Saturday, October 1, 2016

Paul Rosenberg — Breaking point: America approaching a period of disintegration, argues anthropologist Peter Turchin

Anthropologist Peter Turchin's "Ages of Discord" provides a crucial decoder ring for Trump-era social strife.
The American polity today has a lot in common with the Antebellum America of the 1850s; with Ancien Régime France on the eve of the French Revolution; with Stuart England during the 1630s; and innumerable other historical societies,” Turchin writes. “However, unlike historical societies, we are in a unique position to take steps that could allow us to escape the worst. Societal breakdown and ensuing waves of violence can be avoided by collective, cooperative action.”….
“Structural‐demographic theory represents complex (state‐level) human societies as systems with three main compartments (the general population, the elites, and the state) interacting with each other and with sociopolitical instability via a web of nonlinear feedbacks,” Turchin writes. Their relationship, as described and measured in the theory, is summarized in this figure:
“Ages of Discord” also tests this theory against the example of American history, with special attention to turning points in different trends, which show a remarkable degree of coherence.
One table lists 29 proxies representing 15 variables, all but one of which — life expectancy — reversed direction within about a decade of 1970. These include three proxies of labor oversupply; two of economic and health well-being; three of social well-being and economic inequality; two of elite overproduction, intra-elite competition and intra-elite cooperation; three of cooperation and equity; and one of intra-elite fragmentation, patriotism, state legitimacy, state capacity and sociopolitical instability.

In short, Turchin finds that it wasn’t just similar social trends that changed together; trends from every aspect of the model changed direction around the same time.


Ryan Harris said...
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jrbarch said...

For me, the model would be the forces of the human physical, emotional, and mental nature, as synthesised in the ‘I’; and the slowly emerging energy of the heart (harmony through conflict). Alexander the Great, with his empty hands protruding from the grave, is a good symbol of the culmination of the personality process; the ‘angel’, come to save humanity a good symbol of the heart. The angel we have been waiting for is us. The peace movement we are waiting for is us. In each human heart, one by one. For 200,000 years, it has been our deepest longing. ’Peace, would be mankind’s greatest achievement’.

The missing piece (peace) is the ‘kind’ (the kindness) in mankind. When that becomes clear to people on this earth, then we are standing right next to a new day. Peace is possible, because it is already there within us.

Without peace, there can be no happiness; and without happiness, there can be no (human) prosperity. Without (human) prosperity, there can be no dignity. These are laws, a virtuous circle that emerge from and reveal the good in mankind, like ‘gravity’ is a law.