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Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas
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“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.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“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.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“Are we ready to hand over our future to the elite, one supposedly world-changing initiative at a time? Are we ready to call participatory democracy a failure, and to declare these other, private forms of change-making the new way forward? Is the decrepit state of American self-government an excuse to work around it and let it further atrophy? Or is meaningful democracy, in which we all potentially have a voice, worth fighting for?”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“civic life. It is the habit of solving problems together, in the public sphere, through the tools of government and in the trenches of civil society. It is solving problems in ways that give the people you are helping a say in the solutions, that offer that say in equal measure to every citizen, that allow some kind of access to your deliberations or at least provide a meaningful feedback mechanism to tell you it isn’t working. It is not reimagining the world at conferences.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“Rich American men, who tend to live longer than the average citizens of any other country, now live fifteen years longer than poor American men, who endure only as long as men in Sudan and Pakistan.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“Profitable companies built in questionable ways and employing reckless means engage in corporate social responsibility, and some rich people make a splash by “giving back”—regardless of the fact that they may have caused serious societal problems as they built their fortunes.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“To question the doing-well-by-doing-good globalists is not to doubt their intentions or results, rather it is to say that even when all those things are factored in, something is not quite right.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“American scientists make the most important discoveries in medicine and genetics and publish more biomedical research than those of any other country—but the average American’s health remains worse and slower-improving than that of peers in other rich countries, and in certain years life expectancy actually declines.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“the top 10 percent of humanity have come to hold 90 percent of the planet’s wealth. It is no wonder that the American voting public—like other publics around the world—has turned more resentful and suspicious in recent years, embracing populist movements on the left and right, bringing socialism and nationalism into the center of political life in a way that once seemed unthinkable, and succumbing to all manner of conspiracy theory and fake news.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“Elite networking forums like the Aspen Institute and the Clinton Global Initiative groom the rich to be self-appointed leaders of social change, taking on the problems people like them have been instrumental in creating or sustaining.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“Yet we are left with the inescapable fact that in the very era in which these elites have done so much to help, they have continued to hoard the overwhelming share of progress, the average American’s life has scarcely improved, and virtually all of the nation’s institutions, with the exception of the military, have lost the public’s trust.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“As he surveyed the world being remade by Silicon Valley, and especially what was once called the sharing economy, he began to see through the fantasy-speak. Here were a handful of companies thriving by serving as middlemen between people who wanted rides and people who offered them, people who wanted their Ikea furniture assembled and people who came over to install it, people who defrayed their costs by renting out a room and people who stayed there. It was no accident, Scholz believed, that these services had taken off at the historical moment that they had. An epic meltdown of the world financial system had cost millions of people their homes, jobs, and health insurance. And as the fallout from the crash spread, many of those cut loose had been drafted into joining a new American servant class. The precariousness at the bottom, which had shown few signs of improving several years after the meltdown, had become the fodder for a bounty of services for the affluent—and, Scholz noted, for the “channeling of wealth in fewer and fewer hands.” Somehow, the technologies celebrated by the Valley as leveling playing fields and emancipating people had fostered a slick new digitally enabled upstairs-downstairs line in American social life.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“A successful society is a progress machine. It takes in the raw material of innovations and produces broad human advancement. America’s machine is broken. When the fruits of change have fallen on the United States in recent decades, the very fortunate have basketed almost all of them.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“A true critic might call for an end to funding schools by local property taxes and the creation, as in many advanced countries, of a common national pool that funds schools more or less equally. What a thought leader might offer MarketWorld and its winners is a kind of intellectual counteroffer—the idea, say, of using Big Data to better compensate star teachers and weed out bad ones.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“In an age defined by a chasm between those who have power and those who don’t, elites have spread the idea that people must be helped, but only in market-friendly ways that do not upset fundamental power equations. The society should be changed in ways that do not change the underlying economic system that has allowed the winners to win and fostered many of the problems they seek to solve. The broad fidelity to this law helps make sense of what we observe all around: the powerful fighting to “change the world” in ways that essentially keep it the same, and “giving back” in ways that sustain an indefensible distribution of influence, resources, and tools.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“More often, though, these elites start initiatives of their own, taking on social change as though it were just another stock in their portfolio or corporation to restructure. Because they are in charge of these attempts at social change, the attempts naturally reflect their biases.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“Tech companies like Uber and Airbnb cast themselves as empowering the poor by allowing them to chauffeur people around or rent out spare rooms.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“Conferences and idea festivals sponsored by plutocrats and big business host panels on injustice and promote “thought leaders” who are willing to confine their thinking to improving lives within the faulty system rather than tackling the faults”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“The thought leader, when he or she strips politics from the issue, makes it about actionable tweaks rather than structural change, removing the perpetrators from the story. It is no accident that thought leaders, whose speaking engagements are often paid for by MarketWorld, whose careers are made by MarketWorld, are encouraged to put things that way.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it. —UPTON SINCLAIR”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“MarketWorld finds certain ideas more acceptable and less threatening than others, he said, and it does its part to help them through its patronage of thought leaders. For example, Giussani observed, ideas framed as being about 'poverty' are more acceptable that ideas framed as being about inequality.' The two ideas are related. But poverty is a material fact of deprivation that does not point fingers, and inequality is something more worrying: It speaks of what some have and others lack; it flirts with the idea of injustice and wrongdoing; it is relational.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“For a privileged person, it means to look into one’s own privilege. And, he said, “you cannot change it by yourself. You can change the system only together. With charity, essentially, if you have money, you can do a lot of things alone.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“humility of the social sciences—the realization that development has to do with people, with human and social complexity, with cultural and traditional realities, and their willingness to struggle with the messy and multifaceted aspects of a problem—have no cachet in this metrics-driven, efficiency-seeking, technology-focused approach to social change.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“Nonfiction writers can and do make vastly more, and more easily, than they could ever make any other way, including by writing bestselling books or being a Harvard professor…. That number means that Ferguson doesn’t have to please his publishers; he doesn’t have to please his editors; he sure as hell doesn’t have to please scholars. He has to please corporations and high-net-worth individuals.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“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.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“By commons he meant the shared assets of a place—things such as public schools that both industry and average people benefit from. “As people got disconnected from locations, business stopped really reinvesting in that. They thought their job was globalizing.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“There is tremendous pressure to turn thoughts into commodities—into tiny, usable takeaways, into Monday morning insights for the CEO, into ideas that are profitable rather than compelling for their own sake.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“She is offering what MarketWorlders so adore: a solution. The solution is to return, against their instincts and even perhaps against their interests, to politics”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“corruption and capture of politics and institutions by vested interests; lack of transparency and participation by ordinary citizens in decision-making;”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
“When elites solve public problems privately, they can do so in ways that contribute to democracy, and they can do so in ways that disrupt it. The former occurs when elite help “contributes to and enlarges the public goods provided by the state, and attends to interests not readily provided for by the state.” But the same elite help, backed by the same noble intentions, can instead “disrupt” democracy when it “replaces the public sphere with all manner of private initiatives for special public purposes.” These latter works don’t simply do what government cannot do. They “crowd out the public sector, further reducing both its legitimacy and its efficacy, and replace civic goals with narrower concerns about efficiency and markets.”
Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World

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