To explain Trump, Brexit, Timothy McVeigh, ISIS, and rising nationalist parties worldwide, Mishra traces globalization and its discontents back to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. His masterly synthesis of ideologies, movements, and political philosophies illustrates that modernity is a messy and uneven process. Even in the West, its transformation of societies has been disruptive and incomplete; as it’s reached other parts of the world, the jolt has been greater and all the more violent for the delay. While globalization has benefitted some, it’s left out many, and disappointed more. The continuous resentment it’s fueled hits especially hard where people have not only seen the promise of the new pass them by, but have lost the old traditions and faiths that kept life stable. With nothing to fall back on, many invent a glorious, mythic past, and commit themselves to regaining it—even as they use modern means and violence to do so. Mishra discusses Rousseau, Tocqueville, Bakunin, the German Romantics, Russian revolutionaries, and Italian Futurists in depth, clarifying the connections among them, and between their times and ours. His always telling and frequently shocking quotations not only elucidate the past but often sound like what we’re hearing today. The “age of anger” that started with modernity’s glittering promise isn’t over yet.
Age of Anger: A History of the Present - Pankaj Mishra