By Peter Zeihan
Reviewed by Peter Clarke
The future, according to global analyst Peter Zeihan, is going to be bleak for much of the world. In his 2022 book, The End of the World Is Just the Beginning, Zeihan argues persuasively that global supply chains are on the brink of collapsing. Globalism as we know it, he argues, is going away this decade and won’t be coming back.
Much of Zeihan’s book is dedicated to explaining how we achieved globalism in the first place. It’s a fascinating, engaging story reminiscent of Jarred Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel. Why was wheat so crucial to the founding of civilization? Why did some countries conquer the world with massive empires while others did not? Why did we move to fiat currency, and how does that even work? Zeihan covers all this territory and much more. For those of us without degrees in history, this foundational information alone is worth the price of the book.
But Zeihan’s work is truly about the future. In the modern world, we take globalism for granted. “The average pair of jeans,” Zeihan writes, “is touched by hands in at least ten countries.” Multiply this times every product we require for our daily lives, and you start to get a sense for how devastating a disruption to globalism could be. But Zeihan isn’t talking about a disruption, but a collapse. The collapse, he argues, is inevitable due to impending demographic collapses in many countries around the world.
While The End of the World Is Just the Beginning is certainly bleak, it’s clear on every page that that Zeihan isn’t a typical doomer. He’s not conspiratorial or political. He presents data with a cool head and draws judgment-free conclusions about global challenges we’re likely facing this decade. Hopefully he’s wrong about the global famines and energy shortages that lie ahead, but at the very least, he warned us with a highly accessible book that’s as informative as it is entertaining.
Peter Clarke is the author of The Singularity Survival Guide and the editor-in-chief of Jokes Literary Review. See: petermclarke.com.