Mapping interesting times
Last updated 6/21/2022 at Noon
A couple of decades ago (ouch!) Erik Dolson and I sat in the courtyard at what was then The Depot Deli, musing on the bland “normalcy” of the day. The Berlin Wall had fallen a decade before, and liberal democracy and economics seemed to have established an unassailable global dominance. We reflected on our sense that we were living in singularly uninteresting times.
They got more interesting real fast.
The past two decades have been a roller coaster of change and uncertainty — with extraordinary technological innovation completely changing the way we conduct our lives and business, with wars, economic crises, a pandemic, and a disconcerting turn away from prevailing classical liberal values toward authoritarianism on both the left and the right, across the globe.
Normalcy bias — the sense that what has been is more-or-less what will be — fooled us. Won’t get fooled again.
If any of us had hopes of returning to “normal” after COVID-19 (and the very notion that there is an “after” COVID-19 is evidence of normalcy bias), 2022 has disabused us of that notion. Thing is, we’re unlikely to see “normal” ever again. That’s unsettling, of course — but it’s also strangely exhilarating. We are, as they say, living in interesting times.
Last week, Paulina Springs Books ordered up Peter Zeihan’s brand new tome “The End of the World Is Just the Beginning,” which is a road map for interesting times to come. Here’s the caper:
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.
Seems to me that the most important quality we can cultivate — in ourselves and in our children — for the tumultuous days to come is resilience: psychological, physical, spiritual, financial resilience — both for ourselves and our community. We’re better positioned here in Sisters than in many other places to cultivate resilience — and it’s a quality that carries its own reward.