In the face of unprecedented global change, New York Times bestselling author Alec Ross proposes a new social contract to restore the balance of power between government, citizens, and business in The Raging 2020s.
For 150 years, there has been a contract. Companies hold the power to shape our daily lives. The state holds the power to make them fall in line. And the people hold the power to choose their leaders. But now, this balance has shaken loose.
As the market consolidates, the lines between big business and the halls of Congress have become razor-thin. Private companies have become as powerful as countries. As Walter Isaacson said about Alec Ross’s first book, The Industries of the Future, “The future is already hitting us, and Ross shows how it can be exciting rather than frightening.”
Through interviews with the world’s most influential thinkers and stories of corporate activism and malfeasance, government failure and renewal, and innovative economic and political models, Ross proposes a new social contract—one that resets the equilibrium between corporations, the governing, and the governed.
The social contract functions best when the relationship between government, citizens, and private companies sits in balance and that balance has been thrown way off, according to this trenchant survey. Former Obama adviser Ross (The Industries of the Future) writes that the rights and responsibilities of individuals need to be rebalanced with those of states and corporations because globalization, deregulation, and the climate crisis have changed the state of the world, and things are only getting worse as inequality grows. Ross describes the chilling effects of "shareholder capitalism," which prioritizes shareholder profit over all other goals, as well as what can happen when private companies step in when the government fails or falters as when Walmart proved that "major retailers can use their leverage to force a product off the shelves much faster than the government can" when it began pushing eco-friendly products in 2007. Things could get better, Ross writes, by 2030, and to that end he suggests reforms including a four-day workweek, reasonable social safety nets, and fair compensation. But, he warns, "if nothing changes, rage will be the defining quality of the 2020s." This disquieting look is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the present moment.