Why is political turbulence rising in America? An interview with Peter Turchin

elite overproduction

Gaius Gracchus addressing the Plebeians. Source: Wikipedia

The patterns of history can provide important clues for future political turmoil and the potential collapse of an empire. Seshat principal investigator Peter Turchin recently spoke to the IB Times about elite overproduction in the United States and what it means for the current political landscape. Elite overproduction is a phenomenon in which rapidly growing numbers of elite aspirants compete for a limited number of power positions. Turchin told IB Times that elite overproduction contributed to the collapse of the Roman Republic, and the American Civil War. It is now happening again today in the United States.

Clear signs of elite overproduction include a rise in the number of politically active millionaires and billionaires. Donald Trump’s candidacy, therefore, “fits like a glove to the predictions of the theory,” said Turchin. Turchin’s model shows that “absolute immiseration” is another signal of troubles to come. The gap between the classes widens and a larger number of people fall to the bottom. Thus we have seen that Bernie Sander’s candidacy, which resonates with the frustrations of non-elites, did surprisingly well against the establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Will we see a full-blown crisis in the next ten years? Read Turchin’s full interview in IB Times. For his predictions, made in 2010, see the article in Nature. And find more information on Turchin’s blog Cliodynamica.


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