A History of the Present
Pankaj Mishra, one of our most important public intellectuals, reveals the hidden history of our current global crisis.
Modernity, secularism, development, and progress have long been viewed by the powerful few as benign ideals for the many. Today, however, botched experiments in nation-building, democracy, industrialization, and urbanization visibly scar much of the world. As once happened in Europe, the wider embrace of revolutionary politics, mass movements, technology, the pursuit of wealth, and individualism has cast billions adrift in a literally demoralized world. It was from among the ranks of the disaffected and the spiritually disorientated, that the militants of the nineteenth century arose—angry young men who became cultural nationalists in Germany, messianic revolutionaries in Russia, bellicose chauvinists in Italy, and anarchist terrorists internationally. Many more people today, unable to fulfill the promises—freedom, stability, and prosperity—of a globalized economy, are increasingly susceptible to demagogues and their simplifications. A common reaction among them is intense hatred of supposed villains, the invention of enemies, attempts to recapture a lost golden age, unfocused fury and self-empowerment through spectacular violence. In Age of Anger, Pankaj Mishra explores the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world—from American “shooters” and ISIS to Trump, Modi, and racism and misogyny on social media.
Pankaj Mishra is the author of From the Ruins of Empire and several other books. He is a columnist at Bloomberg View and The New York Times Book Review, and writes regularly for The Guardian, the London Review of Books, and The New Yorker.