The Aspen Consensus holds that capitalism’s rough edges must be sanded and its surplus fruit shared, but the underlying system must never be questioned.
The Aspen Consensus says, “Give back,” which is of course a compassionate and noble thing. But, amid the $20 million second homes and $4,000 parkas of Aspen, it is gauche to observe that giving back is also a Band-Aid that winners stick onto the system that has privileged them, in the conscious or subconscious hope that it will forestall major surgery to that system — surgery that might threaten their privileges.
The Aspen Consensus, I believe, tries to market the idea of generosity as a substitute for the idea of justice. It says: make money in all the usual ways, and then give some back through a foundation, or factor in social impact, or add a second or third bottom line to your analysis, or give a left sock to the poor for every right sock you sell.
The Aspen Consensus says, “Do more good” — not “Do less harm.”
–Anand Giridharadas on the lies we tell.
This is from a speech Giridharadas gave to the Aspen Institute’s Action Forum (hence the “Aspen” in “Aspen Consensus”), which is one of those “thought leader” conferences where rich people go to shake their heads piously about The Rich Man’s Burden. Giridharadas does a bit of unpicking of that mindset and the system behind it (i.e. modern capitalism), and the whole transcript is well worth a read.