Philanthropy, Plutocracy, and Democracy
In his classic The Prince and other works, Niccolò Machiavelli frequently wrote that philanthropy had no real community value, especially in fostering democracy and empowerment. Five centuries later, it’s still a hot topic, one that Emma Saunders-Hastings revisits in her new book — Private Virtues, Public Vices: Philanthropy and Democratic Equality.
In a review for Candid, Kyoko Uchida writes that the book focuses on two objections to philanthropy with regard to democracy: “philanthropy can be an exercise of plutocratic power, and it can be objectionably paternalistic. Despite calls for reform, elite philanthropy continues to enjoy both social deference, which limits comparative evaluations of philanthropic donations, and institutional and legal deference, in the form of tax benefits, facilitation of foundation creation, weak oversight, and protection of donor intent.”