or completely objective. Knowledge about GROs, GRSOs, and their horizontal networks can provide activists with a clearer idea of their part in the whole picture and with ideas for future connections. There is every indication that the impact of empowerment from below is greater if those empowered, or empowering others, gain an awareness through networking of their actual and potential impact on their colleagues and on larger systems. For their part, international donors need to drop the assumption that their mission is to "build capacity." Instead, they should engage in enhancing their knowledge and respect for the considerable organizational capacity already transforming the Third World.
What is most striking about the phenomenon of networking is the contrast between authoritarian political superstructures in most countries and innovative cooperation between NGOs. Although GRO and GRSO networks harken back to traditional, deeply rooted cultural practices, they also provide the expanding space needed to create a new political culture, or what Latin Americans call "sociedad civil." Ironically, in the United States, the cultural ethic of competition, so useful in the private economic sphere, may make broad-based cooperation among social change organizations more difficult than in the Third World.
Careful, planned support for informal networks could avoid many of the financial and other difficulties seemingly inherent in formal consortia, particularly those organized from above. Outside money can be used, for example, to support a GRSO assisting other GRSOs with technical assistance and planning. Great care must be taken, however, not to compromise the independence and vitality of informal networks.
Thus far we have examined GROs, GRSOs, and their horizontal networks. The next two chapters focus on the factors that promote the sustainability of both empowerment from below and the substance of sustainable development. Chapter 7 deals with the factors that make GROs and GRSOs effective as individual organizations. Chapter 8 asks the same question in relation to the vertical connections between GROs and GRSOs.