End Times

Elites, Counter-Elites, and the Path of Political Disintegration

Publication Date:
June 13, 2023
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Back in 2010, when Nature magazine asked leading scientists to provide a ten-year forecast, Turchin used his models to predict that America was in a spiral of social disintegration that would lead to a breakdown in the political order circa 2020. The years since have proved his prediction more and more accurate, and End Times reveals why.

The lessons of world history are clear, Turchin When the equilibrium between ruling elites and the majority tips too far in favor of elites, political instability is all but inevitable. As income inequality surges and prosperity flows disproportionately into the hands of the elites, the common people suffer, and society-wide efforts to become an elite grow ever more frenzied. He calls this process the wealth pump; it’s a world of the damned and the saved. And since the number of such positions remains relatively fixed, the overproduction of elites inevitably leads to frustrated elite aspirants, who harness popular resentment to turn against the established order. Turchin’s models show that when this state has been reached, societies become locked in a death spiral it’s very hard to exit.

In America, the wealth pump has been operating full blast for two generations. As cliodynamics shows us, our current cycle of elite overproduction and popular immiseration is far along the path to violent political rupture. That is only one possible end time, and the choice is up to us, but the hour grows late.


“Peter Turchin brings science to history. Some like it and some prefer their history plain. But everyone needs to pay attention to the well-informed, convincing and terrifying analysis in this book.”Angus Deaton, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics

“History is hopelessly complex and unpredictable’: so say most historians. If they were right, we would all be in deep trouble, helpless against a myriad of looming disasters. But Peter Turchin has pioneered a new science of making history predictable–by applying methods that had already succeeded in other complex fields. You’ll want to know what he sees lying ahead, and what we can do about it.”Jared Diamond, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of Guns Germs and Steel

“In End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites, and the Path of Political Disintegration, Mr. Turchin offers a lucid and elegant theory that is stable across time and place in the manner of natural laws and scientific findings.” Wall Street Journal

“Arguably the most comprehensive explanation so far of the current and ongoing crisis of American politics . . . End Times [is] required reading for all who are serious about saving or redeeming American democracy.”Salon

“Scintillating . . . Turchin’s elegantly written treatment looks beneath partisan jousting to class interests that cycle over generations, but also yields timely policy insights. It’s a stimulating analysis of antagonisms past and present, and the crack-up they may be leading to.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Peter Turchin provides a powerful synthesis of the historical forces that have brought American society to the dangerous ledge upon which it now teeters. With both clarity and methodological innovation, Turchin shows us on a grand scale why we must address wealth inequality in order to preserve democracy and our nation’s political order.” Admiral James Stavridis, United States Navy (retired), sixteenth Supreme Allied Commander Europe at NATO, twelfth dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and author of To Risk It All: Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision

“A pre-eminent digital-age seer . . . a great collected narrative of human hope and human failure.” Tim Adams, Observer

“Extraordinary . . . the culmination of many years of highly original and innovative work.” Niall Ferguson, Bloomberg

“From the man who predicted the rise of Trump-or someone very like him-a remarkably clear, data-driven explanation of why societies fall into crisis, and how to engineer a soft landing.” The Guardian Summer Reading

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