On March 14, Regnery Publishing, Inc. will release a new book by IWP research fellow David Archibald entitled Twilight of Abundance: Why Life in the 21st Century will be Nasty, Brutish, and Short. The book has its origins in a talk that Mr. Archibald gave at IWP, entitled “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” in which he discussed the four great challenges our world is facing.
The foreword by Richard Fernandez for Twilight of Abundance appears below:
The hardest thing to sell people on is the obvious. That is because the self-evident is so familiar that many instinctively have contempt for it. Like a prophet in his own country, the obvious is often too mundane to overawe.
David Archibald’s book, The Twilight of Abundance, is a collection of ideas that it seems we might have thought up ourselves. Archibald points that we have been living in an unprecedented time of food and energy abundance in a period of peace unprecedented since the fall of the Roman Empire. And he supplies the evidence to back his point up. Then he argues that our civilization can’t count on winning the lottery every week.
And yet that is what we have effectively done and intend to continue to do, in thrall to agendas that command our full attention, though we have forgotten what they are supposed to achieve. Issues such as “global warming” or “gay marriage”-which may have some worth in themselves-are treated as existential problems, even as far more pressing issues are shunted to the side.
Archibald’s major contribution is to put the obvious front and center again. Once having awakened our interest in the undeniably real existential threats, he argues that policymakers ought to take prudent steps to transition into new technologies and arrangements necessary to ensure global security and sufficient food and energy for the world’s population-instead of living in the dream that these goods are givens, or falling into an ideological obsession with returning to some sylvan eco-paradise that never existed.
For his troubles David Archibald will probably be dismissed as an extremist-a “climate change denier” or some such-although it is hard to see what he is extreme about. Perhaps the strangeness is really just his departure from the talking points that are endlessly prescribed by the media, a kind of disorienting looping around to the place where we began.
That is precisely the value of his book. And while you may not subscribe to his arguments in their entirety, there is no doubt that David Archibald is asking the right questions. What will we use for energy in fifteen years’ time? What will the world eat, given its burgeoning population? Can we really count on the Pax Americana continuing indefinitely into the future? Important questions all.
And if the answer to any of these is “I don’t know” or “nobody on TV is talking about this,” then perhaps politicians should begin to focus on them. Better at least than continuing with their current obsession with trivial but politically correct pursuits.
The one obvious defect in Archibald’s book is the title: The Twilight of Abundance. This book is not about unavoidable impending tragedy. Archibald argues that we are not doomed to a new dark age. On the contrary, an even more prosperous and fulfilling future awaits us, but only if we keep our eyes open and use our common sense.