The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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2019 was the last great year for the world economy.
For generations, everything has been getting faster, better, and cheaper. Finally, we reached the point that almost anything you could ever want could be sent to your home within days—even hours—of when you decided you wanted it.
America made that happen, but now America has lost interest in keeping it going.
Globe-spanning supply chains are only possible with the protection of the U.S. Navy. The American dollar underpins internationalized energy and financial markets. Complex, innovative industries were created to satisfy American consumers. American security policy forced warring nations to lay down their arms. Billions of people have been fed and educated as the American-led trade system spread across the globe.
All of this was artificial. All this was temporary. All this is ending.
In The End of the World Is Just the Beginning, author and geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan maps out the next world: a world where countries or regions will 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 both shrinking and aging.
The list of countries that make it all work is smaller than you think. Which means everything about our interconnected world—from how we manufacture products, to how we grow food, to how we keep the lights on, to how we shuttle stuff about, to how we pay for it all—is about to change.
A world ending. A world beginning. Zeihan brings listeners along for an illuminating (and a bit terrifying) ride packed with foresight, wit, and his trademark irreverence.
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|Listening Length||16 hours and 44 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||June 14 2022|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #75 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in International Politics (Books)
#1 in International Political Relations
#1 in International Relations (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from Canada
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1. The most powerful part of his thesis is his discussions on the coming decline in the population of the world. Countries like Japan and China as well as most of Europe are already in a state of population decline. The rest of the world is not far behind. The coming outcomes that he describes as a result of population decline are hard to dispute, however he has not discussed anywhere what impact AI/Robotics will have on addressing the coming shortages of labor.
2. The second major part of his thesis is that because the USA is no longer willing to be the world’s policeman means that we may be entering a period of lawlessness on the high seas. He says that only those countries that can project naval power beyond their coastal shores can protect their own shipping if for any reason anyone wants to impede them e.g. Japan has a long-range navy and could impede Chinese ships from reaching China by blockading the Straits of Malacca. China does not have sufficient navy to counteract this. India could decide to impose a ”transit charge” on any shipping using the Indian Ocean. Piracy? Privateers? He states that for any of these reasons, there will grow a desire to move manufacturing closer to the end consumer. He does not address very well how regional powers will/could pick up the slack and even more countries will have to participate in global policing. This idea that the USA has stopped being the worlds policeman and that international lawlessness will rise is probably the weakest of his arguments. But we shall all see!
3. Mr. Zeihan states that it’s agriculture that keeps him awake at night. If anything happens to the current world system of inputs and delivery of final product to the rest of the world, then there will likely be chaos and starvation. China will likely be the biggest loser since it has the longest supply chains for everything and lacks the navy to guarantee delivery of necessary inputs.
4. Peter talks about global warming in two areas of the book – Energy and Agriculture. However, it does not factor in his comments in other areas. For example, Finance – if New York, London and Singapore, all coastal cities, are underwater because of global warming, it will be hard for them to remain as global capitals of Finance.
5. Finally, one outcome that he predicted was that global supply chains will collapse and we have seen this come true with the onset of COVID. Peter is saying that COVID is just the precursor of what will become the norm going forward. Hope he is wrong
In the end, although his understanding of demographics and geography are indisputable, he has not taken into account the power of language and culture. Culture has always been a hidden power. For example, Japan has never had any advantages - no big energy sources like oil or coal; they are at the end of all supply chains; yet in spite of this the culture of Japan drove them to become a major world manufacturer and at times a world power. I would like to see a thoughtful and well researched critique of Mr. Zeihan and his thesis.
The the bulk of the book is excellent and the core hypothesis is (IMO) based on pretty easily verified and generally accepted history. The later parts get more into the author's opinions based on his subject matter expertise. It may all be accurate but it is much harder (for me at least) to completely buy in to the future projections, and as it is about the future it is by definition speculation. We shall see.
Love it or hate it, it is hard to dispute that abundant and cheap energy (oil) facilitated the rise of our current form of "civilization", the general abandonment of slavery, population increases, consumerism and of course pollution, and has led to the world we live in today. While the book may not be accurate on all counts, it does seem that the more people who read it the better informed the public will be about: Where we are today, (generally) how we got here, what we may be able to change and what will be extremely difficult or impossible to change. The book presents a macro view with very little political commentary, finger pointing or partisan political solutions or blaming. (Whew!) It seems to present apparent history from the point of view of "this is what happen" without a lot of speculation about the motivations (benevolent or otherwise) of the actors. Leaving the reader to praise or blame the actors as they see fit.
In any case to me, someone 71 years old, the book clarified a lot about the current world we live in. And it did so by consolidating and linking together a lot "historical" events that I watched unfold in my own lifetime or that irrefutablely took place during my parents lives.
for audiences of all types. He combines an expert understanding of demography, economics, energy, politics, technology, and security to help clients best prepare for an
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There are two main angles to the writer’s argument. First, the end of the world order due to the United States stepping down from their role as global policeman. This will leave shipping at the mercy of pirates and nefarious states, which will break down all important trade routes and end 70 plus years of globalisation. Second, ageing populations in the developed and newly industrialised worlds will put economies into free fall as consumer spending and tax revenues dry up and pension payments consume the bare bones of what is left.
Both discussions are interesting but full of holes. The writer makes no mention of NATO or America’s continued military presence across the world, including in the western Pacific. I was also baffled by the writer’s insistence that Japan’s navy would protect trade routes in the Pacific. A Google search will tell you that China has not only the largest navy in the region, but on the planet. Use that information as you will.
As for ageing populations, Japan seems to be doing okay despite it being a model of where many countries are headed. Mr Zeihan also fails to mention immigration, which has helped increase the birth rates in the US and could do the same for ageing societies such as Germany and countries in Eastern Europe.
Reading this book, you are left with the impression that the USA is a land of milk and honey that is about to get even sweeter. East Asia and most of the developing world are staring down an abyss of famine and de-industrialisation. It does come across as a PR exercise for the US, Mr Zeihan’s home. Much as I like the place, in my eyes it is a country riven by political differences, and which seems prepared to tear itself apart.
Read this book for the entertainment value but for a more accurate – and positive - vision of the future, look elsewhere.
The challenge of this book for me is trying to judge Zeihan's views on a plethora of issues I know little about. But there was one issue I did feel I could judge somewhat. As a retired engineer I read things now and then about energy issues, and it is clear to me that there is a great deal of ignorance on the part of climate activists as to the capability of alternative energy technology which exists today to be deployed in a manner which allows fossil fuels to be phased out, without reverting the human race to a stone age existence. Zeihan passed the test in that regard, because it was clear he himself is keenly aware of those limitations. (examples being the intermittency of renewable electricity sources, the very limited extent of energy storage technology to mitigate that intermittency, the problems with electric-powered transportation (mining, recycling of batteries, etc), and the fact that fossil fuels are not just used as an energy source but are used heavily as ingredients for the production of a myriad of materials such as plastic, fertilizer, asphalt, concrete, etc. which are essential to modern civilization. So the one item I felt I could competently grade Zeihan on he gets an A.
Taking a broader look at what's in this book I believe the key theme is the contention that 1). The globalized economy that exists today has ushered in a golden age of economic growth for the human race. 2). The conditions that enabled the globalized economy no longer exist. 3). Therefore, the world economy will de-globalize in the coming years. 4). De-globalization will have huge consequences for the nations of the world. 5). Most of these will be adverse. 6). Some countries will be much harder hit than others.
Most of the book is devoted to providing an incredibly detailed description of what these consequences of de-globalization are likely to be. As logical and filled with detailed statistical information as these are, I am inclined to believe that there is a great deal of validity to those analyses.
Probably the biggest point on which I am not convinced is that of how likely is the de-globalization to actually occur in the first place. It seems like a lot hinges on the premise that security for maritime trade is an expensive proposition and if the United States abandons its role of enforcing peace on the seas through its navy then maritime trade becomes largely uneconomic and shuts down. This ushers in all sorts of consequences for the world economy. These seem very believable to me, provided that the predicted shutdown of maritime trade does actually occur.
Would it really cost that much for trading nations to spend some of their tax money for maritime security, to replace the role of the US navy? And to establish regional security agreements that allow them to cost-share those expenses between the stakeholder nations?
One of the frustrating things about Zeihan's work is it seems like he is about the only game in town when it comes to geopolitics. I see video presentations of his work all over youtube. There has got to be someone out there with counterarguments. At the very least there must be some ignorant counterarguments out there, if not some valid ones. I mean, in something like politics you can find beliefs all over the map.
Back to the topic at hand. Another thing I wonder about is the demographics. Zeihan seems to be very focused on the demographic transitions, i.e. relative demographics, and not on the absolute numbers of populations. I am still a believer that overpopulation is a genuine concern. And I have also been of the opinion that the demographic transitions going from a growing population to a stable one (which even Julian Simon acknowledged would have to happen at some point, although he believed the world could handle a population in the trillions), would lead to transition issues (e.g. too many retirees, too few workers), but that was just a fact of life.
So anyway, on that issue, it would be interesting if Zeihan would discuss his views on the absolute numbers regarding population, what used to be expressed in terms of "carrying capacity" of the environment.
However, I do acknowledge that it is reasonable for there to be much less concern about overpopulation today, considering the dramatic decrease in birthrates in recent decades. What I am not convinced of is that the consequences of the demographic transition will necessarily be as dire as Zeihan believes. For example I have long believed that a shrinking workforce may turn out to be a blessing for an economy in which automation is eliminating a large number of jobs.
Another observation about Zeihan's predictions is that he focuses on what I would call the "medium term future". (a few decades) Longer term the fossil fuel economy will end, like it or not, as fossil fuels run out. But it's reasonable not to get much into the longer-term future, because I'm not sure there's much that can be said. About all I can say about it is I wish there were more basic research going on in alternative energy and materials sources to replace fossil fuels.
One idea which isn't particularly relevant to the book but which I have seen Zeihan discuss: The Ukraine issue. If I am interpreting his position correctly, Zeihan believes Russia has the desire to occupy portions of a number of European countries to so that it will have a more militarily defensible border. The other school of thought (Mearschiemer (sp?)) is that Russia has specific historical and security issues regarding Ukraine, and thus Putin's territorial agenda solely involves Ukraine, and probably just portions of it. Mearscheimer asserts that it's possible that Russia may have the larger agenda, but that there is no actual evidence for that belief. So it would be helpful to know what specific evidence there is for the belief that Putin has the more expansive territorial goals.
Back to the book: Overall, Zeihan's book is staggeringly impressive in the wealth of facts he assembles into his picture of the world in coming decades. I hope he inspires more people to pursue the study of geopolitics so that we can get some other perspectives. Until then, Zeihan is da man.
It is a highly readable step forwards from Zeihans previous books. The first 3 Zeihan books - "The Accidental Super-Power", "The Absent Super-Power" and "Disunited Nations" significantly overlap. I read them all but by the end felt as though it was just on repeat. This book concentrates more on the likely outcomes of collapse, working accross all significant areas of human existence as made possible by global economics; energy, resources, finance, manufacturing and agriculture. It adds significantly to overall theme that Zeihan likes to explore and of all his books I think it is the best one.
This book does not cover so much the reasons why a collapse is likely. So I would recommend to read just 2 of his books "The Absent Super-Power" and this one to get the full picture.
He is an engaging author and the often irreverant interjections had me laughing out loud. Above all this book has really got me thinking about things in a big way.
Another review dismissed one of his books as the mutterings of a racist taxi driver. He does sometimes come accross that way, yet the book is very well researched and convincing in its arguments, despite getting some of the details wrong. For example, he says that the British political left was all but captured by fascists under Jeremy Corbyn - the reality is that there was a succesfull smear campaign to paint Corbyn as a racist by a media that supported the other party and was prepared to do their dirty work. When you read things like that you do wonder how much of the subtleties of things he misses elsewhere coming from a USA centric viewpoint. Despite that, the overall arguments he makes are pretty convincing and I feel certain that many of his predictions are likely to come true.
Zeihan goes against much of contemporary thinking that sees the innevitable rise of China. He is very down on China and with well thought out reasons. Current China worries are hugely over-done, and I think we should be ready to be sympathetic towards the Chinese because their suffering is likely to be immense.
If, however, you have not come across him before then I can strongly recommend this book. His argument is based on geography and demography and is compelling. You might, however, want to listen to him for free on YouTube before buyin g.
Having also read Peter Zeihans previous books, the Russian invasion of Ukraine came as no surpise. Aptly predicted in "Disunited Nations". Along with the underlying reasoning and goals of Putin.
For those not familar with Zeihan's work, there's plenty of content on YouTube. As well as his regular "snippets" on the Russian/Ukraine war. There's some full recordings of his various presentations to industry, which are well worth watching as an hour long condensed version of the main topics of this book.
Many will see the overal message of this book to be pretty dire. However, forewarned is forearmed. There is (some) hope on the hozizon. Most of what this book discusses, highlights and certainly warns us about, is the potential catastrophic unwinding of globalisation. The demographic time-bomb and the break-down of global supply chains, in turn leading to mass shortages, political instability and the seeds for conflict. Although much of this can at least be partly avoided and mitigated, IF......
That said, the self-destruction of the Russian economy that we're now seeing unfolding before our eyes is a sanitising verification of much of what is written in this book. The simple highlighting of the knock-on effects that a collapsing Russia will impose on the world due to it's massive disruption to the worlds supply of food (wheat in particular), energy, chemicals, fertilzers and numerous minerals and ore's.
Whether or not you agree with everything that's written here, and in particular the predictions, you'll gain a far greater understanding of how the modern world works and interacts. Overall, it's very well written and a completely compelling read. Complete with plenty of snips of dry humor. If you want a deeper understanding of what's happening in the world, the effects of Covid, Russia and China! This is an education.