Us vs. Them Book Summary - Us vs. Them Book explained in key points
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Us vs. Them summary

Ian Bremmer

The Failure of Globalism

4.4 (67 ratings)
23 mins
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    Us vs. Them
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    Globalism has created economic winners and losers and an “us vs. them” mentality.

    For decades, Western political leaders have promoted globalism: the flow of ideas, commerce, services and people across borders.

    Globalism makes economies more efficient by moving production and operations to parts of the world where the people and materials are cheaper. That has helped people everywhere get wealthier – consumers in rich nations get cheaper goods on shop shelves, and workers in developing nations get access to new jobs.

    But there have also been many losers, as companies have moved jobs abroad or simply automated them. Since 1979, for example, the US has lost almost 40 percent of its factory jobs. The American middle class, traditionally the country’s economic majority, is declining. In 1970, middle-income households earned 62 percent of income in the United States. In 2014, that number was 43 percent.

    These impacts of globalism are having an effect on our society and politics. A growing sense of economic insecurity is driving dissatisfaction, and, in turn, populist movements.

    For example, polling conducted in 2015 found that only 6 percent of people in the United States, 4 percent in Britain and 3 percent in France believed the state of the world was getting better.

    Populist politicians of the left and right are tapping into this sense of frustration with an “us vs. them" message. It sets "us" against "them" – "us" being the working and middle classes, and "them" being elites, immigrants, or both.

    You can see this “us vs. them” paradigm from the left, when Senator Bernie Sanders or the Greek leftist prime minister Alexis Tsipras talk of big corporations, exploitative bankers and the political elite.

    From the right, we’ve seen how the impact of globalism, and, in particular, the sense of a threat to American jobs, has helped propel Trump into office. Trump was able to talk plainly to voters angry that their factories were shuttered, and jobs lost; while bankers in New York and politicians in Washington appeared to thrive, and Mexican and other Latin American immigrants found new opportunities.

    And though French far-right populist Marine Le Pen may not have won the French presidency in 2017, her election campaign looked a lot like Trump’s. She called for a “revolution” against open borders and the incoming foreigners supposedly stealing French jobs.

    As the popularity of figures like Le Pen indicates, this sense of us vs. them is not purely about jobs, but also about culture and nationality. Let’s take a closer look.

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    What is Us vs. Them about?

    Us vs. Them (2018) explores how globalism has created both winners and losers and explains how the losers are now looking to set things right. In countries from the United States to China, from Venezuela to Turkey, unhappy citizens are making new demands of their governments, and populist politicians are promising easy answers. Us vs. Them offers a lucid take on the forces disrupting societies around the world and suggests potential solutions for the future.

    Best quote from Us vs. Them

    People who are afraid for their livelihoods lash out as they look for others to blame for their troubles.

    —Ian Bremmer
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    Who should read Us vs. Them?

    • Anyone interested in understanding populist forces and their origins
    • People concerned about the impact of robots on the workforce and society
    • Readers interested in foreign affairs and political science

    About the Author

    Ian Bremmer is a leading thinker on global affairs. He is the president and founder of the Eurasia Group, a successful global political-risk consultancy, and is a weekly columnist for Time magazine. He has published ten books including the bestseller, The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations?

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