The author is an economist. In his book he discusses the anxieties of the moderately educcated middle-aged white male in North America. Their problems are mirrored in other developed states. At the heart of their anxieties is the fear of losing good employment. Their families are also suffering. What is the cause of these anxieties? The author lays the major blame, unsurprisingly, on technology. It has like all technological revolutions been very disruptive.
This book is about the three pillars that support society and how we can get the right balance between them so that society prospers. Two of the pillars are the state and markets. The third pillar, a neglected one, is the community-the social aspects of our society. The author's main concern is how to restore the balance between the three pillars in the face of disruptive technological and social change. He argues that the rise of populist nationalism and radical movements of the Left are the result of the weakening of the community. It has been left very weak while the state and markets have grown more powerful. The solution suggested is to restore dysfunctional communities back to health.
The book is organised in three parts: how the pillars emerged, imbalance, and restoring the balance. There are thirteen chapters, an epilogue, and notes.
The suggestions by the author for reviving community spirit are interesting but in view of the size and complexity of the problem one doubts if they would succeed. It was Margaret Thatcher who said in a famous 1987 interview that :' It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to look after our neighbour'. The media left this part of her speech out when they reported it.