Salutations, Decipherers. In honor of the Ides of March, a time the ancient Romans recognized as a deadline for settling debts, we are reviewing Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas. Anand is a journalist with a background in politics and history, and experience as a consultant with Mckinsey & Company. Winners Take All is about the author’s experience within the circles of the privileged elite, from hedge fund managers to tech leaders and venture capitalists, who subscribe to a pseudo-religion he refers to as ‘market-world’: an unflagging belief that neoliberal capitalism has the ability improve the lives of all people, and in fact, has been doing so consistency, from the first steam-powered train to the last TED talk about going to Mars. Technology! Entrepreneurship!
Anand’s book skewers this self-serving, teleological thinking. It also criticizes corporate socialism and points out the hypocrisy in the ‘reciprocal altruism’ model of giving: Why can’t I help you, while helping myself a little at the same time? This devil’s bargain, more about image than outcome, means that increasingly out of touch elites will only look for solutions that don’t require them to change. Ultimately, Anand suggests, the philanthropic endeavors of the rich today are no different than those of the Carnegies and Rockefellers of a century ago–efforts by extractive capitalists to launder their dirty money and improve their public image, while also (if possible) stemming the tide of growing national rage over inequality. Check out the link below to hear our thoughts on the diatribes of marketworld, and how Anand’s criticisms touch at the root of many problems in our cities today.
Cover Image: A Glowing Podium of Condescension at the Aspen Institute.