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Sep. 18 (Wednesday)

Home Page Organizations

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If you’ve already visited the home page of the People section, you know that politics is largely the study of people. In fact, political science should be ranked with psychology and sociology as one of the social sciences.

Here are some words and terms used in this article that you can look up in Politix’s Glossary: activist, banana republic, bureaucracy, collusion, corporation, coup, crime syndicate, de facto, Demopublican, disinformation, FARC, NATO, NGO, OAS, offshoring, operative, outsource, political party, politics, privatize, privatization, propaganda, public, public-private partnership, reform, Republicrat, revolt, revolution, terrorist

People often need help from other people in order to do something. Thus, governments and businesses elect, appoint or hire people to govern or make and sell things. As they gain more colleagues, such groups become more powerful.

Since politics is largely about power, it’s only natural for people to want to increase their power still more. They recruit friends, supporters and allies. Corporations are examples of organizations that are formed in order to sell products or services. Political parties are organizations formed largely to gain power and influence.

Distinct groups of people of people are called organizations. Organizations include government agencies, political parties, association, societies, clubs and corporations.

Public vs Private

In politics, people often make a distinction between government organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). However, the term NGO is generally applied to organizations that function somewhat like government agencies or that have similar goals. Some NGOs are even funded, wholly or partially, by the government. For example, the Red Cross and World Wildlife Fund are considered NGOs. Corporations, sports teams and private clubs are not NGO’s.

Banana Republics

In the U.S., government has done Big Business’ bidding for a long time. In fact, the exploitation of Latin America, the Middle East and other regions is based largely on the quest for cheap natural resources. Many of the coups and dirty wars fought in Latin America were inspired by the desire for cheap bananas or cheap labor for Coca Cola.

Peak arrogance was perhaps displayed by Bechtel, a U.S. corporation that fined Bolivians who dared to drink rain water; Bechtel wanted residents of one of the world’s poorest nations to buy drinking water from Bechtel!

Yet corporations and even sports teams and private clubs are major players in politics. So we might simply distinguish between public organizations (e.g. government agencies, libraries, etc.) and private organizations (NGOs, corporations, clubs, etc.).

That still leaves room for some confusion, for the lines between public and private have been blurred. In particular, many corporations manipulate government and other institutions.

For example, Dick Cheney served as Secretary of Defense under President George H.W. Bush, then served as chairman and CEO of Haliburton Company before he was elected Vice President, serving alongside George W. Bush.

Another example involves Bill Gates, whose wife (Melinda French Gates) and business partner (Warren Buffett) both served on the board of directors of the Washington Post, one of the world’s most influential newspapers. (Boards of directors are themselves organizations of sorts that often serve as places for powerful corrupt people to network.) Other people worry about the association between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Monsanto, one of the world’s most feared corporations.

In Seattle - a city largely ruled by Microsoft, Boeing and other corrupt corporations - collusion between government and corporations is often whitewashed with the term public-private partnership. For example, local government broke national, state and local laws to give millions of dollars to a very powerful and corrupt family, the Nordstroms. But rather than call it a crime, the Seattle Times and other media called it a public-private partnership, claiming the projects funded with the money would help Seattle.

The Nordstroms even tried the same thing in other states. Similarly, Microsoft (also based near Seattle) has been sued by many different states. Of course, similar de facto crime syndicates operate out of other cities and states as well.

Another word to become familiar with is privatization. When institutions that are run by the government are turned over to corporate (privivate) interests, they are said to be privatized. Many people complain that the U.S. military has seemingly been privatized. It seems to retreat ever further from the law, even as various corrupt corporations profit from seemingly endless wars.

Orgs Without Borders

Organizations can be bigger than nations. Examples include the United Nations, whose members include most nations. Other multi-national organizations include NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and OAS (the Organization of American States).

Nor are corporations restricted to particular nations. Corporations like Haliburton, Monsanto and Microsoft have branches in many different nations. They may outsource, sending jobs to other countries. They may also avoid paying taxes by offshoring, relocating their headquarters or even their entire company to another nation.

Can corporations be good?

Like people, organizations can be good or bad. There are governments around the world that do a fairly good job of governing. There are probably corporations that aren’t corrupt.

How many?

So how many political organizations are there? A lot.

Each of the world’s nations has a government, some with many branches and agencies. (Check out this list of U.S. federal agencies.) Additional government is needed for subnational jurisdictions (states, provinces, etc.). Many of these governments also oversee various public services - libraries, transportation, military, etc.

Most of these governments are also associated with various political parties. Many - probably most - are heavily influenced by corporations, NGOs and other organizations.

There are an estimated 40,000 international NGOs and far more national NGOs.

Last but not least are the countless activist organizations, whether genuine or operatives. That’s one vast bureaucracy.

However, power tends to corrupt, and some governments have become too powerful, while corporations have become more powerful still.

One might think of history as a constant tug of war between the bad guys (the rich and powerful) and the rest of us. When the bad guys get too powerful and corrupt, people may revolt and reform their government - hopefully. Not all revolutions are successful. Some are only partially successful.

And if a revolution is successful, it’s just a matter of time before things become rotten again. People must always be vigilant and active participants in their societies.

Of course, not all organizations are corporations. There are countless activist organizations across the U.S. (and other nations) that can be generally classified as NGOs. But beware: People who claim to be activists are often operatives. In other words, they’re working for the bad guys. They only pretend to be activists so they can fool people.

At the same time, organizations that the media condemn may actually be good, or at least not totally evil.

For example, the United States considers FARC - an organization based in Colombia - a terrorist organization. But do some research on FARC’s origins and the U.S. manipulation of Latin America, and you may wonder who the bad guys really are.

And what about Afghanistan’s Taliban? It’s hard to imagine a group of people who are widely hated and despised - by the corporate media, at least. But are they really 100% evil?

And what about Afghans, Taliban or not, who defend their homes and families from NATO troops? Who are the real terrorists?

Another thing that keep in mind is that organizations can change. For example, the Democratic Party was widely associated with civil rights and protecting the environment in the 1960s and 70s. However, it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish Democrats from Republicans since then. In fact, many people lump them together as Demopublicans or Republicrats.

Do your homework.

One can never really understand politics without knowing something about people and organizations. But how can one hope to learn the truth about all those shadowy organizations when there’s so much propaganda and disinformation out there?

It basically boils down to a combination of research and logic. You can start with the list of organizations on the right side of this page. Any names marked with asterisks are linked to articles on this website or related sites. The others are linked to Wikipedia.

Disclaimer: I’m a major critic of Wikipedia’s political content; I think it’s very biased and inaccurate. In particular, I think bad people and organizations make sure that articles about them don’t make them look too bad. Many other people have the same complaint.

But it can be very difficult to find sources of information that are completely unbiased and accurate. And most of the facts presented in Wikipedia articles are probably accurate. So you can start your homework with Wikipedia, then consult other sources to find other perspectives (along with any important information Wikipedia may have omitted).