Winners Take All: The Elite Charade Of Changing The World, by Anand Giridharadas
This is a book that does both more and less than the author intends it to. On the one hand, the author is trying very hard to show that elite leftists who are part of the world of privileged and wealthy business elites (with the possible exception of the loathsome George Soros) are far more part of the problem then they are part of the solution when it comes to the general well-being of the world. This the author does very well, although in a way that undercuts his own credibility, given that he too is a hypocrite and part of the problem as one of those cultural elites (New York Times, MSNBC, former McKinsey analyst) that he labels as hypocrites so pointedly. What the author does poorly is viewing socialist and leftism as being beneficial for the well-being of ordinary people. There were a great many parts of this book that gave me a grim sort of sense of humor, like the whining and moaning about the election of Trump and the passage of Brexit, but ultimately this book is a cry of the heart from a hypocrite and a tool that tries to get others of his ilk to reflect upon their privilege and the way that their elite status limits the sort of change that their politics can manage.
This book is a bit more than 250 pages in length and is divided into seven chapters. The author begins the book with a prologue that seeks to paint mainstream leftist as being far too connected with the market to be of any use in benefiting others. He then moves on to ask the question of how the world is changed (1) without properly determining the sort of change that the world needs in the first place. After that the author critiques win-win views that seek to avoid conflict between haves and have nots (2) while looking at so many privileged leftists as being rebel-kings in worrisome berets, a rather arresting vision (3). The author discusses the tension between the critic and the thought-leader and the way that thought-leaders tend to avoid negativity and end up being corrupted by their collaboration with business elites (4). After that the author turns to discuss the dubious insight that arsonists make the best firefighters (5) while discussing some typically loony leftist views on generosity and justice (6), closing with a chapter that look at all that works in the modern world (7) and an epilogue that comments that other people are not one’s children, as well as acknowledgements and a note on the author’s sources, which are mostly personal interviews.
This is a work of such trenchant hypocrisy that one wonders whether it was an intentional act of self-parody. The book blasts wealthy techie leftists and got an advance blurb from one of them, Bill Gates. The author whines about how consultants don’t know much about people and that solving the problems that face the poor and downtrodden of the world requires their own involvement, but the author doesn’t appear to actually know any of said downtrodden masses, because the book consists of interviews with endless elitist leftists who bemoan the bad optics that led Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton and consultants and thought-leaders who try to assuage their own liberal guilt about being part of the problem for having profited in a world where so many go without without realizing that their political leftism is far more threatening to the well-being of the world than the fact that they are corrupt crony capitalist elites. And until the author and others of his kind get that clue, it is unlikely that anything will improve, even if the author is absolutely right that he and others like him are a curse to the world who have a lot to answer for even by their own standards.