Winners Take All: The elite charade of changing the world
Allen Lane, $29.99 pb, 288 pp, 9780241400722
‘I’m a rich man, and wanted to give something back. Not the money, but something.’
The Simpsons Movie (2007)
From McKinsey analyst to honoured author, New York Times correspondent, familiar face on MSNBC. Awarded a prestigious Henry Crown Fellowship at Aspen, invited onto private planes amid discussion of drinking-water projects in Kenya and improved farm supply chains in India. Not one but two TED talks. Yet all the time, a gnawing sense of something profoundly wrong.
Anand Giridharadas, in Winners Take All: The elite charade of changing the world, turns on those who fêted him. At Aspen, he was drawn into a place he calls ‘marketworld’, a distinctive domain of business, philanthropy, and consulting, with celebrity motivational speakers and promises to use market mechanisms for social change. It felt good at first but in time became a ‘giant, sweet-lipped lie’. In 2015 Giridharadas took to the stage at Aspen, not to say thanks but to go on the attack. Some cheered. A private equity guy swore at him. Winners Take All, an extended version of that speech, denounces a world Giridharadas briefly inhabited.