizations; they co-opt legitimate dissent into forms of resistance that actually shore up the system.
Recently, Derrick Jensen interviewed Cory Morningstar, a journalist who has been writing about these issues for years. It’s a fascinating interview. You can listen to the interview on YouTube above, or with the player below.