In many regards, free market is at the centre of inequalities. In fact liberalism tends to tilt the balance in favor of they who work and earn money. As a result liberalism results in rewarding they who win and disadvantaging they who lose. But this debate is a horse of different pattern.
Do the so-called winners have to lend a hand to the “losers”? They have to, according to Andrew Carnegie, one of the most famous industrialists known for its philanthropy. Indeed M.Canergie acknowledged that the wealthiest had to assume a certain responsibility concerning the situation of the poorest groups. Like he described it in his article “Gospel of Wealth”, philanthropy purports to ease the social wrongs which poison our society. From then on, high-income groups have to provide food, water, a shelter, health to society.
In the 20th century several businessmen created foundations which aimed at wiping out those social wrongs. We thus saw rich and powerful men like Mac Arthur, Knight or even Rockefeller build schools, libraries, invest in new vaccines and so on. Philanthropy is still on the agenda of well-off people: Zuckerberg (Facebook), Hoffman (Linkedin), Bezos (Amazon) and other CEOs created the Breakthrough Energy Coalition during the COP 21. This foundation purports to thwart the most harmful environmental damages caused on Earth. In this case philanthropy becomes a universal stake, which is so providential that it could overshadow the role of the States.
No wonder that this kind of foundation is praiseworthy. But according to Darren Walker, president of the philanthropic Ford foundation, philanthropy has to grapple with the “why and how” of the human misery rather than the “what”. In a nutshell, injustice itself has to be swept out. Structural politics are cruelly needed. Investments are useless if they are not along with a real change of mindset and of the distribution of national wealth. A New Gospel of Wealth has to be written. Just like M.L.King stated:” Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropists to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary”.
Text inspired by the Guardian
Étudiant à l'École de Management de l'Institut Mines-Télécom.
Consultant en communication freelance.