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Utopia Talk / Politics / Prediction for the 2020's
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Tue Jun 16 11:34:33
I wrote this in another thread, but I think it deserves its' own thread. I will now post the article itself instead of my summary.

See link for graphs and links to other articles.

http://peterturchin.com/cliodynamica/the_2020/

***

America is burning. Dozens of cities across the United States remain under curfews at a level not seen since riots following the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Most commentary is focusing on the immediate causes of this wave of violence that has already continued for six days. And indeed, it is difficult to watch the video of George Floyd being slowly strangled to death without feeling rage and sorrow. But my job, as it were, is to look beyond the surface of the events to the deep structural causes.

I have written elsewhere that the causes of rebellions and revolutions are in many ways similar to processes that cause earthquakes or forest fires. In both revolutions and earthquakes, it is useful to distinguish “pressures” (structural conditions, which build up slowly) from “triggers” (sudden releasing events, which immediately precede a social or geological eruption). Specific triggers of political upheavals are difficult, perhaps even impossible to predict with any precision. Every year the police kill hundreds of Americans: black and white, men and women, adults and children, criminals and law-abiding citizens. The US cops have already killed 400 people in just the first five months of 2020. Why was it the murder of George Floyd that sparked the wave of protests?

Unlike triggers, structural pressures build up slowly and more predictably, and are amenable to analysis and forecasting. Furthermore, many triggering events themselves are ultimately caused by pent-up social pressures that seek an outlet—in other words, by the structural factors. Readers of this blog are familiar with the chief structural pressures undermining social resilience: popular immiseration, intra-elite conflict, and the loss of confidence in state institutions. More details are available in my Aeon article and in The Double Helix of Inequality and Well-Being (and of course the most comprehensive treatment is in Ages of Discord).

These structural trends, that became obvious to me in the early 2000s, resulted in the forecast, which I published in 2010: “The next decade is likely to be a period of growing instability in the United States and western Europe” (see also A Quantitative Prediction for Political Violence in the 2020s).

This forecast was not simply a projection of the contemporary (in 2010) trend in social instability into the future. Social instability in major Western countries had been, in fact, declining prior to 2010 (see the graphic below). Rather, the basis for this forecast was a quantitative model that took as inputs the major structural drivers for instability (immiseration, intraelite competition, and state (in)capacity) and translated them into the Political Stress Index (PSI), which is strongly correlated with socio-political instability. The rising PSI curve, calculated in 2010, then, suggested growing socio-political instability over the next decade.

Recently, Andrey Korotayev and I revisited my 2010 forecast (in a manuscript in review in a scientific journal). We analyzed the data on a variety of instability indicators and found that, indeed, the trends for almost all of them went up after 2010 (our data series stops in 2018, but the numbers for 2019 should be available soon). Here’s the result for the incidence of riots in six major Western countries:

Our conclusion is that, unfortunately, my 2010 forecast is correct. Unfortunately, because I would have greatly preferred it to become a “self-defeating prophecy”, but that clearly has not happened.

What does it mean for the current wave of protests and riots? The nature of such dynamical processes is such that it can subside tomorrow, or escalate; either outcome is possible.A spark landing even in abundant fuel can either go out, or grow to a conflagration.

What is much more certain is that the deep structural drivers for instability continue to operate unabated. Worse, the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated several of these instability drivers. This means that even after the current wave of indignation, caused by the killing of George Floyd, subsides, there will be other triggers that will continue to spark more fires—as long as the structural forces, undermining the stability of our society, continue to provide abundant fuel for them.
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Tue Jun 16 11:35:14
Today he posted a new article about the science behind his Nature article.

http://pet...e-behind-my-forecast-for-2020/
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Tue Jun 16 11:56:00
You see hood? I have a mathematical model for my increased worry.
sam adams
Member
Tue Jun 16 12:23:58
"Unlike triggers, structural pressures build up slowly and more predictably, and are amenable to analysis and forecasting."

Well fuck. Time to build a foundation. We can stash away some european history books and come back to rule the world after the mobs burn everything.
sam adams
Member
Tue Jun 16 12:26:05
I got dibs on yosemite valley and all the healthy slaves.
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Tue Jun 16 12:28:03
I fell into his rabbit hole exactly because he was very influenced by Foundation. Cliodynamics is sort of, but not really an attempt at Psychohistory. It is by no means science fictiin, companies are using algorithms and machine learning already to hack humans.
Dakyron
Member
Tue Jun 16 15:45:02
COVID-19 has made people stay home, away from family/friends. They are turning on each other, blaming them for spreading the virus or being a pussy, depending on which side you are on.

They are stabbing each other for getting too close, or coughing on people who complain about distancing.

There are no new movies, no live sports, no classes. Many have lost their jobs and are living on meager unemployment.

They have a semi-functional reality TV star running the country, who likes to make fun of everyone from war heroes to the disabled.

News media has diverged from generally mainstream to either far left or far right, inflaming tensions and blaming all of society's ills on the other group.

If we manage to survive the next four and a half months, and Trump is sent packing, sports come back, movies come back, COVID-19 eases and people can resume their normal lives...

Then this year will eventually become just a bad memory. However, if Trump wins re-election and COVID-19 has a serious second wave starting around the holidays, then I could see even more serious social unrest erupting.
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Tue Jun 16 16:10:00
Dakyron

The unrest and protest started during Obama. Is Biden going to fix started to unravel when he was VP? Is the "loser" Trump going to go quietly and stay quiet? Can you imagine a Trump that WAS the president be quiet about politics? I mean that convention was already broken with ex-president Obama. Trump will as Trump does grab it by the pussy and DESTROY it.
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Tue Jun 16 16:21:10
Excessive elite competition, on the other hand, results in increasing social and political instability. The supply of power positions in a society is relatively, or even absolutely, inelastic. For example, there are only 435 U.S. Representatives, 100 Senators, and one President. A great expansion in the numbers of elite aspirants means that increasingly large numbers of them are frustrated, and some of those, the more ambitious and ruthless ones, turn into counter-elites. In other words, masses of frustrated elite aspirants become breeding grounds for radical groups and revolutionary movements.

Another consequence of excessive competition among elite aspirants is its effect on the social norms regulating politically acceptable conduct. Norms are effective only as long as the majority follows them, and violators are punished. Maintaining such norms is the job for the elites themselves.

Intense intra-elite competition, however, leads to the rise of rival power networks, which increasingly subvert the rules of political engagement to get ahead of the opposition. Instead of competing on their own merits, or the merits of their political platforms, candidates increasingly rely on “dirty tricks” such as character assassination (and, in historical cases, literal assassination). As a result, excessive competition results in the unraveling of prosocial, cooperative norms (this is a general phenomenon that is not limited to political life).

http://pet...dynamics-of-complex-societies/
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Tue Jun 16 16:23:08
There are two main “pumps” producing aspirants for elite positions in America: education and wealth. On the education side, of particular importance are the law degree (for a political career) and the MBA (to climb the corporate ladder). Over the past four decades, according to the American Bar Association, the number of lawyers tripled from 400,000 to 1.2 million. The number of MBAs conferred by business schools over the same period grew six-fold (details in Ages of Discord).

On the wealth side we see a similar expansion of numbers, driven by growing inequality of income and wealth over the last 40 years. The proverbial “1 percent” becomes “2 percent”, then “3 percent”… For example, today there are five times as many households with wealth exceeding $10 million (in 1995 dollars), compared to 1980. Some of these wealth-holders give money to candidates, but others choose to run for political office themselves.

Elite overproduction in the US has already driven up the intensity of intra-elite competition. A reasonable proxy for escalating political competition here is the total cost of election for congressional races, which has grown (in inflation-adjusted dollars) from $2.4 billion in 1998 to $4.3 billion in 2016 (Center for Responsive Politics). Another clear sign is the unraveling of social norms regulating political discourse and process that has become glaringly obvious during the 2016 presidential election.

Analysis of past societies indicates that, if intra-elite competition is allowed to escalate, it will increasingly take more violent forms. A typical outcome of this process is a massive outbreak of political violence, often ending in a state collapse, a revolution, or a civil war (or all of the above).
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Sun Jun 28 03:30:43
Gonna do a bump on this, because I would really like more opinions. Am I the only one who finds this fascinating and useful?

TL;DR Cycles in inequality (decrease in wellbeing), elite competition (too many elite educated rigid number of elite positions) together with lowered trust in state institutions leads to predictable periods of instability -> fat tailed risks.
jergul
large member
Sun Jun 28 03:37:24
Nimi
I think they call it push-pull effects in English, not pumps.

You are getting very close to Marxism (historical and development theory, not ideology).

Certain cycles repeat until a new stage of social organization is triggered.

Slave-feudal-capitalist.

Communism is merely speculation on what possible endgame there might for a new social organization that is not slave based, feudal based, or capitalist based.

The inevitability depends on to what extent you believe capitalism can be permanently tamed (removing inherent contradictions that would otherwise lead to its demise in one way or another).
jergul
large member
Sun Jun 28 03:42:39
The demise you are suggesting provocatively is regression to a pseudo feudal status.

From that perspective the militarization of 4500+ police forces, the cooption of local governments that control the forces by elites are both emerging feudal trends.

Demands for police reform in that context is actually a movement to safeguard a sustainable form of capitalist organization in society.
jergul
large member
Sun Jun 28 03:47:54
yay me :)
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Sun Jun 28 04:38:52
Jergul
None of the big text I posted are mine, it's Turchin's, including the usage of "pumps". There is the clear socialism angle, yes, but it's more than economic inequality at play. I think the elite overproduction problem in particular creates rather corrosive incentives for the more ruthless actors.

I highly recommend reading his articles, I think a bunch of people here would find them and his model interesting.
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Sun Jun 28 04:47:33
I think his usage of "pumps" is connected to the building up of pressure (like earth quakes) idea.
jergul
large member
Sun Jun 28 04:55:28
Ah, ok.

The point I was trying to clumsily make is that Marxist theory is not inherently socialist. It does have quite powerful explanatory power when used solely as an analytical tool.

Turchin is describing the regression of capitalism to a pseudo feudal state in the USA.

To students of history, it could be interesting to look at the collapse of Roman institutions as they are replaced by gated communities on old villa estates with their own security forces.

Sound like something commonplace in certain areas? :-).
jergul
large member
Sun Jun 28 04:59:44
The overproduction of elites is one way of looking at how the expansion of Roman citizenship rights played out. Though the mechanisms for overproduction are different today.
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Sun Jun 28 05:07:01
I am with you on the Marxist ideas and truth be told I am not allergic towards the ideas and the inevitability as much as I am horrified about the various attempts of application of the last century. So in my mind a moratorium is justified. I do think about what does that mean in terms of decrease in liberty, but I compare that to the illusion of liberty in capitalism.

He does mentions Rome and other pre capitalist societies in regards to the elite overproduction phenomena.
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Sun Jun 28 05:18:16
One way of looking at it I think, is that before the globalized market economy, these boom and bust cycles were local. When Rome collapsed it didn't effect China or the Aztecs. When the French killed their king, the Japanese didn't care. Capitalisms contribution to this, is that when we bust now, it is a global affair. If the Chinese system collapses we are going to feel it. Though he mostly speaks of the western world on this.
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Sun Jun 28 05:29:51
*And I mean I am with you on the Marxist ideas as an analysis tool*
jergul
large member
Sun Jun 28 05:54:17
Nimi
What endgame mechanism we prefer to distribute wealth and income as productivity trends towards infinity is a different discussion :-).

Rome would have been a slave system in a marxist classification system.
jergul
large member
Sun Jun 28 08:37:42
There are grounds for optimism. In the US, socialism is less of a dirty word than it once was.

Its important to understand how the rise of socialism globally and nationally has a dampening (we will call that the opposition of pumping) effect on the stress indicators the author identified.

Effectively, fear of socialism scares the elite straight. Not only does it limit intraelite competition in several ways, it also forces a degree of redistribution that is key to long term capitalist stability.

Ultimately, strong, but pragmatic believers in capitalism should support Sanders and his like. Not because the goal is socialism, but rather that socialist support triggers protective mechanisms that keep capitalism viable.

Posted in wrong thread earlier.
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Sun Jun 28 09:24:39
Socialized insurances and even social democratic systems they have worked quite well. Yet still for economic inequality it has limits, we see the increase here in our neck of the woods, although not as big - It buys time by dampening.

Interestingly he actually has several on articles on Norway and the Nordic model. The gist of it being, there is no guarantee that our countries can hold this line. Something I think we agree on, there is a nordic exceptionalism with regards to culture and history that made this possible. The high degree of trust and conformism and low level of corruption etc. In Sweden that has unravelled further than in Denmark and Norway. It is, unfortunately, connected to immigration which is part of the equation that also keeps wages down.

With that said I think there is a lot with the way we have solved things here that are part of any bright future for any country.

In what ways do you see it acting as a dampener on the elites?

FYI One of the nice things with Turchin is that he engages with the posters on his blog who say useful things.
jergul
large member
Sun Jun 28 09:28:43
Nimi
The old fashioned way. The threat of revolution and being hung from lamp posts.
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Sun Jun 28 10:05:00
Ah I see. Though part of this dynamic is that so called "counter-elites" producing counter-narratives and counter revolutions and civil war once things get bad enough. Sanders and Trump have emerged as different solutions to the same problems and both sides increasingly less motivated to make concessions and certain in the moral integrity of their positions.

I am not as optimistic, it feels like we are just doing the same shit over and over again expecting different results.
jergul
large member
Sun Jun 28 10:12:28
Nimi
My point is the scared straight. The cost of defusing a threat much smaller than the cost of facing it.

The same risk analysis that propelled regular people into the middle class. The elite were simply willing to share more for the sake of security and stability.

Part of that was against the backdrop of elites returning from service should to should with common folk and the bonds that creates.

But still. It gives grounds for hope and grounds to support socialism simply because it is a means to defuse otherwise extremely distabilizing infighting amongst the elite.
jergul
large member
Sun Jun 28 10:13:02
shoulder to shoulder*
Seb
Member
Sun Jun 28 15:53:25
Jergul:

I think the Trump phenomenon in the US is a terrible warning that the defusing mechanism is broken.

The republican elite that would normally tack to the centre happily went along with Trump and extremism in part because they have marched their support into a place so extreme they can't march them back without a populist grabbing their support.

Generally, yes, in democratic or at least more pluralistic systems the elite will bend (classical Whig like mentality) - the lessons drawn from the French Revolution - but in America the elite have developed an array of mechanisms to maximise their grip on power, but now find that their control over those mechanisms int he hands of people who don't get the broader strategy, and in fact mistake the tactics for the strategy.

Also, it's been going on so long that the elites may not recognise the danger they are in: they think it impossible, and/or have come to believe that their share of wealth is a point of moral principle never to be compromised, rather than "how much I've been able to get away with".

The US decidedly does not look to me like the kind of cold blooded rationalists are in a position to be able to make concessions over the structure of society and the economy in ways that defuse pressures. But I do hope I'm wrong on that.






jergul
large member
Sun Jun 28 16:31:27
Seb
Our sentiments are similar.

The point I was trying to make was that a theoretical, rational free market enthusiast would promote actively support socialism now because the spectre of the US economy reverting back to a pseudo feudal stage is by far the greater threat to capitalism.

I was in no manner suggesting that very many rational free market enthusiasts exist in the US.
Seb
Member
Mon Jun 29 01:21:08
Jergul:

To be honest I've seen the US over the last few years turn several friends from Economist reading centre right to full on socialists because life in the US has simply convinced them capitalism doesn't work.
jergul
large member
Mon Jun 29 02:57:37
Seb
Heh, that is actually the correct response. Just as becoming a fiscal conservative might be the correct response in a 1950s era labour lead Scandinavian social democracy. Moving to gravitate society towards the mean is not a bad idea.

On a side note. If we assume productivity is trending towards infinity, what mechanism do you think should regulate the distribution of wealth and income?

The answer to that question determines if you believe in a communist endgame or not. Not that any answer would commit you to the silly intermediate steps marx imagined.

:-).
Seb
Member
Mon Jun 29 04:21:02
jergul:

UBI is one approach, I'm interested in some sort of public ownership of algorithms via IP laws.

I think the problem is less about productivity going to infinity as labour - particularly skilled labour - input shrinking with no proportionate rise in output.

Productivity, measured in terms of hours, becomes infinite if labour shrinks and output holds the same. This is a different problem to output rising dramatically for the same labour input.

The increasing ability of tech platforms (i.e. market makers) to capture value is akin to the problem of how to prevent stock market companies capturing all the value of the transactions that go on them. However it is less clearly understood that platforms are markets and having, e.g. Amazon both sell, provide the market place, and commercially exploit the data from the market place it runs and has sole access to is akin to insider trading; and it's ability to preference retailers, including itself, in search listings on the site a form of market manipulation.

Instead we see it as valuable IP, and selling advertising space.








jergul
large member
Mon Jun 29 06:48:09


Hardware and software recently beat wetware at GO. My assumption is that human input will trend towards 0 as output trends towards infinite.

In marxist terminology, that would be the challenges relating to each according to ability, in addition to each according to need.

UBI is still a rationing system that seems unwarranted if human input needs approach 0 and output approach infinite.

Unless the assumption is that output excess approaches 0 after UBI is subtracted.
jergul
large member
Mon Jun 29 08:23:08
It should be mentioned that the State providing more and more goods and services would be part of avoiding a rationing system.
Seb
Member
Mon Jun 29 09:06:05
Jergul:

Well, I'm looking at near term issues where labor input shrinks much faster than out put grows generally, at different rates in different sectors.

Where we end up if output tends to infinite will probably depend on the path we take between here and there.

I don't particularly have a view on how society would manage resource allocation when resources become infinite, other than to note that novelty and authenticity will become increasingly valuable in their own right, which means you will still have some form of exchange, some medium of exchange and means of accumulation.

You can have all the copies you like, but if you want an original authentic Maltese eagal you need to have something people want.
Seb
Member
Mon Jun 29 09:07:51
I'm more worried about the shorter term issues of how we manage an economy where lots of people have little of value to trade, which leads to demand crash and underutilisation of productive assets.

You can't get by on increasing consumer credit forever.
jergul
large member
Tue Jun 30 02:44:16
Seb
Artisan bread may become very popular one day indeed :).

Meaningful contribution to society is not only a duty, it is a right in a marxist context.

The point of the thought experiment on infinity is that in that context, communism is by no means a crazy endgame.

What we do before any endgame (there are numerous variants) determines what endgeme we get is an elequent way of putting why socialism might be important now.
Nimatzo
iChihuaha
Tue Jun 30 06:20:12
Jergul
One should not argue against the case for hope :)
Seb
Member
Tue Jun 30 11:44:24
Jergul:

I'd argue market competition is more likely to get you to output tending to infinity faster than socialism.

Social democracy hybrid for the win.

But what to do about the shift from labour to capital as the key unputs in key sectors...
Seb
Member
Tue Jun 30 11:49:23
Actually, I'd go back to wardley mapping and say regulators need to understand when a thing has become a commodity/utility and how to respond to limit rent seeking.
jergul
large member
Tue Jun 30 12:25:34
Seb
We agree. Hardcore socialism is crazy talk beyond the iron fist in a velvet glove function we talked about earlier. Mixed model economies put market competition where it belongs. A mechanism. Not a religion.
jergul
large member
Tue Jun 30 12:43:16
I really do think we need the spectre of hard core socialism. We need the rich to feel the need for some social insurance.

Its crazy to me that they don't see that. With some honourable exceptions (for example Buffet).
Seb
Member
Tue Jun 30 13:58:13
Jergul:

Well, in the US at least they are doing very well by subverting democracy.

I mean it's short sighted as not only is the inequality driving resentment but the mechanisms they use also undermining the rule of law that protects them most of all - but it's not unsurprising that the oligarchs in thrall to an entirely self centred model of capitalism are suffering from a failure of collective action in their approach to maintaining their racket.
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