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Will the elites ever behave? Aspirational oligarchs could spark a revolution

Off-duty masters of the universe (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Off-duty masters of the universe (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)


and
June 10, 2023   10 mins

Why do even the mightiest societies collapse? In his new book End Times, complexity scientist Peter Turchin blames both “elite overproduction” and a malign “wealth pump” that funnels spoils to the super rich. His theory of societal apocalypse is rooted in science: using mathematical models drawn from vast datasets of human history, he claims to be able to predict future tumult. He has been proved right before: in 2010, in an article for Nature, he predicted the West’s decade of populist instability.

This week, he spoke to Mary Harrington at the UnHerd Club about populism, Tucker Carlson, and how to swerve the next big catastrophe. Below is an edited transcript.

Mary Harrington: Peter, tell us the thesis behind your fascinating new book.

Peter Turchin: Ever since the ancient Greek historian Polybius wrote about how the Roman Empire was able to grow quite so relentlessly, people have also tried to explain why societies collapse.

There are many different theories, but the only way to adjudicate is with mathematical modelling. First of all, you translate those theories into mathematical language, so that the predictions follow inevitably from their premises. Then you bring on lots of data to work out which theory best fits the reality.

My colleagues and I are currently working on building a large historical database — our “Crisis DB” — in which we log incidents when past societies got into a state of crisis. What we have found is that all complex societies in the past 5,000 years have experienced an integrative phase, when peace and order reigned — and then an inevitable descent into an “end times”.

I hope that, with all this information, eventually we will make it possible for society to escape this cycle. But why do these end times happen at all? One common theme that we see over and over again, in all of the different routes to crisis, is a condition that we call “elite overproduction”.

Let me explain what I mean by that. First of all, who are the elites? Put simply, they are neither good people or bad people, they are simply a small proportion of the population who concentrate social power in their hands — whether that’s in the military, economic, political, or ideological sphere. In medieval times, the elites were the military nobility of England or France, for example; or in Imperial China, they were the class of mandarins. In the United States, where I live, simply put, it’s the proverbial 1%.

Of course, it’s all a bit more complicated than that. Complex human societies are organised as pyramids, and so there are different levels of elites; the 0.1% rule within the one-percenters, and so on. There are no sharp boundaries necessarily, unless you live in a society like medieval France, where legally you were either nobility or a peasant.

The next big question is how are elites produced and reproduced? They’re reproduced by ambitious young people, or, to use the technical term, “elite aspirants”, who want to gain positions of power. Elite overproduction occurs when, during some historical periods, we get too many elite aspirants for the slowly changing number of power positions. That creates intense competition, and while some competition is very helpful and good, excessive competition is harmful as it corrodes the social norms and institutions of the society.

When you have huge numbers of losers in this game, a proportion of frustrated elites will decide to break the rules. We saw that very clearly in the 2016 US presidential election. At that point, the number of candidates in the Republican primaries was the largest in history.

Disgruntled elite-wannabes are far more threatening to societal stability than disgruntled workers. In England during the Middle Ages, there was a huge peasant uprising led by Wat Tyler. And what happened? A small group of armoured knights on horseback destroyed them without raising so much as a sweat, because non-elites are not organised. As long as the state is strong and the elites are unified, they can keep a lid on popular discontent.

MH: In the book, you use the arresting phrase “the iron law of oligarchy” to describe why we end up producing too many elites. Once you have a bunch of people in charge of the levers of power and money, they will start funnelling resources towards themselves because they can.

PT: Exactly. What we see in the historical record is that all complex societies go through periods of good times, maybe a century or so long on average, and then periods of disintegration. During the good times, after a couple of generations, the elites get used to the fact that life is good and stable, and that’s when the iron law of oligarchy kicks in. The elites are very strongly tempted to convert their power into goodies for themselves — and if there’s nothing stopping them, that’s what they do. They basically reconfigure the economy in a way that depresses the wages of workers and creates a “wealth pump” that funnels riches directly to the owners and managers of corporations.

MH: You’ve described this happening under Thatcher and Reagan, after several decades of the post-war consensus.

PT: Precisely. Those elites in the US and the UK had 30 glorious years. But by the late Seventies, they started getting selfish. That’s when we began to see the separation between worker productivity and worker compensation. And immediately — within another 30 years — the numbers of uber-rich people exploded in the United States. The number of decamillionaires, those with $10 million or more, increased tenfold from the Eighties to 2010.

That’s the wealth pump at work. And that’s what drives one part of elite overproduction in the US, which is the overproduction of wealthy people who try to become candidates for political office. That’s one of the reasons why the cost of campaigning for political office has completely exploded.

MH: You say in End Times that “America is in a revolutionary situation”. In your view, is it too late to avert the predicted crisis?

PT: We are in crisis, but it’s not too late to avert the worst outcomes. I’m not a collapsologist. The possibility of a social revolution in the US seems to me outlandish. But the Ancien Régime nobility in France could not imagine that in 1789 they would be put under the guillotine, just as antebellum Americans could not imagine a bloody war that would leave 600,000 dead. It is typical that we cannot fully see the possible nastiness of a situation before it unfurls.

We have close to 200 cases of societal crisis right now, and the majority are fairly severe — some leading to outright collapse. But there are also maybe 10-15% of cases where the elites pull together and, cooperating with the rest of the population, they find the right mix of reforms and avoid the worst outcomes. For example, in the mid-19th century, the British Empire was the only large European state that was not affected by a revolution. Of course, there were bad moments, like the Peterloo massacre, but there was no civil war. That’s partly because a group of social elites got together and convinced the rest of their number of the need to reform.

MH: What about elite dissidents today? In your book, you give a fictionalised example of a young, far-Left, woke, upper-middle class revolutionary who wants to smash the system from within. She joins Antifa, the autonomous anti-fascist movement, and wants to abolish the police — even if that makes life worse for the working class. But is she really a revolutionary at all if none of her opinions have any resonance with the working class?

PT: She is a failed revolutionary, clearly, because she cannot harness popular discontent. In fact, it’s the populists on both the Left and the Right who resonate far more with the working class in the United States.

Antifa is really quite ineffectual, except at beating up Right-wing extremists and smashing things. That’s why Jane, this character in my book, grows disenchanted after some years in the Antifa movement because it’s not going anywhere. She then realises that the way to get ahead in the US, if you want to have a revolution, is through the legal channels because the state is very strong. I am Russian, and I can tell you that nothing like a Bolshevik Party is possible in the US. We don’t want a violent revolution, really. Instead, people on both the Left and Right work their way through the structures of power.

MH: Do you think the elites who want to abolish the police are genuine believers?

PT: Yes. Antifa is fairly secretive, and for good reason, because they don’t want to be penetrated by the FBI. So let’s look back 50 years, at the Marxist militant group the Weatherman Underground, because many of those people have now written memoirs, and we have a pretty good idea of what motivated them. They were clearly fighting against what they saw as an unjust American society, where the poor went hungry and where minorities and women were oppressed. They had a genuine cause — but they were completely unrealistic about their ability to start a revolution. And so they started blowing up monuments, killing people, all because they wanted to trigger the outpouring of popular anger against the elites.

But there was no popular anger at that time. This was before the wealth pump got turned on: American workers were doing very well, and every new generation was doing better than the previous one, so they were completely turned off by these wannabe revolutionaries. Just because somebody is a revolutionary doesn’t mean that they are going to be a successful revolutionary.

MH: You say in your book that the Republicans are on their way to becoming a revolutionary party. And, as we saw with Brexit and long before that — with the repeal of the Corn Laws — that alliances between political elites and a disaffected working class are often somewhat cynical. Is revolution more likely to come from the Right? 

PT: We have to remember that there’s not just one counter-elite party; they’re all splintered. It is a constant struggle between the different radical groups. That’s why, in the US, we have Left-wing populists and Right-wing populists who cannot work together, even though Bernie Sanders sometimes says things that are identical to Republican Senator J.D. Vance.

MH: In your book, you note that Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News commentator, represents a kind of lightning rod for some of these dissident forces on the conservative side, and that he actually has quite a coherent ideology. You also say that Rupert Murdoch appears to care more about his bottom line than about the interests of his class. So why did he fire Carlson?

PT: Well, I’m not a Freudian psychologist, but let me reconstruct what I think happened. Rupert Murdoch, who really does care about his bottom line, is embedded in a network of like-minded, wealthy people, and he must have been growing tired of them carping on for years about Tucker Carlson and how he is undermining their interests. Finally, Murdoch broke and fired him. It’s not a matter of money — they’re still paying his salary — they just wanted to shut him up.

MH: In cases where the elite view is in conflict with the popular view, do the elites always win?

PT: The great political scientist Martin Gilens conducted some fascinating research into the legislation passed through Congress. He found that 90% of the American population had zero effect on the actual legislation that passed — zilch, nada. Their technique was not fine enough to distinguish between the final 10 percentiles, but they suspect that it’s really the 1% who drives everything. This is why I argue in my book that the US is not a democracy anymore, it’s a plutocracy.

MH: Did those liberal democratic norms ever do anything in the first place? What’s the point of democracy at all?

PT: Democracy works — just look at the quality of life in Denmark and other socially democratic Nordic countries. Of course, it’s all comparative: autocracies are even more dysfunctional than democracies. But even the US plutocracy has, in the past, been capable of pro-social action. During the progressive era, reformist American elites persuaded and browbeat their cohort into passing the New Deal reforms, which essentially shut down the wealth pump for three glorious decades.

MH: Can you envision a coalition in the present day with the capacity to hold the elites to account — and perhaps even frighten them into shutting off the wealth pump?

PT: Let me first say that I am completely non-partisan, and regularly criticise both the Republicans and Democrats. I think that the populist factions, both on the Left and the Right, often talk a good talk, but they have not yet delivered.

There was an American populist party in the 1890s, which never won elections but did put pressure on the establishment at a time of political tension. Riots and insurrections were becoming more frequent. By the early Twenties, it seemed to many that America had reached a revolutionary moment, especially with the Soviet Union presenting an alternative model to the US system. The first Red Scare broke out in 1921, when a segment of American elites were convinced that a Bolshevik Revolution was imminent.

It was this combination of internal and external pressures that propelled Franklin D. Roosevelt’s reforms. He must have realised, like the Russian tsar Alexander II before him, that you either make reforms from above or you end up having revolution from below.

MH: The entire thesis of your book is that we have always had elites — and, in fact, the important thing is not to get rid of them, but to hold their feet to the fire to make sure they’re behaving. But it’s my observation that the current reigning elite is overtly anti-hierarchical, and that we must get rid of hierarchies, wherever there are, wherever they exist. Where do you stand on the sacred values of anti-hierarchicalism?

PT: For 95% of our evolutionary history, we humans lived in small-scale societies, which were very egalitarian — unusually egalitarian — when you compare us to the great apes, for example. The first elites appeared about 7,500 years ago, in chiefdoms. My argument is that a large-scale society can only function in a reasonable way if we have hierarchies of managers and administrators, because we are not ants. We cannot deal without elites. Elites are necessary because, without them, we wouldn’t be able to cooperate and coordinate in large numbers.

But let’s separate their managerial needs from huge differences in wealth. In principle — and, in fact, in history — many elites who start at the beginning of those integrative eras, they’re fairly unselfish. They live quite modestly. Just think about Republican Rome and the senator class: they were just farmers that were somewhat a little bit wealthier than the citizens. The economic differences were quite minimal.

In principle, it is possible to have elites and have them act in procedural manners. But it is like riding a bicycle: you have to balance all the time. So in order to keep elites from acting in selfish ways, there have to be constraints on them. Democratic institutions provide a set of such constraints, but they have to be supplemented — by other things that we have not yet evolved. Because, inevitably, even democratic society gets into a situation where inequalities start to grow.

My main point is that we can separate the managerial parts of the elites from their accumulating huge wealth and unfettered power.

MH: But what do you make of this societal insistence that we must abolish all hierarchy?

PT: Okay, you want to abolish hierarchies? First, pay yourself the same salary as the median worker in your 500 Fortune company. Put your money where your mouth is.


Peter Turchin is a complexity scientist. His latest book is End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration.

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Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
1 year ago

In summary: the computer says more Socialism
Considering the great discrepancy in wealth that has existed for all of British history, it is suprising how little popular revolt there was in Britain. Most people seemed to have accepted their lot in life and change came slowly, until we had an enfranchised population, and after WW2, the desire and means available to the electorate to affect radical change. Those post war reforms and the creation of the welfare state mark the beginning of the modern Britain we recognise today.
Great discrepancies in wealth and people living in abject poverty may have caused class conflict but it did not pose any threat to Britain as a strong cohesive nation that was patriotically nationalist. In the 1950s and 60s Britain was still recogniably a cohesive, patriotic and nationalistic. nation. Somewhere in the 1970 there was a perceptable change that has continued and in recent years quickly escalated.
There is no mystery about where the poison that is driving division and conflict has been coming from. It is not the downtrodden working class not getting their fair share; they remain the most patriotic and nationalistic of all. It is “educated” graduate metropolitan class who have imbibed the poisonous anti-British, anti-white, anti-male, anti-nationalist, anti-capitalist, anti-anything traditional and normal, that dominates academia.
The post WW2 expansion in universities in Britain and elsewhere greatly increased the academic class. Within that class the ideas that afflict and divide society today were formented. These ideas slowly leached out, but with the massive increase in young people going to university in recent decades, the noxious “Progressive”, Leftist ideology of academia went mainstream. Our collective history and sense of nationhood is therefore under constant attack, as is our culture.past and present.
If we are looking for an oversupplied, destructive, disgruntled class with failed pretentions to be part of the elite, that is stoking division in our society, I would suggest it is the academic class and the graduate class they indoctrinated with their poisonous ideas.

Last edited 1 year ago by Marcus Leach
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

People put up with the inequality because despite of it they saw their lives slowly improving, and each generation was slightly richer than the last. However that cycle is now broken, with Millennials forecast to be the first generation to die poorer than their parents. People will be less inclined to put up with vast levels of inequality while they themselves are going backwards

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Millenials are going backwards because of the policies they actively support.
They quite rightly complain of the expense of housing and lack of availability, yet support mass immigration and in some cases completely open borders.
They support high tax and spend socialist policies, the ever growing parasitic welfare state and green policies that greatly increase the cost of living., They favour free university for everyone. As a consequence they dilute the value of their own degrees, and those who do earn a decent living will be stung for taxes fund the worthless degree graduates.
They favour “racial justice” which in practice means they are now often racially discriminated against in employment opportunities.
If millenials are disgrunteled about what they perceive as an unfair system then, I would suggest that they look to themselves and their contemporaries to find the culprits who made it so.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Millenials are going backwards because of the policies they actively support.
They quite rightly complain of the expense of housing and lack of availability, yet support mass immigration and in some cases completely open borders.
They support high tax and spend socialist policies, the ever growing parasitic welfare state and green policies that greatly increase the cost of living., They favour free university for everyone. As a consequence they dilute the value of their own degrees, and those who do earn a decent living will be stung for taxes fund the worthless degree graduates.
They favour “racial justice” which in practice means they are now often racially discriminated against in employment opportunities.
If millenials are disgrunteled about what they perceive as an unfair system then, I would suggest that they look to themselves and their contemporaries to find the culprits who made it so.

Max Rottersman
Max Rottersman
1 year ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Is it the ideas that are poisonous or the sacrifice (work) needed to implement them truly? As Truchin said at the end “Okay, you want to abolish hierarchies? First, pay yourself the same salary as the median worker in your 500 Fortune company. Put your money where your mouth is.”
That to me is the fundamental problem. Academia is a case in point. It charges more and more money to property owners to allow their spoiled kids to create an identity based on their progressive ideas with no accountability. It isn’t the values of nationalism that are missing. It’s the value of a work ethic. The value of respecting others by allowing them to voice their opinions freely.
In the U.S. the textbook industry is huge because the teachers don’t want to do the work of real teaching and most students don’t want it either (because everything is valued in dollars or pounds).

Last edited 1 year ago by Max Rottersman
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

I honestly think we should reduce the influence of universities from in society. This could be done fairly easily without disrupting the whole system. Looking at the Canadian system – 1) remove education of teachers from universities and set up teachers colleges with former teachers providing training. 2) Do the same thing with all other professional programs – including law, social work, business, etc. 3) Remove the requirement for a university degree from every government job where it is not required for a technical skill. Bring back public service entrance exams. 4). Compel freedom of speech and diversity of ideas through legislation and 5) reallocate a lot of university funding to other types of post secondary training.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

People put up with the inequality because despite of it they saw their lives slowly improving, and each generation was slightly richer than the last. However that cycle is now broken, with Millennials forecast to be the first generation to die poorer than their parents. People will be less inclined to put up with vast levels of inequality while they themselves are going backwards

Max Rottersman
Max Rottersman
1 year ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Is it the ideas that are poisonous or the sacrifice (work) needed to implement them truly? As Truchin said at the end “Okay, you want to abolish hierarchies? First, pay yourself the same salary as the median worker in your 500 Fortune company. Put your money where your mouth is.”
That to me is the fundamental problem. Academia is a case in point. It charges more and more money to property owners to allow their spoiled kids to create an identity based on their progressive ideas with no accountability. It isn’t the values of nationalism that are missing. It’s the value of a work ethic. The value of respecting others by allowing them to voice their opinions freely.
In the U.S. the textbook industry is huge because the teachers don’t want to do the work of real teaching and most students don’t want it either (because everything is valued in dollars or pounds).

Last edited 1 year ago by Max Rottersman
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

I honestly think we should reduce the influence of universities from in society. This could be done fairly easily without disrupting the whole system. Looking at the Canadian system – 1) remove education of teachers from universities and set up teachers colleges with former teachers providing training. 2) Do the same thing with all other professional programs – including law, social work, business, etc. 3) Remove the requirement for a university degree from every government job where it is not required for a technical skill. Bring back public service entrance exams. 4). Compel freedom of speech and diversity of ideas through legislation and 5) reallocate a lot of university funding to other types of post secondary training.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
1 year ago

In summary: the computer says more Socialism
Considering the great discrepancy in wealth that has existed for all of British history, it is suprising how little popular revolt there was in Britain. Most people seemed to have accepted their lot in life and change came slowly, until we had an enfranchised population, and after WW2, the desire and means available to the electorate to affect radical change. Those post war reforms and the creation of the welfare state mark the beginning of the modern Britain we recognise today.
Great discrepancies in wealth and people living in abject poverty may have caused class conflict but it did not pose any threat to Britain as a strong cohesive nation that was patriotically nationalist. In the 1950s and 60s Britain was still recogniably a cohesive, patriotic and nationalistic. nation. Somewhere in the 1970 there was a perceptable change that has continued and in recent years quickly escalated.
There is no mystery about where the poison that is driving division and conflict has been coming from. It is not the downtrodden working class not getting their fair share; they remain the most patriotic and nationalistic of all. It is “educated” graduate metropolitan class who have imbibed the poisonous anti-British, anti-white, anti-male, anti-nationalist, anti-capitalist, anti-anything traditional and normal, that dominates academia.
The post WW2 expansion in universities in Britain and elsewhere greatly increased the academic class. Within that class the ideas that afflict and divide society today were formented. These ideas slowly leached out, but with the massive increase in young people going to university in recent decades, the noxious “Progressive”, Leftist ideology of academia went mainstream. Our collective history and sense of nationhood is therefore under constant attack, as is our culture.past and present.
If we are looking for an oversupplied, destructive, disgruntled class with failed pretentions to be part of the elite, that is stoking division in our society, I would suggest it is the academic class and the graduate class they indoctrinated with their poisonous ideas.

Last edited 1 year ago by Marcus Leach
polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

“There are many different theories, but the only way to adjudicate is with mathematical modelling.”
Then – Lockdown! This stuff’s easy.
(Sadly, not only have the Elites lost credibility, so have the experts.)

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Ya. I found the article super interesting, but I’m beyond sceptical of anyone’s ability to model the future of our political institutions. Assumptions in, garbage out.

Emil Castelli
Emil Castelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I found the article stupid.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
1 year ago
Reply to  Emil Castelli

Agreed, when did chicken little take up mathematics.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
1 year ago
Reply to  Emil Castelli

Agreed, when did chicken little take up mathematics.

Emil Castelli
Emil Castelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I found the article stupid.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Yeah, I stopped reading at that point (i.e. right at the start). Academics with models predicting disaster are practically a comic book caricature by this point. Also, “complexity scientist” lol. Sounds like a job title he made up for himself.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

CULTUREInside the ‘illusion of moral decline’comment image?w=670&q=70&auto=formatThe Simpsons/20th TelevisionIf you often shake your fist at society’s downward spiral into an immoral hellscape, you’re not alone—but a new study says you’re probably wrong.
Over the past 70 years, survey respondents worldwide have consistently said they think humanity is experiencing a decline in kindness, honesty, and other values—but a peer-reviewed study published by Nature this week asserts that this perceived moral decay is just an illusion.
The vast majority of 220,000 Americans surveyed between 1949 and 2019 said the state of moral values was worse at the time of being surveyed than it was before. Similar polling in 59 other countries had pretty much the same results, according to the study.But over the same period, there’s been no decline in positive answers to questions like “Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?” Some respondents even said the people in their social circles showed moral improvements between 2005 and 2020.So, why do we yearn for the supposed good ol’ days? One theory attributes it to the brain’s rose-colored tendencies when reminiscing. Our habit of focusing on bad stuff in the present, likely aided by mass media covering more bad news than good, could also be to blame.—ML

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark M Breza

I think you are missing what is taking place here. This isn’t the ‘90s with the Moral Majority in the US trying to ban rock music and video games. The internet has fundamentally changed society in ways we can barely understand. The information structures, most notable the media, we have relied on for hundreds of years have collapsed. This has fostered polarization and led to the establishment of a ruling elite that is not valued for competency, but its willingness to defend its tribe at all costs. The invention of the printing press created massive social and political upheaval. IMO the internet is doing the same thing now.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Maybe it’s not that the printing press – or the internet – create political upheaval, but rather that they give opportunity to the appetite for that upheaval. There were plenty of proto-protestant-reformations before Luther and Calvin’s time, but none of them had the power to successfully connect across Europe until printing came along.
Similarly, the trend toward globalism/socialism in the West was noisily complained about in the 80s and 90s, but the internet gave space for a more concerted response to it, and an alternative to Mainstream Culture.
The Left, in particular, is always banging on about populist revolt that supposedly began with the 2016 US election, but the appetite for it had been smoldering since at least the 70s.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Maybe it’s not that the printing press – or the internet – create political upheaval, but rather that they give opportunity to the appetite for that upheaval. There were plenty of proto-protestant-reformations before Luther and Calvin’s time, but none of them had the power to successfully connect across Europe until printing came along.
Similarly, the trend toward globalism/socialism in the West was noisily complained about in the 80s and 90s, but the internet gave space for a more concerted response to it, and an alternative to Mainstream Culture.
The Left, in particular, is always banging on about populist revolt that supposedly began with the 2016 US election, but the appetite for it had been smoldering since at least the 70s.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark M Breza

I think you are missing what is taking place here. This isn’t the ‘90s with the Moral Majority in the US trying to ban rock music and video games. The internet has fundamentally changed society in ways we can barely understand. The information structures, most notable the media, we have relied on for hundreds of years have collapsed. This has fostered polarization and led to the establishment of a ruling elite that is not valued for competency, but its willingness to defend its tribe at all costs. The invention of the printing press created massive social and political upheaval. IMO the internet is doing the same thing now.

Daiva Brr
Daiva Brr
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

A tool is only as good as its user ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Mathematical modelling is no exception.
Easily abused—just because the power-stars align.

Last edited 1 year ago by Daiva Brr
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Ya. I found the article super interesting, but I’m beyond sceptical of anyone’s ability to model the future of our political institutions. Assumptions in, garbage out.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Yeah, I stopped reading at that point (i.e. right at the start). Academics with models predicting disaster are practically a comic book caricature by this point. Also, “complexity scientist” lol. Sounds like a job title he made up for himself.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

CULTUREInside the ‘illusion of moral decline’comment image?w=670&q=70&auto=formatThe Simpsons/20th TelevisionIf you often shake your fist at society’s downward spiral into an immoral hellscape, you’re not alone—but a new study says you’re probably wrong.
Over the past 70 years, survey respondents worldwide have consistently said they think humanity is experiencing a decline in kindness, honesty, and other values—but a peer-reviewed study published by Nature this week asserts that this perceived moral decay is just an illusion.
The vast majority of 220,000 Americans surveyed between 1949 and 2019 said the state of moral values was worse at the time of being surveyed than it was before. Similar polling in 59 other countries had pretty much the same results, according to the study.But over the same period, there’s been no decline in positive answers to questions like “Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?” Some respondents even said the people in their social circles showed moral improvements between 2005 and 2020.So, why do we yearn for the supposed good ol’ days? One theory attributes it to the brain’s rose-colored tendencies when reminiscing. Our habit of focusing on bad stuff in the present, likely aided by mass media covering more bad news than good, could also be to blame.—ML

Daiva Brr
Daiva Brr
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

A tool is only as good as its user ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Mathematical modelling is no exception.
Easily abused—just because the power-stars align.

Last edited 1 year ago by Daiva Brr
polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

“There are many different theories, but the only way to adjudicate is with mathematical modelling.”
Then – Lockdown! This stuff’s easy.
(Sadly, not only have the Elites lost credibility, so have the experts.)

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

Perhaps my standards are too high, but I’m a bit disappointed with this interview. Did Mr. Turchin say something that hasn’t been said many times before? Is there a new idea in there somewhere?
Elite overproduction has been described often on Unherd, for example. So has income inequality and the sad fact that the voices of ordinary people count for little in Washington or Westminster. It’s the 1% (or whatever small percentage) who really pull the strings. And the modern state is becoming ever more intolerant of dissent. Mr. Turchin purports to have mathematically modelled some of these phenomena; that’s fine, but some phenomena are so obvious that describing them mathematically adds little of real substance, except to add a veneer of scientific respectability.
The interview almost broke new ground when Mr. Turchin was asked whether it was possible to avoid revolution in our modern era. He mentioned examples from the past where groups of elites were able to persuade other members of their class to pass laws that made life easier for the masses (The New Deal being the great example). He noted we needed a unifying leader. Fair enough. Still not a new idea but pointing us toward the big question of where this Great Uniter might come from, or do such people simply appear according to the old saying, “Cometh the hour, cometh the man.”
In the US, the 2024 election already looks to be a bust. It’ll almost certainly either be Biden or Trump who is elected. Either way there will be no uniting of the population or radical new ideas to guide us into an uncertain future. We’ll have to wait for 2028, imo, and hope some great leader emerges, perhaps even a whole new political movement.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I think the key point is that Peter Turchin is not saying anything new – but he has collected a great deal of data from history and rigorously analysed it and found explanations for social upheavals in the past – and these explanations can be validated by more analysis, not just some pundits opinion of the day.
Now contrary to the political myths that so bedevil us there is no easy or certain answer to what we should do next today, but in the light of his analysis we can see how this cycle of elite/collapse is working to its end – and the need to restrain the wealth pumps.
My suggestion (and there will be many others, some contrary) is that we do not align ourselves with supranational bodies for these have become global scale wealth pumps. When the wealth dries up the current elites (whoever they are) may well be obliged to remedy matters for everyone, not just themselves.

Last edited 1 year ago by AC Harper
Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I am confused. From a UK perspective, the lot of the great mass of low paid or ‘poor’ does not seem so terrible. We are Welfarist State splurging out tax credits and paying millions millions to help with anxiety and their rent whilst raising the levels at which we pay tax and BI via aggressive redistributive Brownite policies to 12k!!! We do not have that many decamillionaries and any entrepreneur is bound to scared off by the socialist high tax regime to Jersey. So we are not America. The problem we have is that same overproduction of unfit for work graduates, a mass feminised but no childcare wfh public sector workforce (so say goodbye to 24/7 NHS) and a vast, very low quality and dangerously detached Elite. It has enriched itself wantonly via the rigging of the property market in the era of free movement and zero interests, the greatest heist in economic history. I can see a Crash coming for sure, but not the way PT describes it.

Emil Castelli
Emil Castelli
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Trump would save the world – Biden will send it into eternal 1984. The survival of humanity hinges on this toss of the coin – or if the Elites can steal this election too.

Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Agree with the author, in the 1980s the 1% had an an 8% income share, by 2002 it was 22% of GDP. US Median real.wage has not increased since 1979. The means of controlling income share were foreign labor. Both massive immigration (legal and illegal) and imports. This is why the US lost 66,000 factories and 4M Manufacturing jobs. At first I thought creative destruction Collasped. However productivity growth collasped also, it went from 2.4% per year to less than .4% than negative under Biden. This has driven massive overspending and the monetization of debt has the 1% seek to maintain/extend their positions. Now we more attempts at state control, centralization, censorship, and election fraud.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alan B
Daiva Brr
Daiva Brr
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The whole aim of the scientific student of society is to make the obvious unescapable.

~~Harold Dwight Lasswell, credited as being the father of political psychology

Behavioral science often confirms the obvious ☺

Last edited 1 year ago by Daiva Brr
Geoff Wilkes
Geoff Wilkes
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The intellectual flabbiness of UnHerd is why I’m letting my monthly subscription expire.
The fortunes of societies wax and wane – Who knew?
Tucker Carlson has a coherent ideology – Yeah, right.
The number of candidates in the Republican primaries in 2016 was the largest in history – A brief internet search suggests otherwise, though it would depend on how one defines a “candidate.” But whatever the number was, I doubt that anyone much besides Trump was a member of the “elite” who was trying to “break the rules,” and not even Trump was “frustrated,” he just wanted to brag on an industrial scale.
The phrase “the iron law of oligarchy” was coined by the German sociologist Robert Michels, though apparently Turchin is too full of himself to tell his fangirl interviewer that.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I think the key point is that Peter Turchin is not saying anything new – but he has collected a great deal of data from history and rigorously analysed it and found explanations for social upheavals in the past – and these explanations can be validated by more analysis, not just some pundits opinion of the day.
Now contrary to the political myths that so bedevil us there is no easy or certain answer to what we should do next today, but in the light of his analysis we can see how this cycle of elite/collapse is working to its end – and the need to restrain the wealth pumps.
My suggestion (and there will be many others, some contrary) is that we do not align ourselves with supranational bodies for these have become global scale wealth pumps. When the wealth dries up the current elites (whoever they are) may well be obliged to remedy matters for everyone, not just themselves.

Last edited 1 year ago by AC Harper
Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I am confused. From a UK perspective, the lot of the great mass of low paid or ‘poor’ does not seem so terrible. We are Welfarist State splurging out tax credits and paying millions millions to help with anxiety and their rent whilst raising the levels at which we pay tax and BI via aggressive redistributive Brownite policies to 12k!!! We do not have that many decamillionaries and any entrepreneur is bound to scared off by the socialist high tax regime to Jersey. So we are not America. The problem we have is that same overproduction of unfit for work graduates, a mass feminised but no childcare wfh public sector workforce (so say goodbye to 24/7 NHS) and a vast, very low quality and dangerously detached Elite. It has enriched itself wantonly via the rigging of the property market in the era of free movement and zero interests, the greatest heist in economic history. I can see a Crash coming for sure, but not the way PT describes it.

Emil Castelli
Emil Castelli
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Trump would save the world – Biden will send it into eternal 1984. The survival of humanity hinges on this toss of the coin – or if the Elites can steal this election too.

Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Agree with the author, in the 1980s the 1% had an an 8% income share, by 2002 it was 22% of GDP. US Median real.wage has not increased since 1979. The means of controlling income share were foreign labor. Both massive immigration (legal and illegal) and imports. This is why the US lost 66,000 factories and 4M Manufacturing jobs. At first I thought creative destruction Collasped. However productivity growth collasped also, it went from 2.4% per year to less than .4% than negative under Biden. This has driven massive overspending and the monetization of debt has the 1% seek to maintain/extend their positions. Now we more attempts at state control, centralization, censorship, and election fraud.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alan B
Daiva Brr
Daiva Brr
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The whole aim of the scientific student of society is to make the obvious unescapable.

~~Harold Dwight Lasswell, credited as being the father of political psychology

Behavioral science often confirms the obvious ☺

Last edited 1 year ago by Daiva Brr
Geoff Wilkes
Geoff Wilkes
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The intellectual flabbiness of UnHerd is why I’m letting my monthly subscription expire.
The fortunes of societies wax and wane – Who knew?
Tucker Carlson has a coherent ideology – Yeah, right.
The number of candidates in the Republican primaries in 2016 was the largest in history – A brief internet search suggests otherwise, though it would depend on how one defines a “candidate.” But whatever the number was, I doubt that anyone much besides Trump was a member of the “elite” who was trying to “break the rules,” and not even Trump was “frustrated,” he just wanted to brag on an industrial scale.
The phrase “the iron law of oligarchy” was coined by the German sociologist Robert Michels, though apparently Turchin is too full of himself to tell his fangirl interviewer that.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

Perhaps my standards are too high, but I’m a bit disappointed with this interview. Did Mr. Turchin say something that hasn’t been said many times before? Is there a new idea in there somewhere?
Elite overproduction has been described often on Unherd, for example. So has income inequality and the sad fact that the voices of ordinary people count for little in Washington or Westminster. It’s the 1% (or whatever small percentage) who really pull the strings. And the modern state is becoming ever more intolerant of dissent. Mr. Turchin purports to have mathematically modelled some of these phenomena; that’s fine, but some phenomena are so obvious that describing them mathematically adds little of real substance, except to add a veneer of scientific respectability.
The interview almost broke new ground when Mr. Turchin was asked whether it was possible to avoid revolution in our modern era. He mentioned examples from the past where groups of elites were able to persuade other members of their class to pass laws that made life easier for the masses (The New Deal being the great example). He noted we needed a unifying leader. Fair enough. Still not a new idea but pointing us toward the big question of where this Great Uniter might come from, or do such people simply appear according to the old saying, “Cometh the hour, cometh the man.”
In the US, the 2024 election already looks to be a bust. It’ll almost certainly either be Biden or Trump who is elected. Either way there will be no uniting of the population or radical new ideas to guide us into an uncertain future. We’ll have to wait for 2028, imo, and hope some great leader emerges, perhaps even a whole new political movement.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

I think we’re all struggling to understand the societal changes gripping the west right now, so I really appreciate an article like this. I’m not sure it offers a lot of new insights, but it’s important to step back and try to understand what is happening.

Over production of elites is nothing new, but the article is good reminder of its role in social change. I get the culture wars and immigration in this regard. Elites align themselves with a small group of marginalized people to distract attention from the real class cleavages and divide the lower classes.

But I don’t understand how net zero fits in with this. Net zero will impoverish us all, but especially the lower classes. We can already see it uniting diverse groups in mainland Europe against the elites. By pushing this agenda, the elites are possibly sowing the seeds of their own demise.

Way too much change to process for a middling intellect like myself.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

” By pushing this agenda,(Net Zero), the elites are possibly sowing the seeds of their own demise.”
Such is the nature of self-delusion. There is an article in the current edition of The Spectator by James Kirkup, in which he assures us that the lower orders are fully on board with the project to immiserate them. To which I muttered that you need to ask that question after they are shivering in the dark and the cold, and not beforehand.

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It is way too much!! And the signs are that resistance to the madness is growing at last; see Sri Lanka Holland Germany. It has been neutered here because the tyrannical BBC is an evangelist and stare propagandist for the climate change hysteria and – as with lockdown – has actively kept the people in a state of ignorance and fear. The Net Zero State has also got away with it because our politicians and state are utterly detached from us – and the grubby real worlds of private sector enterprise and wealth creation. They all live behind a mental moat in multi million pound London properties, paid for by taxation with the promise of final salary pensions, believing in magic money trees even. In this bubble, groupthink conformity is king. Virtue signalling is all. Political failures like May can enforce a Net Zero diktat on society with a 90 minute debate. So we can forget dreaming we live in a responsive responsible democracy. The absurdity of Net Zero is slowly being revealed, but its grip on the Red Guards in every council as well as the idiots in Tory Party and State Blob is scarily tight.

Emil Castelli
Emil Castelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The article is complete BS.

The Elites are now Global. The National system of Elites is gone, now it is akin to the WEF who control the ‘Multinational’ corporations and finance, and Central Banks. They have no loyality – they are equated to Lizard People as they are a new human species, one alien in intent, one out to create the worst Dystopia.

He is talking Roman Elites today – and it makes as much sense as equating their abacuses to modern AI. As their finance was to the Fiat system of National Central Banks, and super-National Banks, and mega Hedge Funds who control 90% of all global corporations and wealth.

The wealth is now in the hands of Globalists who are out to break all nations. (note immigration, note China Debt Diplomacy, note CIA undermining every government in the world – even the American one)

The paradigm has changed and this goofball is still talking Managers, Mechanical Looms, and Luddites and Top Hatted Capitalists…

Does he even know AI is here? And it is not the same as anything, ever, in history. (well, maybe as Revelations 13:16, but will God save us this time from the demonic enslavement?)

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Agreed. His remarks in this interview provide a well-informed, measured overview that despite Harrington’s introductory clause: “he claims to be able to predict future tumult”, speaks of likelihoods and trends, not certainties or data-driven prophesy.
Some of it quite simplified or elementary, probably with a view toward a general audience and readership rather than fellow “complexity scientists” (a new title to me–with a built-in defense against not making enough simple/common sense?). I admit that an ultra-complex and data-packed treatment of this subject matter would probably be less interesting and accessible to me than Turchin’s popular, synthesizing approach is here.
I appreciate your intellectual humility, but your fairmindedness and courtesy make your comments welcome and worthwhile to read, apart from any “brilliance metric” or “complexity rating”.

Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I Agree with the author, in the 1980s the US 1% had an an 8% income share, by 2002 it was 22% of GDP. US Median real.wage has not increased since 1979. The means of controlling income share were foreign labor. Both massive immigration (legal and illegal) and imports. This is why the US lost 66,000 factories and 4M Manufacturing jobs. At first I thought creative destruction Collasped. However productivity growth collasped also, it went from 2.4% per year to less than .4% than negative under Biden. This has driven massive overspending and the monetization of debt has the 1% seek to maintain/extend their positions. Now we more attempts at state control, centralization, less competition, censorship, and election fraud. Net Zero unites the elite in a quasireligion while centralizing power. Heating, AC, Food all come under central control and these policies are used against opposing classes and becomes a new means of wealth extraction.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alan B
aaron david
aaron david
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Hubris → Atis(Ate) → Nemesis → Tisis
Too much belief in oneself, leads to delusion, followed by outside threats, leading to destruction.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

” By pushing this agenda,(Net Zero), the elites are possibly sowing the seeds of their own demise.”
Such is the nature of self-delusion. There is an article in the current edition of The Spectator by James Kirkup, in which he assures us that the lower orders are fully on board with the project to immiserate them. To which I muttered that you need to ask that question after they are shivering in the dark and the cold, and not beforehand.

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It is way too much!! And the signs are that resistance to the madness is growing at last; see Sri Lanka Holland Germany. It has been neutered here because the tyrannical BBC is an evangelist and stare propagandist for the climate change hysteria and – as with lockdown – has actively kept the people in a state of ignorance and fear. The Net Zero State has also got away with it because our politicians and state are utterly detached from us – and the grubby real worlds of private sector enterprise and wealth creation. They all live behind a mental moat in multi million pound London properties, paid for by taxation with the promise of final salary pensions, believing in magic money trees even. In this bubble, groupthink conformity is king. Virtue signalling is all. Political failures like May can enforce a Net Zero diktat on society with a 90 minute debate. So we can forget dreaming we live in a responsive responsible democracy. The absurdity of Net Zero is slowly being revealed, but its grip on the Red Guards in every council as well as the idiots in Tory Party and State Blob is scarily tight.

Emil Castelli
Emil Castelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The article is complete BS.

The Elites are now Global. The National system of Elites is gone, now it is akin to the WEF who control the ‘Multinational’ corporations and finance, and Central Banks. They have no loyality – they are equated to Lizard People as they are a new human species, one alien in intent, one out to create the worst Dystopia.

He is talking Roman Elites today – and it makes as much sense as equating their abacuses to modern AI. As their finance was to the Fiat system of National Central Banks, and super-National Banks, and mega Hedge Funds who control 90% of all global corporations and wealth.

The wealth is now in the hands of Globalists who are out to break all nations. (note immigration, note China Debt Diplomacy, note CIA undermining every government in the world – even the American one)

The paradigm has changed and this goofball is still talking Managers, Mechanical Looms, and Luddites and Top Hatted Capitalists…

Does he even know AI is here? And it is not the same as anything, ever, in history. (well, maybe as Revelations 13:16, but will God save us this time from the demonic enslavement?)

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Agreed. His remarks in this interview provide a well-informed, measured overview that despite Harrington’s introductory clause: “he claims to be able to predict future tumult”, speaks of likelihoods and trends, not certainties or data-driven prophesy.
Some of it quite simplified or elementary, probably with a view toward a general audience and readership rather than fellow “complexity scientists” (a new title to me–with a built-in defense against not making enough simple/common sense?). I admit that an ultra-complex and data-packed treatment of this subject matter would probably be less interesting and accessible to me than Turchin’s popular, synthesizing approach is here.
I appreciate your intellectual humility, but your fairmindedness and courtesy make your comments welcome and worthwhile to read, apart from any “brilliance metric” or “complexity rating”.

Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I Agree with the author, in the 1980s the US 1% had an an 8% income share, by 2002 it was 22% of GDP. US Median real.wage has not increased since 1979. The means of controlling income share were foreign labor. Both massive immigration (legal and illegal) and imports. This is why the US lost 66,000 factories and 4M Manufacturing jobs. At first I thought creative destruction Collasped. However productivity growth collasped also, it went from 2.4% per year to less than .4% than negative under Biden. This has driven massive overspending and the monetization of debt has the 1% seek to maintain/extend their positions. Now we more attempts at state control, centralization, less competition, censorship, and election fraud. Net Zero unites the elite in a quasireligion while centralizing power. Heating, AC, Food all come under central control and these policies are used against opposing classes and becomes a new means of wealth extraction.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alan B
aaron david
aaron david
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Hubris → Atis(Ate) → Nemesis → Tisis
Too much belief in oneself, leads to delusion, followed by outside threats, leading to destruction.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

I think we’re all struggling to understand the societal changes gripping the west right now, so I really appreciate an article like this. I’m not sure it offers a lot of new insights, but it’s important to step back and try to understand what is happening.

Over production of elites is nothing new, but the article is good reminder of its role in social change. I get the culture wars and immigration in this regard. Elites align themselves with a small group of marginalized people to distract attention from the real class cleavages and divide the lower classes.

But I don’t understand how net zero fits in with this. Net zero will impoverish us all, but especially the lower classes. We can already see it uniting diverse groups in mainland Europe against the elites. By pushing this agenda, the elites are possibly sowing the seeds of their own demise.

Way too much change to process for a middling intellect like myself.

Tom Blanton
Tom Blanton
1 year ago

“…the New Deal…three glorious decades.”
Followed quickly by:
“…I’m completely non-partisan…”
Am I being too harsh in thinking this a bit self-delusional?

Tom Blanton
Tom Blanton
1 year ago

“…the New Deal…three glorious decades.”
Followed quickly by:
“…I’m completely non-partisan…”
Am I being too harsh in thinking this a bit self-delusional?

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 year ago

He has been proved right before: in 2010, in an article for Nature, he predicted the West’s decade of populist instability.

The article in question is quite short and says only that the 2010-2020 era “might” be unstable in a way that undermines scientific progress. The justification for this is some sort of theory about cycles, plus too many young’uns. The solution to this predicted crisis of instability is by “making tax rates more progressive” and to not have too many students.
Obvious objections:
There was nothing particularly unstable about the 2010s. Whilst some people may try to argue that Trump and Brexit were “instability”, in reality they were just the normal process of people peacefully voting on things and neither changed much, so that all seems very stable indeed.Science wasn’t undermined in any way, indeed the 2010s saw massive levels of investment in technology R&D.Sorry Unherd. I get that you want interviews to start by establishing the credibility of the interviewee, but statements like this just come across as misleading. The article doesn’t even make falsifiable claims to begin with so it can’t really be proven right. It’s just another left wing academic using sciencey sounding language like “collapsology” to demand left wing policies, one of millions.
I also get that academics appear to have unlimited time for interviews but it’d be great to widen the pool a bit and talk to people who are not in academia. Maybe even people who work … in industry?!

Last edited 1 year ago by Norman Powers
Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

In the US the 1% GDP share stabilized at 22% (had been 8%), and productivity growth went from 2.4% to less than .4%. Large Bureaucracies became more centralized and made increasing poor decisions. Schools have been failing since the 1970s. Almost no new weapon systems, $7 trillion in useless mid East wars, green new deal vs. Energy dominance, 7 million illegals since 2020, deficit spend 9% of GDP per year as deficits, socialize losses while privatizing profits from 2008 forward, uneeded Covid shutdowns that cost $5 trillion, mandatory vaccines that killed over 600,000 US citizens…

Last edited 1 year ago by Alan B
Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

In the US the 1% GDP share stabilized at 22% (had been 8%), and productivity growth went from 2.4% to less than .4%. Large Bureaucracies became more centralized and made increasing poor decisions. Schools have been failing since the 1970s. Almost no new weapon systems, $7 trillion in useless mid East wars, green new deal vs. Energy dominance, 7 million illegals since 2020, deficit spend 9% of GDP per year as deficits, socialize losses while privatizing profits from 2008 forward, uneeded Covid shutdowns that cost $5 trillion, mandatory vaccines that killed over 600,000 US citizens…

Last edited 1 year ago by Alan B
Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 year ago

He has been proved right before: in 2010, in an article for Nature, he predicted the West’s decade of populist instability.

The article in question is quite short and says only that the 2010-2020 era “might” be unstable in a way that undermines scientific progress. The justification for this is some sort of theory about cycles, plus too many young’uns. The solution to this predicted crisis of instability is by “making tax rates more progressive” and to not have too many students.
Obvious objections:
There was nothing particularly unstable about the 2010s. Whilst some people may try to argue that Trump and Brexit were “instability”, in reality they were just the normal process of people peacefully voting on things and neither changed much, so that all seems very stable indeed.Science wasn’t undermined in any way, indeed the 2010s saw massive levels of investment in technology R&D.Sorry Unherd. I get that you want interviews to start by establishing the credibility of the interviewee, but statements like this just come across as misleading. The article doesn’t even make falsifiable claims to begin with so it can’t really be proven right. It’s just another left wing academic using sciencey sounding language like “collapsology” to demand left wing policies, one of millions.
I also get that academics appear to have unlimited time for interviews but it’d be great to widen the pool a bit and talk to people who are not in academia. Maybe even people who work … in industry?!

Last edited 1 year ago by Norman Powers
Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago

I dunno, it’s an interesting theory but if there were too many elites then I’d expect competition and infighting but the plutocracy seems very united. Also, the ‘old’ white elite seems to be at the forefront of self-replacement. It seems to me this time it’s different. True, the greed is there — greed beyond the wildest dreams of avarice — yet the clerisy seems determined to destroy their own wealth pump. Dunno, but I think of that quote from Muggeridge:
“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over–a weary, battered old brontosaurus–and became extinct.”
We certainly labor with pill and scalpel and syringe to sterilize our children!

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago

I dunno, it’s an interesting theory but if there were too many elites then I’d expect competition and infighting but the plutocracy seems very united. Also, the ‘old’ white elite seems to be at the forefront of self-replacement. It seems to me this time it’s different. True, the greed is there — greed beyond the wildest dreams of avarice — yet the clerisy seems determined to destroy their own wealth pump. Dunno, but I think of that quote from Muggeridge:
“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over–a weary, battered old brontosaurus–and became extinct.”
We certainly labor with pill and scalpel and syringe to sterilize our children!

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

I prefer the “running out of other peoples’ money” explanation for the end of empire.
E.g., the Roman Empire ran out of other peoples’ money when the border of empire was so far away that the proceeds of conquest, plunder and slaves no longer kept the elite in ready money.
E.g., the French Old Regime fell because a century of war had run out of other peoples’ money. Thus the need to call the Estates General to ax for more taxes.
E.g., the Soviet Union in 1989. Socialism just does not work, not for the elite, not for ordinary people, not for the poor.
I really don’t think our elite is overproduced. The opportunities are wide open for young elite sprouts to have a grand old time spending other peoples’ money on climate change, systemic racism, and NGO activism like XR and fighting transphobia. Problem is they will probably run out of other peoples’ money sooner rather than later.

Simon S
Simon S
1 year ago

I agree with all your E.g.’s but I do think more and more “elites” are being prepared for fewer and fewer “elite slots”.
The competition (lower and lower acceptance rates) is insane for the top US colleges now, and at the colleges themselves, in anticipation for the savage battle to land their first job upon graduating, students are obsessed with internships and building their resumes asap.
Our son has just finished his first year tracking for a double major in Finance and Computer Science (a double major takes 40-50% more work), has landed a summer workshop with Goldman (proud for his attainment, we each have our own path, no further comment), is taking an Accountancy course at the LSE, and been paid well working his backside off for the VP Operations and Strategy of a huge asset management firm.
He is spending his summer holidays doing this because he knows what it will take for him to secure the elite-level job he wants. This is a facet of the “insane” competition which Turchin is warning us of.

Simon S
Simon S
1 year ago

I agree with all your E.g.’s but I do think more and more “elites” are being prepared for fewer and fewer “elite slots”.
The competition (lower and lower acceptance rates) is insane for the top US colleges now, and at the colleges themselves, in anticipation for the savage battle to land their first job upon graduating, students are obsessed with internships and building their resumes asap.
Our son has just finished his first year tracking for a double major in Finance and Computer Science (a double major takes 40-50% more work), has landed a summer workshop with Goldman (proud for his attainment, we each have our own path, no further comment), is taking an Accountancy course at the LSE, and been paid well working his backside off for the VP Operations and Strategy of a huge asset management firm.
He is spending his summer holidays doing this because he knows what it will take for him to secure the elite-level job he wants. This is a facet of the “insane” competition which Turchin is warning us of.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

I prefer the “running out of other peoples’ money” explanation for the end of empire.
E.g., the Roman Empire ran out of other peoples’ money when the border of empire was so far away that the proceeds of conquest, plunder and slaves no longer kept the elite in ready money.
E.g., the French Old Regime fell because a century of war had run out of other peoples’ money. Thus the need to call the Estates General to ax for more taxes.
E.g., the Soviet Union in 1989. Socialism just does not work, not for the elite, not for ordinary people, not for the poor.
I really don’t think our elite is overproduced. The opportunities are wide open for young elite sprouts to have a grand old time spending other peoples’ money on climate change, systemic racism, and NGO activism like XR and fighting transphobia. Problem is they will probably run out of other peoples’ money sooner rather than later.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

One shouldn’t despair Elites are easy enough to overthrow if you have the will.

Take the English Monastic Church in 1536, representing no more than 1% of the population, it ‘owned’ about 5 million of England’s 32 million acres, and the very best ones at that. Their ‘income’ was considerably greater than that of the Crown.

Enter Thomas Cromwell, and a mere four years later all 850 odd Monastic Houses have been ‘dissolved’ and upwards of 10,OOO ‘religious’ pensioned off*. True there was some disorganised resistance with the so called Pilgrimage of Grace, but that was quickly and brutally dealt with.

Giving the antics both here and in the US over the last 24 hours, perhaps we should be encouraged?

(*A very few, notably Glastonbury, Reading and Colchester opted for martyrdom, and were thus hanged, drawn, and quartered.)

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Charles, disquiet with the Church arose with the Black Death, was increased with the Peasants’ Revolt and given voice by John Wycliffe.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Charles, disquiet with the Church arose with the Black Death, was increased with the Peasants’ Revolt and given voice by John Wycliffe.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

One shouldn’t despair Elites are easy enough to overthrow if you have the will.

Take the English Monastic Church in 1536, representing no more than 1% of the population, it ‘owned’ about 5 million of England’s 32 million acres, and the very best ones at that. Their ‘income’ was considerably greater than that of the Crown.

Enter Thomas Cromwell, and a mere four years later all 850 odd Monastic Houses have been ‘dissolved’ and upwards of 10,OOO ‘religious’ pensioned off*. True there was some disorganised resistance with the so called Pilgrimage of Grace, but that was quickly and brutally dealt with.

Giving the antics both here and in the US over the last 24 hours, perhaps we should be encouraged?

(*A very few, notably Glastonbury, Reading and Colchester opted for martyrdom, and were thus hanged, drawn, and quartered.)

Vici C
Vici C
1 year ago

The reality is the whole discussion is pointless. History. The rule book, based on biology and geography is torn up. We are entering an unprecedented age. The new elite, the big techies, are creating a far wider gap than ever before. With every passing year we get more disempowered and more dependent. We are seeing glimpses of it already: digital ID, vaccine passports – next it will be micro chips and robots. Now they are trying to confuse us as to what it is to be a woman, next it will be “what is human?” What recourse will we have? Coming generations who cannot be self sufficient, whether that be writing, maths, learning, let alone building a house, feeding themselves or even driving a car (if there are any left). The people enforcing this are not elected and are not driven by materialism, but by ideology.

Vici C
Vici C
1 year ago

The reality is the whole discussion is pointless. History. The rule book, based on biology and geography is torn up. We are entering an unprecedented age. The new elite, the big techies, are creating a far wider gap than ever before. With every passing year we get more disempowered and more dependent. We are seeing glimpses of it already: digital ID, vaccine passports – next it will be micro chips and robots. Now they are trying to confuse us as to what it is to be a woman, next it will be “what is human?” What recourse will we have? Coming generations who cannot be self sufficient, whether that be writing, maths, learning, let alone building a house, feeding themselves or even driving a car (if there are any left). The people enforcing this are not elected and are not driven by materialism, but by ideology.

Ardath Blauvelt
Ardath Blauvelt
1 year ago

Upward mobility is the only brake on unfettered power. Meritocracy is its name. It is the rejection of this, in favor of entitlement of whatever ilk, that has altered the western mitigation of concentrated power. When the path of merit is blocked and the doors of the entitled elite are closed, then ambition and the right to succeed goes to war.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

Meritocracy is fine if we all start from the same background, however that clearly isn’t the case. A wealthy child will nearly always earn more in their lifetime than a poor child due to going to a better school and having better contacts

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

Meritocracy is fine if we all start from the same background, however that clearly isn’t the case. A wealthy child will nearly always earn more in their lifetime than a poor child due to going to a better school and having better contacts

Ardath Blauvelt
Ardath Blauvelt
1 year ago

Upward mobility is the only brake on unfettered power. Meritocracy is its name. It is the rejection of this, in favor of entitlement of whatever ilk, that has altered the western mitigation of concentrated power. When the path of merit is blocked and the doors of the entitled elite are closed, then ambition and the right to succeed goes to war.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
1 year ago

My sensation is that Turchin has some interesting and valuable “outside the box” observations of history, which I always find immensely enjoyable. But perhaps coming up with prescriptions for arresting civilizational decline is a fools errand. Better to just report from the sidelines that which is innevitable. Innevitable and necessary, I would add, for the next step forward for humanity. Meanwhile, with all due respect to the authors, I don’t see anything here that makes life any better for us our children.

Emil Castelli
Emil Castelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

The guy is a goof-ball. The Bill and Mailnda Foundation, and their dogs, the WEF, WHO, Oxfam, UMF, et al…The Central Banks, the Global Hedge Funds….

are all about population reduction. 8 billion now, and in 20 years 1 billion will be left. This is their goal. They want a pretty world to conduct their super decadent life style in, one which Caligula would be shocked at the excesses they will bring in –

”’Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer Albert Bourla: “In 2019 our dream was to reduce the world population by 50 per cent. I think today that dream is becoming a reality.”
Editor: We listened to the full interview and he said their intent was to reduce the population by 2023. So can we conclude the entire Bourla narrative was dubbed? We doubt it. it seems quite authentic. In any case readers can make up their own minds.”’

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Emil Castelli

You’re a fool if you believe the global population will fall by nearly 90% within a generation

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Emil Castelli

You’re a fool if you believe the global population will fall by nearly 90% within a generation

Emil Castelli
Emil Castelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

The guy is a goof-ball. The Bill and Mailnda Foundation, and their dogs, the WEF, WHO, Oxfam, UMF, et al…The Central Banks, the Global Hedge Funds….

are all about population reduction. 8 billion now, and in 20 years 1 billion will be left. This is their goal. They want a pretty world to conduct their super decadent life style in, one which Caligula would be shocked at the excesses they will bring in –

”’Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer Albert Bourla: “In 2019 our dream was to reduce the world population by 50 per cent. I think today that dream is becoming a reality.”
Editor: We listened to the full interview and he said their intent was to reduce the population by 2023. So can we conclude the entire Bourla narrative was dubbed? We doubt it. it seems quite authentic. In any case readers can make up their own minds.”’

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
1 year ago

My sensation is that Turchin has some interesting and valuable “outside the box” observations of history, which I always find immensely enjoyable. But perhaps coming up with prescriptions for arresting civilizational decline is a fools errand. Better to just report from the sidelines that which is innevitable. Innevitable and necessary, I would add, for the next step forward for humanity. Meanwhile, with all due respect to the authors, I don’t see anything here that makes life any better for us our children.

Saul D
Saul D
1 year ago

Discussion about elites makes it seem like an overt oligarchical power. Much of where we are comes from emergent dogmas – bubbles of supposed incontestable thought where those most able to articulate and defend the dogma get higher and higher positions of responsibility, and so control.
So we get climate change that starts as a scientific theory, which then attracts motivated individuals who buy into the theory and want to push it further, and to get funding they need to persuade administrators of the value of the dogma and to build persuasion they collaborate with activist groups to build a lobby. The administrators then support and amplify the dogma (once they show support, to turn back would be a loss of face). Money flows to those supporting the theory. The scientists have then achieved prestige and can gatekeep the theory – dissenters are stopped. The dogma then starts to get a political weight becoming an uncontestable ‘need’. Since it is a ‘need’ the administration takes steps to block ‘irrational’ opposition. The theory becomes a norm and anyone raising issues is a troublemaker to be silenced or shut out of decision making. All funding must go to support the theory.
This happens for a range of topics – climate, EU, immigration, NHS, tax rates, Covid etc. A dogma emerges, promoted by interested parties who then get to control the funding and prevent opposition taking hold. Dissent is essential to prevent it happening. But not necessarily driven by an oligarchical class, just a structural flaw in the competition of ideas.

Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

I think bureaucratic centralization has increased since 1980 to include economic concentration with myriad private-public partnerships, and a grant economy (think military industrial complex everywhere.

Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

I think bureaucratic centralization has increased since 1980 to include economic concentration with myriad private-public partnerships, and a grant economy (think military industrial complex everywhere.

Saul D
Saul D
1 year ago

Discussion about elites makes it seem like an overt oligarchical power. Much of where we are comes from emergent dogmas – bubbles of supposed incontestable thought where those most able to articulate and defend the dogma get higher and higher positions of responsibility, and so control.
So we get climate change that starts as a scientific theory, which then attracts motivated individuals who buy into the theory and want to push it further, and to get funding they need to persuade administrators of the value of the dogma and to build persuasion they collaborate with activist groups to build a lobby. The administrators then support and amplify the dogma (once they show support, to turn back would be a loss of face). Money flows to those supporting the theory. The scientists have then achieved prestige and can gatekeep the theory – dissenters are stopped. The dogma then starts to get a political weight becoming an uncontestable ‘need’. Since it is a ‘need’ the administration takes steps to block ‘irrational’ opposition. The theory becomes a norm and anyone raising issues is a troublemaker to be silenced or shut out of decision making. All funding must go to support the theory.
This happens for a range of topics – climate, EU, immigration, NHS, tax rates, Covid etc. A dogma emerges, promoted by interested parties who then get to control the funding and prevent opposition taking hold. Dissent is essential to prevent it happening. But not necessarily driven by an oligarchical class, just a structural flaw in the competition of ideas.

T Bone
T Bone
1 year ago

Well it is about math. Very basic math. Every Prominent Civilzation collapses from debt. They pay put far more than they take in and then get stuck in the quick sand of interest payments, then dig themselves deeper and deeper trying to solve the problem by taking on more debt and risk.

Modern Monetary Policy like Equity is just Socialism “Reimagined.” Its a high minded Avant-garde run society that tries to perfect the imperfectable by leveraging tax dollars and makes everything worse than it was before.

Socialism does not work. Scandinavian Countries are Free Market Economies. They have Social Systems that everybody wants to share. Its not compelled. It doesn’t incentivize people not to work or to “make their lives easier” through cradle to grave welfare.

Cradle to grave welfare is not only unsustainable, its unproductive to the downtrodden people it claims to help.  A safety net is the thing people fall back on.  When people are told there’s nothing wrong with long term welfare, they’re obviously disincentived. The mentality has clear generational impact. All the West is doing is creating a victim class that serves a ruling class that needs their vote and recycling the problem generationally. Over time that is not sustainable.

Last edited 1 year ago by T Bone
T Bone
T Bone
1 year ago

Well it is about math. Very basic math. Every Prominent Civilzation collapses from debt. They pay put far more than they take in and then get stuck in the quick sand of interest payments, then dig themselves deeper and deeper trying to solve the problem by taking on more debt and risk.

Modern Monetary Policy like Equity is just Socialism “Reimagined.” Its a high minded Avant-garde run society that tries to perfect the imperfectable by leveraging tax dollars and makes everything worse than it was before.

Socialism does not work. Scandinavian Countries are Free Market Economies. They have Social Systems that everybody wants to share. Its not compelled. It doesn’t incentivize people not to work or to “make their lives easier” through cradle to grave welfare.

Cradle to grave welfare is not only unsustainable, its unproductive to the downtrodden people it claims to help.  A safety net is the thing people fall back on.  When people are told there’s nothing wrong with long term welfare, they’re obviously disincentived. The mentality has clear generational impact. All the West is doing is creating a victim class that serves a ruling class that needs their vote and recycling the problem generationally. Over time that is not sustainable.

Last edited 1 year ago by T Bone
John Croteau
John Croteau
1 year ago

The “wealth pump” seems to track economic growth and technological progress. The real metric of success should be improving conditions for the working class, not wealth redistribution before estate tax. The problem today is that we’re pumping out selfish, intellectual elites without any real ability to contribute to economic growth. They expect to revolutionize and rule the world but aren’t qualified to do anything but serve as an barista at Starbucks (or perhaps anchor MSNBC or CNN). Unfortunately, Mr. Turchin strikes me as one of those.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Croteau
John Croteau
John Croteau
1 year ago

The “wealth pump” seems to track economic growth and technological progress. The real metric of success should be improving conditions for the working class, not wealth redistribution before estate tax. The problem today is that we’re pumping out selfish, intellectual elites without any real ability to contribute to economic growth. They expect to revolutionize and rule the world but aren’t qualified to do anything but serve as an barista at Starbucks (or perhaps anchor MSNBC or CNN). Unfortunately, Mr. Turchin strikes me as one of those.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Croteau
Sophy T
Sophy T
1 year ago

No one, as far as I know, has ever predicted the future accurately.

Sophy T
Sophy T
1 year ago

No one, as far as I know, has ever predicted the future accurately.

Aidan Barrett
Aidan Barrett
1 year ago

For elites who want to abolish “hierarchy” (a.k.a divisions of labour), they should live under Khmer Rouge Cambodia.

https://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/museum/cook.htm

Aidan Barrett
Aidan Barrett
1 year ago

For elites who want to abolish “hierarchy” (a.k.a divisions of labour), they should live under Khmer Rouge Cambodia.

https://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/museum/cook.htm

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

There is surely an over-supply of ‘elite training’ – in the traditional form of higher education/university courses – but are there more elites? Are there, per capita, more doctors, lawyers, military brass, MPs, intellectuals, scientists, religious leaders etc? And are they being paid more, in relative terms than 20, 50, 100 years ago? Seems to me that the answers are ‘no’, and ‘no’. With perhaps the exception of business, and banking – Taibbi’s ‘vampire squids’.

Simon S
Simon S
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I think there are more being trained, and fewer slots

Simon S
Simon S
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I think there are more being trained, and fewer slots

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

There is surely an over-supply of ‘elite training’ – in the traditional form of higher education/university courses – but are there more elites? Are there, per capita, more doctors, lawyers, military brass, MPs, intellectuals, scientists, religious leaders etc? And are they being paid more, in relative terms than 20, 50, 100 years ago? Seems to me that the answers are ‘no’, and ‘no’. With perhaps the exception of business, and banking – Taibbi’s ‘vampire squids’.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago

Is this about an influential elite? Surely then it should be split at least into two. The super rich exert their influence on business, advertising, media, and by massive political contributions. The educated elite by their influence in the running of the state, education, and media. In the USA these “groups” are the drivers behind the Republican and Democratic parties. The rest of us are just manipulated election fodder.
The two kinds of elites have nothing in common – but can sometimes reside in the same conflicted body – Zuckerman and Musk for example!
One good thing – we cannot influence politics but we can read and comment on this very nice website because of the support of Mr Paul Marshall.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago

Is this about an influential elite? Surely then it should be split at least into two. The super rich exert their influence on business, advertising, media, and by massive political contributions. The educated elite by their influence in the running of the state, education, and media. In the USA these “groups” are the drivers behind the Republican and Democratic parties. The rest of us are just manipulated election fodder.
The two kinds of elites have nothing in common – but can sometimes reside in the same conflicted body – Zuckerman and Musk for example!
One good thing – we cannot influence politics but we can read and comment on this very nice website because of the support of Mr Paul Marshall.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Who are those chaps in the caption photograph anyone?

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Dunno, but they’re at the Oxbridge boat race. They have that City boy look – superficially charming, somewhat bumptious, unreflective – future Borises.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

We used to call them SPIVS in the good old days, when one was allowed to shame people.

Something about their physiognomy tells me that they maybe Americans?

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Ha! Somehow that tickles me: ‘future Borises’.

Graham Willis
Graham Willis
1 year ago

I think they are commonly described as Hooray Henry’s

Christopher Thompson
Christopher Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Graham Willis

Why are they wearing those ridiculous blazers?

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago

The belt buckle doesn’t seem to fit in with the blazer and it’s also out of place with a beer bottle in the breast pocket! The interview I found interesting.

Last edited 1 year ago by stephen archer
Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 year ago

Supposedly “masters of the universe” but they don’t look like finance workers to me.

Alex Cranberg
Alex Cranberg
1 year ago

Turchin makes a couple important mistakes:
1-The 99% having zilch impact on legislation must not include the indirect legislative impact from elections. Popular discontent clearly get expressed in that way. Trump/Brexit/etc
2-Turchin’s focus is wrongly on a wealth and not consumption “pump”. Most owners of wealth are better thought of as custodians and wealth creators. What matters to the 99% is both consumption and standard of living. Consumption inequality has grown much less than wralth inequality. And standard of living goes up for everyone when for example working class people can swap a landline for a smartphone

Alex Cranberg
Alex Cranberg
1 year ago

Turchin makes a couple important mistakes:
1-The 99% having zilch impact on legislation must not include the indirect legislative impact from elections. Popular discontent clearly get expressed in that way. Trump/Brexit/etc
2-Turchin’s focus is wrongly on a wealth and not consumption “pump”. Most owners of wealth are better thought of as custodians and wealth creators. What matters to the 99% is both consumption and standard of living. Consumption inequality has grown much less than wralth inequality. And standard of living goes up for everyone when for example working class people can swap a landline for a smartphone

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Civilisations decline beause the spirit of the people decline. Spirit declines when the ruling class have no longer been tempered by adversity and they are no longer prepared to die for the civilisation. When the ruling class class use their wealth to evade life or death challenges ; the civilisation dies.