Past Meetup

Modern Philanthropy & Humanist Values in a Winners Take All World

This Meetup is past

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Is there something wrong with the mega philanthropy we see from the big winners and ultra wealthy of today's society?
Some look at philanthropy's role as an “apparatus of justification” - a phrase developed and discussed in Thomas Piketty’s "Capital in the 21st Century", which stands for elite power structures like those started in the Gilded Age.
We need to take a steady look at the hegemonic power of present-day elite networks such as seen in Silicon Valley (Techno-rich) and Wall street.
We do see some philanthropy and giving coming from great wealth,even notable genereous ones but it seems at times an expression of newly gilded networked structures, whose roots reach deep into the economy & society and perpetuate themselves at the expense of others. It is also subject to arbitrary shut down.
Anand Giridharadas' "Winners Take All" book, for example, provides a view of this issue including an historical frame comes from Andrew Carnegie’s essay ‘Wealth‘, published in 1889. Carnegie, for example, advocated that people be as aggressive as possible in their pursuit of wealth and then give it back through private philanthropy. But this seems dripping with paternalism to some since it may not consider non-wealthy ("losers) people's ideas. This elitism anticipates Social Darwinism with an explicit non-communitarian principle formulated by Carnegie:

"The laws of accumulation will be left free; the laws of distribution free. Individualism will continue, but the millionaire will be but a trustee for the poor; intrusted for a season with a great part of the increased wealth of the community, but administering it for the community far better than it
could or would have done for itself."

To some this Winners Take All/Individualistic philosophy includes the possibility of an unintended consequence - wealth may provide a trickle down of philanthropic gifts, but it comes at a price of damage done by an ethics free (Humanist values free) market paternalism with its potential excess, and the risks of putting profit before people. Is there a channel for affected parties to comment, actively assent of dissent from the fairness of systems and proposals?
This session will discuss the practical, moral roots and basis of the idea that after-the-fact benevolence. Among the things to discuss is the issue of big show types of philanthropy vs. ​generosity is a long-term view to improve our socio-political system to take care of people and reflect humanist values. We may also ask, does modern giving justify things like anything-goes capitalism or value- free markets?