Insidious Philanthropy

Photo by Maurizio Pesce | CC BY 2.0

A special twentieth anniversary issue of the slick magazine Fast Company, two years and some months ago, brilliantly clarified the purpose of the enterprise before us, the disempowered world public: “Zuk,” as hero-Zuckerberg is called, had explained that corporations managed efficiency while philanthropies managed humanitarian pursuits, but in the new order emerging, the distinction had become artificial. Corporations had already become the engines of humanitarianism they had always claimed to be, but directly rather than indirectly, and philanthropies would live within rather than alongside the corporate life world.

Perhaps this is an essentially semantic shift, but perhaps not. In the passage of two years, with the unexpected election of Trump—certainly the fast company of Fast Company were not expecting it—disrupting the anticipated Obama/Clinton transition to a higher managed neoliberalism, many of the basic mechanisms have also been disrupted. Threats (not only to them and their vast holdings but to all of us) have grown monstrously, and a new shame seems to have been placed, most remarkably, upon the divisions of rich and poor hitherto considered successfully normalized.

Enter authors Daniel Ravetos and Julia Wark, whose purpose is to lay bare the whole enterprise of philanthropy and cast grave doubt upon the philanthropic world today and its prospect for the future. If the present system is unsustainable, then why not a…

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