Cliodynamics: Can Science Decode the Laws of History? (My article on the Conversation)



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“When the French Assembly of Notables frustrated attempts by the royal government to fix the state fiscal crisis in 1788, because they did not want to pay taxes, these aristocrats did not intend to trigger the French Revolution, during which many of them ended up guillotined or exiled. Yet this is precisely what happened.

When the slave-owning elites of South Carolina declared their secession from the Federal Union in December 1860, they did not intend to trigger a bloody civil war that caused more than 600,000 deaths, killed one quarter of military-aged white Southerners, and resulted in the loss of most of their own wealth, when their slaves were freed. Yet this is precisely what happened.

Now, when the radical Tea Party Republicans refuse to negotiate with the Democrats to achieve a compromise, they probably don’t intend to push the United States into default, trigger a massive economic crisis, widespread urban riots, political assassinations and terrorism, and bloody clashes between the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement. Yet – well, this hasn’t happened but cliodynamics indicates that during the next decade the United States will be unusually vulnerable to an outbreak of serious political violence.”

Read more at the Conversation

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Ian Lowe

How desperate must a system be that it has to prevent it’s imminent collapse by massive acts of violence and enslavement of it’s own people?
Have you read any Orwell novels?
Did you learn nothing from them, except the techniques employed to manipulate people?
Do you really think it’s a good idea to maintain a system when it has been corrupted beyond redemption?

Rob Lingley

I have found the framework defined in ‘War and Peace and War’ very useful in framing the current population stresses. Together with a good framework for understanding innovation we have some powerful models. See

The expanding population putting pressure on elites and majority alike seems unlikely to solve it’s core pressures with a shift to democracy. The democratic spring assumption looks like wishfull thinking.

A predictively useful model that suggests problems should be used instead of wishful thinking. Our policy elite needs to understand the framework, and act on the implications. We will need all the clear thinking possible to sustain peace.

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