When you hear of wealthy people engaging in movements for justice and wealth redistribution, what’s your first thought? Are you skeptical? Inspired? Curious?

I think there is something unusual about this late stage of capitalism where some wealthy folks are moved to action by the harms of extreme inequality.  I’ve written about the wealth advisors that are helping the rich with radical redistribution. But Michael Gast has just mapped the landscape in a way that I’ve never seen.

Gast has spent his adult life organizing other wealthy folks for economic and racial justice, including many years at Resource Generation.  For the last year, he’s been writing a blog called “Organize the Rich.”  Full disclosure: As author of Born on Third Base, I’m a big fan of Gast’s work and the new book he is working on.

His latest post is worth taking a look at – he maps the ecosystem of activity of donor organizing and political engagement.  “Are we seeing an unprecedented movement of the rich towards justice?” Gast asks.  His answer: “Yes!”

He continues:

“At least, that’s my current conclusion. I’m going to lay out my thinking below. I want to show you my math and know what you think.

I’m finding it hard to notice or even sometimes believe good news these days, and I want your help thinking about these hopeful developments.

I’m not writing to you about the glories (or horrors) of philanthropy or Wall Street, effective altruism, or the benevolence and generosity of the righteous rich. I’m not talking about individual heroes or villains. I’m not talking about the charade of do-gooderism so well documented by Anand Giridharadas in his book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World (though, let’s be real, every one of the dynamics he names shows up in any organizing of the rich).

As I’ve learned over the last decades, from Moses to Maud Younger, there have always been individual wealthy people participating in and supporting liberation movements. In the last 100 years or so, we’ve started to see a shift. Really since the 70’s, there has been an upsurge in organized efforts to move wealthy people collectively, not just individually, towards a more fair and equitable society. From the Mink Brigade to the Funding Exchange, these groups have made a difference.

They’ve laid the groundwork for the recent, dramatic rise in popularity and power of a whole new set of organizations involving wealthy people in progressive and left movements for the collective good.”

“Right now,” Gast guesses, this ecosystem includes “at least 100,000 wealthy people, representing tens to hundreds of billions, in collective assets.”

Read Gast’s full post HERE, which expands upon this map of the Organize the Rich realm:

Overall, Gast asserts, it’s important to talk about this movement-in-formation to end the power of the owning class over our economy, democracy, and society.

By recognizing what’s happening, it becomes more possible to engage a larger set of people, collaborate across groups, effectively strategize for growth, and ask wealthy people to do more.

Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he also co-edits Inequality.org. 

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