The Storming of the U.S. Capitol

Peter Turchin

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On one level, that of macrosocial dynamics, what happened yesterday, January 6, 2021, is not surprising. After all, my own model indicates that structural pressures for instability in the United States continue to build up. On a more immediate micro-level, watching hundreds of demonstrators break into the Capitol building and rampage through its hallowed halls was shocking. At one point, as I was watching the ABC coverage, George Stephanopoulos exclaimed, “This is not Ukraine!” True, over the past years we have become accustomed to the sight of revolutionary crowds breaking into government buildings in such countries as Ukraine, Armenia, Tajikistan… But something similar happening in Washington D.C., that citadel of democracy and the rule of law? Stunning, indeed.

Image source: wikimedia

What’s next? The dynamics of political violence at the micro-level and in the short run are difficult to predict. More important is what will happen at the level of deep, structural-demographic trends. Popular immiseration has been increasing for decades. I have written before how shocking it was for me to see such Malthusian indicators of stress as declining life expectancy, which turned down before Covid-19. The epidemic has now delivered a body blow to the well-being of the great majority of the Americans, with life expectancy, employment and incomes, as well as subjective measures of well-being all trending down.

Elite overproduction, and especially overproduction of the youth with advanced degrees, continues unabated. Our institutions of higher education have been churning out law, MBA, and PhD degrees, many more than could be absorbed by the economy. In a Bloomberg View article published just a few days ago Noah Smith provides the numbers for the overproduction of PhDs (America Is Pumping Out Too Many Ph.D.s).

The third structural-demographic force pushing up instability is the state indebtedness. It seems less relevant than the first two, as the U.S., due to its control of the world’s reserve currency, can seemingly print the greenbacks at will (although can this really continue indefinitely?). But the more important level is not the federal one, but that of the states, many of which are getting so cash-strapped that they are forced to reduce their police forces, or unable to hire additional medical personnel that are needed to administer Covid-19 vaccine.

Perhaps the shock of the Storming of the Capitol will spur our political leaders to action that would address these structural pressures. The most important one is reversing the trend of increasing popular immiseration. Now that the US Senate runoffs in Georgia are over, the Democrats control the White House and both chambers of the Congress. The Biden administration has two years to turn the Titanic of the American State around. Will they succeed? The future will show.

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mary scriver

These are the same dynamics that I’m seeing. The decline in status of teachers, pastors, professors, doctors. The major displacement of economic focus. An aging population dying young and high infant mortality. Immigration pressure on culture, etc.

Dick Illyes

An unmentioned element is the coming explosion of applied technology which will replace a huge amount of middle class jobs. Andrew Yang described it best in his campaign book The War on Normal People. The phenomena described by Martin Gurri in his The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium adds the final element to the mix.

IMO Biden’s role is to fail catastrophically, as well as his successor Kamala Harris. A new group of leaders will emerge in both parties. There will almost certainly be a Basic Income, and the application of technology will speed up even more.

Richard

The US is a banana republic now.
Brazil with a world-beating tech sector.

And that may be an insult to Brazil.

At least we know that we won’t have a dictatorship before 2024, but all bets are off after then. So I’m looking to leave the US by 2024.

Pete Richerson

Macroeconomists seem to think there is a huge savings glut that governments can tap at zero or near zero interest rates. One result of directing so much income to the wealthy is that they mostly save it. Government expenditures actually need to grow to recycle that excess savings. If invested in productive assets like up-skilling workers, repairing infrastructure and building out green industry, a lot can be done without creating burdensome debt. Reducing immiseration for example. Did this ever happen in the Malthusian past?

Raymond Reichelt

Thanks for the post Peter. When I saw the news reports, this phrase from the Bible came to mind:

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind

Hosea 8:7

Frank Cire

Something I am watching with growing unease is the amount of capital flowing to the stock markets rather than into job-generating enterprises or infrastructure. I am not an economist, but the resultant wealth gap just doesn’t seem sustainable. I just don’t see how my children who are now leaving college and entering the job market can obtain even the modest success I have achieved.

Andy

I’m pessimistic about the future because our political system and especially what passes for our political parties are not up to the task. Their vision of American and for solving problems is based on platitudes, appeals to a rosy past, and incoherent ideology that is both materialistic and self-centered.

America is good and muddling through and doing it well, but these are new circumstances with a much more competitive world stage.

Michael P Totten

Peter, I have been following your amazing research for more than a decade, and sharing it widely with my colleagues. As you have long written, the warning signs have been manifesting for many years, which has influenced my own professional work looking for positive solutions. Hence the following comment. This may seem counterfactual history reasoning, although it remains a viable, feasible, and win-win-win opportunity going forward: recognize there always has been and likely always will be a large segment of blue collar workers, unable or disinterested in striving to become part of the elite class of moneyed and power-hungry. Ensure policies, incentives, training, etc. for the pool of blue collar citizens in craftsmanship. My own half-century professional work has showcased the rich literature of evidence on the immensity of local employment and small/medium-sized business creation transforming the highly inefficient, global combustion-based energy system to a highly efficient global solar-based electric power system. This represents many tens of millions of new job opportunities in building construction, manufacturing, solar installations, etc. It means retaining at the local level most of the tens of trillions of dollars now exported to import fuels. It means significantly cleaner local air, water, and soils, at no extra cost to ratepayers and taxpayers. It would address the social justice concerns raised by impoverished, under-served communities. It would eliminate one of the primary drivers of international wars and conflicts over oil resources, offering deep cuts in the military-industrial complex, while actually strengthening real homeland security from terrorist and cyber-attacks on highly vulnerable nuclear reactors, refineries, transmission grids and pipelines. It would lead to 80% reductions in global CO2 emissions at no extra cost. This is not the only major opportunity for addressing populist unrest and insecurity, feelings that makes them vulnerable to demagoguery by autocrats. Another major opportunity for this same blue collar class is to greatly increase local food production using high-yield techniques only requiring simple hand tools, no agri-chemical inputs, and a fraction of water now all consumed in massive and excessive levels by the global monoculture agribusiness. I write about these issues in more detail, most recently on Medium – https://michaelptotten.medium.com/ I would further note that it isn’t applicable just to the blue collar class. With the rapid acceleration of disruptive technologies – the BRAIN, as I refer to Biosynthetics, Robotics, AI, Informatics and Nanotechnologies — displacing humans of all classes in one economic sector after another, humanity must de-emphasize life’s status and meaning defined by work, and re-emphasize life-long learning from endless curiosity, life-long play, as well as some work (that hopefully puts individuals into the flow experience described by scientists like Mihaly Csikszentmihályi).

J. Daniel

> “Popular immiseration has been increasing for decades. I have written before how shocking it was for me to see such Malthusian indicators of stress as declining life expectancy, which turned down before Covid-19. The epidemic has now delivered a body blow to the well-being of the great majority of the Americans, with life expectancy, employment and incomes, as well as subjective measures of well-being all trending down.”

And that is why so many people are sucked into populist propaganda, are willing to believe lies intended to manipulate them, and are willing to do things like storm the Capitol. People are unhappy but, not having studied Structural-Demographic Theory, they don’t know why. So they blame whoever they’re told to blame. They are told by the elite-controlled national dialogue to blame other immiserated groups instead. So, the right wingers blame minorities, immigrants, and the nearly nonexistent antifa; the rest blame the right wingers; and attempts to lay blame on the historically skewed wealth distribution can’t gain traction because the elite are unified in pulling the strings necessary to avoid being blamed.

> “Elite overproduction, … continues unabated. Our institutions of higher education have been churning out law, MBA, and PhD degrees, many more than could be absorbed by the economy.”

The coming decline in high school graduates will start hitting institutions of higher education hard within the next few years.

> “The third structural-demographic force pushing up instability is the state indebtedness. It seems less relevant than the first two, as the U.S., due to its control of the world’s reserve currency, can seemingly print the greenbacks at will …”

I wonder if Peter is predicting that Social Security and Medicare are therefore relatively safe?

> “Perhaps the shock of the Storming of the Capitol will spur our political leaders to action that would address these structural pressures. The most important one is reversing the trend of increasing popular immiseration. Now that the US Senate runoffs in Georgia are over, the Democrats control the White House and both chambers of the Congress. The Biden administration has two years to turn the Titanic of the American State around. Will they succeed?”

Biden, a typical moderate, center-left oldster, no doubt has that intuition of helping out the common person that Peter suggests. But what I take from Peter’s work is that the real problem is elite overproduction, because that makes it nearly impossible to shift wealth downward. The elite will resist, as they themselves are increasingly under pressure due to being too numerous for society to support in the manner to which they are accustomed. And unless Biden has studied SDT (or should I say cliodynamics? What is the difference between SDT and cliodynamics?) he will be unlikely to prioritize shrewd targeting of vulnerable elite segments for removal from elite status. If he doesn’t do that – and he almost certainly won’t – the Biden administration may just be the calm before the storm.

Robert E. Ulanowicz

Mr. Turchin, I object. There is no comparison between the disciplined, peaceful demonstrators at Maidan and the mob ransacking the Capitol. The violence at Maidan was perpetrated by the Russians! Did you get that comparison from Vlad Putin (who tried to pawn it off)?

Nerve74

Neither the right or the left can help the common person because they fundamentally hate him. Everyone knows that about the right but Cristopher Lasch realized this about the left decades ago as well. The petty bougie and working classes values can not be understood by even the most well intentioned elites on either side. Yang’s call for UBI is an idea created by the academia not something from the core of the country. What common folks want are jobs that earn a income not a check for the same amount. They view work as a method of building character not just a way of earning money, A tax on labor replacing technology would be a much better policy then UBI but then would never pass since it goes again the tech elites interest. Given that common workers were by and large Trump supports I don’t think anything is getting better these two years. The radical elements of the left are out for vengeance and don’t think the moderate wing has the strength to stop that.

Micheal Dean

As with much if not all of the anti mask, inbreed idiot trump ass sucking hairless monkey bigoted trolls, death is the ONLY option. These animals have chosen seditious insurrectionary violence, disbanding any reasonable or intelligent discourse for bigoted hate filled violence.
They need to be meet with the same.
Drop a few fuel air devices on their gatherings and have done with it.
This country and the world at large would be a much better place when violent extremists are silent and their screed is no longer heard.

Rod Rigoli

Michael, those Trump supporters may have crazy beliefs, but you haven’t assessed whether those beliefs are beneficial to them. It is true that just about everyone in the world believes in something crazy, and you are not an exception.

As for your belief that attacking the gatherings will resolve the standoff, that is a misunderstanding. There already were armed insurgents holding plastic ties among that crowd. It seems to me that this faction has a level of initiative that has already exceeded the capacity of the security service (if there is no full and complete counter-terror operation in the next months, you will know). I’m guessing the security service will show as much energy as the health authorities did with COVID. Within this new term, the capitol may become indefensible. That is if Trump supporters experience continually stronger feelings of political alienation under Biden.

Richard2

Clinical psychologist A. Lobabczewski wrote in 1984 that one way of determining whether or not a nation was heading towards revolution would be to create a ‘social order indicator’ / ‘adaptation correlation index’, which would measure the difference between individuals’ abilities and talents, and the roles that they were allowed to play in society. In 1984 he wrote that talented people were being excluded from jobs in the USA and that the word ‘overeducated’ was being used more and more often. He appears to have been touching in a roundabout way on the concept of ‘elite overproduction’. He also made it clear that untalented people were getting jobs that they weren’t suitable for. Perhaps with ‘elite overproduction’ comes increased elite mediocrity, with jobs arrived at through personal contacts, a common elite background, image management and the like.

Lobabczewski was an extremely perceptive man, decades ahead of his time.

(quotes)
Development or involution in all areas of cultural, economic and political life depend on the extent to which this talent pool is properly utilized. In the final analysis, it also determines whether there will be evolution or revolution…

… construct appropriate methods that enable us to evaluate the correlations between individual talents and social adjustment (i.e. appropriate fit for those talents – ed.)in a given country ….

Conducting the proper tests would furnish us a valuable index that we might call “the social order indicator.” The closer the figure to +1.0, the more likely the country in question would be to fulfill that basic precondition for social order and take the proper path in the direction of dynamic development. A low correlation would be an indication that social reform is needed. A near zero or even negative correlation should be interpreted as a danger-sign that revolution is imminent…

America’s psychological recession drags in its wake an impaired socio-professional adaptation of this country’s people, leading to a waste of human talent and an involution of societal structure. If we were to calculate this country’s adaptation correlation index, as suggested in the prior chapter, it would probably be lower than the great majority of the free and civilized nations of this world, and possibly lower than some countries which have lost their freedom…

A highly talented individual in the USA finds it ever more difficult to fight his way through to self-realization and a socially creative position. Universities, politics, and businesses ever more frequently demonstrate a united front of relatively untalented persons and even incompetent persons. The word “overeducated” is heard more and more often.
(end quotes)

‘Political Ponerology’ by A. Lobaczewski, clinical psychologist, written in 1984, published in 2007. Lobaczewski was the last survivor of a group of underground psychiatrists and psychologists in the former Soviet Union studying totalitarian states.

A. S. Gashinbaki

Reversing the growing immiseration of the masses is crucial. But how can that be achieved? First, implementation of basic income. Second, taxing the rich… The rising inequality is unsustainable. A lot of fund that could have been invested in the real economy ended up in the wall street instead in the past year, deepning the inequality crises. Remember, ”the stock market is not the economy.” As Paul Krugman would say.

Rod Rigoli

Richard2, that is very interesting. Could you describe the mechanisms of how talent is excluded?

cabby phil

10 million chinese take the annual college entrance exam; china graduates some 250,000 engineers annually; and china has over 500,000 phds, the most in the world, adding about 100,000 new phds per year since 2018.

is china in ‘elite overproduction’? what is the threshold? how do you formally define it? can a phd in art history ever be considered elite, if it can never provide for gainful employment for its holder vs a stem phd? and if not, then are we still overproducing elites? or mostly just overproducing somewhat knowledgable debtors? what political power does a humanities phd holder who now works at starbucks have vs the political power of boeing or google engineers? are nurses considered ‘elite’? how about flight attendants? police and fire – are they elite? is there an overproducion of doctors? how about dentists?

how do you formally quantify and define, cliometrically, elite/s, and overproduction, and elite overproduction? what do you use as a proxy measure? can you provide quantifiable historical examples of when/how ‘elite overproduction’ directly or indirectly led to revolution or regime change etc?

premodernity aside, just in the 20th century, with education more available on a mass basis, i am skeptical that ‘elite overproduction'(too many art history phd grads) led to the october revolution, or the german revolution of 1919, or the august revolution in vietnam, the cuban revolution, or the iranian revolution, or the fall of the soviets in russia and eastern europe.

the revolutions of 1848-49 in europe were led by a coalition of peasants, artists and workers, not by elite overproduction there.

as for the dollar, until the world stops paying for oil in dollars and until the us military gets deccimated and decidedly defeated by europe or china, its status as world reserve currency is not even close to being in doubt, especially since in a free floating exchange system, the us treasury can create fiat currency at will given the unending demand for oil and hence for dollars.

the pandemic will not be the trigger to revolution or collapse in the us, not only have we seen stronger forces at work already, such as racial protests and political elites incitment to riot, but also historically, the 1918 pandemic did not cause revolutions and/or governments to fall, though it may have shortened the great war(which carried on full bore during the middle of the pandemic regardless).

elite dominance via war and class war/civil war determine social instability, not ‘elite overproduction’, nor pandemics, not even economic collapse or a high gini coefficient.

Tunisia has one of the highest rates of phds as a % of its population in the world, but the tunisian revolution of 2011 did not have any of the ‘structural-demographic’ factors that you talk about per se.

In that case, which was not a middle class revolution, environmental factors such as a long drought along with a class war on the marginalized masses not living in urban areas were the proximal causes of that event, not overproduction of elites.

the unchecked power, hubris and greed of elites cause societies to fall not elite overproduction.

the soviets fell not because they had too many engineers or humanities graduates, they fell because soviet elites did not distribute, started a war which elites did not participate in and finally they fell because in fact, political class elites sent dozens of so called educated elites with phds to their deaths based on lies during chernobyl.

elite dominance not elite overproduction determines social instability.

Peter van den Engel

That’s about the next level in evolution: the engineering (organisation) of academics.
It is not exactly the same as people leaving agriculture and entering factories (industry) back then, but does cohere with people leaving factories today, before they found (selforganized) there new (future) jobs.

There’s still an old tail in industry and a still unconfermed new string, which is not going to teach in future, but explore.
Don’t just look at the destructive side.

Katherine Kern

Thanks fir your work and sharing your thoughts. I see a connection between your post on the decline in cooperation and this event. In that post you asked that we think about what we could do about it.

People cooperate when they believe that there is some natural balance sheet.

We’re willing to put our “skin in the game” because when everyone does the rewards are more than what you could reap alone.

And when that doesn’t happen, we’re willing to turn the other cheek because “what goes around comes around.”

Call it well-being, karma, good faith – whatever- that’s the immeasurable energy that fuels the cycles in your chart.

Many say that it is hard to get people to change behavior when they can’t see a difference. For example, climate change.

But it does happen – that’s what Peter’s triple helix chart says in the post below.

Here’s my idea on what to do to accelerate progress.

We need a new balance sheet that measures the resilience of the stakeholders of an organization. I call it the Ecosystem Resilience Balance Sheet.

The idea is that organizations need numbers to work towards – so what if every organization were “rated” based on customer commitment, belief in leadership, “back-end” partner reliability, employee morale, “front-end” partner integrity, and the relative balance of all.

No organization leader is going to that fior grins.

But if investors tied their investments to the Ecosystem Resilience ratings they would.

And investors would benefit because when these ratings are strong and balanced, the energy created from the “well-being” will multiply returns.

Ah! But I need to find some willing investors to cooperate in this. Damn.

.

Dude

First, the Capitol is not sacred ground. It has been the marketplace of dirty deals and moneychangers for probably the entire existence of the United States. If anyone defiled the Capitol, it was the political priesthood.

Richard

@cabby phil:

China has a big and growing economy, it had a missing generation of college grads due to the Cultural Revolution, and in any case, the college-aged cohorts in China are now steady or shrinking due to the one-child policy (which will actually cause problems in the future but not now).

Also, I don’t know about the earlier revolutions but Iran actually ramped up it’s numbers of grad students by a lot in the ’70’s. In the late ’70’s, one of the top 2 sources of foreign graduate students in the US was Iran. I know because my mom was there. She said they were all fiercely anti-Shah and pro-revolution. She warned them that revolution could turn out badly for them because she knew what the many revolutions, civil wars, and foreign invasions had done to China (Chinese society was in pretty much continuous and often violent upheaval between the 1840’s and 1970’s) but most humans are dumb and don’t learn from history.

Richard

In fact, Iran was the biggest source of foreign college students to the US at the time of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Sending 3 times more students to the US than the 2nd-most (Taiwan, ROC).

A. S. Gashinbaki

@Cabby Phil: Who are the elites dominating, the masses or themselves? Because, i for one, would assume that they must be dominating themselves in order for those revolutions to happened. If on the other hand, they are united (and dominates only the masses) then it is highly unlikely that the masses could have revolted on the basis of their sheer strengths alone… Simply put, frictions between the elites alone can lead to revolts, and this doesn’t happen when they are all happy with the status quo. And the greater their numbers the greater the probability of conflict.

Pieter van Pelt

A big problem for democracy in the USA is how political parties and their election campaigns are financed. Persons, groups and corporations that donate large sums of money to their favoured politicians have large influence on who will win elections. Political power is literally bought. Once voted into the Senate or House, financial contributions of rich donors, be it persons or interest groups , give those donors a good chance to influence or even dictate the outcome of legislation. The voice of ordinary people is often muted by the voice of money. In most European countries, political parties are financed by contributions from their registered members, by state subsidies (that are strongly regulated) and public donations by persons or interest groups (mostly severely restricted and regulated). In the USA, personal or corporate interests play a dominant role in elections while the ordinary voter has much less influence. As long as money buys the elections in the USA, nothing will change and democracy remains a farce

VLADIMIR DINETS

I see no indication that Biden’s crowd understands the underlying reasons of what is happening. Moreover, deep structural changes needed for making the US viable in the long term would only be possible if the progressive wing of the Democratic Party got constitutional majority in both chambers and most state legislatures. Which will never happen.
BTW, I don’t understand why everybody is so surprised by the attack on the Capitol. The date and location of the “revolution” had been openly discussed on right-wing media and social networks for months. It was also known that the police in the US is one of the main bastions of Trumpism, and will mostly aid the insurrection. Also, Robert is correct; comparing this to Ukraine is deeply misleading: Maidan was a pro-democracy uprising against corruption-based pro-Russian oligarchy, while Trumpism is exactly the opposite.

Darren Schallert

No, not surprising at all and even expected. However, the positive from all the darkness associated with this event is in its timing. I believe, had this event took place after the transition of power, the effect would have been less dramatic and may have even emboldened those engaged in the politics of division.
However, I am sincerely more optimistic about the future. Although I doubt that this will “spur our political leaders to address the structural pressures.” I do think that the electorate will find a way to come together, in the interest of self-preservation, and demand that our political leaders meet the challenges that befall us.

Peter van den Engel

You will need ro reconstruct acceptable labor for these uprising classes and be much less profit and competition driven, which is fragmenting their labor opportunity. Allow some slag.

It’s all about the construction of society in general and has practicly nothing to do with the political election of this or that person.
Which has only a symbolic function.

Nor does the way how the two classes can express themselves in a conflict, or how it is financed (old media times are long over: people have a mind of their own) have anything to do with the content of what is going on.

cabby phil

i dont like the fact that bloomberg basically attacked and wrote a hit piece against the humanities (which are already under attack to the point where its a dead horse) using your work to make the argument.

Richard

Immiseration actually isn’t the biggest factor in instability and unrest. The bigger one is intra-elite competition and abisiya going to zero. Granted, they are 2 sides of the same coin that spring from greater inequality and winner-take-all markets. Is there a way out? Basically, elites have to come together. When countries are strong, elites come together in the face of an external threat (or at least leadership struggles are settled quickly). When countries are weak, leaders infight in the face of threats.

Richard

Asabiya, I meant

Katherine Kern

@Peter Turchin wishful thinking may be crazy but as @Safi Bahcall says that’s where big inventions come from.

Juan Alfonso del Busto

Peter, with virtually a quarter of the US population believing neither in democracy nor in elections anymore, I wonder if we could be witnessing the Genesis of a terrorist group with a wide popular basis and a political party which could be regionally strong, like IRA and the Sinn Fein (or ETA and Herri Batasuna).

An inflection point might have been reached. Are those millions of people who were feeding on Trumps energy and disinformation going to dissolve? With the confidence in the US democracy gone, I’m afraid they don’t have a choice but armed rebellion.

cabby phil

half the us literally wants a white christian theocracy; repulsive to see the house chaplain do an opening prayer or pelosi and others prosthelytize about their faiths and their gods.

this country is going to full civil war; already being at open low level civil war.

america and its elites will have their reckoning.

Troy Camplin

We need to reduce governmental power, and that will reduce the desires of the elites for gaining that power. That being said, I’m an overproduced elite (Humanities PhD) unable to get an elite job, meaning I’m a misallocated human resource. Meaning, I get the frustration. But the answer is reducing government power, decentralizing that power. A UBI could do that, and it wouldn’t punish work, as welfare does.

cabby phil

no society has ever collapsed or will EVER collapse on the backs of too many theater arts majors; this model is wrong, asinine and cheaply based on experiential bias.

Chetan

Prof. Turchin, I completely agree with your analysis. However, one element I never see mentioned is “adaptability.” As a former English undergrad (back in India), I saw the writing on the wall 20 years ago, and switched to economics/ statistics.

When I came to the US a decade ago, I saw plenty of more graduate students who seemed to be in the denial/ anger phase instead of acknowledging the need to switch out of the humanities. What do you think is causing this lack of adaptability in the labor market in the US?

cabby phil

lets all get real, right now as i type, we are at 420ppm carbon, at 500ppm carbon equivalent when you include methane and nitrous gases, which all means that we are past the climate event horizon.

no amount of current human technology will change the fact that for the next millenia earth will hover at around plus 3 celcius above pre industrial.

we are at plus 2 C in the arctic now, the feedback loops are in motion andno amount of human concieved energy can slow or stop them; soon a sudden threshold will be met in this nonlinear complex dynamical system and.it will collapse into the nearest nodes stochastically.

its over and silly to argue about some things.

8 billion humans on earth. acceleration.

cabby phil

asinine means nonsensical and i love this word because it seems to trigger people because its has the phonetic ass in it … i love it …how it confuses people

johne

Noah Smith, cited in the post above, has another recent report that touches on the larger topic of immiseration: “Why immigration doesn’t reduce wages,” https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/why-immigration-doesnt-reduce-wages?r=3b7en. It is an informal review of a number of studies, in the United States and abroad, of the effect of immigration on native-born wages and salaries. The consensus is that immigrant labor results in minimal wage changes. But in effect Smith also agrees with what our host has written elsewhere, that very few can believe that to be the case (and formerly, academic economists would have agreed with them).

cabby phil
Andy

It looks like the Dems are raising the stakes and seeking revenge – tougher penalties for domestic [far right] terrorists and another impeachment of Trump. I am not sure how this will de – escalate the situation?
New convert to Turchin (recommended by a friend), interesting method to include scientific mathematical process in social ‘science’ – it seems a better way forward than just claims and arguments which can be subjective and prone to biases. looking foward to the Amazon dispatch of AOD.
Seems there’s a whole panoply of reasons to explain why the western world has gotten out of control but if you remove the abstract societal causes there seems to be an inability for people to reason and cooperate at a basic level – to do so appears weak, we are acting in a similar mindset to children. Hopefully the book will provide some clues.

Alfie Neuman

Per Google:

People also ask
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The word has one s because it’s derived from the Latin asinus, “ass; donkey”. There’s nothing remotely vulgar about the word. As for connotation, it imparts an air of contempt. Asinine means ‘extremely stupid or foolish’ and is perfectly acceptable in a school context.Dec 28, 2013

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Loren Petrich

To find analogies with this event, I looked at some documentaries and dramatizations. It’s remarkable how much is online at YouTube and elsewhere.

For amateur warring, I considered sports riots, chimps vs. a stuffed leopard, and ants vs. other ants.

For professional warring, I watched Heroes of Telemark (1965) and Entebbe (1977). Both the “good guys” and the “bad guys” were well-organized with division of labor, like some of them standing watch over others. I also watched a documentary about the hit on Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, complete with the hit squad’s video of them in action.

I also considered big battles through history, and the soldiers being well-organized in them, at least at first. All the way back to the Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE between New-Kingdom Egypt and the Hittite Empire of what’s now Turkey.

Most of the attack on the Capitol seemed as organized as a sports riot, and the cops showed more organization, like with their portable barriers, even if they had a very poor response. They didn’t fall back to the doors, as far as I can tell.

But there was something much more ominous and menacing, something much more in Entebbe and Telemark territory. Like a “gentleman” in military clothing with zip ties, useful for handcuffing people. What was he preparing for? Taking Congresspeople hostage?

Peter van den Engel

Rapports indicate they were hired stormtroopers. A minority representation and not a nationwide movement.
With suggestions they were hired by democrats (such as Soros) to wreak havoc in the republican camp by making them suspect/ or simply to steal the laptops of democrats in the house (hired by whom?).
Which would indicate Watergate 0.2
I would prefer the last option as most likely.

FL

Peter, I think the US is facing multiple hard “deadline” in the coming decade.

In the short term, relationship with China has deteriorated exponentially under Trump, and will certainly deteriorate even faster under Biden, because Biden actually knows what he is doing: to confront China so that US does not lose primacy. The US I think has no other option that to effectively escalate because otherwise other middle powers such as those in the EU will continue to hedge bets of which US certainly does not like. This confrontation will add enormously to pre-existing US domestic political stress.

In the medium-to-long term, the recent election showed that the US’s elections have permanently become all-or-nothing existential crisis for both parties. Even if the Dems effectively rule until 2022, they will be ruthlessly challenged then and 2024. This will be a classic tit-for-tat escalation dynamics playing out again and again. The GOP probably will gain power with or without shedding Trump, with the former scenario enabling more rapid re-enlisting of the rich and the business folks. It is the Dem that’s fragile in this dynamics because they have to accommodate a large tent of different factions. Once they lose, they will fragment and the radical elements will simply run amok.

Overall, I think the current configuration of US domestic politics is volatile and can not last. Every perturbation favors the current setup transitioning into a more disturbing but but more self-sustaining state. There is simply not enough time to lower political stress because lowering it is very politically unpopular and put the nation in a very vulnerable state. History clearly wants to resolve US’s contradiction going forward, just not in a very gentle way for Americans.

Richard

Ugh. Still too many people who believe in conspiracy theories.

In any case, I feel like this is a return to the ’60’s/’70’s except with low level political violence propagated by the militant Right rather than the militant Left.

Also, climate change will be a big issue but assuming that there never will be technology to deal with that is essentially saying that capitalism won’t exist in the future. So long as (state-guided) capitalism exists, new technologies like zero-emissions energy and geoengineering will improve and become more efficient.

BTW, birth rates are dropping like a rock nearly everywhere in the world.

Peter van den Engel

Economics and statistics precisely lie at the hart of this problem, because they created the imbalance.
Humanities i.e. human intelligence is the only way to unearth this mistake in thinking. So, I would be the last one to give up on humanities. The stakes have turned.

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