My book summaries are designed as captures for what I’ve read, and aren’t necessarily great standalone resources for those who have not read the book.
Their purpose is to ensure that I capture what I learn from any given text, so as to avoid realizing years later that I have no idea what it was about or how I benefited from it.
My One-Sentence Summary
Inequality manifests itself in identifiable patterns throughout history, and it’s possible to identify those patterns, and to counter the forces that lead to them by creating a political system that’s inclusive and participatory by design.
- We used to be heavily focused on three basic levels of society: workers, soldiers, thinkers, and these three can be seen repeating for millennia throughout history
- At some point we became obsessed with ownership of property, which is bad for society. The obsession, not the concept itself
- This obsession with ownership continues to stratify society
- The educated used to vote purely republican, now they vote mostly democrat
- The left used to be the party of the worker (which is why they used to be racist), and now they’re the party of the educated
- There is hope for centrism because there are factions within the left and the right that lean in that direction
- The problem is that there are extreme left types who want to do dramatic redistribution of wealth, and there are radical right types who want radical isolationism and othering
- It is possible to make society more equitable, and we’ve done it in the past (like after WWII)
- It takes active effort to engineer a society that is more just
- We cannot simply give up and accept dramatic differences in education, income, and wealth, because they will ultimately destroy everyone, not just the poor
- That’s the irony: it’s self-defeating for the rich to care only about themselves. All they do is prolong a guaranteed reset of society at some point in the future
- There are a series of representation and taxation policies that can be used to improve things, but they require the vision and courage to carry them out
- It takes active effort—and extreme courage—to counter the natural tendency to stratify
- It’s incumbent on the less extreme people in the left and right to form a new, logical center
- I learned more about colonialism and American slavery from this Frenchman than I ever did in school
- After reading this book, combined with hearing Scott Galloway on the PIVOT podcast, I’m extremely pessimistic. The will doesn’t seem to be there. Everyone is out for themselves. Which means the only path back to baseline will be revolution and/or war. Turns out the pandemic will only accelerate the inequality. So we’ll wait for the catastrophic reset, at which point the clock starts again. Build up, tear down. Yay humans.
You can find my other book summaries here.