Sunday, June 11, 2017

Impact Investing and Venture Philanthropy's Role in Sowing the Seeds of Financial Opportunity

Impact Investing and Venture Philanthropy's Role in Sowing the Seeds of Financial Opportunity:

Impact Investing and Venture Philanthropy's Role in Sowing the Seeds of Financial Opportunity

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"Gates and other venture philanthropist's have 'pioneered' and 'seeded' new education markets through direct funding and by shaping 'education reform' policies. Charter schools are an essential component of this mission… allowing impact investors to be the drivers of the education reform industry's final mission: to fully dismantle public education by way of 'anywhere, anytime learning' and 'personalized' technologies."
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In the late 19th century many US industrialists -- Andrew Carnegie, John Pierpont Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and others -- who amassed immense wealth through the exploitation and degradation of workers (including children), began to establish philanthropic trusts and foundations. Oil monopolist John D. Rockefeller (senior) described this social mission as a divinely inspired "business of benevolence." Accordingly, historian Benjamin J. Soskis reports that Rockefeller declared in 1906:
I believe that the power of making money is a gift from God… I believe it is my duty to go on making money and still more money, and to use the money I make for the good of my fellow man according to the dictates of my conscience.
As such, philanthropists of this time channeled charitable gifts to civil society and aid-based organizations charged with facilitating the cultural reproduction of American values derived from the Protestant ethics that sustain US capitalism: individualism, self-reliance, hard work, meritocracy, discipline and obedience. In terms of the benevolent role of philanthropists during this period, Soskis frames it this way:
This conflation of the obligations of business and businessman was encouraged by the concept of stewardship, the dominant means by which Americans understood the responsibilities of wealth in the nineteenth century. By the dictates of stewardship, men could not claim ultimate ownership over their possessions, but held them only as trustees for some higher authority -- in the concept's Protestant manifestation… By bridging the realms of accumulation and redistribution, stewardship linked provisional property rights with the responsibilities that attended those rights. Stewardship provided a bridge between the imperatives of service and self-interest, a causeway over which proponents of corporate philanthropy would make their unsteady way in the decades to come.
Through this doctrine of divine providence, these charitable "Captains of Industry" advanced everything from universal public education, immigrant assimilation and poverty mitigation to the arts, public health and science and medical research. Naturally, this giving came with a social engineering agenda. For example, as documented in my article "The Despotic Origins of Public Secondary Education," their financial and political support for universal public education was intended to bolster US hegemony, by furthering US industrial capitalism's imperialist pursuits as tied to the nation's foundational structures of heteropatriarchy, white supremacy and settler colonialism. Relatedly, the article goes on to document how:
At the turn of the 20th century, capitalism's proclivity for crisis was fomenting rebellion within the US through massive labor strikes, struggles for universal suffrage and relief from poverty as a major depression gripped the nation due to overproduction. In response, the nation's political and economic elite 
Impact Investing and Venture Philanthropy's Role in Sowing the Seeds of Financial Opportunity:
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