Winners Take All

Winners Take All

The Elite Charade of Changing the World

eBook - 2018
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The New York Times bestselling, 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. An essential read for understanding some of the egregious abuses of power that dominate today's news.

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.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780451493255
0451493257
9780451493248
Branch Call Number: EBOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive Inc

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j
jimg2000
Apr 07, 2019

There is no denying that today’s elite may be among the more socially concerned elites in history. But it is also, by the cold logic of numbers, among the more predatory in history. By refusing to risk its way of life, by rejecting the idea that the powerful might have to sacrifice for the common good, it clings to a set of social arrangements that allow it to monopolize progress and then give symbolic scraps to the forsaken — many of whom wouldn’t need the scraps if the society were working right.
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But there is still another, darker way of judging what goes on when elites put themselves in the vanguard of social change: that it not only fails to make things better, but also serves to keep things as they are.
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The people with the most to lose from genuine social change have placed themselves in charge of social change, often with the passive assent of those most in need of it.

j
jimg2000
Apr 07, 2019

Trump is the reductio ad absurdum of a culture that tasks elites with reforming the very systems that have made them and left others in the dust.
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The only thing better than controlling money and power is to control the efforts to question the distribution of money and power. The only thing better than being a fox is being a fox asked to watch over hens.
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The best way to bring about meaningful reform was to apprentice in the bowels of the status quo.
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Kinkaid School in Houston, a preparatory academy founded on a philosophy of educating the “whole child” and of “balanced growth — intellectual, physical, social, and ethical.” Her father dropped her there most mornings with a reminder to “learn something new.”
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“The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion,” Aristotle says,“and wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking ; for it is merely useful and for the sake of something else.”

j
jimg2000
Apr 07, 2019

MarketWorld is a network and community, but it is also a culture and state of mind. These elites believe and promote the idea that social change should be pursued principally through the free market and voluntary action, not public life and the law and the reform of the systems that people share in common; that it should be supervised by the winners of capitalism and their allies, and not be antagonistic to their needs; and that the biggest beneficiaries of the status quo should play a leading role in the status quo’s reform.
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Accountancy, medicine, education, espionage, and seafaring all have their own tools and modes of analysis, but none of those approaches was widely promoted as the solution to virtually everything else .
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In 2009, the Economist had declared it “McKinsey’s turn to try to sort out Uncle Sam,” suggesting that “ Obama may favour McKinseyites in much the same way as his predecessor seemed addicted to hiring alumni of Goldman Sachs. ”

j
jimg2000
Apr 07, 2019

It goes without saying, for example, that if hedge funders hadn’t been enormously creative in dodging taxes, the income available for foreign aid would have been greater.
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“Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realized by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good.”
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Trickle-down economics. A rising tide lifts all boats. Entrepreneurs expand the pie. Smith tells the rich man to focus on running his business on the assumption that positive social consequences will occur automatically, as a happy by-product of his selfishness. Through the magic of the “free market” — an oxymoron ever since the first regulation was imposed on it — he unwittingly arranges for the common good.

j
jimg2000
Apr 07, 2019

In Silicon Valley, “people interpret social justice different ways,” often as win-lose thinking. “Some people say social justice is taking from the rich and giving to the poor,” Carson said. “Some people say social justice is giving to people who didn’t earn something.” And so Carson started using the word “fairness.”
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Perhaps they had a feeling “that I’m being targeted because I’ve been successful, I’ve worked hard, I made it; and because I made it, I am now the target, that you think you deserve some of my success that you haven’t earned.”
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Even’s attempt to address a massive social problem: the growing volatility of millions of working-class Americans’ income, thanks to the spreading practice of employing people erratically, the rise in part-time jobs and gigs, and the new on-demand economy that left many eternally chasing work instead of building livelihoods .

j
jimg2000
Apr 07, 2019

It is no fun if half of your high school friends are on the other social network, so Facebook becomes a de facto monopoly.
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Gentlemen investors decide what ideas are worth pursuing, and the people pitching to them tailor their proposals accordingly. The companies that come out of this are no longer pursuing profit, or even revenue. Instead, the measure of their success is valuation — how much money they’ve convinced people to tell them they’re worth.
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These rich and powerful men engage in what the writer Kevin Roose has called “anarchist cheerleading,” in keeping with their carefully crafted image as rebels against the authorities .
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A famous statement of that finding came from the feminist writer Jo Freeman, who in her 1972 essay “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” observed that when groups operate on vague or anarchic terms, structurelessness “becomes a smokescreen for the strong or the lucky to establish unquestioned hegemony over others.”

j
jimg2000
Apr 07, 2019

Someone always rules; the question is who. In a world without a Leviathan, which is to say a strong state capable of making and enforcing universal rules, people will be ruled by thousands of miniature Leviathans closer to home — by the feudal lords on whose soil they work and against whom they have few defenses ; by powerful, whimsical, unaccountable princes .
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history was not a line but a wheel; that sometimes astonishing new tools were used in ways that worsened the world; that places of darkness often persisted even under new light; that people had a long habit of exploiting one another, no matter how selfless they and their ideas seem; that the powerful are your equals as citizens, not your representatives.
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Revolution after revolution over the ages had called for the cancellation of debts and the redistribution of land. “We might change that now to cancel the debts and redistribute the platform,” Martin said.

j
jimg2000
Apr 07, 2019

An essay he wrote to promote his book on resilience argued that the world should focus less on rooting out its biggest problems, including poverty and climate change, and more on living with them. The message had reassuring implications for those who were perfectly content with the status quo and preferred the kinds of changes that essentially preserved it.

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“Shifting your attention to the victim makes you more empathetic, increasing the chances that you’ll channel your anger in a constructive direction. Instead of trying to punish the people who caused harm, you’ll be more likely to help the people who were harmed. ”
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“There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. ”

j
jimg2000
Apr 07, 2019

ARSONISTS MAKE THE BEST FIREFIGHTERS No one knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it. — DONALD J. TRUMP
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How could they foster fast-growing economies that also promoted justice, governance, empowerment, social cohesion, and equality? How could traditional tools of economic progress be changed to help rather than harm the most vulnerable and marginalized people?
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Soros meeting, when the talk turned to farm supply chains in a remote region of India, the lingua franca was business language. It was said that there were too many intermediaries in the supply chain: too many traders and brokers and such between the Indian farmer and the Indian dinner plate. The corporate answer was to “disintermediate.” What did not appear to cross anyone’s mind on West 57th Street was the possibility of being wrong about rural India.

j
jimg2000
Apr 07, 2019

“I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.”
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A man beating a woman wasn’t just one man beating one woman; he was part of a system of male supremacy and laws and a culture of looking away that put the problem beyond solution by the woman in question.
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The shame one felt in getting an abortion wasn’t a feeling cooked up by the feeler; it was engineered and constructed through public policy and the artful use of religious authority. The feminists helped us to see problems in this way.
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The feminists wanted us to look at a vagina and zoom out to see Congress. The thought leaders want us to look at a laid-off employee and zoom in to see the beauty of his feeling his vulnerability because at least he is alive. They want us to focus on his vulnerability, not his wage.

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l
lukasevansherman
Jun 22, 2019

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it."-Upton Sinclair
An intelligent, crucial, and trenchant critique of the philanthropy of the very rich. One's initial reaction may be, "Wait, you're excoriating the rich for giving away money? Why won't you let the rich be great??" Former New York Times correspondent Anand Giridharadas looks at how the very wealthy use their money not just for good, but to influence public opinion, public institutions, and to advance their ideology and politics. Maybe most compelling are the lords of Silicon Valley who act like free wheeling outsiders, but whose ideas are deeply anti-democratic. A book that everyone should read. Also, "The Givers" and Robert Reich's "Just Giving."
"The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house."-Audre Lorde

j
jimg2000
Apr 09, 2019

The author nailed it (in the chapter citing Chiara Cordelli, an Italian political philosopher at the University of Chicago): "When a society helps people through its shared democratic institutions, it does so on behalf of all, and in a context of equality. Those institutions, representing those free and equal citizens, are making a collective choice of whom to help and how. Those who receive help are not only objects of the transaction, but also subjects of it—citizens with agency. When help is moved into the private sphere, no matter how efficient we are told it is, the context of the helping is a relationship of inequality: the giver and the taker, the helper and the helped, the donor and the recipient."

f
frealasruadh
Apr 06, 2019

This is an incredibly important book to have been written by someone who comes from within MarketWorld and the other pervasive entrepreneur "change agent" environments. Only by having first been an engaged participant coming slowly to realize that he was only contributing to the existing problem and not changing it (despite doing well for a selected part of society) could Giridharadas have written this as he did. His exposure of showing how the business world 'thought leaders' of the U.S. especially are willfully ignoring our existing institutions in an updated form of the benevolent slaveholder is eye opening. Even more than his words, those of the Italian political philosopher, Chiara Cordelli, whom he quotes extensively at the end of the book, ring powerfully with what must be done to restore our commonwealth. Common wealth versus what we have now, which is insane wealth inequality to the degree which in the historic past often met with beheadings and blood running in the streets.

If I were in charge, this would be a must read for all students going into business in order to truly use business to assist our existing civic institutions, not *through* business. "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House" wrote Audre Lorde, which is the underlying message through this book. Read, digest, and spread the word!!!

d
dwaynehoover
Mar 30, 2019

Winners Take All is an important and challenging take on modern capitalism. Specifically, that the global elite of do-gooders that gather in places like Davos are more interested and equipped to promote their own profits than solve social problems. Giridharadas says it’s not simply that this Emperor has no clothes, but that our collective fawning over the imaginary duds distracts us from seeing the emperor’s subjects are in rags.

It’s a worthy topic to explore, told entertainingly – a story of power replete with colourful characters, dubious morals and rationalizations, and devious motivations. Giridharadas’ opinions are put forward clearly. And yet there is the untold ‘on the other hand...’ Just because the elites are not dismantling the capitalist system itself, is there nothing valuable in what they do to alleviate societal problems?

An enjoyable and stimulating book, asking important questions with more than a kernel of intuitive truth. But also a book that undermines its case. By whole heartedly embracing the role of antagonist, he chooses an approach of black and white over nuance, confrontation over collaboration, belief over data, and win/lose over win/win.

k
KarenDem
Mar 20, 2019

As the Booklist review states, "MarketWorld is the term used for the network of wealthy, educated, cosmopolitan elites who eschew politics for private, largely unaccountable efforts to change the world"
Skip the intro- it is statistics. The reason to read this book is how the author illustrates each of his ideas with a story of someone who wants to help the less fortunate. Then he describes how each of their careers are influenced by the concept of a win-win solution, helping others without sacrificing financial comfort. I didn't read the whole book, but what I read was great. I read a lot on income inequality, but this is all new territory because of the personal stories.

s
sandraperkins
Mar 09, 2019

This thought-provoking book raises all sorts of interesting questions:

When wealthy people talk about “changing the world” and “making the world a better place,” do they want to make the world better for everyone, or just for themselves and other elites? Even if they mean well, are they likely to pursue solutions that would make their own lives less privileged? Or are they trying to make the status quo more palatable to the masses?

When the wealthy talk about fixing problems in today’s world, they rarely confront their own role in causing the problems in the first place. Instead, they reward “thought leaders” who define “change” in ways friendly to elites.

What if wealthy people thought about how their own actions and the ways they live their lives contributed to the inequality that causes many of the problems they wish to solve? What if they were willing to do less harm? What if they were willing to give up some of the perks of their privileged lives, such as legacy status for their children at elite universities?

Should the serious problems caused by wealth inequality and income inequality be solved by wealthy (unelected) elites instead of by the public institutions they undermine by lobbying and avoiding taxes?

This book is full of hard-hitting stories: the Sackler family of Purdue Pharma profited hugely through sales of OxyContin, and fought hard to prevent restrictions on its prescription. We all know about the terrible opioid epidemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, while this family has amassed billions of dollars selling and promoting this drug. Should their philanthropy buy them forgiveness?

Darren Walker, raised in poverty and now head of the Ford Foundation, gave a lengthy interview to the author in which he struggled with what he could and should say to these wealthy donors. He sees clearly the systemic problems in our society, but the wealthy donors do not want to hear that they are a big part of the problem. Is it acceptable to “meet them where they are,” in hopes that the gentle message will get through to them eventually?

If you are interested in philanthropy, making the world a better place, the common good, public institutions, systemic change, fighting back against inequality of wealth and income, or all of the above, I highly recommend this book.

mko123 Mar 07, 2019

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison dated October 28, 1785, said the following " I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable, but the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. The descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers and sisters, or other relations in equal degree, is a politic measure and a practicable one. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise." In other words, to whom much is given, much is expected. The author gives a convincing argument for returning to a pre-Reagon tax scale in order to fairly address the income disparity and pay for programs for the common good. An excellent book.

b
bazooka51
Feb 17, 2019

I think the author accomplished the task he set out to do: inform his readers about the inner workings of what he calls MarketWorld and the influence of the attendant "thought leaders."

I was fascinated by Stargladiator's long comment (below) in which he classifies the book as drivel, but goes on to elucidate the various ways in which the author might have expanded on the backgrounds of several of the philanthropic villains. My thought when I finished that comment was, why don't you expand on it and write a book (or perhaps you have already, in which case, please offer your readers the publication data).

SurreyLibrarian Feb 08, 2019

Submitted by Jenny - I loved “Winners Take All” by Anand Giridharadas – eye-opening and paradigm-shifting look at a different kind of world.

m
Memawrayne
Dec 26, 2018

Very thought provoking. The reader may agree or disagree but the author gives us food for thought.

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j
jimg2000
Apr 09, 2019

A major source of the author's arguments came from extensive interviews of many, more so from:

***Darren Walker’s letter, “Toward a New Gospel of Wealth,” can be found at the Ford Foundation website: www.fordfoundation.org/​ideas/​equals-change-blog/​posts/​toward-a-new-gospel-of-wealth

***The good and not so good "Clinton Global Initiative." I interviewed Bill Clinton twice for this book. The first instance was in September 2016, via email. The second was in May 2017, a ninety-minute conversation conducted in person at his foundation’s offices in New York.

***Quotes liberally from "Philanthropy in Democratic Societies: History, Institutions, Values" Edited by Rob Reich, Lucy Bernholz, and Chiara Cordelli. The trio of thinkers have been discussing "Democracy and Philanthropy - How private giving can contribute to the needs of American democracy." for quite some time, e.g Feb. 19, 2013:
https://ssir.org/articles/entry/democracy_and_philanthropy

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