An Unparalleled Parallel

Peter Turchin


Join 36.9K other subscribers

The conflict between the Democratically-controlled House and President Trump has entered a new phase, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred Donald Trump from giving the State of the Union speech in the House of Representatives. Trump backed down and postponed the address, but surely this is just a skirmish in the overall war. And there is no end in sight for the government shutdown.

As the passions rise on all sides, I can’t help but to think about another conflict between a head of state and a legislature, which took place centuries ago.

In 1642 the King of England Charles I entered the Parliament accompanied by armed guards in an attempt to arrest five members of the commons on the grounds of high treason.

Charles I attempts to arrest five members of the Parliament

This escalation of a conflict, which had been bubbling for years at that point, was a trigger that directly led to the English Civil war.


Charles lost the war, was tried, and executed.

The execution of Charles I

What is less broadly known is that after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the Parliament condemned to death several dozens of people who were responsible for Charles I’s execution (including the 59 judges who signed the death warrant). A number of them were hanged and quartered (which is a particularly gruesome way of execution). Some of those who escaped to Europe or New England, were hunted down and also executed.

Is there a lesson in this history? Of course, the situation today is different. Trump did not escalate, instead backing down. In any case, Trump is no Charles I (after all, Charles I was the head of the established elites, while Trump is a counter-elite, using the jargon of the structural-demographic theory). And one hopes that today we are more civilized (although I wouldn’t bet on it). If there is a lesson, then it’s a general one: escalation of the conflict may result in a conflagration in which there are no winners.

Postscriptum (added Jan 25): Another interesting parallel with the prelude to the English Civil War is in how the Long Parliament undermined Charles I — not by striking at him directly, but by stripping him of loyal supporters. As soon as the Parliament

assembled on 3 November 1640 [it] quickly began proceedings to impeach the king’s leading counsellors of high treason. Strafford was taken into custody on 10 November; Laud was impeached on 18 December; John Finch, now Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, was impeached the following day, and he consequently fled to the Hague with Charles’s permission on 21 December. To prevent the king from dissolving it at will, Parliament passed the Triennial Act, which required Parliament to be summoned at least once every three years, and permitted the Lord Keeper and 12 peers to summon Parliament if the king failed to do so. The Act was coupled with a subsidy bill, and so to secure the latter, Charles grudgingly granted royal assent in February 1641. Source: Wikipedia

Charles assured Strafford that “upon the word of a king you shall not suffer in life, honour or fortune.” But then

Charles, fearing for the safety of his family in the face of unrest, assented reluctantly to Strafford’s attainder on 9 May after consulting his judges and bishops. Strafford was beheaded three days later.

Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dick Illyes

Trump as Oliver Cromwell, the Clintonians as the Cavaliers who believe with great intensity in the Divine Right of Government (but only by them). MAGA hats fit perfectly on the round heads of the Militant Normals as Kurt Schlichter has described them in his recent book by that name.

The incredible straw men put up by the Clintonistas in their Trump derangement can only be explained by a religious impulse. It is there in human nature and the leftist elites use it over and over. It was best described by Orwell as the Two Minutes Hate in his book 1984.


You can hardly find someone has dissimilar to Cromwell as Trump.

Cromwell was a True Believer (and whatever his faults), definitely Christian. Trump is an impulsive con man and about as in-Christian in his personal life as you can get.

OK, granted, Cromwell established a dictatorship and Trump would if he had the skill.

Loren Petrich

Donald Trump seems like he is in early stages of dementia. He is not as articulate as he had been 10 or 20 years ago, and his thinking is rather shallow, and he thinks that his “gut” is very wise. He is very impulsive, and he wants his briefing books short and full of pictures. He spends much of his time watching TV, and he seems to have outsourced much of his policymaking to Fox & Friends. After having denounced Barack Obama’s golfing, he has golfed at around 10 times the rate of his predecessor. Last year, an anonymous staffer wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times stating that there are “adults in the room” who will keep him from making gross policy blunders, even if by removing documents from his desk.

He is also very narcissistic. He loves adoring crowds, and he seems to think that everybody loves him except for a few villains here and there. That is why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied him a State of the Union address during the shutdown — doing so used his narcissism against him.

Loren Petrich

Donald Trump has a curious fondness for dictators and strongmen, and he seems to trust Russian leader Vladimir Putin more than his nation’s intelligence agencies. He was reluctant to go out in the rain at the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI in the west, and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau took a veiled swipe at him about that. At a meeting later that day, Trump smiled at Putin (!).

He has long projected the image of being a great businessman, but the truth is very different. He has had several bankruptcies, something that has made it difficult for him to get loans from banks. Around 2000, he was bailed out by some Russian oligarchs, and more recently, he has tried to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. This reminds me of a certain John Walker, who was paid by KGB agents to spy for them after he ended up with a lot of debts after a business failure.

Some of his foreign-policy initiatives, like disrupting NATO, cozying up with North Korea, and lifting sanctions on Russian oligarchs who are close to Putin, seem much like what Putin would like. Russian support of him seems to me much like Lenin’s train ride across German territory in early 1917. The German authorities agreed with that because they hoped that Lenin would help destabilize Russia and keep it from being an effective enemy. Early in 1918, they got something big in return, the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty. The Central Powers received from Russia Finland, the Baltic states, Russian Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova. Breakup of NATO would be a comparable foreign-policy coup.

Peter van den Engel

Germany itself broke the alliance before operation Barbarossa. So the temptation never played out into anything else than being deceived itself.

It’s still unclear whether the Russian arms build up before WWII was just a program to artificially create labor in the young communist country/ in combination with a response to earlier attacks on their soil by England and France; which gets little attention; or meant to be prepairing for an attack on Germany.
Anyway, it was defensive just as well, which seams much more likely. Although the German attack on Poland drew them to the borders, after which it could easely be explained as being prepared for an attack.

Trump never went bancrupt, just on some projects, which were intended to go bancrupt after not being profitable. So that cannot be a motive.
Whether better relations with Russia would be a positive or a negative can be explained any way you like. Depends on trust and keeping your eyes open. NATO will not break up.

I agree trade restrictions will only have a shortlived benefit. What’s the difference between producing products for a higher price yourself/-in stead of buying them cheaper, when the same jobs get lost elsewhere and your society cannot afford them anymore. It’s a zero sum game.

Peter van den Engel

Interesting overview of demographic theory. A remark about instabaility characteristics: “radical ideas” can also be represented (in hindsight) by official institutions, like before the French revolution clergy and royal monarchy military – and before the civil war in the US plantation owners using slavery in opposition to more emerging factory labour in the north using payed labour.
So the conflict is created by evolution itself in relation to shifting appretiations and social practical values. Also related to money affirming or denying those.

In relation to elite growth in numbers, this also includes growing consciousness and intelligence, as a result of the learning process, so I would not just focus on wealth as a factor. Recent elites losing power have become more intelligent (like Napoleon refusing to give up, or currently in Venezuela).

The elite growth can also very well be pulled by sectors getting more promising over time, like the mentioned clergy, royal military and plantation owners, which preluded the conflict, since it was build in.
It cannot be a coincidence these elite sectors very often are based on an opposition itself.
In current times the two elites according to my theory are accountants (in the light of a failing financial system and social inequality) and lawyers, which should prevent this, but cannot, or even call it just because of the intertwining political relation which has been created between the two.

steven t johnson

The notion that Trump is a genuine counter-elite is tested by the continued support for Trump by so much of the mass media news organizations. Popular entertainers are very anti-Trump, not least because they see him as a fellow entertainer. No prophet is with honor in his own country. And social media tends to be vicious at the anti-Trump pole. But the news media still treat Trump’s statements as real news, do not promote critical coverage of his shady career even now, and even exclude any but right-wing critiques of Trump even as they posture at even handedness. The elites know how to bring the news organizations to heel. There is not just direct ownership by some and close ties to other owners. But their is the decisive influence of boycotts by the real money. Just as in the election, Trump has the support of very wide layers of the wealthy, especially for his program of trashing old small-d democracy. And, any notion of elites that excludes the generals in a highly militarized society like this needs a little clarification. The shift to Trumpery is far stronger I’d say in the rich rather than the bestial white working class.


@steven johnson

No offense 🙂 but what you write is so absurd that i suspect you are a bot account.

Continued support for trump by the mass media?

Good one, hilarious.

I’m not a trump fan, but the major media in the West looks a lot like Pravda during the height of the Soviet Union, and trump is constantly given the old “two minutes hate”. The media have recently added white christian children to the two minutes hate segment to lively it up, and you just know those kids are worthy of hate from looking at their faces. That one kid clearly committed FACECRIME (Orwell, 1984).

I have an experiment I would like to see tested. My gut says that if trump simply jumped on the globalist train of mass migration and changed nothing else, he would quickly see a significant reduction in attacks from the media.

It’s worked wonders for Pope Francis and the Catholic Church. Their ongoing decades long coverup of child molestation has now gotten a free pass from the major media because the pope actively supports mass migration (of course along with the rest of the standard boilerplate leftwing agenda.)


I had the same fear in those brief hours before Trump decided to back down. What remains is a person who only backs down when he cant win. This is bad. Because he has no internal desire for anything close to reasonableness but also because it is only a functioning resistance that we dont have a president forcing his way into the house. That is where we are, today, 2019.
If a better authoritarian captures just a little bit more of American power than Trump has, there will be no stopping him. That is what’s meant by counter elite. The next one will have friends in Davos.



Davos is the literal definition of the Elite, most certainly not the counter elite. Hillary Clinton was the Davos candidate.

The Davos agenda is the weakening of nation states, generally speaking, and the further empowering of global capital.


Yes. Trump is a counter elite because he is not in that crowd. That crowd has a lot of power that a successful tyrant will have to capture.
We are at risk not because Trump is that tyrant. We are at risk because too few of us fear or recognize the next Trump.



The real risk is not Trump or some future populist leader. The real risk is from the emergence of global surveillance capitalism, and the partnerships between political elites and big tech. Witness Google’s Operation Dragonfly, a project designed to help facilitate better digital surveillance and control on behalf of China’s elites. Or note how fairly run of the mill Libertarians such as Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad) have been financially blacklisted by Patreon, and it appears that the actual impetus came from much higher up the food chain, to the Global Payment Processors themselves…

From an excellent article on the paradigm shift:

“When the security expert Bruce Schneier wrote that “surveillance is the business model of the internet” he was really only hinting at the reality that Zuboff has now illuminated. The combination of state surveillance and its capitalist counterpart means that digital technology is separating the citizens in all societies into two groups: the watchers (invisible, unknown and unaccountable) and the watched. This has profound consequences for democracy because asymmetry of knowledge translates into asymmetries of power. But whereas most democratic societies have at least some degree of oversight of state surveillance, we currently have almost no regulatory oversight of its privatised counterpart.”


one more quote from the guardian article…

“It is no longer enough to automate information flows about us; the goal now is to automate us. These processes are meticulously designed to produce ignorance by circumventing individual awareness and thus eliminate any possibility of self-determination. As one data scientist explained to me, “We can engineer the context around a particular behaviour and force change that way… We are learning how to write the music, and then we let the music make them dance.”

Now think about China’s new social credit score system, and how many elites around the world would like to institute something very similar, but in a more subtle manner.

Ross Hartshorn

So, it’s bad and all, but isn’t this just a normal method of hard bargaining? Trump and Pelosi are both bargaining, and what we will end up will probably be something like “you get a wall and we get DACA, but you promise not to call it a wall and we’ll promise not to call it DACA”. But the details of where exactly to meet, never precisely in the middle, are hashed out in negotiations, and the best way to negotiate is to give the impression that you aren’t all that concerned about not reaching an agreement, i.e. you are willing to walk away.

Which all makes it one more sign of the lack of a general elite consensus to allow for things like budgets, judge appointments, and so forth to get agreed on quickly. But it’s not truly an argument on principles at the level of divine right of kings vs. power to the parliament. It’s standard budget negotiation, with the added twist that both leaders need to prove to their own side that they were hard bargainers.

Of course, maybe the Cavaliers and Roundheads thought they were “just bargaining” back in the 1600’s…

J. Daniel

It’s a little trickier with the current immigration situation in the US. Anti-immigrationists with social power (thus, excluding the uneducated masses) know very well the wall is just political theater and would not work, so they are unwilling to give ground on the dreamers to get a wall because by getting a wall they would not be getting anything significant, while giving up something significant.


@J Daniel

Serious question: In the United States, who are these “Anti-immigrationists with social power”?

Other than Trump–who in reality is mostly bluster with little concrete actions except the slashing of taxes on the wealthiest Americans and the passage of a bloated budget–I don’t see this group.

The republican party and their financial backers have long been immigration proponents. This goes right through to Bush and Reagan. The Koch brothers finance pro-immigration groups. I remember when Bush tried to change the laws to allow Mexican truck drivers to legally drive in America, in order to undercut the American trucking industry.

Bernie Sanders was actually an immigration restricionist during his campaign, but he was immediately called a racist by the left and he fell into line.

J. Daniel

Interesting question. Surely many members of congress are anti-immigration. These would no doubt tend to be the more right wing types. I would guess the “base” was turned against immigrants as a crass political ploy rather than a deeply felt opinion among the elite (better to blame defenseless scapegoats to deflect attention from the real problem, the growing wealth disparity that is causing immiseration). But it worked, and so has grown legs. Also, of course many hate groups are xenophobic and anti-immigration. Most but not all of their leaders would perhaps better be classified as counter-elites (radicalized elite aspirants) than actual elites. So I would agree with you that anti-immigration is rather lightly rooted among the elite segment. Perhaps others have more knowledge about this than I.


“Surely many members of congress are anti-immigration.”

You would be wrong. In the modern era, increased immigration has been supported by both parties as a way to lower labor costs and thus increase profit margins for the Capitalist class– the class that funds the politicians.

Interestingly, this support for increased immigration has also been for skilled immigration, but this topic has largely been subject to a media taboo. In the words of Eric Weinstein, discussing what he refers to as a secret, unpublished study from the National Science Foundation:

“That study was a key link in a chain of evidence leading to an entirely different view of the real origins of the Immigration Act of 1990s and the H1-B visa classification. In this alternative account, American industry and Big Science convinced official Washington to put in place a series of policies that had little to do with any demographic concerns. Their aims instead were to keep American scientific employers from having to pay the full US market price of high skilled labor. They hoped to keep the US research system staffed with employees classified as “trainees,” “students,” and “post-docs” for the benefit of employers. The result would be to render the US scientific workforce more docile and pliable to authority and senior researchers by attempting to ensure this labor market sector is always flooded largely by employer-friendly visa holders who lack full rights to respond to wage signals in the US labor market.”

In fact, historically it has been the left–not the right–who have championed immigration restriction, including the left hero Cesar Chavez, who correctly understood that mass immigration undercut the power of labor unions by increasing supply.

“Open borders has long been a rallying cry of the business and free market Right. Drawing from neoclassical economists, these groups have advocated for liberalizing migration on the grounds of market rationality and economic freedom. They oppose limits on migration for the same reasons that they oppose restrictions on the movement of capital. The Koch-funded Cato Institute, which also advocates lifting legal restrictions on child labor, has churned out radical open borders advocacy for decades, arguing that support for open borders is a fundamental tenet of libertarianism, and “Forget the wall already, it’s time for the U.S. to have open borders.”2 The Adam Smith Institute has done much the same, arguing that “Immigration restrictions make us poorer.”3

Edward Turner

President Donald Trump represents the elites of traditional America and the traditional role America plays in the world i.e. not Team America World Police.

The counter-elites are the globalist liberals who think America is too small for them. They want the globalist technocratic PhD and law degree job sinks they believe the new global institutions will offer.

Trump’s voter base don’t have PhDs and doesn’t need to provide them with technocratic jobs – just regular jobs for ordinary jills and joes.

The impression of Donald Trump as a counter-elite is only because the real counter-elites have become so powerful and influential over the last five decades that they can portray him as one.

The Deep State monarch is in fact better filled in the person of Robert Mueller and his silly investigation that has proved only the only Russian Collusion was Clinton’s Uranium One scandal* and the fake dossier they paid for to trigger it.

*Opportunism and aggressive efforts toward personal gain are typical behaviours of counter-elites.

Peter van den Engel

Yes, well the globalists call themselves democrats/ but have failed to deliver to the people. That’s why Trump is a counter elite.
Of course there is an allience between the accountants (liberals) and the globalists (lawyers), which is unraveling now.
I don’t think the confrontation was just a hardball negotiating ritual.


Currently, after rereading Will Durant’s The Story of Civilization and your book Secular Cycles, the current situation really feels more and more like the Crisis of the Roman Republic.

Public pauperization because of outsourced industries (Farming in the Roman Republic), Wealth Concentration and the Rise of Populism, which lead to a Civil War. (The Later is currently still rather cold and mostly fought on Social Media, but things have gotten so toxic that you already can fell the upcoming violence..)

J. Daniel

I’m unsure that Trump is or represents counter-elites. Basing my understanding of “Ages of Discord,” counter-elites are defined as “radicalized aspirant elites”. Early 20th century counter-elites were described as “labor organizers, anarchists, socialists, and communists”.
Trump seems to be representing the interests of certain fragments of the existing elites who, as elites, already possess social power. I’m thinking of evangelical leaders, right wing ideologue opinion leaders, and leaders of traditional industries like oil. These elite fragments are under increasing pressure in the new information economy and from other fragments of the over-populated elite segment..
On the other hand, counter-elites are characterized as employing as a “common tactic … to mobilize the masses”. Obviously Trump is doing that. But established elites who are under pressure also use that as a common tactic, so manipulation of the immiserated masses is not just a counter-elite strategy.


@J. Daniel

Now i understand what you mean by Anti-immigrationists with social power. True, those groups you mention do have a degree of social power in rural areas. I just don’t see them on the national stage or within mainstream republican party policy.

Alan Patrick

Arguably a similar thing is happening now in UK with Speaker and MPs trying to strip the PM/Gvmnt of power, with a civil culture war at the very least bubbling away in the background.

Edward Turner

Let’s consider the family history of Donald Trump and Robert Mueller. Which one is more likely to be the counter-elite?

Donald Trump – two ancestors have their own wikipedia page. His father, who became a wealthy philanthropist, and his paternal uncle (a professor) who won a National Medal of Science for work on X-Ray generators.

Robert Mueller – none of his ancestors have their own wikipedia page. His father was a captain in the US military during WWII and then held some sort of role at Dupont Corporation. His

President Donald Trump has the more established, wealthy, high-status family background.

We could also consider Nancy Pelosi the current Leader of the House. Her father does have his own wikipedia page. Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. was a politician and mayor of Baltimore, Maryland (1947–59).

Not quite as established elite as Donald Trump himself but moreso than Robert Mueller.


Man, people can convince themselves of anything.

Wasn’t it a mere 2 years ago that you were saying Trump was an anti-elite? You didn’t know his family history then?


BTW, my understanding of counter-elites is that they are indeed also elites. Just elites that are out of power.

Hence “counter-elite”, not “anti-elite”.


BTW, not inviting the President to deliver a State of the Union speech is hardly anything.

The US got along fine with the President delivering the State of the Union by letter for well over a century.

Definitely not anything like arresting members of Parliament or beheading counselors.

Loren Petrich

Although to us, it might seem like a pinprick, it was a good move on Nancy Pelosi’s part, because it hits him where it hurts — his narcissism. It deprives him of a chance to strut around and pose as a big hero and bask in admiration.

Narcissism? It seems to me that he is so narcissistic that reflection pools would be dangerous to him. Dangerous because he might get so enraptured by his reflection in such a pool that he might fall in.

Dick Illyes

I submit an entirely different way to read the situation. Trump knows what he is doing ! ! !

He believes that the border and immigration situation has to be addressed. He uses his gaming abilities honed by years of getting his way in the end in dozens of huge deals to get the border/immigration situation addressed. He has now been able to create a situation where both parties have meaningful people working on a solution. Appearing to get beat to attain this situation was one of his paths to his desired solution. He doesn’t care about short term appearances.

His base doesn’t really care about a wall, they will be happy with any orderly situation at the border. If he had gotten his 5 billion it would have worked. What he got now may work. He wants Congress to seriously address the entire border/immigration issue and that is his actual goal, but if that doesn’t work he has another path. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a paper that suggests he already has the authority under existing law to use Department of Defense resources to build border barriers without obtaining congressional approval or declaring a state of emergency. Specific details here:

To believe that Trump is actually the personna he sometimes exhibits is to be in an entirely different universe than the one he actually exists in. He always has a game going with numerous possible paths and knows where he expects to end up.

He wants to solve the border/immigration situation. He will wind up getting it done, and in a way that will make his base happy when the dust settles. He sees things with many more potential paths to the desired solution than most people do, and will nearly always prevail.

He has spent decades visualizing, organizing, and carrying out huge complex deals successfully over and over. He has hired thousands of smart professionals and gotten them to finish projects, begin operations, and produce revenue successfully. To believe he is as dumb as he often acts it to miss everything. He does know what he is doing and doesn’t care what his opponents think

Historians twenty years from now will call this period the Trump Restoration


If you drink enough kool-aid, any defeat is a victory.

Anyway, actually, Trump is well on his way to being a failed President like Buchanan, Hoover, and Carter (leading to a left-wing reign on par with the Democrats’ New Deal to Great Society dominance).

Edward Turner

Like the way you followed up delusion with fantasy there.

Come on, admit it. 500,000 new jobs, 100,000 new manufacturing jobs and ending the North Korea/South Korea conflict in two years – among other things – is amazing.

Nobody predicted or expected that.

Loren Petrich

There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in Fox News. This alleged Trump boom is not due to him spending all of his day directing businesses to hire people, but instead is a continuation of the economic recovery of the later years of Barack Obama’s presidency. Also, Trump’s trade wars have hurt a lot of farmers rather badly.

As to his deal with North Korea, I am reminded of Neville Chamberlain’s “peace for our time” with Adolf Hitler.


Nothing’s actually changed in Korea, dude. You’re deluded if you think otherwise.

Peter van den Engel


The immigration discussion is just a tail spin effect of global economic evolution.

Its political decission might have been advocating for a multicultural society, or human rights, or by creating economic growth, including competition.
Anyway it confirms that people should have a right for choosing the best states, which means a combination of competition and freedom. Which I could not agree with more. However it still needs to be designed and well understood.

As an ideal there are a number of reasons which would be in line with the corresponding political or practical preferences, so you cannot just blame it on a particular party.
The difference however is, in the past; in the sixties; there was a lot of demand, especially for lower class work. So labour immigration was part of the pact.

This was combined a little later in the seventies and eighties with immigrants coming from former colonies getting independend, who’s new gouvernment was not always prefered by everyone, so they chose their alternative state.
Making a political difference for the first time/ explained atvthe time as perhaps a multicultural benefit in combination with human rights.

After that, since the late nineties, the local economy started shrinking because of outsourcing and automation/ but under the newly introduced open border act still a lot of fortune seekers who remembered the old days came over/ but were late in understanding, because the situation had inverted.
There was no demand for lower labour anymore/ and social funds had dried up, or were drying up, certainly under growing need for elderly care, because the avarage age had risen in the meanwhile.

So, it’s not local wage competition so much, when minimum wage blocks that, but cultural differences under the stress of the situation. Because the labour competition already happened by outsourcing. They did not get a job. Leading to higher crime rates.
The overlapping situation in the US has been slightly different because of strong growth in software and hardware technology, attracting foreign brains.

What you can blame politicians for mainly is they never saw the changes happening (evutionary illiteracy), or did not want to see them and very often did quite the opposite of what the sitiation asked for. As if the world would move by itself in the direction they were conducting. Well, obviously it did not.



I agree with much of what you say. However, what you don’t appear to understand is that the core aspects of our neoliberal globalist economy were absolutely planned by elites and their technocrats. When I say elites, I don’t mean the rotating class of politicians who typically don’t even read the multi hundred page bills that they sign. I mean the billionaire and multibillionaire majority shareholders in the neoliberal corporate global economic system and some of their technocrats in the blue chip orgs and think tanks.

There are two main prongs of globalism: Free Trade and Immigration. Free trade moves the portable jobs overseas for lower wages and lower environmental costs. Immigration lowers the price of labor for less portable jobs like construction.

As that Eric Weinstein article notes above (brother of evolutionary biologist bret weinstein), powerful american institutions also conducted a secretive plan to import highly educated immigrants to undercut the wages of domestic PhDs and skilled tech workers.

As you say Peter, this isn’t a left or right issue. It is a top vs bottom issue, and the globalists have smartly undercut the traditional left by funding and celebrating the new left’s divisive Identity Politics ideology. I’m not sure this was done in the full light of consciousness, but it was a logical move from a game theoretic perspective that served their class interests. It also conveniently absolves them of guilt for screwing over the native western working classes, because those “bigots” deserved having their jobs shipped overseas. In fact, the working classes have now been rebranded as racists/fascists/xenophobes by the billion dollar corporate media.

Of course, the modern mainstream right is almost entirely prostrate before capital and has instant knee jerk reactions against regulating corporate monopolies and oligopolies. It’s a far cry from the days of Teddy Roosevelt.


Teddy Roosevelt was an abberation. Other than that progressive blip, GOP has been pro-oligarchy for well over a century now.


Sorry Professor Turchin, that response was for Peter Van Den Engel.

I just finished Ages of Discord and I’m reading Ultrasociety, they are outstanding, thank you.

The parallel you drew in your post is pretty fascinating.

One thing that has impressed me about the Trump presidency is just how weak he appears. I guess one could view the situation from the opposite perspective, and point out how powerful the globalist neoliberal movement is amongst elites and their media mouthpieces.

But at the same time, the hyperliberal ideology/religion of the elites is extremely fragile and liable to fracture at any time, given that it’s composed of disparate identity groups unified in opposition to a single scapegoat group.

The U.K. has just entered this new phase, with a conflict erupting between LGBTQ dogma and Islamic sharia dogma in British public schools.

As Jonathan Haidt points out, both are sacred groups in the Intersectional ideology. Who will win that conflict?


“But at the same time, the hyperliberal ideology/religion of the elites is extremely fragile and liable to fracture at any time, given that it’s composed of disparate identity groups unified in opposition to a single scapegoat group.”

The FDR New Deal coalition that won overwhelming electoral and political victories included both African-Americans as well as Southern white racists who not only saw African-Americans as inferior people but disenfranchised and lynched African-Americans. So no, I don’t think the left is terribly fragile. The Green New Deal very much could be a thing.

Stephen Skowronek is worth reading.



Todays left wing doesn’t bear much resemblance to the left of 20 years ago, much less the left of FDR’s era.

BTW, the right of 100 years ago is quite different from the right of today as well.



Very true, but my point is that if a political alliance of two peoples who hate and despise each other could be kept together for decades in the past, you’d need a more completing explanation for why something like that can’t take place in the future.

Note that the GOP coalition also has very disparate groups kept together since Reagan): conservative libertarian elites who care about tax cuts, support open borders, and despise the poor and working class (just read Kevin Williamson) and cultural conservative working class who do not care for the rich and oppose open borders.


“Compelling”, not “completing”



Thanks for your reply, and its fair point.

In terms of the FDR-New Deal coalition, I would point out that blacks only made up around 10% of the population, they were actively hampered from voting, they had very little power within the coalition, and where else could they go?

Also, blacks and whites were not directly opposed in one major way—almost all were Christian, and this common ideology helped play a unifying role (it featured prominently in the success of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, for example.)

The modern rural cultural conservatives make up the majority portion of the Republican voter base, as we saw in the Republican presidential primary. The Republican coalition showed fractures in the last election, as those cultural conservatives have slowly woken up to the fact that the Republican Corporate Party has not been pushing policies in their best interest. Trump was able to capitalize on this new awareness and discontent. The corporate, low tax, Libertarian and Globalist minded wealthy Republicans were appalled by this development, and many did defect from the coalition.

In the new leftist coalition, the ideologies of the constituent groups *openly and directly* oppose each other. The TERFs (transexclusionary radical feminists) don’t believe that transmen are women, the transmen attack the TERFs as bigots and transphobes.

The LGBTQ community says that you can be whatever gender you want, the Islamic community is generally very conservative and antagonistic toward homosexuality (according to opinion polls.) The Islamic community is also generally very strong in terms of policing cultural values.

The Intersectional feminists believe all disparities between men and women are due to male oppression, so according to this view, black women have more morality points than black men. If opportunities like jobs, professorships, etc are going to be handed out on the basis of bonus racial/gender/sexual orientation points, who gets the most points? The lawsuit by Asian-Americans against Harvard exposed another crack in the coalition, as evidence shows that Harvard (among many universities) has openly discriminated against Asian applicants much as they did 100 years ago against Jews. Due to their success, Asians get negative points for somehow oppressing the other groups in the Intersectional coalition.

Thus, if this coalition gains significant power, I see it descending into serious infighting and fragmentation. In Europe, there will be a profound schism between Islam and the Intersectional ideology. In America, the Muslim population is far smaller, so perhaps the coalition can last longer.

Polls also show that in America the younger so-called Generation Z is more conservative and less favorable to the Intersectional ideology than Millenials.


“The TERFs (transexclusionary radical feminists) don’t believe that transmen are women, the transmen attack the TERFs as bigots and transphobes.”

Yes. They’re also both tiny groups.

“The LGBTQ community says that you can be whatever gender you want, the Islamic community is generally very conservative and antagonistic toward homosexuality”

Yes, but so was the African-American community on homosexuality. But just as African-Americans weren’t going to flock to a party that played on the racial fears of whites with dog whistles, Muslims aren’t going to flock to a party that plays on the religious fears of evangelical whites (with dog whistles and more blatant anti-Muslim signals).

“Thus, if this coalition gains significant power, I see it descending into serious infighting and fragmentation”

Sure. All coalitions do. The post-Civil War Republican coalition (of rich Northern industrialists, Northern working class WASPs, Northern WASP farmers, and blacks) didn’t last forever. The FDR coalition didn’t last forever. The Reagan coalition is in the process of falling apart now.

But the New Left coalition will last at least as long as those did (so 30+ years).


‘The TERFs (transexclusionary radical feminists) don’t believe that transmen are women, the transmen attack the TERFs as bigots and transphobes.’

“Yes. They’re also both tiny groups.”

True. And yet, within the Intersectional coalition they have significant moral authority that far outweighs their number. In particular, when trans activists make pronouncements, the elites within the coalition respond, *especially* the white male hetero elites.

‘The LGBTQ community says that you can be whatever gender you want, the Islamic community is generally very conservative and antagonistic toward homosexuality’

“Yes, but so was the African-American community on homosexuality. But just as African-Americans weren’t going to flock to a party that played on the racial fears of whites with dog whistles, Muslims aren’t going to flock to a party that plays on the religious fears of evangelical whites (with dog whistles and more blatant anti-Muslim signals).”

I didn’t say that Muslims will flock to the Republican or Conservative Party. But they will most certainly defect from any enforced Intersectional ideology that directly contradicts their own suite of cultural values. In my opinion, this is the most obvious cultural prediction we can make.

“But the New Left coalition will last at least as long as those did (so 30+ years).”

You may be correct. I don’t see it lasting 20 years within Europe. In the US, it has a better chance of making it to 30 years.


“I didn’t say that Muslims will flock to the Republican or Conservative Party. But they will most certainly defect from any enforced Intersectional ideology that directly contradicts their own suite of cultural values.”

Well, if they are defecting, there has to be a place they’d defect to, and in the US, Muslims sure as heck are not going to defect to what is quickly becoming seen (by pretty much everyone) as the anti-Muslim party. If you’re Muslim, hard-right Evangelical Christians who demonize you, want you out of the country, and believe you deserve to go to hell are much more of a threat to you than some trans/gay/feminists.

I see that you come from a European perspective, and so your view may be different. The UK Tories don’t seem to include as many outright anti-Muslim factions as the US Republicans. Remember that anti-Muslim white evangelical Christians are a significant portion of the US population (and a big portion of the GOP). Remember also that, in the US, Muslims tend to moderate their religious and social views over time, so they come closer to the Left culturally while still being demonized by the Right.


“Well, if they are defecting, there has to be a place they’d defect to…”

Not necessarily. They just won’t be supporting the Intersectional coalition and its Ideology. Just as many Republicans defected from the Party during the Trump election, they didn’t migrate to the Democratic Party. Some of them voted for the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, some of them wrote in a candidate, and some of them didn’t vote.

You wrote that in the US, Muslims tend to moderate their religious and social views over time. While I haven’t seen data that supports this view (I’m not doubting you), in general cultural assimilation of whatever degree is a matter of scale. That is, when the numbers of immigrants who are bringing in a different suite of cultural values is relatively low, when they are dispersed throughout the population (as opposed to living in their own cultural silos), and when the host culture has a strong internal cultural norm set that advocates assimilation (which the US used to have) then I agree, immigrants will tend to shift toward the host norm set.

However, when the rate of immigration is high, when the immigrants are not encouraged to assimilate (in fact, the opposite is encouraged), when even learning the host language isn’t stressed (a recent American public figure was called racist for calling on Chinese students to learn and speak English in American Universities), then there is far less pressure on immigrants to modify their views.

Loren Petrich

Some terminology. A male-to-female (mtf) transsexual or transgender person is a transwoman (trans woman), and a female-to-male (ftm) one is a transman (trans man).

Transwomen have been a much bigger issue than transmen, for whatever reason. The Religious Right and TERF’s both consider transwomen to be fake women, men pretending to be women, and similarly for transmen.

On the other side, some transpeople want to be considered all woman or all man, as the case may be. Thus, obviously male genitalia become female, and vice versa: “some women have penises”. I think that that is illogical, and that they should acknowledge that their psychological gender does not match their somatic gender. I also note that many transpeople go through a lot of trouble to get their bodies reshaped into an approximation of the cispeople with their psychological gender.

Loren Petrich

I’ve found this entertaining take on this issue: The Annals of the TERF-Wars | Jane Clare Jones Here is a tiny bit of it:

Prologue: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Transsexual women: We just want some basic human rights.
Women: Okay.
Transsexual women: We have this condition called gender dysphoria and it’s really painful and we need to transition to live as the other sex because it’s the treatment for the dysphoria.
Women: Yeah, that sounds tough. Okay, if that’s what you need to do.
Transsexual women: We’d like you to treat us as women.
Most women: Um, okay. Sure, we can do that if that helps.


Here’s a good recent interview with Eric… he makes many insightful points about our strange times.


interview with Eric starts around 2:13

J. Daniel

My career would have been more successful, and higher paying, if I didn’t have to compete with so many smart people from all over the world coming to America to get PhDs in computing and other technical fields.


@J Daniel:

Hard to say. Those smart people also innovate, start companies, grow the economy, leading to jobs.
Would your industry feature such robust growth if those people had not come?
Look at where a lot of the major movers and shakers in Silicon Valley came from.



Cui Bono?

Globalist policies on immigration have certainly contributed to a brain drain in many non-Western nations. Many globalists say that they care greatly for the people in non-Western nations. Is this true?

Also, when high performing immigrants do indeed spur the domestic economy, where do the bulk of the economic gains go? Who benefits from all that “robust growth”? Is it the venture capitalist billionaires, or is it skilled American citizens like J. Daniels?

We see wave after wave of mergers and acquisitions where promising startups are purchased by oligopoly players, and layoffs inevitably follow.

There are pros to mass skilled immigration for the host country, but there are also obvious cons, and on the balance it appears to me that the bulk of the pros disproportionately benefit the billionaire class.

Peter van den Engel

@ Ryan

I do understand that perspective very well/ it just did not fit right away in the immigrant debate as such, to explain racism is a stupid reaction to define the problem source/ nor using it to blame protesters, because their source for reacting is poor economic circumstanses (immiseration) and in some cases secular cultural religious aspects, which the state does not respond to because of the seperation between church, state and juridicy. This is where the lawyers come into play, blocking proper solutions and paralyzing politicians.

I agree there is a central driver at play in the current global evolution related to billionairs (Rothschild, etc.), which focusses on their private interests first/ but is also excused by economic theory. When people prove their ability by working, there’s nothing wrong with it/ but when this in the end only benefits the top elites who are indebting them (the core role of the financial system), it plays out directly inverted to the objective.
So, when this self interest (which is excused/ denied) can cooperate with idealist elites (politicians), with lack of life experience resulting in false world views, you end up in a mess.
(to be continued)

Peter van den Engel

@ Ryan

Yes the evolutionary momentum is involved in a top bottom (elite/ commons) equation right now. Which can very well be defined by the natural phisics theory I am using for explaining evolution.
In fact the bottom although it is experiencing immiseration/ is the rich part right now, and the top the poor.
This is caused by the false explanation (world view) of the financial system.
Which is based on a false natural physical perception of reality.
Although the fact it closes supply and demand very well is also true at the same time.
It all depends on its momentum stage. Meaning, as long as there are shortages in combination with labour still being inefficient, the dynamic turns out profitable: progressive.
But as soon as this is inverted: labour being that efficient it (the number) does not cover the whole (demand, consumption) group anymore and general shortages are resolved. That part cannot earn money anymore; and does not have to do labour; meaning material overproduction; anymore. But it obviously results in a vacuum (material and psychological immiseration) and fiscal state problems.
The only way to fix the peoblem is to adapt the financial system into its proper natural physical function. Meaning you just use it for closing supply and demand/ but don’t use it anymore for direct mechanical implementation of income, because that’s just the mechanics/ not a reward for a special performance which is intelligent, and cancel the whole debt relation, because that is false.
A shared time can only be shared once and has no implications for being indebted to someone who cannot be the owner of it. Same goes fot so called profit, because also that is the value swap of a time; expressing the valuation of the product; which cannot be swapped in ownership in a literal natural physics sense. This (free) time can only belong to and shared by the (consumer) demand side. That’s why they are rich/ without knowing it, because the material financial system; which is a behavioral pattern; explains it inverted to that.

So, all you need is a.medium income system, including rewards for intelligent performance/ not mechanical; and because debt is canceled from the equation, you immediately neutralize the position of billionaires, without having to execute them, like in guillotine times.
You don’t solve the problem by inflating the opposition. Athough it is correct to define it first.

J. Daniel

Speaking of counter-elites, who constitutes this segment in contemporary USA? The only ones I can think of are the leaderships of right wing hate groups. (If we define counter-elite as radicalized elite aspirant / angry elite wannabes.)

Edward Turner

Utter nonsense.

Where are all the leaders coming from? Not from the right.

Donald Trump was a Democrat before he became a Republican. Why? No space on the Democrat side. Clintons had it all sewn up – at least they thought they did.

Now this Howard Schultz billionaire who wants to stand as an independent in the 2020 Presidential. Same thing happening. Anyone with any leadership talent is moving right.

There are no exceptions.

The angry birds are on the left, who when they are not arguing amongst themselves, will call anyone who thinks right hateful. Their hate is an attempt to drive out of their elite community the excess liberals who are now moving right and becoming great leaders.

J. Daniel

Ed, Ed. Easy, big guy. My query about who the counter-elites are was a serious question, not “Utter nonsense.” I didn’t know mentioning right wing hate groups would produce such a reaction. But now I do.

Edward Turner

Critical commentary. Maybe you are very wrong to casually throw around terms like ‘right wing hate groups’?

My answer: the solution to an excess supply of liberals was to increase the size of the circle who were considered right wing haters. The excess elites, MBAs, PhDs, lawyers – due to whatever man-made or structural demographic cause – caused greater competition for credentialed positions. Since the number of positions of power and status are finite and it’s difficult to decide between people who look on paper to be virtually identical expressing what is considered virtuous became a form of credential.

As you increase the demographic structural pressure you increase the purity spiral of ever greater virtue signalling to ever more obscure minority groups: more individuals are not considered pure enough and are kicked out of the imagined elite circle and forevermore called hateful right wing bigots. They are thereby arbitrarily disqualified from positions of power and status and censored and deplatformed.

More and more liberals are being kicked out as the Democrat side becomes entirely an alliance of aggressive elites who consider themselves defenders of oppressed identities. It’s a fact that on Twitter Howard Shultz, billionaire and ex-Clinton Democrat, is being called a right wing racist and sexist.

Having an oppressed identity is not enough. It’s not just white heterosexual men who are considered the oppressors anymore. If you don’t virtuously support oppressed identities in an aggressive enough manner – which involves lying and calling great people ‘bad humans’ – you will not be pure enough and you will be kicked out.

The people who use the term ‘right wing hate groups’ rarely stop to think that hate can also be generated on the left in this way.

Ultimately this process will collapse in on itself because the best virtue signallers have no virtue and therefore cannot be trusted.

Organisation is based on trust and willingness to cooperate not ability to tell lies about your rivals which only serves to make enemies and put a target on your back.

Peter van den Engel

It’s a combination of factors, with a momentum stage involved.
In simple economic terms it’s a result of supply and demand. The more supply, the lower the price. Because the area of competition is ristricted to what it can represent, absorbe.
However, that does not explain everything, because there are at the same time other dominators involved as well.

Jobs payed by gouvernment are under pressure, because gouvernments make less money due to global economic evolution, canceling out local jobs and hence fiscal income. Politicians themselves though isolate themselves from the effect because they hold the central administrative position and can make up their own income.
They believe they are in competition with the commercial market, so just follow that trend without needing to perform.

That in combination with the fact there is more interest globally in studying in a large singular language global market, certainly when it comes down to digital technology, which is controled from the very same centre by monopolies like google and facebook, etc.
So the economic dominator creates the competition and is restricted to that area.
Combine that with the fact politicians who are in power to decide over social issues, determining who goes first/ and who goes out, are predominated by very little life experience and singular types of social study, so what they deceide is for 90% of the time a wrong decission. Almost anybody would do a better job.

So, concluding. It takes a much better distribution of fields of interest and related jobs than we have now and we need to set a medium income base, because the old economic paradigma does not apply anymore and we need tovget rid of the old class of politicians, who need to go back to school.
Apart from that the single handed gouverned state belongs to the dark ages as well.

Peter van den Engel

ps. Liberals is a confusing term, since it already represents an existing political class, which is closely related to neo liberal economics. This group however means being liberal (different) in comparison to the general political orthodoxy which is constituted by social political study, because all of them are from that same class, be it with left- or rightwing preferences. Especially in Europe.
In Europe none of these counter elites has been elected so far. Since it’s a coalition system. The one which would have been in the Netherlands in 2002 was killed by an extremist before elections.
Apparently in the US there are more options to sidepass the system, because it’s allowed to use private capital for funding in combination with concern about the orthodoxy.
In Europe you need to be in parliament first, before you can arouse concern. This route is sooner blocked and harder to persue. In England opposition parties aren’t even allowed in parliament. Extremely peculiar elitarian system.

Peter van den Engel

It does not matter what people think/ but how things are organized. It is not a question of open or closed borders/ but how you register and communicate opportunities and restrictions, because this will be 90% self organizing.
Thinking only in terms of on or off is an expression of illiteracy, that is: the law system keeps illiteracy alive, because that’s the only breaker it allows itself to think in.

Dick Illyes

I recently reread Inventing Freedom by Daniel Hannan. There is a very important difference between the Enlightenment generated societies of Europe and England. It is obvious when you look at towns on either side of the US/Mexican border. It needs to become understood and recognized as a fundamental characteristic that has guided the development of the Anglophone World.

There is also another fundamental underlying idea that has guided the development of the US, the Non-Aggression Principle. If you look you can always find it in the background of all positive societal developments in the US. It needs to be recognized and understood. IMHO it can be the basis of a new stable culture in not only the US but the world.

steven t johnson

The notion that the Enlightenment pedigree traces only through England seems doubtful to me. Enlightenment to Condorcet, the Girondins in general, to the Directory, to Napoleonic era liberals like Constant seems to me to be just as much Enlightenment influence. The liberals in Spain were certainly influenced by Napoleon’s armies, just as they were in Italy and Germany. And the influence from there to the Spanish colonies seems inescapable.

Even more important, it seems unnecessary to look to such nebulous causes. Briefly comparing Mexican and US history, it seems to me that a huge difference is the US triumph of the national army in establishing a national state. (In many respects the core of the Federalist Party was a group of army officers, notably Washington, Hamilton and Knox.) Hamilton did not succeed in enacting his full program. Jefferson succeeded in terminating aspects dedicated to economic development that were incompatible with slavery. But the states’ rights ideology Jefferson promulgated eventually led to the Civil War. A Jeffersonian-style states’ right ideology always dominated I think in Mexico, making its national state much, much weaker.

Dick Illyes

The focus on individual property rights in the Anglosphere is the most obvious thing described in Hannan’s book. The book deserves to be widely read. Property rights are the major influences in the difference between Mexico and the US IMO. Anyone interested in exploring why the countries are so different should read the Hannan book. I have not seen this material in that clear form anywhere else. A man’s home is his castle was never a part of the European experience. It was a big deal in the Anglosphere.

This also led to a big difference in soldiers. The Mexican Army routinely used summary execution during the 1700’s and 1800’s, often at the whim of the officers during training. That would never have been tolerated in the US. I recently read a history of the Mexican War and was struck by the individual soldier initiative by the US and the absence of that in the Mexican Army. Even when starving the US forces won routinely based on individual initiative.

Peter van den Engel

I am not sure you are getting this right. The muslim immigrants came over for work and being active in the community/ not because of some religious reason. Why they are not acceped in the firsr place is an economic reason too, because there is no work and they would otherwise take away jobs or social security benefits. This is the source of the conflict in both directions.
All other mentioned reasons are secular.
Apart from that practicing christians in western societies are no more then perhaps 10% or less. Although this might be more in the US.
Also muslims by far are not practicing anymore/ although obviously the mosk provides in social contacts, which become more valuable when the other side is missing, also because there are no jobs/ and when they are there, they are judged for generalizing reasons, because one presumes what the imam says stands for what they all think. Which is wrong/ athough they are not fed by information explaining otherwise. It’s a communication problem.

Also guessing who might vote for whom is an improductive method, when it comes down to explaining what is wrong or right first. It is a general misconception contemporary politicians very often prove to be tangled up in. Probably spin doctors took their mind out. Predicting is not foretelling.

  1. Home
  2. /
  3. Cliodynamica
  4. /
  5. Regular Posts
  6. /
  7. An Unparalleled Parallel

© Peter Turchin 2023 All rights reserved

Privacy Policy