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The New Washington Consensus: Millennial Philanthropy and the Making of Global Market Subjects (with Matthew Sparke)



This paper outlines the emergence of a New Washington Consensus associ- ated with leading philanthropies of the new millennium. This emergent development paradigm by no means represents a historic break with the market rationalities of neoliberalism, nor does it represent a radical departure from older models of early 20th century philanthropy. Rather, it is new in its global ambition to foster resilient market sub- jects for a globalized world; and new in its employment of micro-market transformations to compensate for macro-market failures. Focusing on reforms pioneered by the new philanthropic partnerships in education and global health, the paper indicates how the targets of intervention are identified as communities that have been failed by both governments and markets. The resulting interventions are commonly justified in terms of “return on investment”. But the problems they target keep returning because the underlying causes of failure are left unaddressed.
The New Washington Consensus:
Millennial Philanthropy and the
Making of Global Market Subjects
Katharyne Mitchell and Matthew Sparke
Department of Geography, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA;;
Abstract: This paper outlines the emergence of a New Washington Consensus associ-
ated with leading philanthropies of the new millennium. This emergent development
paradigm by no means represents a historic break with the market rationalities of
neoliberalism, nor does it represent a radical departure from older models of early 20th
century philanthropy. Rather, it is new in its global ambition to foster resilient market sub-
jects for a globalized world; and new in its employment of micro-market transformations
to compensate for macro-market failures. Focusing on reforms pioneered by the new
philanthropic partnerships in education and global health, the paper indicates how the
targets of intervention are identied as communities that have been failed by both
governments and markets. The resulting interventions are commonly justied in terms
of return on investment. But the problems they target keep returning because the
underlying causes of failure are left unaddressed.
Keywords: neoliberalism, philanthropy, development, education, global health
We believe every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life (Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation).
They desire the existing state of society minus its revolutionary and disintegrating
elements.This is how Marx and Engels (2004:44) described the socialistic
bourgeoisin The Communist Manifesto, including economists, philanthropists, and
humanitarians in a long list of 19th century liberal reformers. Today in the 21st century
does the description still stick? We live in an era when an extraordinarily diversied cast
of characters are involved in humanitarian reform efforts around the world. From
celebrities such as Bono and Angelina Jolie, to politicians, social enterprise leaders,
micronance developers, corporate social responsibility planners, and a vast array of
NGOs, we hear many different voices echoing the egalitarian arguments for philan-
thropic humanitarianism made by the Gates Foundation. But can we describe the
contemporary global expansion of care as an effort to preserve the existing state of
global society, while eschewing its revolutionary and disintegrating elements?
Ouranswerhereisbroadlyafrmative, and yet we argue that the historical and
political-economic shifts of the years since Marx and Engels penned their famous
polemic also make for important differences in how humanitarian reform is currently
envisioned and implemented. Much of contemporary philanthropy might still be
Antipode Vol. 48 No. 3 2016 ISSN 0066-4812, pp. 724749 doi: 10.1111/anti.12203
© 2015 The Author. Antipode © 2015 Antipode Foundation Ltd.
summarily described as capitalists rescuing capitalism from capitalism. But there is
something new about the ways in which a vast variety of people today are being
philanthropically enlisted into entrepreneurial market-mediated partnerships, and
pulled away from making demands on the state for protection and relief from social
injustice. We suggest that to understand these developments it is necessary to
analyze how new millennium interventions by liberal philanthropists reect the ways
in which liberal capitalism has itself mutated since the 19th century.
From the rst gilded age of late imperial liberalism, through Keynesianism, and
on to neoliberalism, the general trajectory of liberal capitalism has been well traced
in the scholarly literature (Amable 2011; Foucault 2008; Mirowski and Plehwe
2009; Peck 2010; Peck et al. 2012). But, as has also been highlighted by its scholars,
the contemporary term neoliberalism is a confusing neologism for the complex
assemblage of pro-market ideologies, rules, ties, and orientations associated with
globalization (Harvey 2005; Larner 2000). Moreover, even amongst its critics, the
tendency to associate neoliberalism with the policy orthodoxy of the Washington
Consensus leaves under-examined a signicant transition in hegemonic develop-
ment ideas, governmental practices, and forms of adaptation and resistance in
the so-called Post-Consensus period of the new millennium (Leitner et al. 2007).
Following critical development scholars such as Atia (2013), Essex (2013),
Roberts (2014) and Roy (2010), we think that the new formations of todays transi-
tional moment are not adequately addressed as just a Post-Consensus or Dissensus
moment. Not only do such terms downplay the global disagreements with the
original tendentious claim on Consensus, they also obscure an important point
about how the rationalities and imperatives underpinning pro-market development
are articulated globally: namely, that neoliberal development norms and practices
continue to co-evolve in terms of hegemony and changing contextual conditions
of implementation. They are not xed ideas that were set once and for all, whether
on Mont Pèlerin, or in Chicago or in DC; these different locales themselves allow for
changing articulations of neoliberal ideals (Peck 2010). Moreover, even if members
and critics of the neoliberal thought collective often share a belief that it is the ideas
more than their reception and implementation that matter most, geographical
research indicates that we need to develop less deterministic accounts of the incom-
plete, uneven and context-contingent development processes through which
neoliberal ideas and actions continue to co-generate one another (Mitchell 2004;
Peck and Theodore 2012; Sparke 2006).
Millennial philanthropy makes clear how opportunistic as well as iterative the co-
generation process can be. We are calling the resulting norm-setting and targeted
intervention a New Washington Consensus, but in a way that is meant to highlight
rather than hide the hegemonic steering of a highly contingent process. Our point
is not to announce an epochal historical rupture with the neoliberalism of the inter-
national nancial institutions based in Washington DC. Even if todays debates over
the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank do index DCs decline as a develop-
ment hegemon, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund remain enor-
mously inuential, and geopolitical references to a Beijing Consensus or Mumbai
Consensus are better understood as fearful Beltway bullet points rather than serious
assessments of developments and Development as they are actually articulated and
The New Washington Consensus 725
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practiced. Our concern rather is with the new visions of development that are being
put into practice at once globally and, importantly for our argument, personally.
We are evoking new-ness in this sense in the theoretical spirit of The New Way
of the World (Dardot and Laval 2013). We do so to address the productive (if not
always deliberate) neoliberal formation of new market subjects and the ways in
which this cultivation and enlistment of individuals is increasingly being imagined
and implemented across national borders from local to global scales. Building on
the scholarship of others, we argue that millennial philanthropy is playing an espe-
cially signicant role in these processes (Fassin 2011; Hay and Muller 2014; Kapoor
2013; Kovacs 2011). In short, we argue it is advancing a New Washington Consen-
sus that opportunistically shores up global market practices and rationalities
through local social projects that at once acknowledge and cover for market failure
while simultaneously cultivating new market subjects. How exactly does this triple
movement work?
The Triple Movement: Making Market Subjects
In some signicant respects millennial philanthropy still resembles early 20th
century philanthropic practices, with similar ideas about the cost-effectiveness,
the scientic dispersal of funds, the top-down deployment of quick-x technical
solutions, as well as moral arguments about the rights of human beings to live
educated, healthy, and productive lives (Parmar 2012; Zunz 2011). Carnegie and
Rockefeller, much like contemporary philanthropists, sought to apply business
principles to their private foundations, leveraging their big business reputations
and networks as well as introducing strategies designed to maximize human poten-
tial in what they saw as rational and efcient ways (Carnegie 1962; Lagemann
1989). Similarly, they addressed problems of social dysfunction with bold ambi-
tions to solve them by tying the socially marginalized to the opportunities offered
by the marketplace. For the same reasons, the projects they funded tended towards
experimentation and short-termism: two tendencies that are also notable continui-
ties with philanthropy today.
Yet there are also some critically important differences between the earlier era
and the millennial moment. Whereas Carnegie and Rockefeller were interested in
the benets for capitalism that would follow health and education improvements,
many of the philanthropically funded interventions being developed today create
benets for businessfor big pharma, for education management organizations,
and for a wide range of enterprising consultants and data managers. Moreover,
and more importantly, coming after the many disastrous pro-market policy exper-
iments of the 1980s and 1990s, early 21st century innovations in philanthropy
are characterized by a distinctive pattern of offsetting market failure using market
tools to develop market subjects. Although the normal economistic formulation
of the concept does not go so far, market failurein this sense also centrally in-
cludes the successful failure of the rst round Washington Consensus conventions
that succeeded in forcing states to cut back and reorganize public services through
the wholesale marketization of state practices. Millennial philanthropy has, in turn,
capitalized on the resulting forms of market-state failure, abandonment and
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dispossession, often by advancing a new round of market-mediated schemes,
metrics, and partnerships as supposed solutions for budget-bound governments.
It is this complex market-mediated combination of compensation, interpellation
and market-state reformation that we outline here.
Within the larger debates over neoliberal governance and governmentality we
see this millennial philanthropy as one among many micro neoliberal responses
to the inequalities and exclusions caused by the macro neoliberalism of the old
Washington Consensus policy regime. Epitomized, if not consciously led, by the
Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this type of market foster care
can, for the same reason, be said to represent a New Washington State Consensus:
even if much of its emerging hegemony rests on reception and emulation else-
where, including by other states, as well as the federal United States government.
Its philanthropic interventions still put great trust in market-mediated delivery
mechanisms, cost-effectiveness metrics, competitive incentives, and intellectual
property protections; moreover, this distinctively neoliberal approach also inherits
the older suspicion of government corruption and state failure from the old
Washington Consensus. But at the same time, todays market philanthropists
openly acknowledge some of the market failures of the preceding era, responding
and thereby compensating with short-term, grant-funded, spatially selective, vertically
targeted pilot projects which are, in turn, depicted as post-political investments in the
problem-solving of life itself.
These increasingly common compensatory practices are supported by shifting
and experimental publicprivate partnerships and other efforts to plug the gaps
in resource access and social protections; these were precisely the gaps often
caused or exacerbated by the destructive structural adjustments that were designed
to expand and entrench market liberalization in the rst place (Harvey 2005; Klein
2007; Navarro 2007). The result is a messy, micro-market management of human
life, in which non-conforming areas, communities and populations are routinely
explored and monitored vis-à-vis their readiness for market preparation or correction.
These targeted areas become sites of experimental studies and competitively funded
demonstration projects, serving as the testing grounds for novel innovations in
education and health that simultaneously constitute new norms of calculation and
entrepreneurialism (cf. Nadesan 2008; Popkewitz 2008). Moreover, as areas where
social identity and practices of citizenship are being remade they are also notably
non-national in geographic scale; they are reterritorialized as local nodes in an
emergent global network of individualized empowerment.
Market philanthropy, like micronance before it (and with it), thus operates at a
personal as well as a structural level (cf. Roy 2010). Its competitive and calculative
practices foster a market orientation among philanthropic grantees, many of whom
are marginalized by race and gender as well as by poverty (Rankin 2001; Roy 2012;
Young 2010). Through the process of winning grants and the rationale behind them,
as well as through the funded projects themselves, recipients are encouraged to see
the difference-friendly freedoms and choices offered by the market as solutions to
the forms of oppression in which they are mired; moreover, through the management
of funds and return on investmentmindset they are recruited to operate as agents
who can become responsible for their own care (cf. Foucault 1988; Rose 1999). In
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direct and oblique ways, then, the funding and underlying humanitarian reasoning
integrates individuals and populations into the ethos of an entrepreneurial and indi-
vidually accountable global capitalist society (Reid-Henry 2014).
To make sense of this modern-day nurturing of market subjects in the midst of
market crisis it is helpful to explore the contemporary applicability of Karl Polanyis
(2001) classic account of the double movement: the organization of socio-
political struggle to protect societies from the vortex of marketization. In examining
this further, we are inspired by Nancy Frasers(2013)morerecentargumentabout
atriple movementthat includes the diverse struggles for racial and sexual justice
emancipation movementsthat are active in tension with both marketization and
social protection. Fraser argues that the multiple transformational social struggles
that emerged in the decades after The Great Transformation was published have
produced a new set of actors and causes that are insufciently captured with the
societyv. economypoles of Polanyis earlier theorization. These social move-
ments include second-wave feminism, LGBT struggles, anti-racist and anti-war
Rather than freedom from the ravages of the market, many proponents of these
movements have experienced oppression as a result of social protections previously
organized by governments, with insufcient interest or attention to the multiple
axes and practices of domination. Hence, Fraser argues, in order to analyze the
current structural crisis and the dearth of systematic, state-coordinated responses
to neoliberal marketization and nancialization, we must consider what is happen-
ing around this third poleof emancipatory struggles. Other tendencies towards
state capture by hegemonic market elites (including conservative philanthropists
like the Koch brothers in the US) remain critical, not to mention the ways in which
state sovereignty itself has been globally yoked to the work of authorizing,
expanding and enforcing market rule. But as Fraser underlines, the question of
how and where resistance to marketization is redirected is vital to investigate further.
Our point here is to highlight the role of the New Washington Consensus in
redirecting rights-claiming emancipatory or justice movements towards market
alliances and away from traditional government-led forms of social protection.
Demands for charter schools in predominantly minority areas in the US, for example,
are incentivized by philanthropy in ways that converge with the neoliberal privileging
of personal choice and competition in undermining public schools (Saltman 2010).
Likewise, humanitarian demands in primarily post-colonial societies to recognize
access to medicines as a human right are steered by market philanthropy away from
patent overrides, compulsory licensing, and free state provision of generics in the
direction of collaborating with the same pharmaceutical companies whose intellectual
property (IP) monopolies blocked and limited access in the rst place.
Problems of precarity created by racial and sexual violence (including the legacies of
imperialism and slavery) thus become important objects of our attention (cf. Butler
2006). Due to the intersecting imperatives associated with such extra-economic axes
of oppression, market philanthropy is often involved in projects that target gures of
racialized and gendered dispossession as modern market subjects (Roy 2012).
Moreover, at the same time that hope amongst these subjects is nurtured for
grant-funded initiatives and programs, demands for systematic, horizontally organized
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government action are often abridged. Additionally, governments themselves are
often pulled into diverse and uneven assemblages of publicprivatephilanthropy
partnerships (3P partnerships) that constitute the anti-state state effects of the new
post-national consensus.
In the images of perennially smiling recipients pictured in most donor-graphy
brochures we meet the dispossessed, or those who speak for the dispossessed. Here
the discourse of emergency, the personal ethics of a moral response to suffering,
and the persuasive expectations of immediate practical action rule the day. Thus we
are led to believe that the new 3P partnerships deliver and deliver now, today, and
practically, where both governments and macro-market forces have previously failed.
The subjects of this emergency action, and the non-governmental agencies that often
speak for them, must increasingly consent to the promise of project-based protection
and philanthropically mediated praxis. Most especially in areas hit hardest by the
preceding decades of neoliberal privatization and austerity, there is an increasing
embrace of the individualized approaches to risk management, resilience and survival
that the partnerships advance in the name of equality rights (see, for example, the
essays in Navarro 2002, 2007; Navarro and Muntaner 2004).
That these personalized approaches to protection and planning are largely expe-
rimental, short term and constructed like capitalist consumption practices may be
admitted, or even used to further legitimate more ties to for-prot businesses. But
the promises and the projects remain compelling because they are also seen in
traditional liberal terms as expressive of the choice-maximizing will of individuals
themselves (Mitchell and Lizotte 2014). While grant recipients and targets of deve-
lopment have long been expected to become empowered agents and active citizens
and to self-improvethrough the NGO or foundations largesse (cf. Cruickshank
1999; Dufeld 2010; Li 2007; OConnor 2001), the contemporary moment exhibits
an even more intensely self-reexive version of this. Not only are subjects the target
of human capital development,they are now also recruited into the very process itself,
enlisted as entrepreneurial 3P believersrights-claiming activists for choice, who
demand the context of their own discipline and improvement.
In what follows we suggest that todays liberal philanthropists are responding
whetherknowinglyornotto the destructive legacies of the older structural adjustment
consensus, including the social problems caused by austerity and public sector cut-
backs, as well as the diverse forms of social resistance that market fundamentalist policies
have engendered. Following this, and using illustrations from education in the United
States and global health worldwide, we explore the ways in which new innovations in
philanthropy facilitate the recruitment and fostering of new market subjects, pulling
individuals and communities away from claims for government-led social protection
within nation-states, and towards market preparedness both locally and globally.
The Washington Consensus from Old to New
Named in 1990 by the American economist John Williamson, the Washington
Consensus originally referred to what he and his colleagues saw as a widely accepted
common sense about the merits of 10 specic pro-market policy reforms (Williamson
1990). These reforms were to: (1) make cuts to avoid scal decits; (2) redirect public
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subsidies; (3) atten taxes; (4) set anti-inationary interest rates; (5) adopt competitive
exchange rates; (6) liberalize trade; (7) liberalize foreign investment; (8) privatize state
enterprises; (9) deregulate business; and (10) enforce property rights. For Williamson,
the immediate target of these pro-market reforms was Latin America. However, as
they were globally expanded and enforced by DC-based agencies, the 10 reform
recommendations articulated a wider consensus on what ofcial Washington viewed
as the best governmental approach to enabling global capitalist development. As
such, its simple mantra of stabilize, privatize and liberalizebecame widely associated
by critics with the instabilities and un-freedoms of market-led globalization more
generally (Klein 2007; Tabb 2004).
Due to both the internal failures and widespread resistance to market-led globalization
throughout the 1990s, the Washington Consensus itself became a tarnished title for
many policy-makers by the dawn of the new millennium (Naím 2000; Stiglitz 2002).
Anti-austerity and anti-privatization protests continued across much of the global South:
Asian countries hit hard by the nancial crises of 19971998 rebelled against the IMF;
and, from the AFL-CIO (Americas umbrella organization for unions) to TAC (South
Africas successful Treatment Access Campaign) to the Zapatistas (the anti-neoliberal
activists in Mexicos Lacandon jungle), diverse parts of global civil society expressed
heart-felt dissensus with the so-called consensus. Indeed, Washington State itself
became associated with such dissent insofar as the massive anti-WTO protests in Seattle
in 1999 were widely interpreted as a public condemnation of race to the bottom
trade liberalization, over-expansive intellectual property rights assertion, and a neoliberal
approach to globalization more generally (Leitner et al. 2007; Sparke 2011, 2013).
As a result, the cant of consensus could no longer deliver on its depoliticizing promise
for policy-makers. In the context of the global backlash against neoliberal structural
adjustment and Wall Street proteering, it was hardly surprising that Williamson
himself began to backtrack, disassociating his list of 10 reforms from neoliberalism as
well as from an explicitly American-led agenda for global market liberalization
(Williamson 2003). But despite the insistence that the old consensus was really more
caring, less doctrinaire and less violent about market rule, a closer look at the original
10 reforms reveals just one that departed from the free market fundamentalism
condemned by critics. This departure was recommendation 2, calling for the redirection
of public spending. Rather than cutting off all public spending as an inefcient
distortion of market forces and an invitation to ination, Williamson recommended
aredirection rather than an end to publicly oriented expenditures. Following the Adjustment
with a Human Face logic of a notably neoliberal 1987 UNICEF report (Cornia et al. 1987),
primary healthcare as two of the main foci for such redirected public spending.
The emphasis on investing in education and health represents an important
continuity vis-à-vis the rise of the new consensus, as do the associated arguments
about the importance of cost-effectiveness, targeting and accountability (which
were also evident in Adjustment with a Human Face). Nevertheless, the calls for such
targeted investment have increased over time. Diverse authorities have come to
reverse the older market fundamentalist faith that good growth generates good
health and education to argue instead that good health and education are vital
prerequisites of good growth (ONeill 2006; Sachs 2005).
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The World Health Organizations (2003) Commission on Macroeconomics and Health,
the World Banks (2007) Healthy Development strategy, and the Lancet Commissions
report, Global Health 2035 (Jamison et al. 2013), have all amplied this same investment
logic, noting that there is an enormous benet from investing in global health. Likewise,
defending domestic education spending asaninvestmentinAmericaneconomic
competitiveness has been a broadly bipartisan project. It is one that has grown from
The Work of Nations vision of Clintons liberal labor secretary Robert Reich to BushsNo
Child Left Behind policies initiated in 2001, as well as the corporate-inected Race to the
Top incentivization schemes of Obamas education secretary Arne Duncan (see Giroux
and Saltman 2009; Lipman 2015a; Parsons 2011). Thus in basic economic thinking little
has changed in these health and education initiatives, which continue to economistically
assume that such spending is an investment in the human capital of the poor.
Politically, however, there are signicant contrasts. Whereas the older consensus
discussed education and health as quintessentially proper objects of government
expenditure(Williamson 1990:47), today the new consensus assumption is of
publicprivate partnerships operating as the main agents of innovation and investment
in these areas. National governments might be included in such hybrid relationships
but they are included primarily as market-oriented partners; their role is no longer to
regulate or build national horizontal systems of public health and education but rather
just to provide resources and encourage reform.
It is now well understood that the old consensus cutbacks and privatization initia-
tives signicantly, albeit unevenly, undermined national health and education systems
in the name of economic growth (Fort et al. 2004; Rowden 2009). Furthermore,
notwithstanding the good intentions in Williamsons recommendation 2, the redirec-
tionof public spending that actually happened in the 1980s and 1990s was towards
foreign banks and bond-holders rather than to systems of primary healthcare and
education. Within the US, some promoters of market fundamentalism even articulated
arguments for cuts instead. The Reagan Administration, for example, sought to eliminate
the Department of Education and defund programs such as Head Start and subsidized
school meals (Verstegen 1990). And internationally, IMF and World Bank ofcials
argued, albeit with increasing hesitancy, for the introduction of user fees for health
services, while simultaneously urging countries to prioritize export-led development
over support for health systems (Fort et al. 2004; Keshavjee 2014; Kim et al. 2000;
Rowden 2009).
More generally, it was the wider economic instability and impoverished develop-
ment patterns generated by the old consensus that made funding and support for
social services, education, and health provisioning increasingly insufcient and, in
many cases, impossible. Whether due to the problems of increasing nancial
volatility, the scal austerity forced by debt, the high costs of medicine created by
expanded intellectual property monopolies, or the emphasis on reducing taxes
and regulatory burdens on business, the many costs of the old consensus coalesced
to undermine social protections provided by national governments.
Our argument here is that the new consensus has arisen amidst the ruins created
by the older DC development diktats. It is thereby emerging as an increasingly
inuential set of imagined antidotes to the problems and resistances caused by
structural adjustment and austerity on the ground. It is these contexts that have
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helped shape the co-evolutionary relationships at the heart of millennial philanthropy,
social impact investment and development target-setting more generally. How then
can we analyze the initiation and ongoing development of this transformational
moment? It is to the rise of this new amalgamation of partners and philosophies that
we now turn.
Out of the Ruins: The Rise of Millennial Philanthropy
While there are many similarities with the earlier era of so-called scientic
philanthropy, the current logic of millennial philanthropy manifests some unique
features. These include a reliance on nancialized investment rationalities, elaborate
cost-effectiveness algorithms, and the integration of individuals into the subjective
logic of entrepreneurial capitalism. Together they create a novel combination of
care practices and market-mediated interventions. Despite some agonized dissent
from within the high net worth executive jet set (eg Buffett 2013), the discourse
of positively investing for health and educational improvements with contemporary
business logics and entrepreneurial recruitment efforts has become a dominant
motif in the media and popular culture (Kapoor 2013).
Contemporary philanthropists therefore understand and represent themselves as a
new breed of social entrepreneur (see, for example, Kiviat and Gates 2008; Omidyar
Network 2014). In their attitudes to giving they are believers in the market-based
practices of global nance, and this leads them to favor highly targeted investments,
market-mediated partnerships, rapid technological xes, constant assessment, quick
exits, and the use of competition, benchmarking and rankings to set funding priorities.
Perhaps most importantly, their abiding trust in competitive environments, especially a
deep-rooted belief in the benets of both empowering and incentivizing individual
choice and accountability through competition, is instilled through the competitive
grant process, and in the forms of accountability and assessment with which the
programs are measured and advanced (often subcontracting the monitoring and
planning itself to private sector consulting rms; see Mitchell and Lizotte 2016). Many
therefore t and even embrace the model of philanthrocapitalistshyped for using
their global business expertise in pursuing rapid solutions for contemporary social
problems (for example Bishop and Green 2008).
In turn, grant-funded projects often operate to recruit individuals and popula-
tions who have been economically and socially marginalized, and to orient them
towards more market-based solutions to their problems. Ideally, from the vantage
point of funders, the subjects are able to access the proffered aid in ways that simul-
taneously liberates them from previous constraints and orthodoxies, including
those of patriarchy, nationalism, and racism. But instead of top-down structural
adjustment being seen as the route to liberation as in the older consensus, it is
now more bottom-up innovations in market making by new market subjects that
are celebrated as opening a frontier of freedom for personalized free enterprise.
The provision of micro-nance by foundations is a case in point. Women are
frequently targeted for the loans with the dual aim of economic and sexual libera-
tion. Female heads of household are, not incidentally, also a good risk, providing
the double benet to funders of return on investment and the potential integration
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of previously marginalized economic subjects. This process relies on a newly
delineated subject position Rankin (2001) has termed, rational economic woman
(see also Roy 2012; Young 2010); this rational woman must both learn from and
manifest entrepreneurial ambitions and understandings, and be able and willing
to take advantage of the opportunities offered to her.
The emphasis of most current foundations is clearly on the provision of opportunities
for people to lift themselvesout of their own social and economic difculties so that
they can bebetter integrated into all facets of global capitalist life. This goal is evident in
education and health opportunities as well as in the earlier and ongoing micronance
initiatives. As stipulated on the Gates Foundation website:
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it
focuses on improving peoples health and giving them the chance to lift themselves
out of hunger and extreme poverty (emphasis added).
These ideas are part of a broader ethos of individualized economic independence
the most basic form of civil citizenship or possessive individualismas elucidated by
John Locke in the 17th century (Locke 1988; Macpherson 2011). Today, though, this
freedom and independence is integrated into the values of the globalized 21st century,
where the freed body now specically includes those previously excluded by nationality,
race, gender, and other axes of power. Such freedom, moreover, notably includes
freedom from those forms of systemic discrimination associated with prior systems of
welfare-state social protections; these are systems that have often become even more
exclusionary as a consequence of the old Consensus cuts and other austerity measures.
The logic of aiding the systemically marginalized and globally disconnected, along with
remaking them individually as effective and responsible entrepreneurs and global
citizens, is thereby scaled up in ways that are meant to transcend the exclusions of
faltering welfare systems through forms of technical and reputedly post-political
integration (see also Rancière 2004; Wilson and Swyngedouw 2014; Žižek 2005).
Atthesametime,thislogicisjustasfrequently scaled down. This is because the reach
of millennial philanthropy is often delimited by the sub-national spatial targeting that
creates inclusion for a well-positioned few, while excluding others for whom the
vertically targeted intervention is not calculated to be cost effective. If people do not
have exactly the right problem in the right place at the right time, the patchiness of
todays 3P partnerships can leave them abandoned. To better understand these parallel
patterns of globally networked inclusion and locally embodied exclusion we look at two
dynamics that work in tandem: leveraged partnerships, and cost-effectiveness calculations.
Partner and Leverage
In the Cold War era of Carnegie, Rockefeller and Ford the nation-state was understood
as the primary scale of allegiance and US foreign policy interests were underpinned
with foundation support (Berman 1984; Carnoy 1974; Parmar 2012). Now, however,
the upward global scaling of millennial philanthropy is attempted through multiple
networks and partnerships, many involving more than one set of actors. As well as
crossing international borders, 3P partnerships also transcend for-prot/non-prot
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and government/non-government types of designations and involve actors at every
scale, from individual to local, state, and global levels. The states role is rhetorically
aggrandized as activist stake-holder, but it is practically diminished through becom-
ing just one of many partners in this patchwork quilt of complex alliances. It is further
diminished vis-à-vis its traditional roles of social protection through regulation as
regulation itself is privatized, outsourced and/or reduced to market-mediated
incentivization schemes. The 3P partnerships characterizing the new consensus thus
manifest a more ecumenical vision of whatever worksor, in the practitionerslingo,
best practices(Azzam 2007; Garrett 2007). The evolving consensus aspires, in this
sense, to be both post-political and post-patriotic, as it eschews any particular
allegiance to a specic political vision, government or nation-state.
Individuals are also recruited into more active partnering positions in the funding
process, yet this is less in the sense of preparation as productive workers and national
citizens, but rather as healthy and calculating global consumers and entrepreneurs.
As partners rather than grantees, recipients of current foundation support are
made responsible for their behavior and their choices as they are simultaneously
invited to share in the foundations entrepreneurial ideals. The largest contemporary
foundations thus exert a top-down, yet simultaneously all-encompassing type of
pressure on policy through individual recruitment and orientation as well as through
funding, networking and leveraging at all scales of governance. This is in sharp
contrast to the more nationally oriented policy articulations of the earlier period of
scientic philanthropy(Gallagher and Bailey 2000; Lagemann 1989).
Millennial philanthropy is still closely tied to the state and politicians, setting up
its own revolving doors for personnel that parallel those between contemporary
government and employment at big banks, corporations and lobbying rms. The
Clinton Foundation is an obvious institutional example of this, as is Sylvia Matthews
Burwell, who transitioned from leading the Global Development Program at the
Gates Foundation to becoming President Obamas secretary of health and human
services. Another former Gates administrator, Rajiv Shah, now manages USAID in
Washington DC, and as such, also plays the role of a policy transfer agent spreading
new Washington Consensus norms back to the institutional centers of the old con-
sensus (see Carr et al. 2012; Essex 2013). But beyond the principal agents involved,
it is the post-national market-making principles that constitute the active working
logics of millennial philanthropy. The nancial logic of leverage is critical in this
respect, and many contemporary philanthropists have joined forces so that their
giving can have a greater impact. The most familiar example here is Warren Buffett,
who pledged approximately $31 billion to the Gates Foundation in 2006 and then
helped to widen the network by establishing the Giving Pledge in 2010.
More generally, one of the signature strategies of millennial philanthropy is to take
the logic of leverage into all partnerships, not least of all with governments and
governmental agencies, whether local, national or global. From remote school boards
and state education departments to ministries of health and agriculture in developing
countries to global agencies such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, a
recurring pattern is one of incentivization schemes that use relatively short-term
investments in an attempt to leverage long-term changes in programming. Mean-
while, venues where investor impact logics are already hegemonicsuch as the
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annual World Economic Forum in Davoshave become key sites of advocacy for new
targets of action (see, for example, Milligan and Schöning 2011).
Politicians are increasingly drawn to these celebrity philanthropists and foundation
CEOs, even as the foundations undermine or re-purpose the authority of governments
with partnerships. As foundations step in to provide, partner, and program, governments
frequently abandon more universal commitments to maintaining already underfunded
but supposedly inclusive health and education systems. The increasing power and
credibility granted to the foundations thus reects a compensatory moment, one
wherein market mediation is allowed and indeed encouraged to provide the care
formerly delivered by the state, but so dependent on leveraged state consensus that
the idealized logics of both state coordination and market coordination are displaced
by a middle way of coordination by targets. In this volatile context it is not surprising
that an emergent ethos of everyday survival and program management has been
imported from the world of nance. This is the ethos of risk management.
Risk and Return
The new consensus evinces a new concern with building resilience for an era
shaped by risks that are now seen as inevitable: epidemic outbreaks, climate
change, nancial shocks, endemic poverty. This concern presages a change to
active, mobile and targeted risk management rather than with traditional
biopolitical governance ideals of risk reduction for a single, territorialized population.
Whereas in older forms of philanthropy the rhetorical commitment was to provide
funds for tackling the causes of riskeven that ideal is now gone. Risk is an ongoing
feature of the market and hence of life itself (Martin 2002). Moreover, risk is
naturallydevolved to the grantees or to the other partners such as the government,
which is expected to share or absorb the risk, but not the potential ROI occasioned by
using risk to its best advantage (Roy 2012). While Carnegies vision of returning the
gift of money to the masseswas a national and more material circuit of wealth
generation, the millennial logic is post-national and dematerialized through the
circuits of global nancialization.
The Omidyar Network is a recent example of this trend. The Network invests
actively in for-prot as well as non-prot ventures and expects to make money in
the process. The eBay founders main concern is that most investors are too
risk-averseand thus miss the potentialfor prot and for social bettermentof
working with the so-called bottom billion, the very poorest populations around
the world (Schumpeter 2013). Omidyar has hence backed numerous micronance
initiatives such as Kiva and SKS, which are designed to help those who would
otherwise be left out of the presumed advantages of the risk-taking and potential
return of global credit in market-based systems. For newer foundations and
networks, ensuring that these individually oriented incentives toward risk manage-
ment and self-improvement are not compromised through corrupt intermediaries
is critical. Thus projects are constantly monitored and the subjects of accountability
themselves are expected to submit to the culture of measurement and the metrics
of return. The increasing use of metrics is frequently commissioned by research
advocacy organizations that are also funded by the foundations themselves
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(McGuinn 2012). These advocacy organizations are then able to wield statistics
stemming from the latest data and analyzed with the most current methods and
technologies. The results are framed as evidence-basedas opposed to the ideology-
inected rants of those who disagree with the foundationsdirection.
Evidence-based investment is imagined as distinctly post-political and post-national,
being strongly associated with ideas of moving beyond the inherent corruptions
limitations, and borders of territorial government (see, for example, Bono 2013).
Among the perceived limitations of the past was the welfarist orientation of Keynesian
liberalism in the post-World War II period, as well as the revanchist disciplining of the
IMF and World Bank. Rather than return to either of these more nationally mediated
regimes, the current period takes market discipline to new scales; it is a response that
orients locales and individuals to market-based solutions using a calculus of quantita-
tive evidence as well as a purported freedom from the oppression and subordination
of previous regimes. Moreover, to the extent that national governments are involved
as partners in this work, the project-based investment partnerships can, in turn, be
explained as a good way of rescuing government programs from the critique of
corruption and inefciency. This is how Bill Gates (2014:9) put it in his annual letter:
broadly speaking, aid is a fantastic investment, and we should be doing more. It saves
and improves lives very effectively, laying the groundwork for the kind of long-term eco-
nomic progress which in turn helps countries stop depending on aid. It is ironic that
the Foundation has a reputation for a hard-nosed focus on results, and yet many people
are cynical about the government aid programs we partner with. The Foundation does a
lot to help these programs be more efcient and measure their progress.
The emphasis on efciency and measurement is illustrative of the post-political
aspirations of the new consensus. In addition to its institutional effects it is active
on a personal level as well; it operates as a form of cultivating practice that hails
the disconnected and marginalized, signifying that new market tools and metrics
offer practicable solutions to personal problems within the wider global context
of market rule. To provide a more detailed account of how these processes simulta-
neously shore up market relations and help to develop market subjects we provide
two illustrative empirical examples: one from the world of contemporary education,
and the second in the arena of global health.
Educational Reform in the United States: The Mantra of
Low literacy rates and other negative student outcomes evident in many American
public schools, especially in minority neighborhoods, have been highly publicized
in the past few decades (Kozol 1991, 2005). But despite a large body of scholarship
on the inequitable geographies of resource allocation, income, nutritional and
dental health, and other systemic forms of disparity, these negative outcomes are
rarely laid at the door of widespread impoverishment and racism (Giroux 2011;
Ladd 2012; Rothstein 2004). The reputed failureof public schools that is widely
trumpeted by education reformers and their well-funded allies in government
and private foundations is not located in structural issues of this type. Rather, they
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are more frequently represented as deriving from deciencies such as poorly
trained or inadequate teachers, large and overly bureaucratic schools, school dis-
tricts, and unions, or the lack of modern technology and/or modern approaches
to contemporary global issues (Ravitch 2013).
The proposed market-oriented solutionsto the constant refrain of public
school crisis do not therefore address concerns of racism or a more generalized neo-
liberal abandonment. They are pointed towards more supercial and seemingly
solubleproblems. These are broadly encapsulated in the word reform, and in-
volve several components, including more standardized curricula and testing for
students, greater teacher accountability (with evidence-basedassessment tied
to tenure, promotion and termination), more exibility in the hiring and ring of
teachers (with a corresponding decrease in union power), and the linkage of federal
and local funding for schools to the results of standardized tests (Brill 2011; Ravitch
2010, 2013; Saltman 2010). The single greatest feature of the educational reform
movement, however, revolves primarily around the possibility of greater school
choice. Over the course of the past decade the necessity for more school choice has
become the most pervasive, all-encompassing and inescapable mantra of private
foundations, government, advocacy organizations and many parents (Lipman
2011; Wells et al. 2002).
Meanwhile, many parents in low-income and/or segregated neighborhoods and
low-performing school districts witnessed a spate of closures of their failinglocal
neighborhood schoolsoften instigated by pro-reform mayors and school superin-
This rhetorical and practical alignment of crisis, closure and choiceis a
good example of the workings of the triple movement in education. The parents of
children in low-performing schoolsschools often highly segregated by class and
race and frequently growing more so as a result of neoliberal cutbacks and the
forces of neighborhood gentricationare invited to become savvy investors of
their children, choosing the best school environments for the strongest individual
returns. At the same time, their opportunity for committing to their local neighbor-
hood school is rescinded. They are thus directed primarily towards options such as
charter schools, a path that many have noted leads down the rosy market path of
educational privatization (Lipman 2015b; Lipman and Haines 2007; Ravitch 2013;
Saltman 2010; Scott 2009).
Charters are publicly funded but privately run schools. Each state has a different set of
rules and regulations governing charter schools, with some states more interested in
adopting and promoting charters than others.
While the acceptance and implementa-
tion of charters has varied by city and state, the overall national trend is strongly pro-
charterwith 42 out of 50 states allowing charter schools as of the end of 2014, and
with rapid annual growth in the overall number of schools.
These schools are often
managed by for-prot charter management organizations(CMOs)oreducation
management organizations (EMOs); moreover they can negatively impact the normal
public school system, which loses both revenue and often the more academically
successful students and vigilant parents to them (Ni 2009). Yet despite a strong resistance
to the use of vouchers in education and the clear damage caused by educational
underfunding during the long reign of neoliberal policy-making, there has been relatively
little parental resistance to the rapid increase in charter schools over the past decade.
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Millennial philanthropy is deeply involved in these processes and effects. Many of
the largest educational funders, including BMGF, The Walton Family Foundation,
and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, are interested in the promotion of
systemic educational reform, and the foundation mission statements and large
amounts of grant aid given to charter schools indicate the market-oriented direction
of the desired changes (Barkan 2011; Ravitch 2010; Reckhow 2013). But in addition
to the direct provision of material resources to the schools there are also a number
of other ways that change and enlistment is encouraged. These include grant
funding to secondary organizations such as the NewSchools Venture Fund, which
promote choice and reform through the provision of venture capital; funding for
education reform advocacy organizations (ERAOs), which conduct researchindi-
cating positive results for charter schools and in other ways advocate for reform;
and, less well known, funding for parent advocacy groups and for popular media
outlets that espouse greater school choice, including the choice of charter schools
(McGuinn and Kelly 2012; Mitchell and Lizotte 2014, 2016).
Most foundations interested in educational reform supply some form of seed
funding to parent groups advocating for choice. Many of these groups are repre-
sented in the popular media and on foundation websites as primarily minority
parents who have become infuriated with their wretched neighborhood schools
and who have spontaneously organized to demand greater school choice for their
children. A recent example of this type of representation in public culture is the
2012 Hollywood movie Wont Back Down, in which two mothers take on apathetic
teachers and a sclerotic teachers union to try to turn around their childrens failing
school. According to the promotional blurb: This powerful story of parenthood,
friendship and courage mirrors events that are making headlines daily.
setting for the lm is a post-industrial blue-collar neighborhood of Pittsburgh,
and the main cast is a mix of working class whites and African-Americans who rise
to the seemingly insurmountable challenge of taking over and renewing the dreadful
Wont Back Down was produced by Walden Media, which was also one of the key
players in the nancing and distribution of the highly popular 2010 education
documentary, Waiting for Superman. In the documentary, the focus is similarly on
the failure of inner city public schools (in this case Harlem), with primarily poor
minority children and their parents as the main protagonists. Both the movie and
the documentary focus on the power and importance of parental activism in
demanding better schools and teachers for their children. Parents are shown as
initially frustrated and helpless in the face of intransigent bureaucracies and the
poor quality education their children are receiving. However, by the end of both
lms, the ctitious mothers of Wont Back Down and many of the real parents in
Waiting for Superman are depicted as energized, newly formed activists, or Parent
Research into many of these so-called parent organizations indicates that they
were either initially established or are currently managed by individuals who may
indeed be parents, but who are also, not incidentally, employed at charter schools
or CMOs, or otherwise connected to the broader world of privately funded educa-
tion reform. This was the case for Parent Revolution, which promotes the spread
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of parent trigger laws across the United States; these are laws that allow parents to
transform a failingpublic school, including by converting it into a charter school.
Parent Revolution was established by Ben Austin, a policy consultant for Green Dot
Public Schools; Green Dot is a manager of charter schools in Los Angeles. Both
Green Dot and Parent Revolution were heavily funded by the Gates Foundation,
the Broad Foundation the Walton Foundation, and numerous other reform-
minded philanthropies (see Ravitch 2013:198205). Several other ostensibly
parent-run organizations have similar histories of charter involvement or other
philanthro-corporate connections.
A recent example of these multi-layered processes can be seen in the funding of
charter schools in Harlem. In the documentary Waiting for Superman there are
several interviews, including of Bill Gates and Michelle Rhee, who at the time of
the lm was a strong pro-reform superintendent of the Washington DC public
school system. After many pro school choice statements are made in these inter-
views, the parents are shown at the end, waiting breathlessly for the results of the
charter school lottery. The message is clear: this lottery will determine whether or
not these otherwise marginalized and disconnected parents and children will be
able to obtain a decent education and be brought back into the world of connection
and possibility.
What is not shown in the documentary is a campaign called Flooding the Zone,
which was initiated and promoted by the Success Charter Network and the Democrats
for Education Reform (DFER) with the explicit purpose of creating greater parental
support in Harlem for opening more charter schools and having more charter lotteries.
The Success Charter Network spent $1.3 million on leaets,mailings,ads,posters,and
paid canvassing of the Harlem neighborhood between 2007 and 2009, just prior to
and during the same period in which the documentary was being made. DFER coordi-
nated the political rally. These two organizations share wealthy board members and
receive funding from several of the same individuals and foundations, including the
Gates, Walton and Broad Foundations. What also is not shown in the documentary
is the connection of many of the pro-charter school organizations and individuals
working in Harlem to the world of hedge funds. Of seven members of the Board of
Directors of DFER, for example, ve are hedge fund managers; similarly, the Board of
Trustees for the Harlem Childrens Zone and for the Success Charter Network reads like
awhos who of the hedge fund and banking sector (Miner 2011). Further, Walden
Media, which helped fund both the movie and the documentary is owned by the
Anschutz Family Foundation, which donates large sums to conservative think tanks
such as the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, as
well as to organizations promoting greater school choice.
The steering and enlistment of parents and parent groups illustrated here parallels a
simultaneous promotional and funding pushto inuence politicians and other policy-
makers on educational reform. When pro-reform mayors such as Emanuel or
Bloomberg are in positions of power then philanthropic funding for educational
reform in that city ows in copious amounts. A recent study conrmed that the
networking, leveraging and shared goals between foundations advocating for educa-
tional reform leads them to target specic schools and school districts with their
grants and funding based on this logic. By concentrating their funding on a few sites,
The New Washington Consensus 739
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they attempt to achieve greater inuence in these places(Reckhow 2013:10). These
targeted sites are located in districts with mayoral or state control (rather than school
board control), thus providing a greater chance for leveraging educational reform
through long-term policy change.
Millennial philanthropy links these types of local, targeted reform projects with
personal parental and student cultivation based on ideas of individual freedom
and choice. It provides micro-market solutions to previous educational failures,
recruiting new market subjects through the language of choice, and providing both
scienticdata and popular media and cultural persuasion to back up this
rhetoric. Parents and students marginalized by race as well as by poverty remain
particular targets of this philanthropic project of educational reformas they have
in the US for more than a century (see, for example, Watkins 2001).
Global Health: The World of Bonds and Vaccines
When it comes to programs aimed at improving global health, the investments of
the Gates Foundation are more varied and extensive than its efforts to expand
parental choice in the US. They are global in scope and they stretch from develop-
ment initiatives focused on the micro-engineering of seeds, sanitation and disaster
management tools, to programs focused on child and maternal health, nutrition
and tobacco control. They also include efforts to treat, prevent and eradicate infectious
diseases, and to support global health agencies and research institutes such as the
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the Institute of Health Metrics and
Across this remarkable range of work an enduring preoccupation of the Foundation
has been the development and distribution of vaccines. Gatesinvestment in this area
includes challenge grants aimed at incentivizing microbiological research into new
vaccines, and efforts to eradicate polio with targeted oral vaccination campaigns. It
also helped establish GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations. The
manner in which these investments are evaluated and managed in terms of ROI, serve
as an emblematic illustration of wider millennial philanthropy tendencies in global
health. At least four interrelated characteristics of the vaccination efforts are notable
in this regard: rst, their conceptualization as a form of micro-market making that re-
sponds to macro-market failure; second, their attraction as an especially cost-effective
and potentially game-changing biotech investment in global health; third, their im-
plementation in ways that use market intermediaries to marginalize state agencies;
and fourth, their promise as tools for nurturing new market partners amongst the
ranks of the post-colonial poor.
Providing vaccines for poor communities represents a response to the wide-
spread problems of non-access created by global market rules and dynamics.
Although the foundation does not share the direct action protest tactics of civil
society activists such as South AfricasTreatment Action Campaign there is little
doubt that a critique of macro-market failure still underpins the programs to
develop and distribute vaccines. Disgusted by the unnecessary deaths due to
limited vaccination programs, the philanthropists often echo the same sense of
moral outrage articulated by those speaking from and for poor communities
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themselves. I remember reading the 1993 World Development Report, explained
Bill Gates in a speech at the UN in 2002. Every page screamed out that human life
was not being as valued in the world at large as it should be. My wife Melinda and I
were stunned tolearn that 11 million children dieevery year from preventable causes.
That is when we decided to make improving health the focus of our philanthropy
(quoted in Jamison et al. 2013:1903).
Program ofcers in the Gates Foundation interpret the problems of devaluation
and limited access as forms of macro-market failure, which are nevertheless
amenable to market-based responses and strategies. Speaking as Director of Global
Health Policy for the Foundation, Joe Cerrell (2007) put it like this:
Every year, millions of people in developing countries die from diseases, including
malaria and tuberculosis, that have been all but forgotten in rich countries. For these
diseases, the economics of the marketplace are not sufcient to commercially justify
the large-scale investment needed to develop and deliver vaccines and drugs. Through
global advocacy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is working to address this market
failure by promoting innovative health nancing mechanisms that provide better incen-
tives to the private sector to create global public goods. The guiding principle is to bring
together public agencies and private industry to deal with grossly inadequate health
care for the poor resulting from failures of the marketplace.
Market failure in this conceptualization is therefore seen as something that is
economically correctable through market incentivized 3P partnerships. Limited access
to life-saving medicine is not condemned as a deep structural failure of market capitalism;
nor is the role of IP protections for pharmaceutical monopolies acknowledged as a
primary cause (and thus another successful failure) explaining limited access in the rst
place. Economic outcomes of such IP monopolies might be noted in passing, including
the perverse incentives they create for drugcompaniestofocusonthediseasesand
lifestyle needs of the wealthy. But the millennial philanthropy approach quickly moves
on to conceptualizing how the vast wealth created by another suite of IP monopolies
(those held by Microsoft) can be repurposed into a market-making response to the lack
of effective demand presented by the poor. And, unsurprisingly, never is the acknow-
ledgement made that investments in vaccine development, however big they may be,
will never create a vaccine against poverty, inequality and all the suffering caused
globally by structural violence.
Once the problem of impoverished access to vaccines and drugs is reconceptualized
as a correctable market failure, the brokers of the new 3P partnerships can inaugurate
the more technical problem-solving work of funding the most cost-effective develop-
ment and delivery mechanismsthereby working towards making real the so-called
tiered pricingthat pharmaceutical companies themselves only otherwise tend to talk
about in the abstract ideals of corporate social responsibility statements (Christophers
2014). Here we witness the very direct ways in which the New Washington Consensus
is informed by the market logics of investment. The justications may remain a far cry
from the wealthier is healthierconceits (see Pritchett and Summers 1996) through
which older Washington Consensus believers once defended their market fundamen-
talist faith, but they nevertheless rely centrally on the importance of making good
investments (Laurie 2015). Advertisingthe cost-effective benets of health investments
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is a key characteristic of the emergent consensus in this respect, and as such it repeats
but reverses the causal arrow going from wealth to health in order to argue that
investing in health is vital to expand opportunities for wealth. The bottom line,Bill
Gates (2014:15) wrote in bold in an annual public letter, is that [h]ealth aid is a
phenomenal investment.
Investment in developing, purchasing and distributing vaccines specically has
always been seen by the Foundation as one of the most effective investments of
all. Vaccines tend to be a one, two or, at most, a three-shot deal. This makes them
less attractive investments for corporations, which prefer the long-term patient
demand that comes with drugs for chronic illnesses. But when the return on invest-
ment is measured in terms of the value of disability adjusted life years savedand
this is precisely how foundations measure cost-effectiveness vis-à-vis health aid
vaccines look like some of the best investments available. Moreover, rather like
investments in hi-tech businesses themselves, they have special appeal as disruptive
technologies that hold the promise of becoming game-changers, which can
operate independently of both government and business as usual.
Another associated appeal of vaccination programs is their post-political promise
as targeted vertical interventions that can enlist market actors. This enlistment
occurs even as the programs tend to eschew systematic coordination and collabo-
ration with national governments and the maintenance of inclusive national
healthcare systems. A good example of this is the work of GAVI, which was origi-
nally established with a $750 million grant from the Gates Foundation in 1999.
Its International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) develops so-called
vaccine bonds, which are issued in global nancial markets.
The future funding
stream that will pay back the private bond investors comes from money pledged as
long-term support for heavily indebted poor countries by a collection of nine donor
governments. The money raised by selling the bonds is used to buy vaccines at
market rates from pharmaceutical companies. These are then distributed to
targeted communities via GAVIs system of 3P partnerships.
As a result of this vaccine bond chain, by the end of 2013 GAVI had disbursed
over $2.3 billion to support vaccine purchase and delivery in 70 developing coun-
tries. At the same time, however, the decision-making and administration of funds
committed by donor countries was completely removed from the control of the
impacted countries. These decisions were pre-empted by the bond issuance and
vaccine purchase program itself. The money from donor countries is now sent
directly to the pharmaceutical companies that produce the vaccines, along with
large-scale NGO managers, partners, and enterprising for-prot start-ups (such as
vaccine cold chain innovator Intellectual Ventures based in Washington State). While
giving these market actors access to new markets, the market mediations effectively
pre-empt any moves that might be made by recipient governments to issue
compulsory licenses and manufacture or import cheap generics.
The way vaccine bonds bypass national governmental control in recipient countries
while simultaneously providing an ethical cover for business as usual by pharmaceu-
tical companies is a good example of the broader post-national 3P implications of the
new consensus. But more than this, GAVIs overall approach to scaling up vaccine
access and immunizations in poor countries (which involves government
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partnerships as well) also underlines how the work of millennial philanthropy
operationalizes a new politics of personalized political-economic enrollment. Why
Invest in Vaccines?asks the front page of GAVIs website, with the ensuing explana-
tion quickly provided: Vaccines do far more than protect health; they also protect
peoples incomes and savings, and promote economic growth.
To make this claim
appear evidence based the front page provides an interactive graphic that superim-
poses photos of individual people of color across a Google map of Africa, the Middle
East and South Asia. When the photos are clicked, the essays and big data tell stories of
individuals struggling heroically with the help of GAVI to make up for the failings of
weak and uneven national vaccination programs.
Thus the post-colonial promise of Health for Allonce articulated at Alma Ata in
1978 and doomed by the debt crises of the 1980s returns anew as a post-national
and individualized promise of market remediation for new market subjects.
Children who get sick less often do better at school, explains GAVI in a way that
links health to the philanthropic interest in education for a competitive global
economy. Higher achievement at school leads to better employment prospects
and the chance to earn more in adult life.
Common concerns raised by contemporary critics of millennial philanthropy
emphasize the manner in which a business logic of return on investment often
emphasizes high-tech solutions, lacks democratic accountability, and skews deve-
lopment towards the marketall the while distracting attention from the capitalist
determinants of failing health and education (Laurie 2015; McCoy et al. 2009; Wiist
2011). Here we have sought to further historicize such concerns by addressing how
the philanthropically subsidized supplements to governmental involvement in
health and education simultaneously aids in the compensation and enrollment of
new market subjects recovering from market failure.
One way of summing up this process of compensatory care is to conceptualize it
as a new kind of anti-politics machine along the lines that James Ferguson (1990)
once described in his critique of the development industry in Africa. But whereas
the anti-politics of development that Ferguson highlighted tended to de-politicize
questions of resource allocation while assuming a nationally territorialized target
of bureaucratic management, the New Washington Consensus replaces the foci
of national governance and territory with localized targets of investment. More-
over, it is an anti-politics that remains profoundly political vis-à-vis cultivating
new forms of personalized responsibility and entrepreneurialism in the process of
recognizing human value. This process of political enrollment involves new articu-
latory practices as different market subjects continue to be nurtured and connected
in the hegemonic but shifting patchworks of 3P partnerships (cf. Morvaridi 2012).
Our point about the depoliticizing machinery of the new consensus resonates
with the philosophical arguments made by Rancière (2004), vis-à-vis how appeals
for consensus close down the possibilities for dissensus in human rights discourse.
Responding to Rancières concerns, Žižek (2005) has suggested that counter-
demands for preserving arenas for dissensus should make us continually rethink the
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precise space of politicization.Herewehavesoughttodosobypointingtothe
targeted recruitment of post-national market subjectsindividuals and populations
often enlisted by virtue of their historical and geographical positioning on the margins
of economy and society. Investigating how these subjects are targeted via the exper-
tise, cost-effectiveness metrics, and partnership planning of millennial philanthropy
we have also sought to repoliticize what has been depoliticized by reframing it in
terms of Fraserstriple movement. The precise space of politicization becomes leg-
ible vis-à-vis the recruitment of post-colonial and racialized bodies left unsupported af-
ter preceding struggles between state and society over the progression and terms of
the original consensus on marketization.
Ultimately our attempt at repoliticizing philanthropy returns to the homily of all hu-
man lives having equal value. Making this idea real was what Marx and Engels de-
scribed in terms of socialist struggle; it is what Žižek argues must be maintained as
the communist hypothesis, despite all the devastating contradictions of 20th cen-
tury communist government.When efforts to honor this sentiment are made by some
of the worlds wealthiest, it seems particularly germane toask about its contradictions
and limitations in the contemporary era. In todays transitional period these limits and
contradictions are those of time, space, and market competition. The sites and pro-
grams developed by millennial philanthropy are only sustainable as long as there is
grant money to fund them. And notwithstanding the mega-wealth of todaysphilan-
thropists and all the Fortune-style fascination with the billionaires involved, the grant
money is actually quite limited in relation to the government budgets it presumes
to supplant and/or steer. As a result, all the targeted investments in health and educa-
tion tend to lead to sporadic and spatially selective interventions that remaindistinctly
exclusionary. Despite the egalitarian appeals, then, the underlying neoliberal premise
of enticing locally targeted subjects into new rounds of global competition under-
mines the prospects of equitable long-term protections.
In short, the New Washington Consensus is creating spaces of short-term protec-
tion for some amidst widening systemic crisis and suffering. It is producing an archi-
pelago of targeted local interventions in a rising sea of global challenges. Of course,
wherever compensatory care occurs we are assured that it is precisely its practical
market ties that make the projects sustainable amidst the wider context of
market-led globalization; it is also their very market readiness that is supposed to
ensure a brighter future for the subjects of millennial philanthropy. Yet, by persistently
postponing engagement with the long-term structural violence produced by the old
consensus and global capitalism more generally, we believe that the New Washington
Consensus is destined to endlessly revisit the ruination out of which it has emerged.
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... Part of this vision of philanthropy has evolved in recent years to take an increasingly similar form to capital markets, where one invests on the social field expecting measurable returns from this investment, which has gained the names of philanthrocapitalism and millennial philanthropy (Bishop & Green, 2008;Mitchell & Sparke, 2016). ...
... It was considered a diversity of struggles for equality (racial, sexual, intersectional) and their tensions with elements of social protection and market/government failures, often using affirmative action strategies. Furthermore, various arrangements that could mobilize partnerships between the public and the private sectors in their actions started to come out (Mitchell & Sparke, 2016). Nogueira and Schommer (2009), in an article analyzing 15 years of the foundation of GIFE and market-oriented forms of philanthropy in Brazil highlighted the importance to differentiate traditional philanthropy practices from the ones influenced by Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). ...
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Civic actors started facing an increasingly challenging context with demobilization in recent years in Brazil. In 2019, a conservative government came to power, and the beginning of the pandemic led to deepening inequalities. That was when philanthropy emerged at its strongest: over US $1 billion in private donations were mapped in only three months. This paper presents data on donations during the pandemic and contrasts selected cases with different perspectives of philanthropy. It seeks to answer whether these donations may have had an outlier content for both donors and communities. It was observed that some initiatives started to break with hegemonic models of philanthropy, however, we argue that there is still a high level of resource-dependency from elites and a coloniality of power mindset, which leaves us to the question: “To what extent is a decolonial turn in philanthropy really achievable if its origin is based on colonial thoughts?”.
... Scholars have argued that health is now increasingly financialised 'through its abstraction into a sellable good' and an investment (Kay & Williams, 2009;Gill & Benatar, 2020). Existing research has captured this discursive turn, where human lives and all matter of things are turned into assets (Martin, 2002;Langley, 2021), and global interventions are framed as 'returns on investments' (Mitchell & Sparke, 2016). Scholars in IPE have also noted how transformations in global trade and investments can have negative impacts on global health (Sell & Williams, 2020). ...
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Existing research points to the presence of philanthropists in global governance as funders of programmes and partners. Through an in-depth exploration of global health governance, we highlight that philanthropic organizations now shape governance by acting as producers of knowledge. Practicing ‘knowledge philanthropism’, they collect, produce and assemble the data, calculations and research which is used by International Organizations (IOs) to govern problems. In addition, philanthropies craft tools of interpretation, whether concepts, vocabularies, or concrete technological devices that embed these, which are being used for the treatment of the knowledge they themselves produce. While performing such activities, they reify their own role and enable their deeper entanglement in the knowledge machinery of global governance, fashioning data-centric activities as the solution to global health problems, and themselves as the necessary partners in this resource-intensive data collection effort. The epistemic power of philanthropists produces political effects, on health interventions and modes of governing, which deeply participate to the transformation of all matters into objects of investments for financial returns. We explore these processes in relation to global health governance, with a specific focus on medical hypertension, fashioned as a top global health priority and a necessary ‘investment’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other sites of global governance.
... Brooks and Kumar (2023) argue that in this case few private investors are able to 'dictate resources' (p. 224) to areas they consider important, potentially excluding certain groups of people or regions, developing inequalities, and reinforcing existing power structures (Mitchell and Sparke, 2016). To avoid such unintended consequences, promote transparency, ensure accountability, and improve the effectiveness of II, it is important to consider the positive and potential negative long-term societal impacts of II. ...
Impact investing (II) aims to achieve intentional social impact in addition to financial return. Our systematic literature review of 104 articles finds that the growing academic literature on II is scattered across a variety of disciplines and topics, with inconsistencies in terminology and concepts and a paucity of theoretical explanations and frameworks. To provide an overview of common research areas and findings, we integrate the articles on II in nine emerging topics and shed light on inconsistencies in the literature. The analysis reveals one major shortcoming in II research: Despite the fact that II aims to create a measurable societal impact, this impact of II, its raison d'être, is not scrutinized in the literature. We argue that investigating the impact of II requires a holistic lens, for which we propose systems theory. We suggest prospective future research avenues which combine socioeconomic research approaches (esp. longitudinal qualitative studies and experimental methods) with socio-technical methods (esp. life cycle analysis) to enable a holistic systems perspective of II.
In debates about the role(s) and scale of entrepreneurial philanthropy in democracies, scholars discuss the erosion of distinctive public and private spheres and interests, and the replacement of the public sphere. This has occurred at the expense of public deliberation and participation, in favor of the reification of individuals and the role of experts/expertise. Drawing upon John Dewey’s The Public and Its Problems (1927/2016), I argue that there is an eclipse of the publicity of the public. This informs my case for the (re)conceptualization of philanthropy as a public, characterized by (a) the philanthropist as a social rather than an atomistic being, (b) the philanthropy-state dynamic and the publics’ claims, and (c) part of the radical vision of philanthropy. To ensure that private and public have analytical and practical resonance, it is imperative to (re)frame and (re)conceptualize what these concepts mean to entrepreneurial philanthropy and for its role in democracies.
Geographies of philanthropy matter because of the uneven economic distributions of wealth and poverty dictating where philanthropic funds flow from and to, and how these flows of funding across space are tied to diverse historical, developmental, legal, political, cultural, and digital geographies of philanthropy. Philanthropy ostensibly involves an inclusive impulse to care for others in general, manifesting in distinctly localized practices of gift‐giving, territorial outreach, and targeted intervention. Problems with philanthropy have always been geographical, related to who gets to envision the appropriate arenas of beneficence, what people and places merit concern, and where else is excluded. Economic geographies of philanthropy outline the macro‐economic spatial patterns of these divided philanthropic spaces. Microscale analyses reveal complex component “philanthroscapes” that further fragment the geographies of philanthropy in ways that both deterritorialize and reterritorialize contemporary arenas of philanthropic care.
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Despite this critical influence in politics and the economy, the elites in Central America have yet to be studied. This chapter explores the reasons why. First, access. In the region, the aftermath of years of violence has restricted contact with those at the top who keep their distance from society due to security concerns. Second, the criminalization, violence, and murder of thinkers and scholars interested in studying inequality and power during the social unrest since the 1960s has put a chill on research. In this regard, in this article, I discuss some personal and broader learnings about access, threats, and strategies to circumvent these limitations to studying elites
Amidst growing signs of inequality, poverty, and marginalization, there have been calls for a new approach to funding the social sector organizations tasked with addressing these challenges. Rather than paying for services, governments and philanthropists are being encouraged to fund programs based on their ‘outcomes.’ This paper explores this growing movement around ‘outcomes-based funding’ (OBF) suggesting that outcomes in this context embody a distinctly financial logic and reflect an effort to turn the work of charities and nonprofits into a type of pseudo asset. The paper teases out these dynamics and their implications based on one particular form of OBF, the social impact bond, a financial instrument which uses private capital to fund social programs and calculates returns based on program outcomes. While SIBs have struggled as a market, the operations underlying these projects and informing the production of outcomes as investable assets have been carried forward into non-SIB work informing flows of public and philanthropic capital and embodying the practices of the larger OBF ecosystem. As a window into the new, outcomes-based nonprofit funding regime, the paper offers a unique lens and set of critical tools for exploring the relationship between capital, the social sector, and poverty governance.
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Our age is celebrated as the triumph of liberal democracy. Old ideological battles have been decisively resolved in favour of freedom and the market. We are told that we have moved ‘beyond left and right’; that we are ‘all in this together’. Any remaining differences are to be addressed through expert knowledge, consensual deliberation and participatory governance. Yet the ‘end of history’ has also been marked by widespread disillusion with mainstream politics and a rise in nationalist and religious fundamentalisms. And now an explosion of popular protests is challenging technocratic regulation and the power of markets in the name of democracy itself. This collection seeks to make sense of this complex and paradoxical situation by critically engaging with the influential theory of ‘the post-political’ developed by Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière, Slavoj Žižek and others. Through a multi-dimensional and fiercely contested assessment of contemporary depoliticisation, The Post-Political and Its Discontents urges us to confront the closure of our political horizons and re-imagine the possibility of emancipatory change.