Through it all, however, the webwork of planetary interactions among humanity will intensify, precisely because of the common neo-Malthusian problems we all face. So just as there will be unending conflict, there will also emerge an increasing consciousness that we will share as a species. Populism and neo-isolationism have been reactions to this overarching trend. But they may in the fullness of time prove to be epiphenomena. A common destiny in which we eventually prove Malthus wrong once again may be the result – but only after dealing with problems that he alerted us to. For the moment, the face of humanity wears a mask over its nose and mouth.
Robert D. Kaplan is a managing director for global macro at Eurasia Group. He is the author of “The Good American: The Epic Life and Adventures of Bob Gersony, the U. S. Government’s Greatest Humanitarian,” to be published in September by Random House.