Preparing for the Twenty-first Century Analysis

Paul Kennedy

Preparing for the Twenty-first Century

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

PREPARING FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY examines world affairs on a broad scope, looking at the factors that are likely to affect most countries in the near future. Paul Kennedy makes a strong case for the increasing interdependence of nations, arguing that technology and customs have reduced nations’ abilities to insulate themselves from world affairs should they so desire. Thus the hunger and overpopulation of less-developed countries becomes a world problem, just as do the resource exhaustion and pollution of the developed world.

Kennedy’s prognosis is far from uplifting. He sees an ongoing Malthusian dilemma on a world level. Relatively easy migration will allow the starving and increasing populations of the less-developed world to spill into the developed world, straining food resources there as well. Most population growth (barring migration) will be in the less-developed world. This demographic force poses an economic challenge for the next century, one that will be difficult to meet because increased production by the developed countries presents problems of resource exhaustion, pollution, and elimination of even more jobs of the type that currently reside in less-developed countries. The next century thus presents a main challenge of distributing the costs and benefits of increased production.

Population control offers a seemingly sensible solution to many problems, but it poses problems of its own. Large families act as a form of social security, with many children able to support few parents. Smaller families would increase the burden on the next generations of caring for aging populations; the United States and its Social Security system already show that strain. This most promising solution to many problems thus has its own costs and its own cultural barriers to implementation.

Kennedy presents a gloomy prognosis, one of many challenges and solutions that all have costs. Meeting these challenges will require increased cooperation among nations and increased recognition of the costs of development.

Sources for Further Study

Commentary. XCV, April, 1993, p.52.

Foreign Affairs. LXXII, Spring, 1993, p.156.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. September 5, 1993, p.6.

The Nation. CCLVI, June 14, 1993, p.844.

The New York Review of Books. XL, May 13, 1993, p.20.

The New York Times Book Review. XCVIII, February 14, 1993, p.1.

The New Yorker. LXIX, March 1,1993, p.115.

Scientific American. CCLXXIX, July, 1993, p.114.

The Times Literary Supplement. May 7, 1993, p.16.