Shafik has joined the campaign against a winner-takes-all business culture that offers the spoils of capitalism only to those that rise to the top, putting her in the company of some of the world’s most prominent political thinkers.
While she has come a long way from her Egyptian birthplace, her questioning of privilege has remained consistent. “The idea that you are successful because you are smart and hardworking is pernicious and wrong, because it means everyone who is unsuccessful is stupid and lazy,” she says. Referring to her friend Michael Sandel, the Harvard philosopher, she says the next phase of history should be characterised by a shared endeavour, ending the extreme individualism of the last 40 years.
“The discussion we need to be having asks: what do we owe each other and what are our expectations of each other?” she says. People who think they have climbed the greasy pole on their own misunderstand how much luck had a part to play and how society, directly or indirectly, also helped them rise.”