"Winners Take All," Anand Giridharadas, Knopf, 288 pages, $26.95.
In his impassioned new book, “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” journalist Anand Giridharadas argues that the elite citizens of the world are philanthropic more often than not — but in ways that ultimately serve only to protect and further their interests and cement the status quo.
Giridharadas started thinking this way when he was a Henry Crown fellow at the Aspen Institute, observing peers with day jobs at Goldman Sachs and other large companies. He began wondering what allows people to make money in predatory ways and compensate for that through philanthropy.
In his telling, the roots of the problem go all the way back to Andrew Carnegie, the famed American industrialist, who advocated that people be as aggressive as possible in their pursuit of wealth and then give it back through private philanthropy.
Carnegie-ism has grown into what Giridharadas calls “MarketWorld.” In essence, this is the cultlike belief that intractable social problems can be solved in market-friendly ways that result in “win-wins” for everyone involved. Enter TED talks and corporate-backed symposiums. He names many but curiously not the largest of the MarketWorld benefactors: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The movement, he writes, has come at the expense of the public intellectuals who are willing to voice controversial arguments that shake up the system. Those cynical of government will have trouble with his key idea of reinvigorating the public sector with both more money and power.