The Raging 2020s Book Summary - The Raging 2020s Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The Raging 2020s summary

Alec Ross

Companies, Countries, People – and the Fight for Our Future

3.8 (93 ratings)
28 mins

Brief summary

The Raging 2020s by Alec Ross is a thought-provoking book that explores the disruptive forces shaping the current decade. He discusses tech advancements, politics, and social change and how they are impacting the world's economic, social, and political landscape.

Table of Contents

    The Raging 2020s
    Summary of 8 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 8

    Social contracts keep societies functioning,⁠ but sometimes they break.

    What’s the one thing that glues together all societies, past and present? It isn’t religion, culture, or written laws, but a social contract.

    A social contract encompasses all the written and unwritten rules at play in a society. It’s what balances the rights and powers of citizens, government, and businesses. It outlines which duties belong to each sphere.

    A strong social contract enables humanity to live and work together in harmony. But social contracts are always being tested and renegotiated as societies change and new technologies develop. Sometimes, there’s a long pause when a society is still using an old, broken social contract and hasn’t yet come up with one to replace it. Right now, that’s exactly where the United States and other developed nations find themselves. 

    The key message here is: Social contracts keep societies functioning,⁠ but sometimes they break. 

    The most recent American social contract was developed during the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, when manufacturing boomed and new technologies developed at a breakneck pace. During this time, Western economies transformed from agricultural to industrial societies and the previous social contract became obsolete. 

    This early stage of industrialization became known as Engels’ Pause, after the Marxist philosopher Friedrich Engels. Engels’ Pause was characterized by inequality and squalor. The social contract hadn’t yet caught up. Benefits like worker’s pensions, antitrust protections, income tax, child-labor laws, and the minimum wage were still years away.

    Once societies introduced these improvements, citizens finally began to flourish. An equilibrium was established, balancing the powers of governments, corporations, and individuals. 

    Developed societies now find themselves in a second Engels’ Pause. After the end of the Cold War, it seemed that capitalism was victorious once and for all. As a result, government went on a deregulation spree, giving businesses greater and greater power,⁠ which they’re now abusing. 

    Companies are free to make irresponsible decisions knowing that the government will always be there to bail them out –⁠ with taxpayer money, of course. Multinational corporations are as big as countries, and they often have an outsized influence in geopolitics. Over the last thirty years, inequality has skyrocketed: the top 1 percent have grown $21 trillion richer, while the bottom 50 percent are $900 billion poorer.

    These are just a few of the problems caused by the fraying of a social contract that’s in desperate need of mending.

    Want to see all full key ideas from The Raging 2020s?

    Key ideas in The Raging 2020s

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Raging 2020s about?

    The Raging 2020s (2021) is an autopsy of the American social contract, which once kept companies, governments, and individuals in stable harmony but has since broken down. In particular, it describes how the power of corporations has expanded in recent years while federal might has waned –⁠ and how the result is that companies have more control over people’s lives than ever before. We must work to restore the balance and write a new social contract for the modern age.

    Who should read The Raging 2020s?

    • Citizens concerned about the increasing power of corporations
    • Current or aspiring politicians and activists
    • Anyone who sees the value in capitalism but thinks it can be improved

    About the Author

    Alec Ross is an entrepreneur, professor, and former technology policy advisor for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the Obama administration. He is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Bologna in Italy and a Board Partner at the venture capital firm Amplo. His 2016 book Industries of the Future is a New York Times best seller and was named Book of the Year by the TriBeCa Film Festival’s Disruptive Innovation Foundation.

    Categories with The Raging 2020s

    Book summaries like The Raging 2020s

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    29 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial