cover image Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism

Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism

Ian Bremmer. Portfolio/Penguin, $27 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-525-53318-4

In this gimlet-eyed look at current political trends, Eurasia Group president Bremmer (Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World) succinctly explains why people all over the world are turning against their neighbors: they feel powerless, angry, and left behind by globalization. He identifies various reasons for such strife, from increases in industrial automation and the influx of migrants to wealthier countries to a general sense that politicians do not know how to make struggling citizens’ lives better. He analyzes the situations of a dozen countries (Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Venezuela, Russia, India, and China among them) in depth and finds common risk factors for the “us versus them” mentality: large youth populations, lack of employment opportunities, and charismatic authoritarian leaders with a knack for pitting groups against one another. These countries, he predicts, will erect physical and technological “walls” to keep people in line, and Europe and the United States will follow suit, becoming more protectionist as the developing world struggles. The author closes with a philosophical chapter on the social contract between governments and their subjects, concluding that the politics of “us versus them” will only get worse before governments change their ways. This astute but not optimistic analysis may be difficult reading for those overwhelmed by the current political climate. (Apr.)