This book is about American anger turning into American Wrath. The book defines it this way:” What turns anger into wrath? Two things: first, a significant number of people who share the sentiment and who sense their common affront; second, their collective sense that they face an impossible situation.”
Here is the list of the main themes explored in the book
- The political anger of the 2020 presidential election.
- The pervasive but barely noticeable smog of anger in contemporary life.
- The representation of anger in American popular culture.
- The change in sense of anger over time: movement from the culture of prizing self-control to a culture that prizes self-expression, which often means unleashed anger.
- The materials of cultural expression.
- The aspects of self-control and interplay between pretending to be angry and actually being angry.
- The examination of figures in American history who exemplified self-control or who proudly renounced it.
- The 1994 midterm elections – the so-called Gingrich Revolution, the success of which was attributed by the left to the rise of “angry White males.”
- The angry racial and sexual-identity politics that came front and center in the 2016 presidential election.
- The changes in the ways Americans instructed themselves in how to experience injustice and role of the Donald.
MY TAKE ON IT:
I think that the contemporary anger many Americans experiences comes not that much from technological changes brought by social media and polarization. The condition when the population divided itself into closed groups that do not understand each other, have different values, and pursue different objectives in life was always the case. I think the problem is not that much in the polarization of the information environment but rather in the separation of the living environment when, instead of the everyday need to deal with others, the majority of Americans can deal only with people they want to deal with. People used to live in the environment of a small town or a few city blocks and had to deal with the local baker or butcher whether they liked it or not, creating mutual non-political dependency, which kept politics and correspondingly angers on the margin of everyday existence. People who live now in the environment of supermarkets and online delivery could go on for decades without knowing the name of their neighbors and therefore do not need non-political accommodation to others and moderating their anger. Another reason for the anger growing into the wrath is the increased role of the government in many aspects of life, providing to or taking away resources from people. In early America, with a small government, these transfers were small, and so was the anger caused by the inherent unfairness of this process. Today, when the government is big, anger and feeling of powerlessness are caused by the scale of excessive taking or insufficient giving. In a totalitarian society, these feelings are suppressed due to the fear of violence. In a real democracy, such feelings would be directed toward winning elections. In corrupted democracy, when elections are at least partially fake, and bureaucrats and politicians increasingly allocate public resources to themselves, this angers transfers into the Wrath and accumulates potential until it will explode.