Winners Take All: The elite charade of changing the world

Reviewed by Eva Rehse, Global Greengrants Fund, Europe

‘The master’s tools,’ Audre Lorde famously wrote, ‘will never dismantle the master’s house.’ Anand Giridharadas’ new book is a reflection on what this means for the change-makers of today.

This compelling book presents an analysis of why elites engage in social change and how they shape what that change is supposed to be. In a series of portraits of key figures of the liberal global elites – from Bill Clinton to Darren Walker – Giridharadas takes stock of current efforts to ‘change the world’ while leaving much of the status quo untouched.

Giridharadas sketches out a world in which those who are already benefiting the most are put in charge of fixing those societal ills which they may just have caused. In this dire picture, philanthropy is only successful when it produces a win-win result – doing well while doing good; flash-trading commodities with one hand while donating to anti-poverty causes with the other. According to the author, philanthropy props up the prevailing systems that have caused the underlying inequalities and injustices, rather than addressing and eradicating them.

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