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The End of the World Is Just the Beginning summary

Peter Zeihan

Mapping the Collapse of Globalization

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21 mins
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    The End of the World Is Just the Beginning
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    Section One: Globalization shapes every aspect of our lives.

    Zeihan says the world as we know it is ending. And we’ll get into the why in a bit. First, though, let’s talk a little about the what. In other words, what defines that world? How, in the language of geopolitics, is it ordered? Those are big questions. So let’s first make things a little less abstract. 

    Picture a decently sized grocery store with its aisles of well-stocked shelves, beeping scanners, and customers. Now go out back and take a look at the loading bay and the trucks, forklifts, and pallets. Wherever you look, it’s the same: endless goods everywhere. In advanced economies, today’s average grocery store offers around 40,000 individual items. To put that into perspective, at the dawn of the last century, it was closer to 200

    So what changed? Run an eye over those shelves. There’s Himalayan salt, Indonesian tuna, Italian polenta, Japanese miso, Moroccan lemons, and Argentinian merlot. Produce from every continent and ocean. Affordable. Always there, defying nature’s seasons – and flying in the face of 250,000 years of human experience which says that food is always scarce and always dear. 

    This kind of diversity, reliable availability, and reliably low cost is what globalization is all about. And that’s what defined our world over the last 70 years.

    Globalization is about more than how supermarkets are stocked, of course. Our meals are assembled with ingredients from every corner of the Earth, but so is everything else. Smartphones, fertilizers, diesel, and single-malt whiskey – everything we buy, use, and consume has been assembled half a world away. 

    Goods are the blood cells; transportation networks, especially oceanic networks, are the system’s arteries. Giant freighters loaded with bulk goods – think Cambodian rice, Ukrainian grain, or Australian bauxite – provide another thumbnail image of globalization. So do the even vaster container ships that carry 90 percent of the world’s non-bulk goods – our laptops and TVs, calculators, cars, and cadmium batteries. 

    Interoceanic transportation is the ultimate enabler of global trade, and it drove globalization. But these networks didn’t emerge spontaneously, as you’ll learn in the next section. 

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    What is The End of the World Is Just the Beginning about?

    The End of the World Is Just Beginning (2022) asks what happens if or when the United States stops policing the global order it established after the Second World War. The short answer is that the world as we know it will come to a grinding, potentially violent halt. The longer answer takes us on a thrilling ride through the politics and economics of trade, energy, and foreign policy. 

    Who should read The End of the World Is Just the Beginning?

    • History buffs 
    • Politicos with an interest in foreign policy
    • Anyone trying to figure out global events

    About the Author

    Peter Zeihan is an expert on global energy, demographics, and international security. Before founding his own research and forecasting agency, he worked for the US State Department and several think tanks based in Washington, DC. Zeihan’s previous books include The Absent Superpower and Disunited Nations.

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