[2022] Post capitalist philanthropy

  title={Post Capitalist Philanthropy: Healing Wealth in the Time of Collapse},
  author={Ladha, A. and Murphy, L. and Shiva, V.},
  publisher={Daraja Press}

In openlibrary.

My highlights:

Post capitalistic realities are possible pathways that share these principles: post anthropocentric, trans-rationalist, post transactional, anti-patriarchal, post hierarchical, anti-colonialist, anti-racist.

meta-crisis: ecological collapse, climate change, species extinction, increasing pandemics, institutional racism, rising authoritarianism, spiking inequality and inhumane poverty. The logical outcome of our dominant economic, political, and cultural system.

Growth actively creates economic inequality. Economic growth requires that an ever-shrinking minority of people extract more from the natural world and from the bodies of an ever-expanding mass of people. The rich lay claim to income that is extracted from the lands and bodies of the poor. More growth requires more energy. To the detriment of future generations of human and more-than-human beings.

No amount of reform can change the structure and trajectory of the self-terminating, exponential function of growth-based capitalism. We must grow the global economy at 3% a year to avoid stagnation and/or recession. Growth has to exceed interest rates in order for the debt-based money to return both principal and interest. It requires doubling of the global economy every 32 years. A doubling of the global economy is now a material impossibility.

The meta-crisis is not something outside of us. All of us who are embedded in capitalist modernity are complicit in perpetuating the dominant culture. Philanthropy believes it is part of the solution. We see ethical, moral and karmic implications in the choices each of us make. Rather than wealth holders having an inherent right to make decisions on how this communal wealth should be allocated, we see a burden with disproportionate responsibility that has consequences that cannot be understood from our current vantage point.

How we might redefine collective responsibility? How do we create systems that invite others, especially those most affected by the decisions of philanthropy, to co-steward the future of wealth? Contemplation is in order.

We are attempting to situate philanthropy within the broader global context to better understand why philanthropy is not responding in a commensurate or arguably, meaningful way in the face of so many clear data points telling us that we are on the verge, and in the midst, of a civilisational collapse. Philanthropy are clinging to outdated ontological views about how change happens. At best, they are reinforcing the status quo, and often, deepening the meta-crisis.

We are all complicit on both the darkness and the light, no matter where we are. Embodied cognition is the practice of moving from purely rational thought into the felt, somatic experience of lived bodily realities. The body also informs the mind – re-calibrating experience through mind-body sense-making in a dialogic, non-linear manner. We are invoking a trans-rational, multi-sensorial approach that incorporates instincts, somatic responses, felt experiences, epigenetics, ancestral whispers and other phenomena that we do not fully know how to describe.

We are gesturing towards a more animistic worldview, in which the universe, the planet, and the fractals of their composite parts, including ourselves, and the bacteria we are made of, are engaged in dialectic dialogue, self-reflective awareness, and consciousness-producing processes. There is no such thing as the individual. We are invoking a relational web of being and becoming. We are acknowledging the primacy of entanglement, of simultaneous ontologies outside the human realms of understanding. ethico-onto-epistemology, a coherence between how we understand the world, how we see the world, and who we act accordingly. We are attempting to enact an on-going spiritual-polotical praxis with the aim of becoming more contextually sensitive in order to become more contextually relevant to the current moment of interconnected collapse.

Paradox as the entry point to contemplate and enact non-dualistic thought and embodied cognition.

  • Paradox of personality: we acknowlegde the role of the individual personalities and their subjective influences, while deepening into non-identified states of being.
  • Paradox of practice: the more we practice emerging forms of sense-making, the better we become at holding complex, non-dualist thoughts. Yet we become ignorant in other ways we cannot see.
  • Paradox of power: we situate power outside the traditional conceptions. Yet, the powers of wealth, decision-making, status, racialised hierarchies, and other systems of oppression continue to affect the lives of all of us.
  • Paradox of privilege: acknowledgement of privilege does not diminish the power that comes with these privileges. A blinding constraint. Yet, without our privileges, we could not engage in this inquiry in the ways we do.
  • Paradox of perpetuation: trying to address social issues, we often labour to keep the existing structures in place. We fear the unknown more than we fear our current trajectory, no matter how suicidal the path may be.
  • Paradox of planning: our desire to be more sensitive or relevant does not necessarily mean we will be any more successful in understanding future states.
  • Paradox of pronouncement: the very act of pronouncement is an act embedded within the dominant culture of capitalistic modernity and reinforces dualistic thought.
  • Paradox of ‘post’: stand in the present, rooted in deep historical understandings while actively building new-ancient-emergent ways of living, knowing and being beyond the logic of capitalism.
  • Paradox of performance: one key feature of the colonial mindset is a focus on urgency, analysis, planning and rational action, rather than on being, allowing and surrendering, perhaps to a deeper and unknowable cosmic design. Another is the belief of its own exception, setting the exceptional urgency of this moment above all other critical junctures of history through which our species and our planet have passed through. We perform or enact the dominant culture through our grandiose sense of our own agency and influence. And yet, an attempt to deepen our systems-level understanding is critical to contextualising the meta-crisis and our roles with it, and in becoming more self-aware and expansive in our consciousness, regardless of outcomes.
  • Paradox of perfection: this work is an ongoing exploration of theory and praxis.

Inhumane poverty at a time of peak human material wealth.

Major philosophical tenets of the dominant global ideology of neoliberalism:

  • human beings are inherently egotistic and competitive by nature
  • hierarchy is inevitable and, in fact, important for order, which justifies the nation-state, governments, war, taxation, constitutions and other laws
  • the individual is the primary unit of power
  • material comfort, wealth and power equate to well-being, meaning, and life-success–which are then equated to virtue. There is rarely an acknowledgement of the drivers of historical wealth creation, including colonialism, enslavement, genocide, patriarchy, imperialism, perpetual war, pillage and “accumulation by dispossession”
  • separation from the natural world and materialism define our relationship to the “outside”. Atomised beings battling Nature itself with the aim of conquest and domination. All our interactions with the material world can be understood rationally through our unique and advanced minds.

Early capitalists knew they had to destroy animistic perspectives, as these worldviews posed obstacles to the kinds of exploitation of nature and life that capitalism requires. The printing press instigated a triumph of written, symbolic language, and eventually the construction of rationality as being superior to oral and communal traditions, and other ways of knowing.

The dominant worldview of neoliberalism creates a moral hierarchy by which human beinds, and a particular subset thereof, are at the pinnacle, separating humanity from each other and from the natural world in which we are enmeshed. It ignores the trauma our ancestors endured and that our bodies continue to experience and carry, whether they were perpetrators or victims. The white body is the arbiter of normality by which all other bodies are judged.

Fictitious half truths: self-interest benefits everyone, there is supreme efficiency in the market, rich people create jobs for everyone. Core alibis for land-grabbing and tax evasion, directly related to philanthropy. This leads to the continued colonisation and pillaging of “sacrifice zones” which encompass most of the global South.

A form of democracy that is based on a governing leisure class. The idea that there was enough surplus generated through the extraction of wealth from other people’s labour and the labour of the living world, that a group of people can govern as a form of recreation abstracted from daily life. Privatised benefits but socialised costs.

Philanthropy performs acts of (self-appointed) saviourhood through strategic benevolence, while never truly acknowledging or addressing how we ended up performing and/or watching the meta-crisis in the first place.

At best, institutional philanthropy tries to ensure that the worst abuses of the market system are softened through an arbitrary and elite-controlled “redistribution” of a relatively small portion of accumulated wealth. This achieves the intended objective of having an insignificant but conspicuous impact. It is also a vehicle for further tax-free wealth accumulation and the perpetuation of unjust systems through public perception management and a vector for unchecked influence upon governments and persuasion over civil society to ensure the values of the dominant culture and power-elite remain intact.

Money trice stolen: first stolen through the unfair, rigged lottery of cut-throat neoliberalism. Stolen again by redirecting public money through significant tax breaks, supporting the ongoing expansion of the initial endowments which are largely invested in the very same extractive system. Finally, morally cleansed when a small portion of the funds go through the public enactment of supporting civil society, energetically, reputationally and physically extracting once more from the fabric of society to confer more power, intelligence, goodness, magnanimity upon the benevolent benefactors. There is a steady imposition of conservative values, cultural tropes, mores and norms on the grantees. Tedious applications, milestone reports, and other funder-imposed requirement, to create a “theatre of effective philanthropy” and to maintain good funder-grantee relations. Social justice movements are constrained in terms of content and form. Capital will only feed what ultimately serves the interests of capital.

A charitable foundation has to give annually a minimum of 5% of its overall endowment in the form of grants or program-related investments. It has become the ceiling rather than the floor. The other 95% is treated as tax-exempt investment money. Funnelled into the usual engines of capital return: stock markets, bonds, real-estate, fossil fuel companies, etc, which in most cases result in annual returns of more than 5% resulting in further, perpetual accumulation. The extractive-based capital market system and the donors are the two prime beneficiaries. The majority is reinvested in life-destroying activities. Charity has thus become the alibi for perpetuating injustice.

Success: the belief that individuals who made their wealth in the marketplace of cutthroat capitalism must inherently be more intelligent. They can understand, dissect, strategise, and solve the complex problems created by capitalism in the first place. They may not have developed the deep relational webs or inner resources that cultivate their capacity for empathy, nurture, care, generosity or solidarity.

Measurement: key performance indicators, arbitrary statistics subjectively attuned to each problem to solve. Strategic philanthropy, outcomes-based philanthropy, effective altruism. Most institutions believe it is their core objective and indeed responsibility to dissect, deduce, and then determine what is best for the world and which individuals are the most apt ‘leaders’ to fulfil their mandate missions. Most foundations ignore the intersectionality of life, identity, and social issues.

Entitlement: good intentions plus capital equals the right to enter the social sphere to ‘solve problems’ for other beings. The dominant assumption is that because more money is better, and money creates social change, the philanthropic institution can decide where to work, what issues matter, who is worthy of support, how change happens in a given context and what knowledge shall be preserved. Philanthropy often traffics in the extraction of information.

Growth: as a means for perpetuity, as a proxy for expanding power and success in the marketplace of solutions. Those with bigger endowments wield more influence and power. The assumption that the work these philanthropic institutions are doing is inherently good is almost never questioned.

It is never questioned that the logic that created the meta-crisis may not be the appropriate logic to address its consequences.

A growing call for deeper relationality and reciprocity between funders and grantees, especially where historically marginalised peoples are entrusted to makes their own funding decisions about those resources that belong to them or the lands that were stewarded by them in the first place.

Justice plus onto-shifts: Gesturing towards a justice that requires both a dismantling of systems of oppression and a simultaneous shift in the ways we see & behave in the world. Rooted in Indigenous, place-based, animistic, relational understandings of the world. Un mundo donde quepan muchos mundos. Create designs and practices to address the root causes of our separation from the living world, within ourselves, our communities, and the superstructures of the global political economy simultaneously and in perpetuity, with no final destination in sight. How we ourselves are benefiting from the existing order? What are we willing to give up as an offering to a living planet?


Relational logic → trans-rational logic
Monoculture → polyculture
Ahistorical amnesia → remembering, repair, reconciliation
Seperation, materialism, positivism → non-dual, animistic, queer, quantum
Unquestioned orthodoxy → self/collective responsibility for first principles
Attribution and competition → service and solidarity
Accumulation of capital → liberation of capital
Transactional → relational
Entitlement → entrustment
Bureaucracy → beauty
Trauma → (re)cultivation of life-force

Avenues for exploration into relationality:

  • Becoming a good student of the dominant culture.
  • Decolonising the mind-body-heart-soul complex.
  • Making values explicit; linking cosmology, care and creation.
  • Creating embodied cultures of lived possibility. Create and live alternatives of such beauty and extraordinariness.
  • Practising emergence. Letting go of control, iterating as complexity adapts, deep listening, deeper humility.

We are being prepared for even deeper complexity, breakdown, tragedy, renewal and rebirth. Inhabit the immediacy of the present moment, being present with what is, while creating what could be.

Surrender control, traverse the threshold, (re)enter the continuum. What would happen if we asked the living world how to best use our life-force in service to its desired unfolding.