August 13, 2012

United States is approaching a period of violent upheaval.

Cliodynamics: History as Science

Empires rise and fall, populations and economies boom and bust, world religions spread or wither... What are the mechanisms underlying such dynamical processes in history? Are there 'laws of history'? We do not lack hypotheses to investigate - to take just one instance, more than two hundred explanations have been proposed for why the Roman Empire fell. But we still don't know which of these hypotheses are plausible, and which should be rejected. More importantly, there is no consensus on what general mechanisms explain the collapse of historical empires. What is needed is a systematic application of the scientific method to history: verbal theories should be translated into mathematical models, precise predictions derived, and then rigorously tested on empirical material. In short, history needs to become an analytical, predictive science (see Arise cliodynamics).

The article on JPR

Article reprint (this version is identical to the published one, except for pagination)


Data in Excel, for explanation of columns see Appendix III

.....according to the research of Peter Turchin, the US is drawing near to an ominous timeframe.
Specifically, Turchin says the United States is approaching a period of violent upheaval. He bases his prediction on a field of study called, “cliodynamics,” which identifies significant behavioral patterns in a nation’s history. US behavior, according to Turchin, operates on a 50-year pattern.

Turchin did not pull the 50-year number out of the air. He compiled copious historical data about major violent incidents in US history between 1780 and 2010 and concluded that a cycle of violence repeats itself every 50 years in America.

“Circa 1870, the North fought the South in the Civil War,” explains. “Half a century later, around 1920, worker unrest, racial tensions and anti-Communist sentiment caused another nationwide upsurge of violence. Then, 50 years later, the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement triggered a third peak in violent political, social and racial conflict.

“Why 50-year cycles?” asks. “After a period of sustained violence, [Turchin explains], citizens begin to ‘yearn for the return of stability and an end to fighting.’...The prevailing social mood swings toward stifling the violence at all costs, and those who directly experienced the civil violence maintain the peace for about a human generation — 20 or 30 years. But the stability doesn’t last. Eventually, ‘the conflict-scarred generation dies off or retires, and a new cohort arises.’...As a result, periods of intense conflict tend to recur with a period of roughly two generations (40-60 years).”

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