Is philanthropy, by its very nature, a threat to today’s democracy? In his November 2018 lecture for the Marshall Institute lecture series, Rob Reich shows not only how the generosity of wealthy individuals isn’t the unassailable good we think it to be but might also undermine democratic values and set back aspirations of justice.

Big philanthropy is often an exercise of power, the conversion of private assets into public influence. And it is a form of power that is largely unaccountable, often perpetual, and lavishly tax-advantaged. The affluent—and their foundations—reap vast benefits even as they influence policy without accountability. And small philanthropy, or ordinary charitable giving, can be problematic as well. Charity, it turns out, does surprisingly little to provide for those in need and sometimes worsens inequality.

This event marks the launch of Rob’s new book, Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better.

Rob Reich (@robreich) is professor of political science and faculty codirector for the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University. His recent books include Education, Justice, and Democracy.

The chair of this talk, Stephan Chambers, is the inaugural director of the Marshall Institute at LSE. He is also Professor in Practice at the Department of Management at LSE and Course Director for the new Executive Masters in Social Business and Entrepreneurship.