Sunday, 26 August 2012

Peter Turchin: the study of Psychohistory and the Decline and Fall of the West

From New Scientist 18 August 2012 by  Bob Holmes

Peter Turchin is using patterns he has found in the underlying the rise and fall of empires to make predictions of political changes to come.  His forecast is alarming.  If his predictions are correct, the US faces major civil unrest and political violence sometime around the end of this decade.  

Reasoning that the fate of an empire rests ultimately on social cohesion, he has used historical records to track the prevalence of what he calls collective violence - deaths due to political assassinations, riots and civil wars, but not international wars or ordinary crimes - in three major civilisations, the Roman Republic, medieval Europe and Tsarist Russia.  Applying mathematical tools borrowed from population biology, he has found that in each case deaths from collective violence follow two super-imposed cycles, one spanning two or three centuries and one spanning 50 years.

In a prosperous culture, population growth or advancing technology eventually leads to an over-supply of labour.   That is good news for an expanding upper class who can ore easily exploit an increasingly desperate labour force.   Eventually, though, the society becomes so top-heavy that even some members of the elite can no longer afford the good life.   Factionalism sets in as the upper classes fight amongst themselves, social cohesion declines, and the state begins to lose control of its citizens.   Then, and only then, does widespread violence break out.  Anarchy reigns until enough people fall out of the elite classes, at which point growth and prosperity returns.  

Two years ago, Turchin put his reputation on the line by predicting publicly that political instability in the US and Western Europe will shoot up in the coming decade.   (Nature, Vol 463, p 608)  In his new paper he provides more evidence for an impending crisis in the US, where both cycles look to be approaching a peak in 2020.  Allowing for some imprecision in his calculations, Turchin says that if we make it to 2030 without major turmoil he will conclude that his prediction - and hence his underlying theory - is wrong.  He doesn't think that will happen, though, and estimates that he has an 80% chance of being right."

Avoidance action can take the form of increasing tax rates on high earners to help reduce social inequality, reducing the rate of immigration, and, most controversial of all, allowing fewer people a university education. An over-supply of graduates always leads to revolution, it seems.

This may seem superficially plausible, but in my opinion, the problem of civilisational decline seems to originate from a decline in the birth rate.  Women do not have quite as many children as they should, or they do not bring them up properly because they are SSMs, making these children useless for the labour force.  This means immigrant labour has to be imported, undermining social cohesion and upsetting everyone.   The women remain in denial about being shit mothers and loose women, and the men who have also been turned into women remain in denial about being shat and pissed upon by stupid immoral parasitical women and their badly brought up bastards who will turn into human trash and be no good to beast nor man.

When they wise up it will be too late, for Western civilisation as they knew it will have ended.

I suggest that a better guide to tracking the decline of civilisations is to work out how many Koranic commandments they do not conform to.  The more they conform to them the more happy and glorious a nation and empire will be, and the less they conform to them the more miserable the existence of the populace and the more short-lived that empire.

Being told we live in a matriarchy is a analogous to being told we have cancer or that we have gangrene and our leg has to come off.

Whether the patient will consent to invasive and painful surgery will be interesting to see.   I suppose that will largely depend on how good my bedside manner is and see to it that I do not frighten my patient to death.

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