January 9, 2017

THESE ARE HEINLEIN’S CRAZY YEARS; WE JUST LIVE IN THEM: Society Could Collapse In A Decade, Predicts Math Historian.

“We should expect many years of political turmoil, peaking in the 2020s,” the cultural evolution researcher [Peter Turchin] writes.

“This is a science-based forecast, not a ‘prophecy. It’s based on solid social science.”

Turchin is a leader in cliodynamics, an interdisciplinary field of study that sees historical events such as the collapse of empires as following predictable mathematical models based on historical data.

The professor has tracked 40 factors in society that hit some kind of turning point in the 1970s. They include such aspects as wealth inequality, stagnating well-being, growing political fragmentation and governmental dysfunction.

The key to society’s armageddon will be “elite overproduction” in which the number of rich grow larger while the majority of society grapples with a stagnant standard of living and poor fiscal health, he believes. The upper echelons, too, will be ripped apart by bitter competition with a population of capable but angry “elite-wannabes” who will be shut out of power. That fissure will undermine the spirit of co-operation and cause society to fragment further, Turchin says.

Keep your powder dry — and keep lots of powder.

UPDATE (From Glenn): Specifically, this is Heinlein’s “The Year of the Jackpot,” with Turchin in the role of Potiphar Breen.

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