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Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World

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An insider's groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite's efforts to "change the world" preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve. Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a new gilded age, where the rich and powerful fight for equality and justice any way they can- An insider's groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite's efforts to "change the world" preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve. Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a new gilded age, where the rich and powerful fight for equality and justice any way they can--except ways that threaten the social order and their position atop it. We see how they rebrand themselves as saviors of the poor; how they lavishly reward "thought leaders" who redefine "change" in winner-friendly ways; and how they constantly seek to do more good, but never less harm. We hear the limousine confessions of a celebrated foundation boss; witness an American president hem and haw about his plutocratic benefactors; and attend a cruise-ship conference where entrepreneurs celebrate their own self-interested magnanimity. Giridharadas asks hard questions: Why, for example, should our gravest problems be solved by the unelected upper crust instead of the public institutions it erodes by lobbying and dodging taxes? He also points toward an answer: Rather than rely on scraps from the winners, we must take on the grueling democratic work of building more robust, egalitarian institutions and truly changing the world. A call to action for elites and everyday citizens alike.


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An insider's groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite's efforts to "change the world" preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve. Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a new gilded age, where the rich and powerful fight for equality and justice any way they can- An insider's groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite's efforts to "change the world" preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve. Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a new gilded age, where the rich and powerful fight for equality and justice any way they can--except ways that threaten the social order and their position atop it. We see how they rebrand themselves as saviors of the poor; how they lavishly reward "thought leaders" who redefine "change" in winner-friendly ways; and how they constantly seek to do more good, but never less harm. We hear the limousine confessions of a celebrated foundation boss; witness an American president hem and haw about his plutocratic benefactors; and attend a cruise-ship conference where entrepreneurs celebrate their own self-interested magnanimity. Giridharadas asks hard questions: Why, for example, should our gravest problems be solved by the unelected upper crust instead of the public institutions it erodes by lobbying and dodging taxes? He also points toward an answer: Rather than rely on scraps from the winners, we must take on the grueling democratic work of building more robust, egalitarian institutions and truly changing the world. A call to action for elites and everyday citizens alike.

30 review for Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    This is an excellent book and a must-read! It's also totally readable and even quite funny at times. And it's the kind of book that you keep bringing up in conversation and then trailing off and saying---you just really have to read this book. The oversimplified thesis is that you can't use the master's tools to break down his house. I hope this book is widely read and circulated.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nils

    Philanthropy exists mainly to enable the super-rich and super-powerful to defer any serious discussion of a serious reordering of power and wealth, argues Giridharadas. Through a series of vignettes both of the super-rich and super-powerful themselves, who prove themselves unable to conceive that righting the world’s wrongs might require that they cede some of the their privileges, and their servants in the philanthropic world, who realize queasily their own compromised position (which Giridhara Philanthropy exists mainly to enable the super-rich and super-powerful to defer any serious discussion of a serious reordering of power and wealth, argues Giridharadas. Through a series of vignettes both of the super-rich and super-powerful themselves, who prove themselves unable to conceive that righting the world’s wrongs might require that they cede some of the their privileges, and their servants in the philanthropic world, who realize queasily their own compromised position (which Giridharadas admits, to his credit, includes him), the book suggests that reforms within the frame of what he calls MarketWorld simply are inadequate, and in fact mainly provide ideological and psychological cover for an intolerable state of affairs. Dani Rodrick emerges as the intellectual hero.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Linh

    As someone who has dithered on the edges of "elites changing the world", much of this brings true and I believe (and grapple) with the tension between the sometimes necessary power/influence/fortune needed as we strive for justice and equity. An article that I always refer back to is Noam Chomsky's dissection of justice vs power. That and thoughts about how social movements and protest no matter how "ineffectual" will always be more powerful levers to create systemic change than social enterpris As someone who has dithered on the edges of "elites changing the world", much of this brings true and I believe (and grapple) with the tension between the sometimes necessary power/influence/fortune needed as we strive for justice and equity. An article that I always refer back to is Noam Chomsky's dissection of justice vs power. That and thoughts about how social movements and protest no matter how "ineffectual" will always be more powerful levers to create systemic change than social enterprises. That's a whole other area though. I wanted this book to be more and found it was too long for what it had to say. I believe governments too should be larger actors than businesses, but the book drawing this conclusion seemed to be based on needing to propose something else rather than a genuine endorsement. I also would have hoped for greater analysis or critique of this "elite charade". I'd recommend all articles that are snippets of this book to everyone. The book itself, I'd primarily recommend to people who are part of these communities and have yet to realise everytime they use the word "movement" or "activist", it's an active form of co-option.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John Spiller

    "Winners Take All" is an important and timely book. Giridharadas examines the fundamental limitations and contradictions of those who work for social change from a position of wealth and prestige. His central theme is "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house," that is, the solutions proffered by the global elite will never address the conditions that created the problems. He explains how this mindset, which he dubs "MarketWorld" not only entrenches the status quo but also spur "Winners Take All" is an important and timely book. Giridharadas examines the fundamental limitations and contradictions of those who work for social change from a position of wealth and prestige. His central theme is "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house," that is, the solutions proffered by the global elite will never address the conditions that created the problems. He explains how this mindset, which he dubs "MarketWorld" not only entrenches the status quo but also spurred the backlash that led to Brexit and the election of Trump. In a tone more rueful than accusatory, Giridharadas examines the blinkered world view of the philanthropic elite who seek "to do well by doing good". These folks tend to favor "win-win" solutions, that is, an approach that benefits the individual without requiring a fundamental change to the system that created the problem (and their wealth). Similarly, the philantrocapitalists tend to prefer empowerment solutions to redistribution. While they tend to arrogantly consider themselves more capable than government of addressing problems, they profess ignorance and weakness when taking on the system itself. Those who do not share their market-driven approach to problem solving are pitied as ignorant rubes. Giridharadas explains how we find ourselves in this predicament. The Republicans have long run on the theme that "government is the problem, not the solution." Instead of providing a competing vision of the role for strong government, the Democrats have co-opted some of the Republican government-bashing while offering market-friendly solutions. Thus, the limited range of policy prescriptions center on even further deregulation so that the market can work its "invisible hand." Giridharadas ultimately concludes that we cannot rely upon the rich to produce a just and equitable society, though they do have a role. Rather, it will take a group effort which includes democratic institutions.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paula Lyle

    "Inspire the rich to do more good, but never, ever tell them to do less harm; inspire them to give back, but never, ever tell them to take less; inspire them to join the solution, but never, ever accuse them of being part of the problem." I say, sometimes, "How do those people sleep at night?" Now I know. They do so much to help already, how can they possibly be asked to pay taxes, too. This is an important book and should be read by every citizen. Then, each of those citizens should take seriousl "Inspire the rich to do more good, but never, ever tell them to do less harm; inspire them to give back, but never, ever tell them to take less; inspire them to join the solution, but never, ever accuse them of being part of the problem." I say, sometimes, "How do those people sleep at night?" Now I know. They do so much to help already, how can they possibly be asked to pay taxes, too. This is an important book and should be read by every citizen. Then, each of those citizens should take seriously the responsibility to engage in politics and vote. It's going to take a lot of us.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rahul Adusumilli

    The Beatles carrying all the criticisms contained in this book: "She's so heavy!" Bill Gates contributing a quote for this book is one of the most ironic things. I wondered how a person so critical of the institutions was given access to the said institutions, and he revealed he himself was an insider and a benefiter of the system. The book's central refrain: How can you expect the people benefiting from the system to change the system? These philanthropists' billions come from wrecking governmen The Beatles carrying all the criticisms contained in this book: "She's so heavy!" Bill Gates contributing a quote for this book is one of the most ironic things. I wondered how a person so critical of the institutions was given access to the said institutions, and he revealed he himself was an insider and a benefiter of the system. The book's central refrain: How can you expect the people benefiting from the system to change the system? These philanthropists' billions come from wrecking government regulations and workers' rights and they spend a few millions to ameliorate some of the pain their own policies inflicted in the first place. This is the first time I'm reading a book devoted to this topic and hence, I might have felt unusually impressed. It takes a dump on TED talks, the concept of thought-leaders, the influencers like Steven Pinker, the whole speaker circuit who avoid thinking in terms of cause and effect since the 'causees' are most likely the corporate sponsors of their speaking gigs. I don't know if the writer made any money promoting this book in that very sort of environment he decries. I wouldn't be surprised if he did. “had heard rich men do this kind of thing so often that he had invented a verb for the act: They were “Pinkering”—using the long-run direction of human history to minimize, to delegitimize the concerns of those without power." "Here is an expert example of Pinkering, from the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. Notice how accurate observations about human progress between the time of hunter-gatherers and the present creep into criticism-shaming: We’re this little, tribal species that was basically just sort of beating each other up, and competing with each other in all these ways, and somehow or other, we’ve risen so vastly far above our design specifications. I look around at us and I say, go humanity. We are fantastic. Yeah, there’s ISIS, there’s a lot of bad stuff, but you people who think that things are bad, you are expecting way too much. As a TED curator, Giussani was one of many people who had helped to build a new intellectual sphere in recent decades. It turned thought leaders into our most heard philosophers. It put many on the payroll of companies and plutocrats as their means of making a living. It promoted a body of ideas friendly to the winners of the age. It beamed out so many thoughts about why the world was getting better in recent years that its antennae failed to detect all the incoming transmissions about all the people whose lives were not improving, who didn’t care to be Pinkered because they knew what they were seeing, and what they were seeing was a society in which a small number of conference-going people and their friends were hoarding much of the progress they claimed to be inevitable, abundant, and beneficial to all.” A great book to read right after Bill Gates' approved Rosling's Factfulness, wouldn't you say? ;)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    If I were going to give all of you a book for Christmas, this would be it. Giridharadas has an insider’s (and skeptic’s) view of globalists, people in what he calls MarketWorld, neoliberalists, an elite who really think the best way to solve social problems is for them to start their own nonprofits. There were so many pages I wanted to transcribe, so many times I wanted to shake his hand, or text everyone I knew saying “See? I’m not the only one who thinks so!” He shows up the flawed philosophy If I were going to give all of you a book for Christmas, this would be it. Giridharadas has an insider’s (and skeptic’s) view of globalists, people in what he calls MarketWorld, neoliberalists, an elite who really think the best way to solve social problems is for them to start their own nonprofits. There were so many pages I wanted to transcribe, so many times I wanted to shake his hand, or text everyone I knew saying “See? I’m not the only one who thinks so!” He shows up the flawed philosophy that the best way to make change is to not ruffle feathers of the wealthy, offer win-win situations and make people believe they can “do well by doing good.” His call for robust local civic engagement and robust government, as well as thoughtful action when it is difficult (questioning your workplace’s role in the conditions that are driving inequality, for example) is one I am just not seeing much elsewhere. It is not until the acknowledgements that he admits being a part of MarketWorld, and he suggests that this was a story that could only be told by an insider. I suppose the outsiders writing in blogs of their concerns might seem invisible to him (a point he frequently makes when talking about who is NOT speaking at conference panels) but they do exist - however, this book never crumbles into crackpot conspiracy theories nor can it be accused of doing so without reference to its actual content because the author clearly has quite a bit of power. He does a pretty good job, as a journalist, of leaving people’s words out there to be interpreted by the reader. He does marvel a bit at the clueless belief that one is incorruptible (much appreciated, that. Once I had to have a good long thought about how easily I was bought when I realized I felt obligated to order things from a salesman who always brought coffee cake, versus the one who did not. I’ve never trusted a doctor’s free drug samples since, for if I can be corrupted by cake, how easy for my doctor to be corrupted by more costly items!) I would have liked a slight bit more probing of the way these elites become elites and what they believe about their own powers as a result. I would never have realized how much my graduate degree and professional job but lack of fellowships, Ivy League education, or MarketWorld conference attendance really leave me lumped in with the bumpkins to people in that sphere. Guess my belief in meritocracy was a little stronger than I thought. Readable and necessary, if only for an alternate explanation of populist anger.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael Tackett

    I found this a very enjoying read that really helped me coalesce some recent thoughts I've had recently on the subject. I first heard about the book on the Ezra Klein podcast (I would recommend listening to it as well to get Ezra's questions) and decided it was worth a try. It was. The basic focus of the book is that cultural elites are claiming to want to change the world, but really are treating the symptoms and not the root causes, which are often their own actions. The author demonstrates thi I found this a very enjoying read that really helped me coalesce some recent thoughts I've had recently on the subject. I first heard about the book on the Ezra Klein podcast (I would recommend listening to it as well to get Ezra's questions) and decided it was worth a try. It was. The basic focus of the book is that cultural elites are claiming to want to change the world, but really are treating the symptoms and not the root causes, which are often their own actions. The author demonstrates this in several ways, including actions by the wealthy and corporations, tech companies acting as change agents, and politicians relying on private sector solutions. Despite my enjoyment of the book, I felt I had to knock it one star. While the book offers several case studies involving acquaintances that reflected the cases above, it seemed like it continued to hammer the same point. It would have made a better argument if the author provided a counter example, even a historical one, of better way to solve some of these issues. In some of the chapters, it was difficult to keep up with the narrative, it would switch from a first hand reference to a discussion of the problem then back to a first hand narrative. The writing too was less academic and more manifesto, which is fine but sometimes it felt more like talking snarkily about the deficiency of a friend (e.g. "oh so-and-so wasn't at church today"). Despite that, I recommend the book. It didn't change me, but has definitely given me food for thought.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    I think this book is too close to my current research for me to get much out of it - if it already seems obvious to you that elite driven, pro-market type initiatives don't do much for the common good than this book might not offer much. And I found the last section on Trump grating - any author who attributes Trump's popularity only to anti-globalization without any mention of racism misses a crucial element of American politics. That said glad I'm glad his argument is circulating in the public I think this book is too close to my current research for me to get much out of it - if it already seems obvious to you that elite driven, pro-market type initiatives don't do much for the common good than this book might not offer much. And I found the last section on Trump grating - any author who attributes Trump's popularity only to anti-globalization without any mention of racism misses a crucial element of American politics. That said glad I'm glad his argument is circulating in the public sphere - if the reviews are anything to go by, most people don't see the hypocrisy in these win-win forms of thinking and this book can hopefully spark some important discussion.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve Turtell

    It's hard to argue with any of the blatantly obvious points Giridharadas makes, but in chapter after chapter his targets prove themselves immune to the criticism. The whole book is a collective portrait of a class well-described by Tolstoy in one of the book's epigraphs: “I sit on a man’s back choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all means possible… Except by getting off his back." – Leo Tolstoy, Writings on C It's hard to argue with any of the blatantly obvious points Giridharadas makes, but in chapter after chapter his targets prove themselves immune to the criticism. The whole book is a collective portrait of a class well-described by Tolstoy in one of the book's epigraphs: “I sit on a man’s back choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all means possible… Except by getting off his back." – Leo Tolstoy, Writings on Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence. I'd love to read reviews by the people he skewers, especially an unrepentant Bill Clinton, who sees absolutely no problem pulling down millions on the lecture circuit after his time in office. "He said this as though it were impossible to imagine how the opportunity to earn tens of millions of dollars after a presidency might affect a president's fight-picking decisions while in office."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    We live in a world where every SV exec and company, even ones laughably so (Coca-Cola? Facebook?) claim to be changing the world for the better, doing good and are involved in charitable donations. With so much charity and well-meaning, why hasn't the average American seen an income change for three decades? It's something that most seem to be acutely aware of even if they haven't spent enough time to properly articulate the critique. Giridharadas forwards the idea that the winners of capitalism We live in a world where every SV exec and company, even ones laughably so (Coca-Cola? Facebook?) claim to be changing the world for the better, doing good and are involved in charitable donations. With so much charity and well-meaning, why hasn't the average American seen an income change for three decades? It's something that most seem to be acutely aware of even if they haven't spent enough time to properly articulate the critique. Giridharadas forwards the idea that the winners of capitalism certainly want the feeling of doing good without any self-sacrifice. Charity is treating the symptom and not the cause; vehicles of extreme wealth extraction via tech on the backs of ordinary people is what enables a plutocratic elite to give money back. The book ridicules thought-leaders peddling marketable ideas that never-quite rock the boat hard enough to make a meaningful change, entrepreneurs whose social solutions happen to line their pockets, banking execs who now steep their language in social progress, and so on. The book is largely told via vehicles of anecdotal stories to illustrate larger trends, landing interviews from a diverse cast of would-be do-gooders to those grappling with trying to make a substantive change within the system. In the end, Anand's pulse reading of the rise of populism is a rebuke the jet-setting plutocrats by electing Trump, as "the arsonists make the best firefighters" answer. While that might be a part of the story, he's not entirely wrong with this outlook.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jinie Choi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Challenged every view I've held of tech philanthropists, and corporate philanthropy. As a believer in profit and private companies accelerating innovations to help these causes, it made me revisit foundations of my beliefs and confront my biases.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stevo Brock

    This book was Stevo's Business Book of the Week for the week of 9/2, as selected by Stevo's Book Reviews on the Internet: http://forums.delphiforums.com/stevo1. https://amzn.to/2CcDbWp

  14. 4 out of 5

    Raghu

    Philanthropy has been much in the news for decades now. In the past thirty years, there has been an explosion of chraitable giving in the US alone, rising from $25 billion in 1973 to $335 billion in 2013. Americans are a generous lot. Statistics show that 95.4% of US households gave to charity in 2013, amounting to $241 billion. The remainder came from corporate giving and other foundations. Naturally, with so much money on offer, myriad number of NGOs, Charity organizations and philanthropic fo Philanthropy has been much in the news for decades now. In the past thirty years, there has been an explosion of chraitable giving in the US alone, rising from $25 billion in 1973 to $335 billion in 2013. Americans are a generous lot. Statistics show that 95.4% of US households gave to charity in 2013, amounting to $241 billion. The remainder came from corporate giving and other foundations. Naturally, with so much money on offer, myriad number of NGOs, Charity organizations and philanthropic foundations come into existence to ‘put this money to work’. Of late, we also have Silicon Valley billionaires committing their wealth to foundations, set up to ‘change the world’, ‘abolish poverty’ and ‘make a difference’. In addition, the UN says that Globalization of the world economy in the past forty years moved capital to developing nations, resulting in nearly 600 million people coming out of poverty due to the changes it brought. With so much money chasing poverty, why do we still keep hearing that a billion people are living below $2 a day in the world today? Are the problems of world poverty so huge that $335 billion in charity each year cannot make a dent? The author of this book, Anand Giridhardas, knows this problem well and has been involved in it for many years. He was a McKinsey consultant who embraced initiatives in philanthrophic giving while he was there. He is well acquainted with industry leaders who congregate at Davos and Aspen and talk about changing the world. He knows the scene in the Clinton Global Initiative. In addition, he is buddies with many venture capitalists, social impact consultants and entrepreuners and billionaire social philanthropists. In this book, he tries to show us what is wrong with this model of charity and why it won’t solve the problem. Giridhardas’ main thesis is that the neo-liberal capitalist system under which we live, perpetuates vast differences in privilege by the way it is structured. The moneyed elite who do philanthropy, do so without destabilizing the system that is at the root of the problems they profess to solve. So, tasking the winners of this system to bring social justice through philanthropy is a futile exercise. At the most, it can just do good at the fringes but not really ‘change the world’. Then, he goes on to discuss what is really needed to deal with poverty and inequality. There are many who contest the proposition that there are vast differences in privilege nowadays and that American capitalist democracy perpetuates it. They point to affirmative actions over fifty years, the civil rights of the 1960s and the ascendancy of Barak Obama as President as proof that things are converging rather than diverging. In fact, it is a pet expression of many right-wingers that we live in a post-racial world today! In addition, globalization has substantially reduced poverty in the developing world. So, what is the basis for saying that this system is the cause of the poverty that entrepreuners are trying to solve? Economist Thomas Piketty and his colleagues show in their paper some startling facts about the current state of affairs. As of 2014, let us assume that a just-graduated college student, ends up as part of the top 10% income earners. She would be making twice as much as a similarly situated person would have in 1980. Had she entered the top one percent of income earners, she would make thrice as much as a one percenter in her parents’ day. In other words, she would make $1.3 million a year as opposed to $428000 in 1980, adjusted for inflation. On the slim chance that she enters the 0.001 percent, she would make seven times as much as a similar person in 1980 - more specifically, $122 million. In the same time period, the bottom half of all Americans would have seen their average pre-tax income rise from $16000 to just $16200. In other words, in spite of mind-bending innovations during this period, which saw productivity rise by 72%, a full 117 million workers would see a rise of just 9% in their pay over three decades. As a contrast, any casual search on Google tells us that Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, had a compensation package of $100.6 million for the year 2015 and that it shot up to $199.7 million the next year! So, there is no doubt that the system is rigged against the majority of workers and that the privilege is widening in an ever-accelerating trend. Naturally, Giridhardas warns us to be beware of ultra-rich people who want to change the world. He gives many arguments as to why the elite will not ever shake the foundations which confer these privileges on them quoting American civil rights activist Audre Lorde’s dictum that “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,”. Giridhardas does give some prescriptions as to what needs to be done to set the system right. He says that it is important to rein in business, change tax laws so that the govt gets much more from the profits of businesses, make aggressive policies to protect workers, redistribute income and make healthcare and education affordable for all. This would mean higher taxes and smaller profits. But then, changing the world means more than just giving back. It also takes giving something up. However, I wonder if such a change is realistically possible in America today. After all, the elite in any society, be it a democracy or dictatorship, never gives up its position of privilege and authority voluntarily. They would resist it tooth and nail. On top of it, we have only two political parties in the US and both are in cosy relationships with the elite of Wall Street. The Democratic party used to be a party of workers till some thirty years ago. But ever since the Bill Clinton presidency, it has become a party that believes in keeping the special privileges of the elite and letting the rest of us grab what just trickles down from them. The same thing has happened in the UK under Tony Blair and in Australia under Bob Hawke. Both leaders turned their Labor party into something like the US Democrats since the 1990s. Hence, the changes that Giridhardas wants to see have only a slim chance of seeing the light of day, in my view. All we can hope is that a leader like Jeremy Corbyn emerges in the US and pushes strongly the interests of the bottom half of Americans. This is a thought-provoking book and gives much cause for reflection. Perhaps, the working class, the students and intellectuals must unite and find a way to lobby the ultra-rich strongly to change the way businesses are run today. Why should businesses dish out astronomical compensations to the CEOs and engineers and executives, but zap the low-end worker with bare minimum wages, no healthcare and no safety net?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    I ADORED this book. It was not without its flaws, including being super biased, one sided and judgmental, but I LOVED it. I’ve been a total MarketWorlder, assuming business was the best vehicle for making change and business school was the most effective way to learn now. And this book helped me see an alternate way. Which released over a decade of cognitive dissonance I didn’t fully realize I was wrestling with. I don’t have all the answers yet about what this means for how I want to live my li I ADORED this book. It was not without its flaws, including being super biased, one sided and judgmental, but I LOVED it. I’ve been a total MarketWorlder, assuming business was the best vehicle for making change and business school was the most effective way to learn now. And this book helped me see an alternate way. Which released over a decade of cognitive dissonance I didn’t fully realize I was wrestling with. I don’t have all the answers yet about what this means for how I want to live my life and create the biggest impact I can using participatory methods and wise discernment rather than judgment, but it gave me sooo much to think about and to start processing. This book opened my eyes to why Hillary lost and how much and why elites have lost the trust of the vast majority of people by monopolizing changing the system that made them/us so powerful, and not actually making that change as inequality grows and the system excludes more and more people. I also understand that one of the reasons I love it is that it feels super vindicating with where I am in my life having just left running sustainability at a social enterprise to start a much more participatory nonprofit approach to rural primary education reform. Lots to digest and think about. The reason it loses a star is because it takes a ‘marketworld’ approach to calling out the ‘marketworlders.’ The author quotes and uses case studies from countless marketworld inner circles, but does not once interview or include the voices of the disenfranchised people he’s defending. Which I found very disappointing since actions speak so much louder than words. Don’t just tell us this way is wrong because it is exclusive; write an inclusive narrative that shows us the power of participation and giving microphones to people who marketworld has silenced, but remain deafeningly silent once again throughout this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cgallozzi

    ...Rich relations give A crust of Bread and Such You can help yourself But don't take too much Mama may have, Papa may have But God Bless the Child that's got his own That's got his own From the Seond Verse "God Bless the Child" Billie Holidy and Arthur Herzog, Jr. 1939 An important if repetitive book about Philanthropy generated by Global Winners which ostensibly helps people but also sometimes aids the corporations from which the funds were generated. Doing well by doing good is discussed. Some nuggets The ...Rich relations give A crust of Bread and Such You can help yourself But don't take too much Mama may have, Papa may have But God Bless the Child that's got his own That's got his own From the Seond Verse "God Bless the Child" Billie Holidy and Arthur Herzog, Jr. 1939 An important if repetitive book about Philanthropy generated by Global Winners which ostensibly helps people but also sometimes aids the corporations from which the funds were generated. Doing well by doing good is discussed. Some nuggets There is no intellectual counterweight to the current practice of hyper capitalism - solving for profit. Private Philanthropy can be opaque - who's giving what to whom with what terms. Private Philanthropy sometimes undertakes functions previously done by a resourced government but without oversight and accountability. The Private Philanthropy clubs rely heavily on constructing and implementing its "Apparatus of Justification" to justify their having made so much money; to create distribution personas different from personas used when they accumulated these funds. Sort of like a Pity the Poor Billionaire - who despite all this government regulation and such - made money and gives it away while defining the argument opportunity versus inequality and etc. Private Philanthropists are never wrong - just misunderstood. Some repetition but readable and "makes you think" about this subject. Not sure that a viable solution to this problem is presented - but to discuss this and to make people aware of the "Philanthropy behind the Curtain" that can be replacing some Government functions - without oversight, input or accountability is important. Carl Gallozzi Cgallozzi@comcast.net

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carol Palmer

    A few years ago, a conservative friend told me that conservatives are way more generous than liberals. Look at how much the Walton family gives away to set up charter schools. I told him that it would be even more generous if they paid Walmart employees a living wage so that their employees didn't have to have food drives for less fortunate employees. Also, Walmart could provide low cost health insurance to their employees and maybe so many of them wouldn't be dependent on Medicaid for health ca A few years ago, a conservative friend told me that conservatives are way more generous than liberals. Look at how much the Walton family gives away to set up charter schools. I told him that it would be even more generous if they paid Walmart employees a living wage so that their employees didn't have to have food drives for less fortunate employees. Also, Walmart could provide low cost health insurance to their employees and maybe so many of them wouldn't be dependent on Medicaid for health care. My friend changed the topic (I won!) I was excited to read this book. It encompassed the conversation with my conservative friend. All these rich people give away money, but don't make any changes to what horrible practices go on in their businesses or influence politicians to have their taxes lowered. They believe that by giving away the money, it makes up for the damage they've caused. Andrew Carnegie wrote that it was better he gave away his money rather than raise his workers' pay because the poor would just fritter away the extra money. The worst example in the book was the philanthropic family who owns the company that makes Oxycontin. They aggressively marketed the drug and just as aggressively blocked regulations that would make it harder for people to start taking and get hooked on Oxycontin. So what if Oxycontin use was one of the seeds of the current opioid epidemic? These people gave money to start museums! Their philanthropic giving is supposed to cover all the bad that enabled them to have that money. The one problem I have with the book is what now? What's the next step? Hopefully that will be in the next book?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bilal Baydoun

    “If anyone truly believes that the same ski-town conferences and fellowship programs, the same politicians and policies, the same entrepreneurs and social businesses, the same campaign donors, the same thought leaders, the same consulting firms and protocols, the same philanthropists and reformed Goldman Sachs executives, the same win-wins and doing-well-by-doing-good initiatives and private solutions to public problems that had promised grandly, if superficially, to change the world—if anyone t “If anyone truly believes that the same ski-town conferences and fellowship programs, the same politicians and policies, the same entrepreneurs and social businesses, the same campaign donors, the same thought leaders, the same consulting firms and protocols, the same philanthropists and reformed Goldman Sachs executives, the same win-wins and doing-well-by-doing-good initiatives and private solutions to public problems that had promised grandly, if superficially, to change the world—if anyone thinks that the MarketWorld complex of people and institutions and ideas that failed to prevent this mess even as it harped on making a difference, and whose neglect fueled populism’s flames, is also the solution, wake them up by tapping them, gently, with this book. For the inescapable answer to the overwhelming question—Where do we go from here?—is: somewhere other than where we have been going, led by people other than the people who have been leading us.”

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katie P..

    This book puts words to questions and ideas I have been wrestling with for a long time, having worked in the startup world, where people routinely pay lip service to "changing the world" while looking for tax and legal loopholes, ways to hire fewer people and pay the people they do hire less money, and all kinds of other things that I would assume would make your brain explode from cognitive dissonance. If you consider yourself "elite" or even "elite adjacent" - if you're a startup founder or an This book puts words to questions and ideas I have been wrestling with for a long time, having worked in the startup world, where people routinely pay lip service to "changing the world" while looking for tax and legal loopholes, ways to hire fewer people and pay the people they do hire less money, and all kinds of other things that I would assume would make your brain explode from cognitive dissonance. If you consider yourself "elite" or even "elite adjacent" - if you're a startup founder or an aspiring startup founder or you work at a corporate consulting firm or in the pharmaceutical industry or any other number of industries that claim to "make the world a better place" while shaping what "a better world" looks like in their own image - and you can't admit that there's at least some validity to the arguments put forth in this book, I would venture to say that you are part of the problem.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    Absolutely essential reading concerning our democracy and the seismic change in how global elites are pushing for societal problems get solved. It's all about market-driven solutions. Giridharadas dives deeply into the world of elite philanthropists and thought leaders and their 'win-win' solutions to solving global problems. The deeper Giridharadas goes, the more we see the wealthiest among us and the thought leaders that articulate solutions refusing to admit and address the issues that lie at Absolutely essential reading concerning our democracy and the seismic change in how global elites are pushing for societal problems get solved. It's all about market-driven solutions. Giridharadas dives deeply into the world of elite philanthropists and thought leaders and their 'win-win' solutions to solving global problems. The deeper Giridharadas goes, the more we see the wealthiest among us and the thought leaders that articulate solutions refusing to admit and address the issues that lie at the root of the problem, the grand extraction of wealth via capitalism that has exacerbated the problems in the first place. A brilliant treatise on how a small group of elites are challenging and undermining government's essential democratic role in solving massive societal issues like income inequality. One of the most important books I have read in a long time.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tom Gagne

    It’s a great book that gets better with each chapter. He uses the early chapters to set up the later ones. In the current chapter he’s explaining how the elites had a conference asking themselves why everyone hates them. It reminded me how liberals keep repeating that conservatives are anti-intellectual. I think instead the author is suggesting it’s not “intellectualism” that may be the focus of their “anti.” But anti-elitism. It reminds me of Friedrich Hyeck’s warning in “The Fatal Conceit.” Oh It’s a great book that gets better with each chapter. He uses the early chapters to set up the later ones. In the current chapter he’s explaining how the elites had a conference asking themselves why everyone hates them. It reminded me how liberals keep repeating that conservatives are anti-intellectual. I think instead the author is suggesting it’s not “intellectualism” that may be the focus of their “anti.” But anti-elitism. It reminds me of Friedrich Hyeck’s warning in “The Fatal Conceit.” Oh, and with a little science fiction thrown in.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Apparently once the beggar is better off, he wants to emulate. But old habits die hard. So our beggar wants to organize like the big boys, but like in his childhood, the big boys have to chip in for his plans. Amusing till you notice the mob with pitchforks and crosses.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The clarity of it is, in MW jargonese, it’s greatest asset.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vivek

    Brutally honest -- crystallizes what every yuppie professional (i.e., me) knows deep down about their (i.e., my) "efforts" to "do good."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Game changer! Read this book and join the revolution.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hilary Martin

    Mandatory reading.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    For me, this was a "Stop everything and read this" that did not disappoint.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sridhar

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris Kuczynski

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul Linke

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