In this excerpt from his new book, ‘Capital and Ideology,’ the esteemed economist whose writing has galvanized the global debate about inequality takes aim at tech moguls like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg and the “philanthropic illusion.”
Today’s meritocratic ideology glorifies entrepreneurs and billionaires. At times this glorification seems to know no bounds. Some people seem to believe that Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg single-handedly invented computers, books, and friends. One can get the impression that they can never be rich enough and that the humble people of the earth can never thank them enough for all the benefits they have brought. To defend them, sharp lines are drawn between the wicked Russian oligarchs and the nice entrepreneurs from Seattle and Silicon Valley, while all criticism is forgotten: their quasi-monopolistic behavior is ignored as are the legal and tax breaks they are granted and the public resources they appropriate.