Not too long ago, public opinion was against philanthropy. A new book explains how attitudes have changed, and why we must scrutinise them.
Once upon a time there was charity. The haves gave some to the have-nots, and that was that. Sometimes the giving impulse was religious, sometimes guilt-induced. But charity was more about the soul of the giver than the welfare or rights or dignity of the receiver. This is why there can be no charity between equals. Or between friends. For all these reasons, charity had for long remained an activity rooted in the personal-private, quasi-religious sphere.
Then came philanthropy. Jeremy Beer, in his The Philanthropic Revolution: An Alternative History of American Charity, argues that the displacement of charity by philanthropy was “the result of a reconceptualisation of voluntary giving as primarily a tool for social change.” It also marks, according to Beer, a shift from a theological to a secular framework for giving, bringing with it all the baggage that secularisation entails – blind faith in the technological mastery of the social world, centralisation, and the bureaucratization of personal relations.”...............Read more
Source: The Hindu