How We’re Here, and Where We’re Going?

Three excellent readings to consider this week — each offering valuable insight in themselves, and together painting a compelling and concerning picture of where we might be headed:

  1. First up, in the FT, Noreena Hertz excerpts her forthcoming book, The Lonely Century: Coming Together in a World that’s Pulling Apart. In this article on “Why Loneliness Fuels Populism,” she shows how more and more people are feeling more alone — socially, economically, and politically — and are turning to the tradition, song, and camaraderie of populist parties to feel alive and connected.
  2. Also in the FT, Martin Sandbu writes that “Populists and Kleptocrats are a Perfect Match.” It’s easy to fixate on “populists'” accumulation of power, but what if power is only the means to their real end: money? We shouldn’t be too surprised if those who attempt to buy power intend to use power to build wealth.
  3. In the Atlantic, Barton Gellman chillingly examines “The Election That Could Break America.” From the mechanics of running an election in the midst of a pandemic to the norms that continue to enable rather than restrain the president, the setup doesn’t look good. And then you add in the character of a person who has never lost or conceded anything in his life (at least in his mind), and ask yourself, how will he concede the most powerful position in human history?