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The Book That Will Make You Question Everything About Globalization

Several months back, a publishing company sent me a review copy of a small, unassuming book, called Everything Is Broken Up and Dances: The Crushing of the Middle Class. The book’s authors, Guido Maria Brera and Edoardo Nesi, were new to me, but not for long. Nesi is a gifted writer, filmmaker, and politician. He was once a third-generation textile mill owner in Italy, that is until “barbaric” globalization came knocking. Guido Maria Brera is the CIO of an Italian investment management group, and his place in the book is to explain how the global financial system crushes the middle class as much as outsourcing.

The book holds a simple premise: Two colleagues look back upon two decades of globalization in Italy in a series of impassioned essays. And they do not look kindly upon what they see in the rearview mirror. This is one of the most heartrending and gravely written books on globalization I’ve ever read, but it also challenges all of our assumptions about global trade, finance, and how and why Western societies allowed this new global order to transpire. You can purchase it as a hardcover or eBook here. And here are some highlights from the book:

On the loss of the middle class:
There are millions of people out of work in Europe. how did it happen? How did it all come to this? Why did everything that had been going so well suddenly start going so badly? Whose fault is it? — Nesi

“The two ages, young and old, merge in an army of malcontents, bewildered and angry… incapable of finding a job that isn’t part-time, temporary, poorly paid and humiliating.” — Nesi

“How can we ever manage to get that social elevator working again, now that it is stalled on the ground floor of history, completely disassembled.” — Nesi

On globalization:

“With foolish and unfounded hopes, the free and rich and advanced Western world…opened its markets to a dictatorship [China] without even bothering to demand in exchange the adoption of any of those fundamental human rights that constitute the Western world’s history and soul and the basis of its laws.” — Nesi

“[Globalization has] taken away our work and our future and in exchange, it has given us poorly sewn rags and days to spend freely chatting in the void of the social networks.” — Nesi

On global financial systems:
“What can democracy do against a limitless, immaterial power, never elected and therefore impossible to overthrow.” — Brera

“The quickest way to make big profits is with market volatility. You can earn big on collapses and on the recoveries that follow.” — Brera.

On technology and social media:
“Radical collaboration! Who can even remember that idea anymore, now that the Web has been transformed from an instrument of liberation into a means of Orwellian control.” — Brera

On fast fashion and cheap consumer goods:
“[They] see the prices drop for things they don’t need, like the rags of fast fashion, while the prices of things they have no choice about consuming, such as taxes, tariffs, the costs of school and health care, just keep rising.” — Brera

“I’m sure that someday people will look back and bitterly pity this downward pressure… making us forget that every time we choose the cheaper product instead of the more expensive one, we get less, not more, for our money.” — Nesi

“The childish pleasure with which we hurry to purchase so many things we don’t need simply because they cost next to nothing, never considering how often we buy all those things that cost next to nothing and are basically worthless.” — Nesi

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