Mistrust: Why Losing Faith in Institutions Provides the Tools to Transform Them

Ethan Zuckerman. Norton, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-3240-0260-4
MIT Media Lab scholar Zuckerman (Digital Cosmopolitans) examines high levels of mistrust in social institutions across the Western world in this passionate yet somewhat meandering account. Zuckerman labels the election of Donald Trump in the U.S., passage of the Brexit referendum in the U.K., and the rise of populist strongmen in Hungary and Poland as right-wing “insurrections” that have exposed widespread public frustration with “the limits of our government and corporate systems.” Zuckerman examines the causes of these dissatisfactions, including rising inequality and greater public access to information (and misinformation), and offers a wide-ranging discussion of the ways in which battered institutions can be rebuilt and replaced. He draws from the works of Francis Fukuyama, Hannah Arendt, and Albert Hirschman, and references political, corporate, and social disruptions ranging from the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements to Bitcoin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Ending with a comparison of America during the Covid-19 pandemic to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Zuckerman argues that democratic participation is vital to enacting change and implores voters not to disengage from the political sphere. Readers hoping the 2020 elections bring a sea change in American politics will be galvanized by this optimistic account. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 09/15/2020
Release date: 11/10/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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