The Coming Hyperbole: Argumentative Essay on Kaplan's the Coming Anarchy

The Coming Hyperbole

      In Robert D. Kaplan’s essay “The Coming Anarchy” (1994), he postulates about how lack of resources, crime, tribalism, overpopulation and disease will lead to the eventual chaos that will tear the very “social fabric of our planet.”1   He claims that events in countries like Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast are indicative of the turmoil that will eventually spread globally and doom the entire planet to a dystopian future beset by tribalism and criminal warlords.   Although the events and stark images that he depicts are very real, his hyperbolic conclusions are thinly supported, narrow in scope and plagued by false equivalencies.
    Kaplan’s premonition for the future begins in West Africa, specifically Sierra Leone.   He provides a litany of statistics and anecdotes to accentuate the deplorable and crumbling conditions; disease, overpopulation, crime, scarcity of resources, refugees, and increasing erosion of borders and how these conditions will eventually encompass the globe.   This is his prologue to his assertion that Africa is “what war, borders, and ethnic politics will be like a few decades hence.”2
    In the opening paragraphs, Kaplan describes a tour with an unnamed Minister through the slums of Sierra Leone.   The Minister bemoans the current state of affairs and the “…revenge of the poor.” 3 The Minister continues to complain about how “these boys” robbed and shot people “…in order to erase the humiliation…his middle-class sponsors held over him.” 4   Kaplan continues to expound on the tyranny and crime in West Africa without commenting directly to the minister’s comments.   As he progresses through the essay, class and poverty are a common thread.   He cites the negative effects of “bourgeois prosperity” 5 and often cites the depletion of resources in tandem with poverty.   To critics of Kaplan’s essay, this an example of Kaplan’s “blame the poor” mentality.   David Harvey, a noted socio-theorist, states in his book A...