Since 1945, we have become relentlessly richer, healthier, more educated. Book from The International Institute for Strategic Studies

The trumpeter of all this positive thinking, and more that we shall address below, is Francis J. Gavin, a history professor at Johns Hopkins University and veteran adviser to governments. 

He is, in short, no quack. His new book, or perhaps long essay, is entitled The Taming of Scarcity and The Problems of Plenty.

We citizens of rich societies are spoiled; we have elevated the cult of self to manic proportions: “Venerating individualism and encouraging self-crafted identities can weaken the bonds of larger collective enterprises, leaving people isolated, lonely, vulnerable and, at times, dangerously alienated.”

In the age of plenty, it becomes more difficult to persuade people to subordinate their immediate personal desires and interests to the service of the community or the nation. 

Moreover, those in charge lack power to deliver many of the outcomes that the people want

The author reserves his gravest warnings for the failure of governments in general, and of the US government in particular, together with the West’s intellectual leadership, to meet the stupendous threat of climate change.

Although the 2022 US National Security Strategy identified the climate crisis as the great challenge of our times, the nation — most advanced nations — seem incapable of attempting the reforms and sacrifices required to address it.

Gavin’s arguments deserve attention and respect because they force us to think big about the state of things, rather than to focus merely on today’s headlines and our own trivial private concerns.

Max Hastings Bloomberg 23 mars 2024 

Max Hastings is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is author, most recently, of “The Abyss: Nuclear Crisis Cuba 1962.”

The Taming of Scarcity and the Problems of Plenty: Rethinking International Relations and American Grand Strategy in a New Era, March 2024

The International Institute for Strategic Studies

Francis J. Gavin is the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural Director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Previously, he was the first Frank Stanton Chair in Nuclear Security Policy Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Tom Slick Professor of International Affairs and the Director of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas. 


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