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The Critical Choice


Mobilization for Alienation vs. Catalysis for Participation: choice for the United Nations system (Part #6)


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The public information material of the U.N. must show nongovernmental action, voluntary action, people's movements, etc., are related to, facilitated and reinforced by, U.N. action, and how both contribute in partnership to common objectives. ("Nongovernmental" is an extremely unhelpful and negative term of U.N. origin. It is as conducive to positive effective partnership on the part of voluntary bodies, as calling the United Nations the "Non National Organization"would be facilitate of nation state collaboration.)

Objectives which are those of "We the peoples..." and not of an anxious system of institutions trying to monopolize every iota of credit. This is not to say that the United Nations should stress the importance of the existing NGO's, which in quite a number of cases may be as institutionally distant from the people as is the United Nations (partly for similar reasons and partly in imitation of sterile, statusboosting UN procedures). Rather the stress should be placed on the ability of (and need for) people to act in the light of their own understanding through their own styles of organization, whether they exist as traditional NGO's or need to be created using new formulae in their own communities. It is the importance of this complementary creative mode of action which should be stressed, for at the moment NGO's constitute the underdeveloped "third world" of the organizational system.

This "third world" parallel is very suggestive. NGO action potential is underdeveloped, it does have equivalent critical Internal problems (lack of needed facilities, skills, financial resources. infra-structures, information), it does have a poor relationship to the other components, the expanding growth of its frustrate expectations does represent a critical problem for the future - but there are a lot of people and groups out there who could organize themselves further against world problems. And, as opposed to the socio-economic counterpart, the process could be seIfgenerating if it could be appropriately catalyzed.

It is only by achieving this form of "self-mobilization", catalyzed (not organized) in part by United Nations efforts, that the progressive alienation of people from all forms of organized action can be retarded. The United Nations must trust that a massive growth in this "people action > would result in a very worthwhile percentage of it being directly of value to the specific U.N. concerns (although even the remainder constitutes a valuable, but unrecognized, component of social development). That this is likely to be the case is fairly evident from the amount of independent grass-roots concern with peace, environment, racial discrimination and other such issues. "Catalysis" is the key to the needed United Nations public information effort, not "mobilization". Catalysis leads to participation, mobilization leads to alienation.

Realities visible to the United Nations
Realities visible to the United Nations

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