The Sackler family (previously) is one of the richest in the world, and if you've heard of them, it's probably because their family name adorns so many art galleries, museums, and academic institutions around the world: but they way they got that money is less-well-known.
The Sackler fortune was made through the family pharma company, Purdue, which used illegal tactics, fraud, bribery and disinformation campaigns to deliberately create the US opioid addiction (read about it here), whose death toll puts the Vietnam wars and other great national scars in the shade. What's more, Purdue is recycling the tactics it developed to trick, coerce or bribe doctors into overprescribing its flagship product Oxycontin in other countries, creating fresh mountains of corpses and mountains of cash.
The Sacklers are pretty much Exhibit A when it comes to using philanthropy to launder the reputations of capitalism's most immoral, rapacious beasts. As Anand Giridharadas has forcefully argued, one of the major functions of "charitable giving" is to deflect attention away from the blood on a billionaire's hands (the other function is to allow billionaires to turn their pet theories into public policy, and here the Sacklers also shine, helping to destroy the life-chances of a whole generation by funding privatization efforts that shut down public schools and replace them with underperforming "charter schools").
Nan Goldin is a legendary photographer who nearly died when she got hooked on the Sacklers' products after a routine surgery. She's the founder of a pressure group called PAIN (Pres c r i p tion Addiction Intervention Now), which is modelled on the AIDS activist group ACT-UP, following their example with high profile, flashy direct actions that lift the rock on wrongdoing and its enablers. Read the rest
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