The Coming Anarchy

by Robert D. Kaplan

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

In The Coming Anarchy, Robert Kaplan forecasts an increase in intra-national political conflict as what once were historical nation-states diffuse into smaller, more dynamic national identities that act primarily in self-defense. Kaplan predicts that the country borders we see delineated on a global map are becoming increasingly arbitrary as power moves from governments into smaller factions that care less about abstract ideologies and evolutionary legacies. He argues that this is inevitable because increasing environmental destruction is making critical resources such as food, water, and healthcare more scarce, and ills such as disease more common. These pressures are felt both broadly and intimately, impacting the immediate health and happiness of individuals.

Kaplan also brings attention to the political and moral ills that are created by the same unbridled capitalism that eventuates in environmental destruction. These include a decline in individual agency as corporations increasingly gain control of political power, strong-arming election outcomes and legislative decisions at the expense of the vast majority of individuals who live on earth (and for the huge gain of a few). These forces are as powerful as the destruction to our environment, but more subtle, unable to be understood as easily in empirical science and statistical findings because they are encoded in the natural languages of cultures which are historically contingent and regulated by regimes of power.

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