On July 17, Bill Gates will deliver the annual Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg, justifying his philosophy of market-oriented, technology-centric philanthropy.
(...) Gates, who is worth $80 billion (up $24 billion from 2011), will expound on redistribution. And to be sure, many of his projects have been vital to human progress. But compare what can be termed Gates’ ‘philanthro-capitalism’ with Ford Foundation President Darren Walker’s proposal for a more appropriate approach to giving in the 21st century: “We foundations need to reject inherited, assumed, paternalist instincts… We need to interrogate the fundamental root causes of inequality, even, and especially, when it means that we ourselves will be implicated.”
In contrast, Gates specialises in top-down technicist quick-fixes – ‘silver bullets’ – which often backfire on the economic shooting range of extreme corporate influence and neoliberal policies. As Global Justice Now’s Polly Jones complained in a report last month, Gates’ “influence is so pervasive that many actors in international development, which would otherwise critique the policy and practice of the foundation, are unable to speak out independently as a result of its funding and patronage.”