Chris’ note: Welcome to another special edition of The Daily Cut. All week, I’ve been bringing you big-picture insights from geopolitical strategist and bestselling author Peter Zeihan.
He’s out with a bombshell new book, The End of the World Is Just the Beginning. It charts how a new kind of disorder is replacing the global order we’ve known all our lives… and how it will impact almost every aspect of society.
As globalization shatters, he predicts the 2020s will see a collapse of consumption, production, investment, and trade almost everywhere in the world.
Yesterday, Peter showed why the pre-pandemic world was the best the world has ever been… and will ever be. Today, he shares four guideposts you can use to better understand this new reality.
Yesterday, I showed you the world – our world – is breaking apart.
Globalization will shatter into pieces… on multiple levels
The 2020s will see a collapse of consumption… production… investment… and trade – almost everywhere.
It will make life costlier… slower… and worse.
No economic system yet imagined can function in the future we face.
This devolution will be jarring, to say the least.
It’s taken us decades of peace to figure out this world. To think we’ll adapt easily or quickly to such a titanic unraveling is to showcase more optimism than I’m capable of generating.
But we have a few guideposts for the world that’s coming.
Today, I’ll show you what they are.
First, place matters. Hugely.
The cities of ancient Egypt prospered because they had the perfect mix of water and desert buffer for the preindustrial age.
The Spanish and Portuguese rose to power in the 15th and 16th centuries not only because of their mastery of deep-water technologies, but also because of their location on a peninsula. This freed them from the general melee of the rest of the European continent.
Toss industrial technologies into the mix… and the story shifts again.
Applying coal… concrete… railways… rebar at scale takes a lot of capital. The only nations that could fund this development were those with an abundance of capital-generating navigable waterways.
Germany has more than any other country in Europe. This made its rise as a great industrial power inevitable.
But Americans have more than anyone else in the world – making Germany’s fall in World War II just as inevitable.
Second, these “geographies of success” change over time. As technologies evolve, the winners and losers shift with them.
For example, the Industrial Revolution began in England in the 18th century. This reduced once-mighty Spain to a backwater. And it heralded the start of the British Empire.
The coming global disorder and demographic collapse will be similar. It won’t just condemn a multitude of countries to the past. It will herald the rise of others.
Third, regardless of trade or product, nearly every process crosses at least one international border. Some – like smartphone chip production – involve hundreds of materials and processes spanning the global supply chain.
In the disordered world we are devolving into, that won’t work.
A deglobalized world doesn’t simply have a different economic geography, it has thousands of different and separate geographies.
Economically speaking, the whole was stronger than its parts. It’s where we got our wealth and rapidly advancing technology from. Now, the parts will be weaker for their separation.
Fourth, and most important, the U.S. will escape the worst impacts of the global churn and degradation.
That last one probably triggered your BS detector.
After all, the U.S. has ever-rising economic inequality… ever-fraying social fabric… and an ever-more-bitter and self-destructive political scene.
How can I say the U.S. will thrive through something as tumultuous as the breakdown of globalization?
I get your reflexive disbelief.
I grew up during the age of duck-and-cover. It’s galls me that “safe spaces” in colleges… transgender bathroom policies… and vaccine benefits have crossed into the proverbial town square.
These have crowded out far more important issues such as preventing nuclear proliferation and maintaining America’s place in the world.
It can feel as though U.S. policy is pasted together from the random thoughts of a child from a biker-rally tryst between Bernie Sanders and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
But it isn’t about them. It has never been about them.
And I don’t just mean the unfettered wackadoos of contemporary America’s radicalized Left and Right. I mean America’s political players in general.
America’s strengths allow her debates to be petty. But those debates barely affect her strengths.
Americans have survived and thrived because our geography is insulated from the bulk of the world… and our population is younger than China’s or Europe’s.
And we’ll survive and thrive through the collapse of globalization for similar reasons.
It’s perhaps the oddest thing about America’s polarized political scene…
We revel in petty, internal squabbles. But we barely notice the world is ending elsewhere.
Lights will flicker and go dark. Famine’s leathery claws will dig deep and hold tight.
Access to the inputs – financial, material, and labor – will cease to exist in sufficient quantity to make modernity possible.
The story will be different everywhere, but the overarching theme will be unmistakable.
We will remember the 75 years since the end of World War II as a golden age.
One that didn’t last nearly long enough…
Author, The End of the World Is Just the Beginning
Adapted from The End of the World Is Just the Beginning.
Copyright © 2022 by Peter Zeihan with permission from Harper Business, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Chris here again. If you want to know what happens next in Peter’s story – our world’s story – you’ll want to pick up a copy of his new book.
The End of the World Is Just the Beginning maps a new world where countries or regions have no choice but to make their own goods, grow their own food, secure their own energy, fight their own battles, and do it all with populations that are shrinking and aging.
Outside of the U.S., the list of countries that make it is shorter than you’d think. Which means our interconnected world – how we manufacture products, grow food, keep the lights on, shuttle stuff about, and how we pay for it all – is about to change.
To order your copy of Peter’s book today – at a discount over the major retailers – go here now.