Us vs. Them
"A cogent analysis of the concurrent Trump/Brexit phenomena and a dire warning about what lies ahead...a lucid, provocative book." --Kirkus Reviews Those who championed globalization once promised a world of winners, one in which free trade would lift all the world's boats, and extremes of left and right would give way to universally embraced liberal values. The past few years have shattered this fantasy, as those who've paid the price for globalism's gains have turned to populist and nationalist politicians to express fury at the political, media, and corporate elites they blame for their losses. The United States elected an anti-immigration, protectionist president who promised to "put America first" and turned a cold eye on alliances and treaties. Across Europe, anti-establishment political parties made gains not seen in decades. The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.And as Ian Bremmer shows in this eye-opening book, populism is still spreading. Globalism creates plenty of both winners and losers, and those who've missed out want to set things right. They've seen their futures made obsolete. They hear new voices and see new faces all about them. They feel their cultures shift. They don't trust what they read. They've begun to understand the world as a battle for the future that pits "us" vs. "them." Bremmer points to the next wave of global populism, one that hits emerging nations before they have fully emerged. As in Europe and America, citizens want security and prosperity, and they're becoming increasingly frustrated with governments that aren't capable of providing them. To protect themselves, many government will build walls, both digital and physical. For instance...  *  In Brazil and other fast-developing countries, civilians riot when higher expectations for better government aren't being met--the downside of their own success in lifting millions from poverty.   *  In Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt and other emerging states, frustration with government is on the rise and political battle lines are being drawn.   *  In China, where awareness of inequality is on the rise, the state is building a system to use the data that citizens generate to contain future demand for change  *  In India, the tools now used to provide essential services for people who've never had them can one day be used to tighten the ruling party's grip on power. When human beings feel threatened, we identify the danger and look for allies. We use the enemy, real or imagined, to rally friends to our side. This book is about the ways in which people will define these threats as fights for survival. It's about the walls governments will build to protect insiders from outsiders and the state from its people.And it's about what we can do about it.

Us vs. Them Details

TitleUs vs. Them
Author
ReleaseApr 24th, 2018
PublisherPortfolio
Rating
GenrePolitics, Nonfiction, Economics

Us vs. Them Review

  • Gary Moreau
    January 1, 1970
    Really, a 4.5. The “us/them” division is global in scale and catastrophic in scope. It is already testing our civility, our security, our cultural identity, and our commitment to the ideals of democracy. But you already know that.This is the latest in a growing list of books that seeks to understand why the we/they divide exists without, to its credit, falling into the trap of using the data to simply fan the fires of partisan division. Bremmer has a political agenda (we all do), and he’s no fan Really, a 4.5. The “us/them” division is global in scale and catastrophic in scope. It is already testing our civility, our security, our cultural identity, and our commitment to the ideals of democracy. But you already know that.This is the latest in a growing list of books that seeks to understand why the we/they divide exists without, to its credit, falling into the trap of using the data to simply fan the fires of partisan division. Bremmer has a political agenda (we all do), and he’s no fan of Trump, the person. He does, however, go out of his way to note, “Donald Trump didn’t create us vs. them. Us vs. them created Donald Trump, and those who dismiss his supporters are damaging the United States.” Whether you agree with that or not, he is one of a handful of analysts willing to try and rise above the personal vilification that defines so much of our current political debate.The author reviews the “us/them” division around the world and his analysis of current events in places like Nigeria and Venezuela is revealing and informative. I must admit, however, that for a time I found the analysis to be just a bit repetitive and a little superficial. There are lots of facts and figures but not a lot of insight into the why behind the what.I do believe, however, that Bremmer essentially closes the “why” loop in the last section of the book when he takes up the obvious question of a way forward. In short he believes that we must do no less than redefine the social contract between the government and the governed.And it is here that he once again opens his thinking in a way that few other authors have. All too often any discussion about the social contract devolves into a largely PC debate about freedom of the press, representative democracy, and the legal protection of marginalized people. We talk about authoritarianism and fascism, but what most citizens want, in the end, is a government that is fair, trustworthy, and competent, treats them with respect, and, most importantly, has their collective interests at heart.And that, Bremmer points out, is a social contract we can find common ground on. We are never going to agree on every aspect of what a good government should or should not do. If we can agree on the framework of a social contract that acknowledges the inequities created by globalism, the challenges presented by the mass migration of people, the need for lifelong education in a technologically advancing world (without ignoring the continued importance of the traditional liberal arts), and the global desire for personal security, we can make a start.My only disappointment with the book is that he doesn’t really take on the issue of the growing power of the corpocracy. No segment of society has benefited more from the asymmetry of globalism than the corporate and financial elite. Adjusting the social contract without, at the same time, revisiting the economic contract between workers, employers, and communities, will amount to nothing.Bremmer does, however, introduce the universal wage, which is not a new idea and will ultimately have to precede any chance of addressing the us/them divide. Globalism and technology have essentially commercialized every aspect of what it means to live in the modern world. We have to take the mere fight for survival (and the security of health care) off the table if we are to have any hope of restoring economic progress and human dignity.The author does provide several ideas for doing that although he stops short of a specific agenda and he is a little less optimistic than I’d prefer, perhaps naively, to be. “Things have to become much worse, particularly for the winners, before they can become better for everyone else. This is the ultimate failure of globalism.”If, however, we can all approach the issues with the even-handedness and objectivity that Ian Bremmer does here, we can surely accelerate the process.
    more
  • Eddie Choo
    January 1, 1970
    A summary of developmentsIan Bremmer describes the tendencies that have caused ruptures in the politics of major countries. He takes a politics-first view and describes how trends might affect the politics-society relationship. Provides a good overview of the developments, but not much else.
    more
  • Ryan Rommann
    January 1, 1970
    I generally like Bremmer's books (G-Zero, End of the Free Market, J-curve etc) but this book seemed lazy. It didn't seem well thought out nor researched. Very little in Us vs Them will strike you as enlightening, if you've been alive the past 2 years. His other books have a rather novel idea that is well argued. This idea isn't well argued and sure as hell isn't novel. I would have preferred a much deeper analysis of public perceptions on things like Brexit, TPP or Schengen. Instead it is a few I generally like Bremmer's books (G-Zero, End of the Free Market, J-curve etc) but this book seemed lazy. It didn't seem well thought out nor researched. Very little in Us vs Them will strike you as enlightening, if you've been alive the past 2 years. His other books have a rather novel idea that is well argued. This idea isn't well argued and sure as hell isn't novel. I would have preferred a much deeper analysis of public perceptions on things like Brexit, TPP or Schengen. Instead it is a few brief quips about things like UBI, automation, and "they took our jobs." I honestly think it was a quick way for Bremmer to maintain relevance and grab a few easy bucks.
    more
  • James Bingham
    January 1, 1970
    This is an interesting book, but it reads more like an extended recap than any sort of in-depth analysis. There are a few summaries of problems being faced by specific countries around the world, which I found helpful, and a longer summary of why Bremmer thinks globalism has failed. But I found the book to be kind of pessimistic (which, maybe, it should be), and lacking in proposed solutions beyond very top-level "countries should invest in infrastructure and education" stuff. If this is a topic This is an interesting book, but it reads more like an extended recap than any sort of in-depth analysis. There are a few summaries of problems being faced by specific countries around the world, which I found helpful, and a longer summary of why Bremmer thinks globalism has failed. But I found the book to be kind of pessimistic (which, maybe, it should be), and lacking in proposed solutions beyond very top-level "countries should invest in infrastructure and education" stuff. If this is a topic that interests you, you may be better served by Ed Luce's 'The Retreat of Western Liberalism.'
    more
  • Ivank
    January 1, 1970
    Ian Bremmer remains a strong story-teller, doing what he's always done best - expressing crystal-clear concepts and thoughts, and presenting International Relations for non-specialists.Yet the book is short, covers a billion ideas very superficially, and is some weird combination of examples from the last 18 months. Basically, if you've been reading any newspapers in the last 1-2 years, you're unlikely to hear any particularly deep new analysis.Unfortunately, the book is disappointing...
    more
  • David Medders
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting and less than impressive read about the mostly negative impact of globalism for various nations around the world. Opinionated and slippery use of data, but includes some insightful observations of the "unintended" consequences of the growing interconnectedness of our global economy.
    more
  • Ietrio
    January 1, 1970
    Globalism. Capitalism. It is amusing to see Bremmer fluctuate from considering each -ism an anthropomorphic entity with a will of its own to making each -ism some sort of label of a greater conspiracy. Sadly, the text gets boring quickly.
  • Christian
    January 1, 1970
    Important and good book.I expected more on the analysis of the solutions.
Write a review