Non-Governmental Imagination

Dead Whales, Greenpeace, Paul Watson and Macgyver
January 24, 2006, 8:22 am
Filed under: Big vs. Small, Blogs

Japan has been whaling a lot recently, and Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd have been blogging from the Antarctic hunt. While both groups are basically doing the same thing, there is no love lost between the two, although Sea Shepherd has a pretty extensive page of Christmas wishes for Greenpeace. Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd, was one of the early pivotal members of Greenpeace.
One of Sea Shepherd’s main beefs with Greenpeace is that they are more concerned with publicity and hanging banners than actually accomplishing real change. Sea Shepherd explains the difference thusly:

“Sea Shepherd is not in the waters of Antarctica to protest whaling. We are there to intervene with the purpose of upholding international laws protecting the whales.”

Their spat is indicative of the NGO world. As groups morph from a small group of committed pioneers to a professional organization, the culture changes and hard-charging personalities may find that they are not as welcome or comfortable with the new buttoned-down, donor-friendly approach.

Both are trying to save the whales, a campaign I greatly respect. I think Japan’s claims of whale-hunting-as-research are tenuous and ridiculous. Different tactics and levels of slickness appeal to different people.
Where do I stand on the big vs. small, change-the-system vs. work-within-the-system debate? I don’t really know yet. Part of why I started this blog is to work it out in my head and out in the public.

I do know this though. Greenpeace definitely has a sense of humor.


But in the category of most impressive reason to back an anti-whaling direct action NGO, I gotta go with Macgyver (See “Ticket Prices”).  See, Sea Shepherd?  Fame and celebrity are powerful forces for shaping public opinion!

Sea Shepherd / MacGyver: 1
Greenpeace / Japanese Embassy in Berlin: 0


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