A New World Order | Book Review: The Raging 2020s: Companies, Countries, People – and the Fight for Our Future By Alec Ross

A call for bold action to not only control the exploitation of the planet but also its inhabitants seems daringly optimistic

On a global macro level, it can be argued that the most critical and urgent take-home point of a 2020 marked by Covid is the gloominess of “our future” – a phrase that is part of the title of the current book. exam.

Whether it’s the continuing to mutate Covid pandemic, the irremediable enormity of the climate crisis, or the growing gap between the world’s rich and poor, the list goes on and there doesn’t seem to be no light at the end of this dark tunnel.

Well-known American author Alex Ross is recognized as an innovation expert and served in the administration of former US President Barack Obama. His previous book, Industries of the future, has been well received, and in the current volume the author touches on a much larger canvas – one that connects the global enterprise, the nation-state, and the vast demographics scattered across the globe in the context of this decade – the 2020s.

Deeply concerned with the state of the world as it is now ready and with the relentless desire of those in power to maximize profit and personal gain, Ross ruminates with the reader on an ontological question: “One might think that after thousands of years of civilization, we would have found how we can all work together to not only survive, but also thrive. The harsh truth is that at the heart of humanity are impulses to competition and conflict, to the accumulation of wealth and well-being which are determined more by where you were born than by any other. postman. the or continues to matter.

The hierarchy of discrimination is multi-layered and can be discerned in relation to the global north versus the south where the almost half-millennial colonial cross continues to exacerbate the inequalities of the past; and within states and societies – deep red lines in the hierarchy, including gender, remain stubborn to change despite the advent of modernity and the current technological revolution.

Using the example of the United States to illustrate what is deeply flawed in the existing global socio-economic model, Ross points out that over the past 30 years “the richest 1% have grown rich by $ 21 trillion. , while the poorest 50% have become impoverished by 900 billion dollars and the middle class has stagnated ”.

Claiming that the social contract which had previously maintained a certain balance is now “out of balance,” Ross postulates that the future of the world “now depends on how this contract between business, government and citizens is redesigned over the years. 2020 ”.

The proclaimed goal of this book is to “identify what went wrong, then find a way to fix it” and it is shamelessly ambitious. In six compact chapters, the author reviews shareholder and stakeholder capitalism; how billions of people are governed more by companies than by countries; the workers; taxes and the wormhole of the global economy; foreign policy on whether each company needs its own CIA; and finally the geography of change which examines the struggle for power between closed and open systems.

The book adopts a disarmingly chatty style and begins with the author making breakfast for his children and how modern life (for the most privileged) allows him to go in less than three hours “from sleeping in my bed to flying. across the country “, thus highlighting the bewildering array of complex inventions and ingenuity that” fuel our daily lives. “

Each of the issues addressed in the individual chapters deserves a book in and of itself, but to his credit Ross gets straight to the point with skill, sometimes in a drastic way, yet the author’s messianic zeal to trigger change is compelling.

How big business crippled small businesses is a familiar story, and Ross points out with specific numbers how “established businesses are stifling potential competitors before they even leave the cradle.” This would perhaps be qualified as venal corporate infanticide!

The perfidy of the hand-in-hand bond between business and government that now permeates the entire global macroeconomic model with its well-hidden tax havens is familiar and frightening. Advances in technology and AI-driven data generation will enable citizen surveillance of extraordinary scope, and not just China, the global panopticon will soon become ubiquitous.

Can our endangered future be saved? Ross ends on an optimistic note and his plea is for “bold action” by citizens, businesses and governments to repair the existing social contract and forge a new one that will be compatible with the challenges of the 21st century. Is this a feasible and achievable option? My optimism is fragile. The global experience of the past 50 years has been one of ruthless exploitation of the planet’s natural resources and of the most vulnerable segments of society. The deeply rooted human DNA that is inherently acquired and less than altruistic has become even predatory in the global tech-business conglomerate.

Mahatma Gandhi’s ironic observation that the world has enough for the needs of mankind but not greed is the subtext, alas, of our withered world.

C Uday Bhaskar is Director, Society for Policy Studies

The Roaring 2020s: Businesses, Countries, People and the Struggle for Our Future
Alec ross
Random penguin house
Pp 322, Rs 799

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