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Anarchy postponed

Robert Kaplan's 1994 predictions of coming anarchy were based on spurious statistics and powerful metaphors. Alex de Waal welcomes a mellowing of his views

By Alex De Waal   February 1997

After publishing his famous Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798, Thomas Malthus decided it might be a good idea to do some research into the subject. It speaks much for the history of ideas that Malthus’s predictions of “gigantic inevitable famine” stalking the inexorably rising population of the world is well remembered, but the same author’s more sober later conclusions are forgotten. When Malthus began to examine the record, he was obliged to abandon his thesis: the final 1826 edition of his book can be read as a refutation of the first Essay.

Robert Kaplan is halfway along…

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