he will have succeeded. He hopes that “the next time you
hear ‘win-win,’ you [think], That’s what rich people say
when they don’t want to give anything up,” he explains.
Despite such rhetoric, Giridharadas is careful, in his
book at least, not to demonize. At times he is surprisingly
sympathetic to the Market World leaders he profiles, including former president Bill Clinton and “power pose”
popularizer Amy Cuddy. Giridharadas hails from the
same circles, after all. The Ohio-born writer attended
Sidwell Friends prep school, the University of Michigan,
and Harvard, where he studied political philosophy.
Before becoming an India-based South Asia correspon-
dent for The New York Times, he also did a brief stint as
a consultant for McKinsey. (He does not mention this
background until the book’s acknowledgments.) The goal
of Winners Take All is to prosecute the system, not the
individuals. “It’s not that [they’re] bad people,” he says
of the 1% and the recipients of their patronage. “It’s good
people ambling into these structures and then sticking
to them at [an] emotional, cultural, self-belief level.”
Giridharadas’s approach is strategic. Make an ar-
gument, on a platform like Twitter, that questions the
foundation on which people have built entire lives
and careers, and they’ll tune you out. But make that
same case in a book, laying out your thesis clearly and
respectfully—and get readers to spend hours of their
time meeting you halfway—and you have a chance of
accomplishing a rare feat in our polarized era: changing
minds. “Books are a place where you can tell the truth,
where you can be a critic,” Giridharadas says. “There’s
a space for unencumbered honesty.” He is bullish on
the format, and he is already working on another one.
This morning, though, he has just a few minutes
of airtime, and his goal is more modest: attract just
enough interest to get viewers to follow him on Twitter
and maybe buy the book. While Scarborough bemoans
Trump and quotes de Tocqueville, Giridharadas and his
fellow panelists on the Brady Bunch–style screen grid offer furrowed brows or patient half smiles. Giridharadas
is ready to weigh in. But first, a commercial break.
UNTIL VERY RECENTLY, ALL A BUSINESS HAD
to do to win the public’s admiration was express good
intentions. Facebook aspired to connect far-flung
friends and family. Purdue Pharma, creator of the opioid
OxyContin, dreamed of alleviating pain. BP, formerly
known as British Petroleum, envisioned a clean-energy
future for itself. Uber offered taxi drivers a chance to be
their own boss.
Now, with wealth increasingly concentrated in the
hands of monopolistic companies and their owners,
platitudes that once pacified the public are instead
spawning skepticism and distrust, if not ridicule. Giridharadas, with his book and media persona, offers both
an explanation for this shift in mood and catharsis.
Winners Take All presents an insider’s critique of our system
of do-gooder capitalism, while on Twitter Giridharadas
is more personal and pointed, taking aim at each fresh
example of wealth and power gone unchecked: Jeffrey
Epstein and his growing list of enablers; musician
Bob Geldof, who used his ties to humanitarian efforts
in Africa for personal financial gain; Donald Trump,
and then Donald Trump again. When the members of
the Business Roundtable—a consortium of CEOs from
Giridharadas has a term for the rotation of far-flung events where elite thought leaders gather to share ideas: Market World. Here’s a tour.
A speaking engagement at this conference for “ideas worth
“thought leader” status.
Some talks have been
viewed tens of millions of times online.
5. Aspen Ideas Festival
An annual conference
for “leaders around
the globe to engage
in deep discussion.”
The gathering is
known for its mix
of politicians, economists, and artists.
7. Google Camp
Larry Page and Sergey
Brin invite A-listers including pop stars, media moguls, and even
tech rivals to this weekend party estimated to
cost $20 million.
4. Allen & Company
Sun Valley Conference
Sun Valley, Idaho
Herbert Allen Jr.’s investment firm hosts
tech, telecom, and media giants at this deal-making bonanza, where
Verizon agreed to buy
Yahoo for $4.5 billion.
8. Summit Series
Summit is a club for
entrepreneurs-cum-wellness junkies that
Instagram-friendly opportunities to gather and
has satellite events in
L. A., Tulum, and Kenya.
6. David Geffen’s
yacht Rising Sun
Somewhere in the
Where Jeff Bezos
and retired Goldman
Sachs CEO Lloyd
Blankfein go to mingle
with runway models
and pop divas.