A Conversation with Anand Giridharadas

Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard and MIT, interviews Anand Giridharadas, who has become one of the world’s most prominent critics of inequality and inequity in contemporary capitalism.

Greg Epstein: How would you summarize your argument in Winners Take All?

Anand Giridharadas: The heart of the argument is that we live in an age of staggering inequality, that is fundamentally about a monopolizing of the future itself. The winners of our age, the people who manage to be on the right side of an era of precipitous change and churn, have managed to build, operate, and maintain systems that siphon off most of the fruits of progress to them.

I don’t think there’s a person alive today who would deny that this has been a very fertile age for innovation. That there’s been no shortage of new stuff invented, new promise, new companies, new capital expenditure.

Take any measure of … I often joke, innovation is the Latin word for new shit. I don’t think anybody would say, “I feel shortchanged in the absolute level of new shit in this age.” I’m not sure what age you would preferred to have lived in.

But if you go to many, many societies, including the one you and I live in, but many others, and you ask people, “What about progress?”, which is most people’s lives getting better, in my definition, I think it would also be hard to deny that many, if not most people, in certainly the advanced countries, will tell you, “No. I haven’t experienced much progress, and I do feel shortchanged on that score.”

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