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  • The position of many of the winners of our age of the last 30-40 years,

  • this period of time that is somewhat unique in being a period defined by hyper technology

  • change, hyper globalization change, also, coincidentally, to those things not really

  • related but equally cataclysmic, demographic change. If you think about, for a moment,

  • in the last 30-40 years we've basically done the rise of women, the rise of ethnic minorities

  • and apparently in many places, LGBT people, in addition to the digital revolution and

  • globalization. There are some people who are on the right

  • side of all of those changes and it's just been helium balloons, but there's many people

  • who have received all five of those as headwinds and then there's many of us in-between. Those

  • elites who have been the winners of that period recognize that we live in an age of inequality,

  • recognize, yesterday I was lucky enough to be in the House of Commons during the vote,

  • and listened to every MP, regardless of how they voted, telling a three minute story about

  • what was actually going on in their constituency. Regardless of how they ended up, the stories

  • were all stories of ache, of jobs lost, of uncertainty, of people unable to see a future

  • that they can run into. I think the winners of our age, knowing from

  • Oxfam that 82% of new wealth generated in 2017 went to the global 1%, which means that

  • we're not only not fixing historical legacies, we're literally making it worse now. Knowing

  • all of that, have been determined to help, to change, to make a difference, that's why

  • you see every bank's got an impact investment fund. Every rich guy is giving away lots of

  • money, a philanthropic thing. Every silicon valley business claims it's a humanitarian

  • project. What I think, in general, the winners of our

  • age are unwilling to do, they're not willing to pay higher taxes or just stop avoiding

  • them. They're not willing to let go of their Double Dutch with an Irish sandwich, tax manoeuvre

  • they all use. They're not willing to pay people more to do their jobs. They're not willing

  • to stop lobbying against austerity and the kinds of public policies that we know are

  • going to hurt people but benefit financial elites. They're not willing to actually commit

  • to the communities that have made them as companies which they can now effortlessly

  • abandon by sourcing here and selling there. What's ironic about what you've

  • just said is the winners of our age are taking more and more from the common stock, from

  • the common wealth and yet the language they use to describe their action is the language

  • of win-win. All of these investors, and this is quite a difficult conversation for a social

  • change making organization. We have many projects and have had many projects for the last few

  • years. We've looked at some of these movements, like Impact Investment, Philanthrocapitalism,

  • Venture Philanthropy, where the language of change is couched in this non-radical, non-confrontational,

  • what's good for me is good for my neighbour. If I do well, it means I can do some good

  • thereby. Your argument seems to be that's an incredibly corrosive way of looking at

  • the world. One of the things I learned was a lot

  • of this is, as you say, couched in this language of win-win, I couldn't quite figure out what

  • was the problem with it. As I thought about it, it seemed to me that what the win-win

  • does is it takes a situation, a concept that's actually derived from the world of trade,

  • like you have ice cream, I have money, I want ice cream, you want money and we do a deal.

  • Then that narrow case, that actually is a win-win, that's exchange, that's market exchange,

  • that's correct use of win-win. What has happened is that this concept of

  • the win-win has been jammed into the sphere of social change and making the world better

  • and actually solving our biggest public problems, where it has no business. Feminism is not

  • a win-win problem. A lot of men are going to have to lose a lot of power and privilege

  • and the right to grope people at the office and have positions that their mediocrity did

  • not actually entitle them to, for that revolution to succeed.

  • When everything is couched as a win-win, what you are really saying is that the kinds of

  • social change that actually cost the winner something are ruled out. What you're really

  • saying is, "Yes, tell women the problem is their posture, they should lean forward and

  • raise their hand more," that way we don't actually have to pay them equally because

  • that would hurt shareholder value. What you're really saying is, "Yes, let's have charter

  • schools and let's have Mark Zuckerberg give some money to a school," because what you

  • really don't want to do in the United States, I know this is alien here, is end the unbelievably

  • barbaric system we have of funding public education by your local property taxes. Basically,

  • the nicer your house, the better the education you get in America, which is obviously crazy.

  • If you just say, "Well, I'm not touching the education system," you're going to lose your

  • next election or they'll have a pitchfork in your stomach. What the winners of our age

  • do is get out in front of it by saying, "No, I recognize the desire for more equity in

  • education system. Let's do charter schools. Let's do lean in. Let's not do higher tax

  • in public education, but let's do this new thing that they're promoting in Silicon Valley

  • where Silicon Valley companies pay for you to go to college, and then you pay them a

  • percentage of your income, which used to be called taxation but is now done as an app

  • only for the luckiest students with the highest likelihood of repayment."

  • I believe that this win-win thing, although it sounds so good, is actually part of the

  • privatization of the solution of public problems. I don't think all problems need to be solved

  • by the public. I hope my phones continue to be built by the private sector. I hope my

  • airplanes continue to be built by the private sector. I think, frankly, most things that

  • occur in this society or any society in the modern world will be privately built and arranged.

  • When you look at a problem like social mobility, like the empowerment of women, what trade

  • has done to communities in this country and the anger that it has aroused, those are the

  • kinds of problems that cannot be solved by really clever businesses or really fun apps

  • or rich people who happen to be feeling generous on a particular day. Those are the kind of

  • problems we can only solve together. Those kinds of solutions have been discredited by

  • the fantasy of the win-win that allows the winners to keep on standing on people's backs.

The position of many of the winners of our age of the last 30-40 years,

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The Elite Charade of Changing the World with Anand Giridharadas

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    Summer   posted on 2020/10/19
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