Emmanuel Todd is a French demographer, historian, and anthropologist at the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED) in Paris. He is one of the most original thinkers surveying the world scene, and is known for having predicted, in 1976, the collapse of the Soviet Union in his book La chute finale. His prediction was based upon demographic factors such as rising infant mortality and falling average lifespan, which he said were leading indicators incompatible with a society’s remaining a global superpower.
In 2001, when everybody was talking about the “end of history” and emergence of the United States as the “sole hyperpower”, he published Après l’empire (English translation, After the Empire), in which he forecast the U.S., which he described as having become an empire by accident, not through strategy, as losing its superpower status due to debt-fueled consumption and neglect of essentials. You decide if he was right, or just wait a few more years.
In June 2022, he published his latest book, La troisième guerre mondiale a deja commencé. Curiously, the book was published in Japan, where it has sold more than 100,000 copies. He said that the climate over the Ukraine conflict was so emotional in France that to look at it from the historical perspective would result in his analysis being “socially destroyed” («carbonisé»), for nothing.
Here, in an hour and 45 minute Élucid interview, he presents his view of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, how it is embroiling Russia and NATO in an escalating conflict which both sides view as existential, and leading other countries to align with one or the other side as they perceive in their own interest. This, in turn, is pushing the U.S. imperial system toward the brink, as the monetary and financial system that supports it begins to crumble and is seen as impotent against those who defy and work around it.
The interview is in French, but with English subtitles which I have attempted to turn on. However, YouTube subtitles and their interaction with browsers is perennially flaky, so you may have to use the button at the bottom of the player (which looks like a rounded white box with dashes in it) to turn them on.
Here are the slides which accompanied the interview so you can review them in more detail. Here is one chart that makes you ask “Does this look like a sole superpower?” Note that the chart starts in 1965, not 1945, so the effects of World War II largely leaving the U.S. domestic industrial plant untouched do not play a major part.