Peter Turchin interview



Coincidentally, after yesterday’s post on Seshat and cliodynamics I read an interview with Peter Turchin in today’s Guardian: “We’re on the verge of breakdown: a data scientist’s take on Trump and Biden”.

“Turchin explains current political warfare as a battle between an overpopulation of elites to some degree exacerbated by a decline in general living standards or immiseration, and financially overextended governments.”

“‘We’ve seen growing immiseration for 30 to 40 years: rising levels of state debt, declining median wages and declining life expectancies. But the most important aspect is elite overproduction’ – by which he means that not just capital owners but high professionals – lawyers, media professionals and entertainment figures – have become insulated from wider society. It is not just the 1% who are in this privileged sector, but the 5% or 10% or even 20% – the so-called ‘dream hoarders’ – they vie for a fixed number of positions and to translate wealth into political position. ‘The elites had a great run for a while but their numbers become too great. The situation becomes so extreme they start undermining social norms and [there is] a breakdown of institutions. Who gets ahead is no longer the most capable, but [the one] who is willing to play dirtier.’”