Our June MedShare Donation Match of $50,000

I’m pleased to announce our donation matching drive for the month of June. We will be matching up to $50,000 in donations this month to our chosen charity partner, MedShare International.

Please click the link below to donate, and all of us at Zeihan on Geopolitics, thank you for your generosity.

I know there’s plenty of issues with the American political system, but let’s take a break from all that and talk about European politics for the day. Given the ongoing European Parliament elections, let’s look at the far-right’s footholds in Europe.

The Europeans designed their electoral system following World War II to provide inclusivity, but that opened the door for multiple parties (not just 2 big ones) to gain power. Combine that with aging populations and not enough young people to balance power in the political sphere, and the far-right has been able to gain influence throughout Europe.

When older generations rule, conservative and reactionary politics follow. Much of Europe is seeing this unfold and will have to work through these ever-increasing challenges brought on by demographic shifts.

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First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.

Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.

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Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.


Hey everybody. Peter Zeihan here. Coming to you from Italy on the Via della Costa. Excuse me. The old Roman road that went all the way to Spain. since I’m leaving the country tomorrow. Today we’re going to talk about European politics. you guys may have noticed that we have far right parties which, based on which country or you know what your politics are either anywhere from conservative to moderate to Nazi, you know, taking power or at least doing very well in any number of electoral competitions in the European Space. 

in some cases seizing outright power. here, among others, in Italy. there are a couple of reasons for this. The first one is almost boring and statistical. It’s because there’s a different electoral system, a different approach in Europe. when the United States recovered from the Civil War and when the US was created in the first place, there is this idea that how you force modernity or how you force moderation is by forcing political groups to appeal to the largest number of individuals possible. 

So the United States has something called a first past the post electoral system with single member districts, which is a fancy way of saying that you vote for a specific person who’s going to represent a specific group of people. that’s not how it works in Europe. In Europe, most of the electoral systems were designed in the aftermath of the World wars, in the aftermath of a series of revolutions and conflicts that killed millions of people. 

And so it was perceived as far more important to, instead of catering to the, the vast majority, to have a society that was more inclusive of everybody. So instead of voting for a person, you vote for a party. And if that party gets 20% of the votes, they get 20% of the seats in parliament. And whoever has the most seats in Parliament then goes on to form the government. 

and in doing this, you allow groups that are maybe not in the center, but can still get a lot of votes to be part of the governing system. And so most countries in Europe don’t have two parties. They’ve got four or 5 or 6 or 8 or 12 or whatever. It happens to be. And so you get a lot more diversity in the decision making system. 

A lot more diversity in the politics of the parties that make up the system. And that means you need people from the extremes as well, anywhere from socialists and communists on the left to reactionaries and maybe even few neo Nazis on the right. That’s by design. It’s not by accident. And so you’re always going to have this element of the election system, of the electoral system, of the voters who are willing to support candidates that other people might find a little distasteful. 

And sometimes they form a government because they’ve got enough support. Now, have the this one piece two shocker is more demographic. when you industrialize and urbanize, you start moving from the farm and into the city, and then the farm kids are free labor in the city. Kids are an expense. And so as time goes on, you have fewer of them. 

Well, a good portion of Europe didn’t get serious about the business of urbanization and industrialization until after World War two. So whereas the Germans and the Brits kind of led the way in that process, and the birth rate has been dropping fairly slowly for a long period of time in places like Spain and Italy. The process really didn’t start into the latter half of last century, and has proceeded and a much, much, much, much faster rate. 

Well, if you’ve got a birth rate that is less than two children per women for a decade or two, it’s not a big deal. But if you do that for, say, 7 or 8 decades, all of a sudden you’ve got a problem. And the issue we have in a lot of Europe is that they drop below replacement as far back as the 50s and the 60s, and they drop past 1.5 children per woman as far back as the 70s, in the 80s. 

And you play that for another 50 years. And it’s not so much that, population reconstitution is impossible. It’s been impossible for decades. But now, at the point that the last people who were born in normal times are now turning 60 and 70. And nowhere is that more advanced than here in Italy. So it’s not that demographics, when they turn, generate a more conservative population. 

It’s that when people retire, they get a little crotchety. And we’re now seeing people across Europe in vast numbers age past that point, and they didn’t have enough children to generate a more economically pragmatic population. And since those people don’t exist, there was not another generation born below to be more liberal. So if you remove the liberality of the youth and the moderation of the middle age folks and all, you’re left with crotchety crunchiness, you get more reactionary politics, electoral systems and ultimately governments. 

It’s furthest along here in Italy. Coming up a close second is Germany, and I’m sure there’s no one worried about that. And after that, you’ve got places like Portugal, Austria, the Netherlands and Poland which are adding to this and a similar rate, but from a slightly younger base. So we are going to see more and more conservative politics, more and more socially conservative politics, more and more populist politics. 

Moving on. Because if you are, turning 70 this year, you’re really not concerned of how things like social rights or economic development, you want your train ticket to be a half a euro and no more. Oh, yeah, that reminds me. Having something like the common currency requires a more balanced economic system. And if you look back demographically at the period we’ve been in the post-Cold War period, we’ve gone through a couple interesting phases because from roughly 1990 until roughly 2015, we saw these people aging, but no one had really hit retirement yet, which meant they hadn’t become interested in no change yet. 

In fact, if you’ve got people who are age 50 to 65 and who don’t have kids, their income is huge. You’re saving loads of money for retirement, the tax base is massive, and the financial wiggle room in that sort of system is absolutely huge. And that’s the same era when the Europeans decided that, hey, let’s do the common currency. 

And if you think back at how insane that sounded at the time, you have industrialized Germany, you’ve got technocratic Luxembourg, you’ve got post industrial Portugal. It’s based entirely on tourism. Who would ever think in a normal system that all of those systems could be under the same currency union? But when there is a huge amount of, financial are just floating around because of all these middle age, not yet retired people, you could try a lot of things. 

And they did. One outcome was the common currency. But now a lot of the people who were generating all that capital to give them wiggle room have moved into mass retirement. And with them, the hopes for the currency go as well. and for those of you who are finance nerds out there, you think the Germans were obsessed with inflation before most of their working age population retired? 

 Just wait till they’re all retirees, because that is something that happens within the next ten years. When that goes down, there isn’t much hope for the euro. So, you know, this is why you can make the most of it. And I’ll see you on the other side of the pond. Take care. 

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