Big Philanthropy and Democracy


(photo from http://www.bostonreview.net/)

My Stanford colleague and #ReCodingGood project partner, Rob Reich, wrote the cover article for the latest issue of Boston Review.

Rob's article interrogates the role of large foundations in a democracy, a political system that pays inherent homage to some degree of pluralism. His article, "What are foundations for?" questions the philosophical basis of organizations that provide perpetual privilege to those few with significant financial resources. He turns that question over in several important ways before concluding that they actually play a role in protecting and amplifying the minority in a majority system. This role is not codified or built into the structure of big foundations, yet it has proven to be the case for decades.

Responses to his piece come from Larry Kramer, Rick Cohen, Diane Ravitch, Stan Katz, Deborah Fung, Tyler Cowen, Pablo Eisenberg, Seana Valentine Shiffrin, and Paul Brest, among others.

A small group of us discussed the relationships between philanthropy and democracy in our #ReCodingGood charrette - those notes are here. Rob's article and the forum of respondents pushes this thinking further. Read it.

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