May 20, 2019
Who’s right: Cassandra or Dr. Pangloss? Are we on the brink of serious trouble, as Cassandra of Greek myth prophesied, or is all for the best “in this best of all possible worlds,” as the fictional Pangloss insisted in Voltaire’s Candide? In recent decades, Cassandra-like warnings include Robert Kaplan’s The Coming Anarchy, the late Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations, Bill McKibben’s gloomy environmental and social forecasts, and predictions from everyone who thinks U.S. President Donald Trump will end democracy as we know it. On the other side, the ranks of neo-Panglossians include Steven Pinker, Joshua Goldstein, and (on some issues) John Mueller, who stress the extraordinary progress humans have made over the past 500 years and believe that risk of violence or other major disruptions continues to shrink.
Walt, Stephen. "Be Afraid of the World, Be Very Afraid." Foreign Policy, May 20, 2019.