Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> Gates' Buffet, or Fail-Safe Philanthropy
Nicholas Ruiz on Tue, 4 Jul 2006 20:44:38 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Gates' Buffet, or Fail-Safe Philanthropy

Gates' Buffet, or Fail-Safe Philanthropy

Nicholas Ruiz III


Warren Buffett donates billions to one of his billionaire brethren
Bill Gates. Impressive? Predictably gratuitous. 'Impressive,' would
have been to send the world a check. Yes, divide the money and
distribute it-that's charity.

To transfer the money to his surrogate son impresses no one. Rather,
such is an advance in the name of a concentration of power on Wall St.
Like Al Gore's 'benevolent' long term equity fund, Buffet passes the
Delphic torch of Capital to its latest rational heir. Atlas shrugs.

Where Generation Investment Management (Gore is the Chairman)
allocates five percent (why not 10, 20 or 50%--or even all of it?) of
the trading profits to 'non-profit' sustainability research, the Gates
Foundation philanthropizes its Capital in the name of global health
and education. Healthy, literate markets (consumers) are always in
demand of hamburgers, cherry soda and personal computer technology,

In Friedman's world, flatness is a conduit of Capital to be harnessed
by this nation or that one, a veritable landscape of individuals
competing for prizes: a rational flatness.(1) Everyone wants to
achieve this flatness, and dominate within it. Everyone has to be
part of this game: within it the dream is to be famous. A negative
function of Friedman's 'novel' flat world: therein Capital is allowed
to flatten everything in its path to a brilliant desert, if under
fluorescent light. Nothing will soon live outside the electric tundra
of such anthropic flatness. Sure, health and education will become
viral and that has its perks; no one desires to be ill or illiterate.
Philanthropy will do some work.

Still, we trade this viral health for a sickness of culture, and that
is our sacrifice.

Markets at home are saturated, so health and education concerns
globalize via the fertilization of postmodern philanthropy. The
candy in the heels of Capital can beget forgiveness from even the
most vicious histories it has produced. Such a sweetness keeps the
world nipping at its heels; especially among the 'philanthropists,'
and 'environmentally-minded' hedge funds, mutual funds and so on.
In the same manner, an 'ethics' is always an ethics of Capital,
ultimately. Think of the American Red Cross, and their refusal of
the Dixie Chicks' gift of $1 million in 2003 on account of their
criticism of our American commander in chief. In this case, the
political Capital the Cross could earn from the aristocracy was of
greater currency to their 'philanthropic' sensibilities; greater than
the currency they could spend in the name of American 'charity'. So
it goes without saying that without a sustainable planet for Al Gore
and his Generation Investment Management investors; well, there is no
profit in that for anyone.

'Philanthropy' is an interesting word-loosely, 'love of humanity or
mankind.' Perhaps it is such an affection that leads to magnanimous
accumulations of wealth-a love of the human race. At the endpoint of
orgiastic opulence and billionaire comforts, perhaps such a love of
people arises. I doubt it.

Perhaps it is something else that arises.

Perhaps after a certain abstraction of relative gain, Capital becomes
a philosopher's stone of universal redemption? After one is so far
ahead of the entire species, in terms of numeric materiality and
Capital gains, suppose that an economy of personal acquisition is
replaced by an economy of Capital altruism; a benefaction of Capital?
Since Capital represents the great chain of accumulation, a divine
and replicative chain of being, what purpose might beneficence serve
within it? Or is such a benefit a reverse altruism, a covert protocol
of self-preservation wherein all is explained by the merger and
consolidation of the forces of fortune? Love, or optimization?

The architecture of the world today, in truth, does not allow
for charity, only Capital's salvation. In this newly publicized
circulation of giving, there resides only the accounting of receipts.
So Buffett, the second richest American white man in the world gives
$37 billion to Gates, the richest American white man in the world.
Bravo. Why not give $1000 to each of the 37 million U.S. citizens
living in U.S. census-defined poverty as of 2004, up in number by 1.1
million since 2003.(2)

So you see, 'charity' (from the Latin 'caritas,' love or regard) is
not what is at stake here, but something else, that will circulate
today as 'philanthropy,' but is essentially the self-interest
of Capital masquerading as good will. If good will is achieved,
assuredly, that will be a side-effect of the broader concern of its
opposite. Capital's other-ism (altruism) is always a retainer of some
Coded objective of replicative and self-sustaining bliss. Perhaps that
is the way of the world.

1 Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat, New York; Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

2 "Poverty: 2004 Highlights" from the U.S. Census Bureau:

Nicholas Ruiz III
Interdisciplinary Program in the Humanities
--Florida State University--
Editor, Kritikos

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net