Age of Anger Summary By Pankaj Mishra

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Age of Anger is a book which examines the world and the tell-tale signs of upheaval it is going through.

Written in 2017, this book takes a deep dive into our current state and looks at societies that have come before it.

But not only does it look back on history, Age of Anger also sheds light on the philosophical teachings of the Enlightenment which are still prevalent in Western thinking today.

This book offers an illuminating description of what may be contributing to the ‘age of anger’ we find ourselves living in.

For those looking to gain a deeper understanding of why we are where we are, Age Of Anger provides an invaluable insight into root causes.

Age of Anger

Book Name: Age of Anger (A History of the Present)

Author(s): Pankaj Mishra

Rating: 3.6/5

Reading Time: 12 Minutes

Categories: History

Author Bio

Pankaj Mishra is an adept storyteller and insightful author who continues to have a global influence.

His works include the critically-acclaimed From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia, which earned him a Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding - making him the first non-Western writer to ever win it.

Mishra also regularly contributes to various publications, including the New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker and more.

His latest book Age of Anger delves deep into global history in order to explain some of today's problems that affect millions around the world.

How the Enlightenment Set Us Up for Our Current Crisis: Understanding Ressentiment, Amour Propre, Liberal Capitalism, and Rousseau’s Predictions

Liberal Capitalism

If you’re confused and wondering why the world today is full of anger and despair, it helps to look closer at our current predicament.

There are many deep-seated roots to this chaos – ranging from certain failed promises of the Enlightenment era all the way to the blame attributed by some to inaccurate religious views.

When you begin to read Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra, you will see how various signposts over recent centuries have led mankind on its current path.

Through his explanation you will learn about the importance of ressentiment and amour propre in shaping our lives; why liberal capitalism can’t effectively support global society; and how French philosopher Rousseau was able to foresee what would eventually come true..

By understanding these concepts, it becomes easier to comprehend how we got here – allowing us to find ways forward out of this difficult time.

The Imperfect Reality of the Enlightenment: How its Noble Goals Have Failed to Resolve Inequality and Drive Populism

Societal upheaval and anger have been part of human history for many centuries.

The Enlightenment of the eighteenth century brought with it an idealistic notion of individual freedom, and science, reason, and art being valued by all members of society.

These ideas spread quickly and held much promise in creating an equal playing field for everyone.

Unfortunately, this equal world was not achieved due to the competitive society that had been created, which only pushed further inequality between the classes.

The lower classes became aware of this injustice and became increasingly upset over their lack of autonomy and power to make a change.

As a result, they began to place their faith in strong leaders who promised them salvation from the inequitable systems they lived in.

This is still a common phenomenon today seen in politicians like Donald Trump, who people may feel will bring them into a better life than what they currently experience.

How Resentment and Self-Interest Fuel a World of Conflict, Misery and Social Media Obsession


In Age of Anger, the concepts of Ressentiment and amour-propre are explored to explain why individuals seem so angry and preoccupied with their own advancement.

Ressentiment refers to a backlash against those perceived to be benefiting at the expense of others, while amour-propre is an individual’s focus on their own worth and appearance.

Together, these two concepts have caused individuals to become aggressive and selfish in their outlook on society.

This attitude has been exacerbated by social media, as people are anxious about how they appear to strangers on the internet – prioritizing what they can gain from others instead of looking out for one another.

This selfishness is damaging society as a whole, with people often unaware of the harm they are causing.

Rousseau Was A Philosopher Ahead of His Time Who Saw Problems With The Enlightenment That Still Impact Us Today

Rousseau was a key figure in the Enlightenment era and as such, he was able to recognize risks associated with this particular brand of philosophy.

For example, he understood that free enterprise could have dangerous implications for humankind’s psyche, resulting in nothing more than competition based on acquiring and losing money.

This led to people becoming corrupted by the idea of having more wealth, while those who had nothing in the first place simply lost out.

Moreover, Rousseau was troubled by the notion that people wanted possessions just for the status boost they offered.

He also took a different approach to religion compared to his contemporaries because he saw its value beyond what it contributed to wars such as The Crusades.

He knew that it should be respected not only as an integral part of culture but also as a moral guide which Voltaire and others were failing take seriously.

Overall, Rousseau’s insight into Enlightenment philosophy was remarkable — he foresaw many of the problems we still face today because of it.

The Rise of Ressentiment: How Globalization is Fueling a Global Civil War

Globalization has undoubtedly intensified the feelings of anger and discontent that many people feel around the world.

These feelings stem from a multitude of sources, including a lack of local community ties, an increased emphasis on consumerism, and a weakened sense of national identity.

This anger can lead to dangerous consequences; terrorist groups, for instance, have used it as an opportunity to recruit young people through promises of identity and purpose.

Additionally, demagogues are able to prey on individuals who feel overlooked or let down by the establishment.

In this precarious situation, where anger is becoming more commonplace, any individual or group could potentially pose a threat.

It’s this unpredictable nature which makes it so dangerous for us all.

The world is in the midst of a global civil war – one driven by resentment and rage.

The West Needs to Rethink Its Analysis of History to Help End Social Unrest


The West needs to stop ignoring the factors that have caused unrest and take responsibility for creating a brighter future.

Liberal capitalism has failed to bring everyone greater wealth and security, instead leading to increased individualism, selfishness and greed.

This in turn leads people feeling frustrated, paranoid and angry.

For far too long the West has blamed religion as the sole cause of civil strife in the East – but this ignores the fact that they are suffering from the very same malady: the failure of liberal capitalism.

The clash of civilizations theory, spearheaded by Samuel P.

Huntington, which framed Islam as a violent religion at odds with democracy, is dangerous and only serves to exacerbate tensions between cultures.

If politicians, intellectuals and thinkers can recognise these facts then it is possible to move towards a society where people no longer feel disenfranchised or powerless.

Only then can we break this cycle of unhappiness and anger.

Wrap Up

The Age of Anger, by Pankaj Mishra, is an important book to read if you are concerned about the increasing level of global unrest and turmoil.

The key message that this book conveys is that we cannot look at current issues in isolation.

We must look at them from a historical perspective in order to understand why liberal capitalism has failed and how globalism has made matters worse.

Knowing our history will help us know what to do next.

By examining the Enlightenment and how modernity has impacted societies, Mishra helps us see how our expectations have led to this crisis.

But he also offers some advice for finding our way out: we must focus on empathy and dialogue over violence and hatred; solidarity instead of individualism; and resiliency instead of fatalism.

By understanding our history and developing a more resilient attitude towards the future, we may be able to find solutions that embrace globalism while avoiding its pitfalls.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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