Nothing about us without us! My friend and colleague, Joe Husman, introduced me to this clarion call of the inclusion movement several years back. I have since come to see it as the essence of democracy.
How often, however, do the highest-level conversations about poverty, food insecurity, forced emigration, chronic unemployment, racism, sexism, homophobia include the voices of those who live these traumatic realities? And by include, I mean in a way that’s meaningful and not merely symbolic.
Most of those who convene at The World Economic Forum, The Aspen Institute, The Clinton Foundation, and similar gatherings live far removed from these issues’ worst effects. And they are also the very people whose global consulting firms, corporations, and investments perpetuate the problems these forums purport to address.
Enter Anand Giridharadas’ Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. The book takes readers on a tour of elite initiatives to save the world. He asks critical questions about who gets heard and what kinds of potential solutions gain support when private forums arranged by the world’s most wealthy individuals take precedence over government initiatives.
A tour de force for those seeking to expand their critical consciousness, Winners Take All invites each of us to ask ourselves searching questions about our motives and deeply held values. For example, it describes the ascendance of “thought leaders” and corresponding decline of critics in accordance with the demand for “win-wins opportunities” and discomfort with the mention of unpleasantries such as inequality and privilege.
The book offers an invitation to personal and institutional accountability as well as suggestions for positive change. Perhaps most important of all, Winners Take All challenges us to examine the current state of democracy and our commitment to its vitality.