Person

Anand Giridharadas

Nationality:

American

Anand Giridharadas is an American writer best known for his critical views on American and global elites, whom he believes use philanthropy and lackluster reform efforts to avoid or obscure the perpetration of structural economic inequality.

Career

After graduating from the University of Michigan in 20013 with a degree in history, Anand Giridharadas became a business analyst at McKinsey, one of the most prestigious American consulting firms, and worked at the company’s branch in Mumbai, India. [1] In 2005, he left to become a South Asia correspondent at the International Herald Tribune. [2]

From 2008-2016, Giridharadas was a columnist at the New York Times, writing primarily about global politics and American culture. From 2009-2012, he also worked on a doctoral degree in political philosophy at Harvard University, but he left before completing the degree. [3]

In 2011, Giridharadas was chosen to be a fellow at the Aspen Institute, a think tank focused on non-ideological discussion. At the time, he was the youngest fellow and only journalist in the cohort. Nearly all other fellows were wealthy businessmen, many of whom Giridharadas befriended. His close association with them inspired many of his views on billionaire priorities and philanthropy which he developed in his writing. [4]

Giridharadas has written three books. India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking is an examination of India’s rising economic prosperity and its social problems, and was partially based on Giridharadas’s experiences working in the country. [5] The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas follows the lives of a Bangladeshi immigrant and a white supremacist before and after the latter shot the former in a terrorist incident. [6]

Giridharadas’s book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, summarizes many of his views on global elites. He argues that most philanthropic and reform efforts by the global elite reinforce existing institutions which tend to favor plutocrats at the expense of the general population. The book extensively criticizes philanthropic efforts as having little impact and being used as cover for nefarious ends. [7] For instance, the Sackler family, which runs Purdue Pharma and has been accused of instigating the opioid crisis through the development and widespread sale of Oxycontin, are prolific philanthropists, and even have a gallery at the Smithsonian Institution named after them. [8]

Giridharadas writes The.Ink, a newsletter on Substack. [9]

Political Views

Anand Giridharadas generally has left-of-center views. He has written and spoken extensively about the notion that the global elite nefariously exploit modern social, economic, and political structures for their own benefit while using philanthropy to distract from their true aims. [10]

In June 2021, Giridharadas published “Warren Buffett and the Myth of the “Good Billionaire”” in the New York Times, which like to his book Winner Take All accused Buffett and similar billionaires of working to reinforce existing systems which serve their interest. [11] In August 2018, Giridharadas wrote a similar article entitled, “Beware Rich People Who Say They Want to Change the World.” [12] Referencing rich philanthropists, Giridharadas has said, “many of my friends are drunk on dangerous BS.” [13]

Giridharadas has claimed that many wealthy individuals and corporations use philanthropy as a public relations maneuver to obscure existing inequalities and avoid committing to substantive reforms, like raising the minimum wage or corporate tax rates. [14]

Giridharadas claims the modern world is in a state of “neofeudalism” in which modern billionaires, particularly tech billionaires, resemble feudal lords in their scope and intensity of power over common people. [15]

Giridharadas is a strong critic of President Donald Trump and his supporters. He began writing about President Trump’s impact on American politics in October 2015, when the future president was an early and largely dismissed presidential candidate. Giridharadas identified him as a proponent of the American “far right.” [16]

In May 2016, Giridharadas wrote an article entitled, “Trump Taps into the Anxiety of American White Males” for the New York Times, in which he stated that polls indicated that many supporters of President Trump believed arguments that “have floated around on white-supremacist websites for years, but watered-down versions of that sentiment are now swirling in the mainstream of American politics.” [17]

Giridharadas has spoken favorably about a “billionaire tax” on unrealized capital gains. [18]

Controversy

In early 2019, Giridharadas was invited at the last minute to speak at a charity event run by the literary group PEN America hosted at the Players Club in Manhattan. Following the event, Giridharadas wrote a series of Tweets about his alleged rude treatment by the hosts and attendees, including numerous wealthy New York philanthropists. [19]

At the event, Giridharadas claimed the host and attendees were acting in a patronizing manner toward him due to his Indian heritage. He then got in a verbal fight with a woman over the naming of a building after David Koch, the controversial billionaire philanthropist, industrialist, and sponsor of numerous right-of-center and libertarian groups. Giridharadas argued, “his name shouldn’t be on any building in a city full of people whose rights he has fought to shred.” On Twitter, Giridharadas noted that the woman said he was being condescending, and he admitted he was because “these are the people who think they’re the resistance but are in fact the reason we have a broken country.” He ended the evening by saying “f[***] you people” to the room before leaving. [20]

PEN America publicly apologized to Giridharadas after his Tweets about the event. [21]

References

  1. “India Calling.” Amazon. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/India-Calling-Intimate-Portrait-Remaking/dp/1250001722. ^
  2. “Anand Giridharadas.” LinkedIn. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/anandwrites/. ^
  3. “Anand Giridharadas.” LinkedIn. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/anandwrites/. ^
  4. Graves, Lucia. “Anand Giridharadas on elite do-gooding: ‘Many of my friends are drunk on dangerous BS’.” Guardian. December 18, 2018. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/18/anand-giridharadas-author-aspen-wealthy-elite. ^
  5. “India Calling.” Amazon. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/India-Calling-Intimate-Portrait-Remaking/dp/1250001722. ^
  6. “The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas.” Amazon. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/True-American-Murder-Mercy-Texas/dp/0393239500. ^
  7. “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.” Amazon. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Winners-Take-All-Charade-Changing/dp/0451493249. ^
  8. “Anand Giridharadas.” New York Times. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/by/anand-giridharadas. ^
  9. “About The.Ink.” Substack. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://the.ink/about. ^
  10. “Anand Giridharadas.” New York Times. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/by/anand-giridharadas. ^
  11. Giridharadas, Anand. “Warren Buffet and the Myth of the “Good Billionaire”.” New York Times. June 13, 2021. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/13/opinion/warren-buffett-billionaire-taxes.html. ^
  12. “Anand Giridharadas.” New York Times. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/by/anand-giridharadas. ^
  13. Graves, Lucia. “Anand Giridharadas on elite do-gooding: ‘Many of my friends are drunk on dangerous BS’.” Guardian. December 18, 2018. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/18/anand-giridharadas-author-aspen-wealthy-elite. ^
  14.  [1] Giridharadas, Anand. “Philanthropy Starts After Profits are Tallied.” New York Times. May 12, 2015. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/world/americas/philanthropy-starts-after-profits-are-tallied.html. ^
  15. [1] Giridharadas, Anand; Johnson, Rob. “The New Feudalism.” Get Abstract. 2019. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.getabstract.com/en/summary/the-new-feudalism/37562. ^
  16. “Anand Giridharadas.” New York Times. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/by/anand-giridharadas. ^
  17. [1] Giridharadas, Anand. “Trump Taps into the Anxiety of American White Males.” New York Times. May 23, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/24/us/politics/donald-trump-white-males-anxiety.html. ^
  18. “Archive.” The.Ink. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://the.ink/archive. ^
  19. Gordon, Amanda L. “Literary Group Apologizes for Author Fracas That Rocked Twitter.” Bloomberg. February 8, 2019. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:wuEmtoSeEOoJ:https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-08/literary-group-apologizes-for-author-fracas-that-rocked-twitter+&cd=12&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us ^
  20. Gordon, Amanda L. “Literary Group Apologizes for Author Fracas That Rocked Twitter.” Bloomberg. February 8, 2019. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:wuEmtoSeEOoJ:https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-08/literary-group-apologizes-for-author-fracas-that-rocked-twitter+&cd=12&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us. ^
  21. Gordon, Amanda L. “Literary Group Apologizes for Author Fracas That Rocked Twitter.” Bloomberg. February 8, 2019. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:wuEmtoSeEOoJ:https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-08/literary-group-apologizes-for-author-fracas-that-rocked-twitter+&cd=12&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us. ^
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