The Corporate Capture of Social Change

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”

Anand Giridharadas isn’t afraid of controversy. His debut book Winner Takes All is a blistering take down of the faith put in the biggest beneficiaries of capitalism to lead capitalism’s reform and change the world for the better.

Be it the next Silicon Valley start up or philanthropic foundation, the underlying assumption pushed by the rich is always that business, entrepreneurship and the private sector are the most efficient and effective means of tackling society’s collective problems.

Giridharadas describes how even the language of social change which has historically been associated with grassroots movements, social justice and mass protest has been colonised by market logic and the billionaire class.

Rather than discussing social change as being rooted in rights, justice and systemic reform, the new corporate conception of social change sees inequality, climate change and poverty as a set of technical problems with market solutions. For these people  fixing the world is not about challenging powerful interests and overhauling a rigged economic system but about empowering “global leaders and opinion formers” to leverage “capital, data and technology to improve lives.”

What this actually means is cutting the public out of decision making for what the future should look like. Instead of community leaders, unions and businesses engaging in dialogue to decide whats best for their communities, we are instead told to look to McKinsey consultants and Goldman Sachs analysts to crunch numbers and provide reports on how to “restructure” the economy, to prepare for “inevitable” disruption and spur economic growth.

The glaring contradiction of putting the winners of our broken economy in charge of its repair is that the winners are actually quite comfortable with the status quo. Why would Goldman Sachs want solutions to social change if social change threatens their status, money and power?

By capturing social change within their control they are able to ensure social change is not pursued at all. Angel Gurria secretary General of the OECD describes the top down approach as “changing things on the surface so that in practice nothing changes at all.”

[END of part 1]



9 thoughts on “The Corporate Capture of Social Change

  1. “How did we get to this point where the powerful are in a position to decide not only what change is allowed but what change itself looks like?”

    I think that you answered your own question. The Ancient Greek historian Thucydides wrote that “The strong do what they will; the weak suffer what they must.” But fear not: history is full of surprises.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I love the thought provoking question and issues you raise on your blog. For that reason I have nominated you for the sunshine blogger award. If you would like to accept it please follow these rules:
    The rules are:
    1. Thank the blogger who nominated you;
    2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you;
    3. Nominate new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
    4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post/or on your blog.

    Here are my questions for you:

    1. What is your favorite thing to write about?
    2. What makes you very happy?
    3. What makes you feel angry?
    4. What experience changed your life or was a pivotal turning point?
    5. What is your biggest fear?
    6. What advice would you give to people younger than you are?
    7. What is the source of your inspiration?
    8. What would you like to change about yourself?
    9. Which of your character traits are you grateful for?
    10. Where would you most like to live?
    11. What are you most passionate about?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The democratic ideal of representative government is welcomed by all, so long as its principles do not extend to monetary policy. To actually extend real power to anyone below you in the hierarchy is a notion loathed by anyone with any power at all.

    Liked by 2 people

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