THE HISTORY OF THE NEAR FUTURE

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1 FOR PROFESSIONAL CLIENTS ONLY. NOT TO BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN APPROVAL. THE HISTORY OF THE NEAR FUTURE WHAT DOES HISTORY TELL US ABOUT OUR AGE OF DISCORD? BY PETER TURCHIN MAY 2018 > History shows us that eras of good feelings are followed by ages of discord. The first age of discord in the USA coincided with the American Civil War and my research overwhelmingly shows we are entering a second. I describe the driving forces of rising social discord and articulate how we should formulate policies to navigate the troubled waters ahead.

2 PETER TURCHIN Peter Turchin is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut; Research Associate in the School of Anthropology, University of Oxford; and External Professor at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna. Lorem ipsum He conducts research on the cultural evolution and historical dynamics of past and present societies. His research interests lie at the intersection of socio-cultural evolution, historical macro-sociology, NAME SURNAME economic history and cliometrics, mathematical modelling of long-term social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases. Over the past decade Professor Turchin has been investigating two broad and interrelated questions. What general mechanisms explain the collapse of historical empires and how did large-scale states and empires evolve in the first place? What are the social forces that hold together huge human conglomerates, and under what conditions do they fail? Peter is the author of seven books including War and Peace and War, Secular Cycles, Ultrasociety, and most recently, Age of Discord: A Structural-Demographic Analysis of American History.

3 THE HISTORY OF THE NEAR FUTURE: WHAT DOES HISTORY TELL US ABOUT OUR AGE OF DISCORD? SOCIAL AND POLITICAL TURBULENCE IN THE UNITED STATES AND IN A NUMBER OF EUROPEAN COUNTRIES HAS BEEN RISING IN RECENT YEARS. MY RESEARCH, WHICH COMBINES ANALYSIS OF HISTORICAL DATA WITH THE TOOLS OF COMPLEXITY SCIENCE, HAS IDENTIFIED THE DEEP STRUCTURAL FORCES THAT WORK TO UNDERMINE SOCIETAL STABILITY AND RESILIENCE TO INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL SHOCKS. HERE I LOOK BENEATH THE SURFACE OF DAY-TO-DAY CONTENTIOUS POLITICS AND SOCIAL UNREST, AND FOCUS ON THE NEGATIVE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC TRENDS THAT EXPLAIN OUR CURRENT AGE OF DISCORD. In 2010 the top science journal Nature asked me to identify a major trend that would be shaping the next decade. I responded by writing the article, Political instability may be a contributor in the coming decade 1. At the time, the claim that social instability and political violence in the United States would spike in the 2020s seemed outlandish. The political turbulence of the past two years, however, is consistent with this forecast. Historical analysis shows that long spells of equitable prosperity and internal peace are succeeded by protracted periods of inequality, increasing misery, and political instability. These crisis periods are ages of discord (see Figure 1). Furthermore, the deep structural, social and economic forces that brought us the current age of discord (see Figure 2 on next page) are not going away. If anything, the negative trends seem to be accelerating. Figure 1: The double spiral of well-being ( happiness ) and elite overproduction ( discord ) Structural demographic trends Early Republic -3 Era of good feelings I American Civil War Age of discord I Age of discord II 2020? WW I WW II Post-war prosperity (era of good feelings II) Popular well-being Elite overproduction 2 1 Political Instability May be a Contributor in the Coming Decade as at February Elite overproduction results when elite numbers and appetites exceed the ability of the society to sustain them, leading to spiralling intra-elite competition and conflict.

4 In 2010, the claim that social instability and political violence in the United States would spike in the 2020s seemed outlandish. Lorem The ipsum political NAME SURNAME turbulence of the past two years, however, is consistent with this forecast. PETER TURCHIN

5 Figure 2: Structural forces driving social instability and political violence Structural force Mass mobilisation potential Intra-elite competition State fragility International environment Brief explanation When the supply of labour exceeds its demand, the price of labour decreases, depressing the living standards for the majority of the population, creating favourable economic conditions for the elites (consumers of cheap labour), but leading to large-scale economic impoverishment and growing mass-mobilisation potential, which increases the likelihood for a major popular movement or outright rebellion. Favourable economic conditions for the elites result in increasing numbers of elites and elite aspirants, as well as runaway growth of elite consumption levels. Elite overproduction results when elite numbers and appetites exceed the ability of the society to sustain them, leading to spiralling intra-elite competition and conflict. A fiscal crisis reduces the state s control of the coercive apparatus (police and army). The state s legitimacy crisis undermines the willingness of the elites and the population to defend state institutions against assault by radical groups. Whereas the first three mechanisms are internal, societal stability is also affected by external factors: geopolitical (e.g., foreign support for the opposition), geo-economic (shifting prices of international commodities), and geo-cultural (a successful revolution in a culturally similar country). A COMMON UNDERAPPRECIATION THAT THE DRIVING FACTORS ARE CONNECTED My model, based on the analysis of a historical database of past societal crises, tracks a number of factors (for more details of the method and the empirical trends, see my 2016 book Ages of Discord). Some reflect the developments that have been noticed and extensively discussed: growing income and wealth inequality, stagnating and even declining well-being of large segments of the American population, growing political fragmentation and governmental dysfunction. However, most social scientists and political commentators tend to focus on a particular slice of the problem (see Figure 3) and don t necessarily appreciate that these developments are all interconnected (see Figure 4). Our society is a system in which different parts affect each other, often in unexpected ways. One needs to look below the surface of day-to-day politics to discern these deep interconnections. Furthermore, there is another important development that has been missed by most commentators: the key role of intra-elite competition and conflict in driving waves of political violence, both in historical societies and in our own. After all, increasing inequality leads not only to the growth of top fortunes, it also results in greater numbers of wealth-holders. The 1 percent becomes 2 percent or even more. My model aims to incorporate these issues. Figure 3: Factors causing discord Figure 4: Drivers of discord are connected growing income/wealth inequality growing income/wealth inequality stagnating/ declining well-being of large segments of the American population governmental dysfunction stagnating/ declining well-being of large segments of the American population governmental dysfunction growing political fragmentation growing political fragmentation

6 WHY IS THE GROWTH OF THE ELITE IMPORTANT? Elites are a small proportion of the population who concentrate social power in their hands. Sociologists distinguish several sources of social power: Economic Political (or administrative) Ideological Coercive (military) Countries differ in which power sources rule the ball (for example, in the United States economic and political powerholders dominate the military and ideological elites). Countries also differ in the mechanisms used for elite recruitment and rotation. As individual elites retire, they are replaced from the pool of elite aspirants. There are always more elite aspirants than positions for them to occupy. Intra-elite competition is the process that sorts aspirants into successful elites and aspirants whose ambition to enter the elite ranks is frustrated. THE GROWTH OF THE COUNTER-ELITES 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 counterelites. These masses of frustrated elite aspirants become breeding grounds for radical groups and revolutionary movements. I have emphasised the importance of intra-elite competition because the research on past societies by my team demonstrates that elite overproduction is by far the most important of the structural drivers of social instability and political violence. But the other mechanisms in the model popular immiseration leading to high mass-mobilisation potential, increasing state fragility, and geopolitical pressures are also important contributors. Unfortunately, currently there are no signs that these negative trends will reverse themselves in the near future. In other words, America is on a track toward a peak of social and political instability in the 2020s, as was predicted in Moderate intra-elite competition is usually beneficial in an orderly and efficiently functioning society, because it results in betterqualified candidates being selected. Excessive 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 US Representatives, 100 Senators, and only one President.

7 Figure 5: Millionaires in the US versus power positions m in m in power positions 3 Spectrem Group s Market Insight, as at 2007 and 2017.

8 WHAT NEXT? Our team s research also shows that the predicament America finds itself in is not new all large-scale complex societies periodically experience ages of discord. Statistical analysis of the trajectories of societies, which experienced similar crisis periods in the past, indicates that the entry into crisis periods is governed by a broadly similar set of social forces. Although relative strengths of different factors vary, they tend to act synergistically in bringing about spiking social instability and political violence. On the other hand, exiting crisis periods is highly variable and contingent. In really extreme cases, a large proportion of the population may perish, while the governing elites are decimated, driven into exile, or dispossessed. In history, the bad outcomes greatly outnumber the good outcomes. There is hope however. In about 10% of the cases, societies manage to survive crises with minimal bloodshed where elites pull together and adopt a series of well-defined reform policies that: Rebalance the economy Increase population wellbeing Decrease the economic inequality Limit the creation of so many elite aspirants We are in the process of expanding our historical database of societal trajectories, both leading up to and, critically, exiting out from crisis periods. The massive amount of historical data, which we will soon have, will enable us to run sophisticated statistical analyses that will identify the structural causes and conditions leading to better outcomes. It will provide the much-needed empirical basis for designing better policies to help us navigate the troubled waters ahead.

9 In history, the bad outcomes greatly outnumber Lorem the ipsum good outcomes. NAME SURNAME There is hope however. PETER TURCHIN

10

11 FIND OUT MORE Institutional Business Development European Business Development Consultant Relationship Management Client Relationship Management company/insight-investment This document is a financial promotion and is not investment advice. Unless otherwise attributed the views and opinions expressed are those of Insight Investment at the time of publication and are subject to change. This document may not be used for the purposes of an offer or solicitation to anyone in any jurisdiction in which such offer or solicitation is not authorised or to any person to whom it is unlawful to make such offer or solicitation. Insight does not provide tax or legal advice to its clients and all investors are strongly urged to seek professional advice regarding any potential strategy or investment. Issued by Insight Investment Management (Global) Limited. Registered office 160 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4LA. Registered in England and Wales. Registered number Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FCA Firm reference number Insight Investment. All rights reserved

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