Peter Zeihan: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization (Transcript)

Transcript of Peter Zeihan’s talk on ‘Mapping the Collapse of Globalization’


KEN BROAD: Hello and welcome to the Commonwealth Club. My name is Ken Broad, and on behalf of Jackson Square Partners, I am pleased to introduce today’s program. Jackson Square Partners is a longtime supporter of the Commonwealth Club, and we are so proud to support its civic mission of bringing people together to discuss and debate the most important ideas and issues facing our world.

I am so pleased that the club is continuing its full slate of in-person programming at its absolutely beautiful headquarters building in San Francisco, while also continuing to build out its digital efforts like today’s all-virtual program. To learn more about the club’s upcoming programs, view past programs, and most importantly, to learn how to become a member, please visit the club’s website at

Today’s program focuses on a new book by our featured speaker, Peter Zeihan. He is a geopolitical strategist and thought leader on global politics and global economic interdependence. His new book, The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization raises very difficult questions about the future of globalization, and it’s likely unwinding. This is due in large part to inexorable demographic trends.

The post-Bretton Woods honeymoon period is coming to an end. The globally integrated world as we know it is eminently fragile. The only silver lining is that the U.S. is best positioned to weather the coming storm, while China’s collapse has already begun, according to Peter. In fact, even before the recent lockdown protests in China, Peter presciently wrote that, China’s embracing of narcissistic nationalism risks spawning internal unrest that will consume the Communist Party, and that appears to be happening.

Before turning it over to our moderator, Quentin Hardy, the editorial director of Google Cloud, a quick note to everyone watching. If you have questions for our speaker or moderator today, please put them in the YouTube chat box. All questions will be shared with Quentin during the program.

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Today’s talk is emblematic of why I personally love the Commonwealth Club and why Jackson Square Partners is so pleased to host and promote thought leaders like Peter. This is an important enough book that all those who pre-registered will receive a copy of Peter’s book.

With that, I turn the program over to Quentin Hardy, editorial director of Google Cloud and a frequent moderator for the club. Quentin, over to you.

QUENTIN HARDY: Well, Ken, thank you very much for that warm and thoughtful introduction and thanks again for your support. Hello, everyone, and good afternoon. As Ken noted, my name is Quentin Hardy and I’m the editorial director at Google Cloud. I’m pleased to welcome you to today’s Commonwealth Club program.

We’re here to discuss Peter Zeihan’s thought-provoking new book, The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization, which is about the future of globalization and what we might do to protect ourselves from its possible collapse. I think Peter Zeihan will tell you possible isn’t really an option at this point. It’s pretty much a dumb thing.

Well, this program is obviously virtual, but the Commonwealth Club is returning more to in-person programs at its San Francisco headquarters. You can learn more about upcoming programs and special events for members at the club’s website at

One quick final note before we jump into the program. If you have a question, as Ken said, if you have a question for Peter and me, please put it in the YouTube chat box. Those questions will be forwarded to me during the program, and I’ll try to get to them as many of them as I can.

Okay, so on to the program.

Well, like Ken said, Peter Zeihan views the world for the past 70 or so years as living in a kind of extraordinary period of order, growth, and development. And today, we’re on the exit ramp out of it at an increasingly fast rate. The reasons for this recessional from a golden age include a failure of political leadership, demographic change, debt, resource scarcity, and, of course, a changing climate. Just before we came on, he said things are happening even faster than he thought, and we’ll talk about that a bit.

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