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Will the US experience a violent upheaval in 2020? (2012) (livescience.com)
220 points by monort on Jan 10, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 221 comments



Turchin's two main ideas are intriguing.

a) 50 years is enough for "institutional memory" to go out of the window. This may change with longevity breakthroughs, but 50 years is currently enough for a complete generation exchange, so the new leaders have no memory of the previous upheaval and will make the same mistakes again. Or at least the same kind of mistakes, details are always different.

b) elite overproduction is a "dangerous" topic when even treading on this ground invites charges of anti-intellectualism, but I cannot help looking at the 25+ crowd with fresh degrees, tons of debt and not-precisely-excellent earning opportunities and see that universities have a great racket out of this, while their graduates not so much. If you apply the old "Cui prodest?" question (Romans used to ask "Who profits?"), the answer would be that tertiary education complex is at least as influential as the military industrial complex, and most of the value captured does not even accrue to professors.


> a) 50 years is enough for "institutional memory" to go out of the window. This may change with longevity breakthroughs, but 50 years is currently enough for a complete generation exchange, so the new leaders have no memory of the previous upheaval and will make the same mistakes again. Or at least the same kind of mistakes, details are always different.

That's why education is the most important pillar of democracy. Education is everything.


This is what I would expect a technocratic forum like HN to suggest. America's most poverty stricken regions have had public education for nearly a century with almost no meaningful improvement in prospects. Tell me how rural poverty in West Viriginia is reduced by giving people humanities degrees. Better educated voters? Who cares, the poor have no representation of merit anyway; their choices are to vote for one party who ignores them or the other that ignores them.


Public education in the US is awful and lags nearly the entire developed world.

Humanities degrees are not terribly useful, but boiling all education down to humanities degrees is a blatant strawman that signals a lot about your willingness to have a nuanced discussion.

I think it's fairly self evident that investment in the future is what improves the future and education is probably the most important and significant such investment.


I'm not entirely clear on how many nations are able to be compared with the US within the developed world.

Given its size, configuration, and geopolitical contexts, the US has few comparable nations against which we can test. I guess we can say Russia is closest, followed by Canada & Mexico, then the entire EU and the CCP. India maybe?

> boiling all education down to humanities degrees is a blatant strawman

No, it isn't. The other nations I just listed by comparison churn out very few humanities degrees. What people choose to do with their privilege of going to college is a relevant data point, which feeds back into the quality of the education system overall.

> signals a lot about your willingness to have a nuanced discussion.

Let's not go around insinuating such things when you yourself started this conversation off failing to address the nuances of comparing the US against other "developed world" countries.


Are you the OP posting under a different account?

> Given its size, configuration, and geopolitical contexts, the US has few comparable nations against which we can test.

Why does country size affect academic performance of students?

Russia, China, India, and Mexico are not developed nations. I wouldn't compare their educational results with the US. I'd be more interested in Canada, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and the European nations. The USA compares near the bottom of this list.

> No, it isn't. The other nations I just listed by comparison churn out very few humanities degrees.

You used humanities degrees as a strawman argument in the OP. You asserting you did not do that is just a waste of effort. Perhaps you need to look up what a strawman argument is?


> Are you the OP posting under a different account?

No... are you?

That's easily the strangest question I have ever been asked on HN.


Good education system does not neatly translate to, say, economic success.

Italy has top-class university system, much older than Columbus, and yet the country seems to be stuck in stagnation for last 20 years and the talented fresh graduates of those top schools move abroad.


I would say it's one very important factor among others. Ray Dalio outlines many of the factors involved in nations rising and falling, including education in a freely available online book. I've found it an interesting read, although he takes a while to get to the point.[1]

[1] https://www.principles.com/the-changing-world-order/


You still need a government that can get out of it's own way, legislatively, while still providing an environment (or the right incentives for one) where business can and does get done.


Among many things. Recent governments in the US have been very ineffective. Legislators are more interested in making each other look bad than actually doing their job.


> Good education system does not neatly translate to, say, economic success.

If you think anyone said that, you should probably talk less and read more. Because it doesn't appear you're competent in either.

Education is necessary but not sufficient.


That's a bit harsh. The OP has a good point, and he's not mischaracterizing anyone's argument. Please re-read the HN guidelines about being civil.


Bush II's "No Child Left Behind" was replaced by Obama's "Race to the Top" was followed by DeVos's "invisible hand." The common thread in all of these education policies is that schools that are doing well get rewarded; schools that are underperforming get the same, or reduced funding, or get closed.

To get better educated voters, you need better education for poorest performing students -- not more investment in the high performers. Additionally, poor kids can't focus on school for various reasons ranging from malnutrition to working multiple part-time jobs to keep their family afloat. Addressing poverty on a systemic level will be necessary to raise our baseline of education.


Once again - the best educated voter still only has two choices, and neither of these represent the poor.

Do people on HN really think the very rich or the very poor were at all bothered by the Capitol riots? Government is irrelevant to both groups, in different ways.


God, this is true, but most HN posters can't see it for some reason.

Princeton already proved America is an oligarchy with a paper that was released a few years back, showing that when the rich wanted a certain policy implemented, it was passed into law at any almost 80% rate, compared with the "average voter" wanting a policy made into law at about a 50% rate.

Here's that article:

https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/fi...

Now here's what's super telling, or at least should be... if you Google "princeton oligarchy study america" or some combination, the very first fucking result you'll find will be a Vox article saying its wrong. Because the ultra-rich need to perpetuate the myth that your voice matters. Google needs you to be stupid enough to believe that.


The difference between 80% and 50% is very significant but if you want a positive angle:

1. Average voters still pass laws at a significant rate 2. An elite university publishes the study

It's very far from perfection but I don't think it's an oligarchy. There is always going to be a bias in favor of the rich. That's what money is for.


The best educated voter -- any voter in fact -- can also run for office and transform the party.

I dislike the rhetoric you're using that implies the parties are outside and beyond the reach of "normal" citizens. Of course they are institutions with substantial inertia and aims of their own. But as the elections of people as diverse as Cori Bush and Madison Cawthorne and Marjorie Taylor Greene show, it is certainly still possible to make your way from citizen to elected official.


Have you been involved in a party’s political process? I participated in a primary caucus for a small district and was disgusted by the leadership and how the event was run. No one was heard, whatever the moderator wanted was how the vote turned out, regardless of how the group actually voted. All of the leadership was among the most smarmy, slimy people I’ve ever been in a room with.

If you want to run for office, not only do you have to spend time with these narcissistic, power drunk politicians at the local level, you have to get them to support you.

This meeting was on the extreme local level for a community of maybe 35k people. I can’t even imagine what the county level, or national level would be like.

Maybe others have had a better experience, but this disillusioned me from any participation in politics and politicians in general.


> disillusioned me from any participation in politics and politicians in general.

It's so much easier when the troublemakers show themselves out of the room. Of course, nobody could be blamed for wanting nothing to do with politics, but its only the people who are disgusted by the system that change it.


It's always been possible for everybody in the US to run for for office but how likely is it without having serious money?

Everything from advertising to filing comes with serious cost in US federal election. In Texas alone it costs $3k to just get on a primary ballot for a federal election as a representative.

Even the candidates you mentioned had to raise over $1MM just to run their elections.

Yes, it's possible just very unlikely if you don't have the cash.

Sources:

Cori Bush Amount Raised: https://www.opensecrets.org/races/candidates?cycle=2020&id=M...

Madison Cawthorne Amount Raised: https://www.opensecrets.org/races/candidates?cycle=2020&id=N...

Marjorie Taylor Amount Raised: https://www.opensecrets.org/races/candidates?cycle=2020&id=G...

Filing in the 2020 Democratic and Republican Primary: https://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/candidates/guide/2020/...


Polical Parties are the problem, and can in no way be a solution to the problem

To update George Washington for current year: While political parties may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled politicians will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

If we want better governance in the US, we must limit or eliminate political parties


That's a taller order than it appears. Political parties are, at core, freedom of association: you and I agree to put our differences aside in support of the things we overlap on. I'll support your things if you support mine, and we'll both oppose the others. Once we reach 50% of the people to make that bargain, we'll win everything.

Subverting that isn't easy without giving up something that seems necessary. You can eliminate majority rules. You can eliminate freedom of association. You can eliminate voting. Even term limits don't help: you can eliminate the politician but not their constituents, who will find somebody equivalent to send.

I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's not as simple as "eliminate political parties". Even if you could wish them away with a magic wand, they'd come right back.


You need look no further than the concerted and organized effort to shut-down Bernie Sanders twice, and frankly he isn't even particularly radical. No one you mentioned represents a meaningful threat to the status quo - America has a single ruling class and the Capitol is their museum.


You could also look at the concerted and organized shut-down of Tulsi Gabbard.


Not op, but while you are not wrong, I would argue that the critique of the FPTP-voting system is very relevant here.


What do you make of this study by professors from Princeton and Northwestern that finds that "economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence"?

Source: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/perspectives-on-poli...

What do you make of Jimmy Carter saying in 2014 that "America doesn't have a functioning democracy right now"?

Source: https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/nsa-affaere-jimmy-car... Translated from German: https://archive.is/Lhlq2

It might be unpleasant to acknowledge, but there is increasingly overwhelming evidence to suggest that the major American political parties are indeed "outside and beyond the reach of 'normal' citizens".

In 2017, the DNC argued in federal court that, as a private corporation, it was entitled to select whichever candidate it preferred for the general election regardless of the preferences of "normal citizens" who voted in the party's primary election. This was in a hearing for a lawsuit filed by Sanders supporters who weren't happy about the DNC working with the Clinton campaign and against the Sanders campaign, as revealed by WikiLeaks.

Source: https://ivn.us/posts/dnc-to-court-we-are-a-private-corporati... and, for convenience, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/independent-voter-network-ivn...

Growing up in a blue household, social group, and state, I'm less familiar with the history of the anti-democratic machinations of the RNC, but my understanding of the Trump phenomenon was that, at least early on, many Republican voters were attracted to the idea of a political outsider who they hoped wouldn't sell them out like they felt RNC-affiliated Republicans had been doing.

Some contemporary sources seem to back up that interpretation: https://archive.fo/2Vidx (Wall Street Journal) and https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/...


You, like many others have some really good arguments to why the current american system doesn't work.

But where is the american movement to end the FPTP-voting system?


A week ago, they were in DC. It made everybody pretty cranky.


they are increasingly beyond the reach of normal citizens. If your views do not align 100% with either party, you are increasingly marginalized. See the treatment of Donald Trump (a republican outsider, and not a traditional conservative by any means, but not a democrat in principle either) by the Republican party. For the past four years, republicans have refused to pass bills due to not matching ideological purity tests from Trump. The best example of this is DACA (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/01/09/trum...), for which Trump has repeatedly asked for a legislative solution that gives these children legal status. Because that is not the exact party line of the GOP, they didn't like his solution. And then along with that, he wanted the wall of course, which doesn't fall into line exactly with the democrats, so now, despite DACA and secure borders being an issue many care about, no political party would take them up due to ideological purity.

On the democrat side, see the treatment of Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard (Both non-traditional democrats in different ways) by their party.

Honestly, after seeing both how the GOP and Democrats treated Trump, Sanders, and Gabbard, I find myself supportive of all three of them despite them having a very different views. I simply like that they're not either party.

It increasingly seems that both parties are becoming incredibly dogmatic, and anyone who doesn't fall in line is simply barred from public discourse or elected office. It is increasingly true that in order to even get to elected office you need the support of a party.

In my state of Oregon, the democrats and republicans actually mandated that you be part of a party before being elected to office. You can no longer run as an independent. It's so bad, some people made an 'independent party' just to be able to have non-democrat or republican candidates on the ballot, but this suffers from the same issues as parties, in that those individuals still need to be 'nominated' by a select group of people annointed by the party organizers, which means even the independent party has a bias, even if they try to minimize it.

We need major electoral reform, nationwide, but it doesn't benefit any party to do that. What I would like to see are protesters from both BLM, Antifa, or whatever and the capitol protesters (not the rioters of any group please...) band together for a change and demand a better means of governance from their legislators. The people need to band together on common principles, instead of being divided by stupid policy points.


i would have replaced Trump with Ron Paul (remember him?) as a Republican/Libertarian with strong support via grassroots and youth (that wanted real change) that the party did not want and did everything they could to destroy or co-opt.

When we saw the same thing being done to Sanders by the Democratic party (almost an exact mirror of what happended to Paul) it was a strong hint as to what is really going on. Neither party is"better" in this regard...


Yes, you're right. The casting out of Ron Paul made me really mad. Thanks for reminding me.

No, no party is better really. The GOP is the same. It's run by the same kinds of old farts. My main source of good feelings towards the GOP is that I tend to agree with their unelected members. But more and more I'm seeing those members also hate the GOP establishment. I wouldn't be surprised to see the party fracture heavily soon. I hope the democrat party also has the same split. There are good, decent democrats that share common principles and who I'm sure cannot stand their party leadership. I mean, the DNC is so bad, that I actually feel sorry for my left-leaning friends who also seem unable to get any representation.


This should be the top comment IMHO.


> Honestly, after seeing both how the GOP and Democrats treated Trump, Sanders, and Gabbard, I find myself supportive of all three of them despite them having a very different views. I simply like that they're not either party.

This seems absurd. If your political reasoning puts you in a situation where Trump and Sanders are both options for you then your system is broken - they are antithetical to each other in style, philosophy, character and most importantly policy. Based on your logic, if both parties rejected Stalin then you'd be in favor of him.


I don't think this is too difficult to understand. It's anti-establishment versus establishment, populist versus elite, that sort of axis.


I still don't get it. It just seems silly to favor a candidate based on who rejects them. If policies on opposite sides of the political spectrum are interchangeable then why care at all who gets elected?

At least voting for a 3rd party one can be said to be contributing to a cause closest to one's ideal, but being favorable to anyone who the mainstream doesn't approve of just seems like flawed logic.


The establishment/mainstream is the real enemy of the people. It totally makes sense to support anyone who you think could realistically challenge and destroy the status quo.


What if the person that destroys the status quo is worse? Is your argument that nothing could be worse than the status quo?


A useful example might be to look at the fallout of the various protests during Arab Spring, and how it led to both more liberal and less liberal outcomes.

Anti-establishmentarianism can bring together people of different political persuasions who all want to dismantle parts of the current system. What comes after that is a new battle, and that one may end up fought along more traditionally ideological lines.


This is not about the person. It is about alternative voices to be heard in policy making and policy execution.


Fighting against "globalism" could have been something people like Bernie used before Trump too. Ironically anarchist and antifa groups have always tried to burn down cities where globalists meet, G7 etc. They might have different explanations but in the end it's fight for the capital.

Corbyn for instance, very much left wing, opposed EU because of all the globalist bankers and buerocrats in Brussels controlling the society, cheap labor bringing down wages.

If you're a bit older or have better knowledge, then trumps policies are far more similar to someone like Sanders if they really wanted to team up. (I'm not talking about his speech and the way of saying things)


We actually see Trump/Sanders directly overlap in Tulsi Gabbard, a democrat who supported Sanders, but who often disagrees with Trump (and indeed, was the sole democrat to not vote for impeachment). Many Trumpers like her too. I like that she is honest personally. She has both criticized the antifa/blm riots and the riots on the sixth. Brought up concerns of both police brutality (concerns I share, BTW), and election integrity (which I also am concerned with).

I actually have supported with many actions of Antifa / BLM (probably wouldn't guess that from my post history), including the protests at Pelosi's and McConnell's houses, and the disruption of the globalist meetings you mention. I don't agree with them in their destruction of property, especially that of small mom-and-pop businesses, or even big business if it affects small businesses (by raising insurance rates for example). And obviously, I disagree with anything actually threatening lives.


> Based on your logic, if both parties rejected Stalin then you'd be in favor of him.

If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons. -- Winston Churchill


> Based on your logic, if both parties rejected Stalin then you'd be in favor of him.

Yes, I'd rather have a social democrat that rejects Stalin than a fiscal conservative that embraced him.

Unlike the various 'what-ifs' of policy issues, anyone can examine the actual record of Stalin and his policies. And, in my opinion, anyone who finds him a source of inspiration, regardless of their stated policy preferences, has a severe lack of judgement.


Gabbard is very lucky she is not in trouble for not registering as an agent of a foreign government after all her connections with VHP


Vishva Hindu Parishad? Has any American even heard of that? Why bother inventing something so arcane?


There was quite a bit of press about her links with Modi and the Modi-supporting diaspora


It's not clear if this whole goofy thread arises from anti-Hindu prejudice or opposition to democracy?


Judging by the unanimous and immediate technocrat and media response to the capitol riot I would wager the rich are very concerned about it. I agree noone wealthy seemed all that concerned about the riots before that


There was no way to spin it off as marketing either, why would they be concerned.


West Virginians with masters degrees make about twice as much as those with high school diplomas. Either things are not so bad for people with humanities degrees, or they're not as large a share of education as you think.

https://www.wvhepc.edu/resources/data-and-publication-center...


When the teachers in certain areas are on welfare programs because the wages are below poverty levels, what sort of education do you expect people to receive? Who do you expect teaches? Education here is a glorified daycare, not an attempt to instill critical thought on how we might attempt to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Like voting for politicians who implemented policies to send our jobs and basic goods factories over seas.


I would argue that while it may not help rural West Virginia, the location, it can (and does, just not for everyone!) benefit some subset of that WV population who does manage to become educated and leave for a better prospects in a city or some other part of the country.


Which further perpetuates the cycle because anyone who makes enough to pay taxes to support public programs leaves.

I don't blame them, but it sucks for some of these communities.


Well, maybe they can learn that there are other alternatives besides the american political system during those studies, and actually do something to change your broken system...


Public education in the US is funded by neighborhood, so wealthy neighborhoods have far better schools and poverty stricken regions have terrible schools.


> Public education in the US is funded by neighborhood

Sometimes, usually not. It's often (but not always) funded by “school district”, which is often much larger than a neighborhood and may be a large metro area, and often with statewide funding mechanisms that reduce disparity between districts to less than it would be on its own.


But even within a single school district there are "good schools" and "bad schools" and not terribly surprisingly, rents and home prices are more expensive in the neighborhoods with the higher rated schools. Many people move within the same city in order to get their kids in them.


> But even within a single school district there are "good schools" and "bad schools" and not terribly surprisingly, rents and home prices are more expensive in the neighborhoods with the higher rated schools.

Yes, that’s true, but it's not a product of funding by neighborhood, because that's not how the schools in that case are funded.

It's been fairly strongly argued that that's actually because the schools themselves make almost no difference at all on average, and school outcomes are pretty much determined by socioeconomic background and other personal traits of the student with ransome variation, and the “good schools” are just the ones attended by the students with the traits that would produce, on average, good outcomes independent of what school they attend.


That really depends on the state. Some states redistribute tax money across school districts.


Note, for instance, that the whole of New York City is one school district.


Anybody who wants greater social mobility can recognize why that’s a bad thing.


"That's why education is the most important pillar of democracy. Education is everything. "

The kind of people who get into positions of power - well, my impression is that they think they know better. Even if they are aware of the fact that in 1930 someone fucked up, they will not entertain the fact that they themselves might do the same.

Also, some events are really complex. You can educate people about the 1929 or 2008 economic crises from very different perspectives, from far-left to libertarian, and the lessons will be very different.


I think that's why an education has to be broad. A selective education can be tantamount to brainwashing/propaganda. Give the students as many perspectives and hope that they will do something sensible as they process the information; knowing that not all will, but most.

I believe that the more perspectives you are aware of, the less likely you are to be dogmatic and extreme in your beliefs and actions. You will be reminded how dissimilar real life is to simple ideas and rhetoric, that it is a shifting ocean of nuances and caveats.

Or society can go the other route, assume you cannot trust the people and create a tyranny of disinformation and control.


Perspectives are important and so is a humble study of history as way to understand human nature. We are so in love with your technological prowess that we forget it all sits on top of wetware that is very close to what it was 10000 years ago. Recognizing we are driven largely by instinct, some of which we can inhibit some we cannot, would help all of understand what works and what does not in a human society.


> Give the students as many perspectives and hope that they will do something sensible as they process the information

I don’t know if you’ve gone to college recently but that was not my impression. It’s a woke monoculture. Discourse is gone.


Discourse is narrower than you'd like; that doesn't mean it's "gone". When someone makes extraordinary claims like "Discourse is gone," that is a red flag that they are not viewing the situation objectively.


So perhaps a better claim would be that the new discourse is unduly confined and the older modes of discourse are gone.


The discourse has always been unduly confined. We never discussed whether it was a good thing to slaughter all the Native Americans, and we're not discussing whether all our stupid wars nowadays are good, either. War is off-topic in the USA "discourse". I'm sure other important things about which I'm less concerned are also "unduly" left out.


That's a better starting point for a productive discussion, but still hyperbolic.

Moreover, do you notice that my comment is being grayed out as people who disagree are downvoting it? A lot of people who claim to value discussion really don't; not on Hacker News, and not elsewhere.


You're being downvoted because discourse should never be narrowed, period.

Ideas should be thrown into the public square, in the full light of day, and judged on their merits.


Hopefully you realize the hypocrisy of graying out my comment in the name of promoting discourse, but I doubt it.

Ideas should absolutely be judged on their merits; here we agree. Too bad that's not how humans work. Instead, they tend to choose whichever truth they like best based on how it makes them feel; politicians know this, which is why they don't bother crafting logically sound arguments backed with evidence. They play on peoples' emotions.

Moreover, the university is not a public square. You attend as a student, which means you are there to learn, not to share your thoughts like it's a real-life HN thread. Don't want to learn the material? That's completely fine. The solution is to not sign up for the class, not to whine about how "discourse is gone" just because the teacher doesn't want to waste time on every edgy kid's opinions. People didn't pay massive sums of money to hear you talk. They paid to learn from experts.


Don't think of your comment as being grayed out, think of your discourse as being narrowed.


It turns out we are both fine with narrowing discourse, just as I suspected.


Precisely demonstrating my point: a hyper-sensitivity and censorious attitude against any advocacy for unmitigated debate.


You are calling my disagreement a "censorious attitude." Sorry, but I am allowed to disagree with you.


The most educated people I know seem the most partisan right now and most likely to parrot main stream media talking points.

It’s making me question my assumptions about education. On the other hand Im just one data point.


Have you considered that maybe the "mainstream media" is right?

I know it seems almost impossible–what with them basically espousing the same values that used to be generally accepted as "good" a decade or so ago: overcoming division, not burning coal just to piss off the libs, not killing vice presidents on Wednesdays and Fridays, international cooperation, arms control, caps lock control, etc...

And that YouTube guy you adore does make a lot of sense when he shouts at the camera. Not just on dietary supplements but also how the loss of traditional gender roles has specifically disadvantaged high-IQ males with STEM affinity.

That pronoun thing might even get someone killed, in a very convoluted way.

But even then it just doesn't seem to have the potential to end the republic quite as easily as, say, musing about having the military re-run the election in states you lost, in such an obvious way every living former SecDef signs a letter asking the military to disregard such orders.


Many people who seem on paper to be highly educated are merely highly indoctrinated.


On the other hand, there appears to be a "skeptical" strain of discourse now that is just as arrogant, but in the other direction. As in, I disagree with the mainstream cultural view on a topic, so I therefore have the correct view on it.

This is best exemplified by someone like Michael Tracy or Glenn Greenwald IMO.

In my view they're more wrong than right, but they do have the occasional nugget where they do see through the BS. However, the mainstream view is correct more often than not. Additionally, a significant proportion of their takes are in bad faith.


I think you have something there. There’s certainly a phase when you stop trusting the mainstream where you overdo it and think everything is wrong.

The goal should probably be a balance. And probably realizing that nobody including the government or media deserves your blind trust.


I agree. They certainly have a valuable role to play. But if you play with fire like that, you can't get mad when twitter viciously dunks on you for being stupid.


The behavior that helped the most educated succeed was being informed. It’s not surprising that they maintain that pattern and in so doing, parrot mainstream media.

Most people have limited experience in managing information that they consider authoritative which turns out to be wrong.

I think the best example of authoritative misinformation for 2020 is Anthony Fauci’s guidance that masks don’t help until they do. I’m looking forward to watching people’s reactions when he inevitably asserts they don’t again.

2020 was a good year for skeptic production, boy howdy.


You raise a great point. Trust in authorities is a very powerful mental shortcut. You don’t have to research anything. Go with the mainstream and you’ll always be right.

Until that shortcut goes horribly wrong.


It's not a shortcut. It's the only way to form opinions outside of your expertise fields, because you simply don't have the time to personally research everything.

That's why it's very important to have a healthy dose of skepticism when receiving info from people who we trust, because we chose the gatekeepers based on our opinions which implicitly selects for our own biases.

For example I don't actually know that the election wasn't stolen. It's an opinion that I hold due to choosing to trust a specific gatekeeper (main stream media) and a lack of hard evidence from the other side. If hard evidence were to be presented, the I would have to reexamine my beliefs even if they go against everything I believed in previously.


If you are an expert in a topic that is covered by the media, I cannot understand how you would have faith in the media’s coverage of topics you don’t understand.


So I suppose in your eyes science can never correct itself? I find the constant example of fauci’s “about face” on masks as an example of why not to listen to experts to be very concerning, especially by people who profess to believe in science. There is a wide gulf between deliberate misinformation and the scientific method refining the best advice known at the time for a novel virus. It’s disingenuous to equate the two.

In the beginning there was a real question of how this virus transmitted as well as acute supply shortages of n95 masks for first responders.

If you expect scientists to be correct the first time, every time, I guess you’ll set yourself up for disappointment. I suppose when you sit down to code, especially using a new language or framework, you get it right the first time with no bugs? If so, congratulations and let us know how you did it.


Why slap a narrative on me? I said nothing you’ve talked about and don’t believe what you ascribe you me. Why waste the time of both of us?

“As Fauci told the Washington Post here , at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, masks were not recommended for the general public, as authorities were trying to prevent a mask shortage for health workers and the extent of asymptomatic spread was unknown.”

https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-fauci-outdated-...

The man was in a no-win situation, and he had to make a shitty call, but integrity doesn’t mean occasional honesty. He and many others walked through a one-way door and the best move for him is to resign so we can have someone with a clean ethical slate.

Let’s make this simpler. How do you feel about General Alexander’s testimony to Congress about surveillance of the American people?


Mainstream media talking points vary from Trump and his family are breaking norms and traditions in a very dangerous way to our country, all the way to the Biden crime family is going to ruin this country. With major undertones of a lot of hurt, anger, and feeling like there is no hope among minorities or rural whites depending on which sources you choose to consume. Both are true, both need addressed. And it’s likely not a coincidence that both groups think the other’s movement is their enemy.


I get routinely modded down on this site for pointing out issues that are ostensibly too political, like workplace discrimination.

But on this same site, somoene can literally carry on a discussion echoing the (proven false) propaganda points ("biden crime family"? dear lord) and it stays up without downvote for (checks watch) an hour and counting.

Everything this past week has been a chest x-ray of our collective spirit, and it came back solid white.

This is vastly smaller in degree but not in kind.

Time for some introspection, dear readers.


This is a bit of a meta discussion, but there does seem to be a marked difference between what the moderators do (most recently, pruning entire threads) and what users using the "flag" button and down voting does.

The last couple of days have been particularly hellish, with many threads that descended into flame wars which drifted far away from whatever the original post was about.

I agree that there have been many threads that were far from being good faith discussions and turned into shouting matches with too many posts made in bad faith (such as citing bad sources that did not contain anything directly relevant to the point being argued, or links to sources that just repeated the original unsubstantiated allegation without presenting any evidence). Actions taken by users in these threads seemed to reflect preexisting biases rather than anything resembling a good faith debate.

With that I want to express my appreciation for the moderators who's job I do not envy but who are very necessary to keeping this site functioning in any way.


I’ve noticed that too. Seems that no matter what I post I get downvotes. Typically without any explanation or response.


I dunno, there are a lot of countries famous for their education which are nevertheless not ideal places to go.

Culture might be a more important aspect than education. Education is relatively easy to transplant (c.f. China & the rest of Asia, or the US stealing many of Germany's good scientists after WWII, or the Brits leaching French expertise after the revolution). Culture is really hard to transplant because nobody knows which are the good bits and which are the bad bits.

I'll throw these two in because I they are an interesting and relevant example:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Isambard_Brunel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isambard_Kingdom_Brunel


Well, obviously "education" is already a political term and will be defined as required. The way I mean education is in a holistic sense. Education is about learning to learn, learning to think for yourself, learning about history and science in an as-unbiased-fashion as possible. But the learning about yourself and how to think for yourself is the key. In countries with that sort of education you'll have less problems with free speech to begin with. Because first of all there are fewer people who come up with unfounded conspiracy theories and second of all fewer people who fall for it - because they learned to think for themselves. But it's gift that keeps giving ... third of all there will be less division in society because it will be a fairer society to begin with. Education is based on a fair society, leads to a fair society and stabilizes a fair society. But if a country is at a point where a Betsy DeVos is appointed as secretary of education - well, good night ...


These examples are of technical education. German rocket scientists, and British blast-furnace wizards (to France). These things are important of course but seem orthogonal to political institutional memory.

Scholars deeply steeped in Bismark's thoughts & mistakes, or in English constitutional law, didn't make these jumps.


> or in English constitutional law

Carl Schmitt did in fact made the jump, and he's one of the most read constitutional law writers in the last century. Not sure if Max Weber would have done the same, most probably not (he was really versed in English constitutional law, his "Economy and Society" has lots of quotes to Maitland's "History of English Law"), but he didn't strike me as a fervent supporter of democracy rights either.

And there was also the definite jump made by Heidegger, not exactly a legal scholar but a very well-read person nonetheless (and a mentor to Hannah Arendt, among others).


These don't seem like the sort of jumps I had in mind. I meant the wholesale import of a school of knowledge to a new place. As happened for instance with the arrival of many modern sciences in the US; lots of fields where everybody's family tree goes back to germany.

The germans you mention were certainly well-informed about foreign traditions, but their knowledge didn't create a living continuation of these traditions where they ended up.

(The context is, since it's been a few hours, was a claim that education was a way to circumvent this 50-year institutional forgetting, which I took to mean national institutions. And the counter-claim is that many places have good education and terrible institutions, why haven't they imported this ersatz institutional memory? If it works for local preservation, why doesn't it work for international transplanting? And I don't completely know, but the successful international knowledge grafts seem to be technical subjects. )


Not just mentor, he was her boyfriend!!!

And an ironic situation, given his nazi ties and her jewishness...


While there’s not a 1:1 from education to happiness or prosperity, the least educated countries are really not doing well.


Possibly the cause and effect are flipped and education is merely a recreation expense item for the masses.


Agree. I think the current crisis in US is because of lack of education and the whitewashing or omitting of important events in history. Just yesterday I saw a comment in here adding that deejays now have control of all three branches of the government(which was obviously false) and that was dangerous. But i guess the poster had no idea about what the three branches of the government.


"The road to hell is paved with Ivy League degrees."


Education is not experience. It can help deal with situations similar to the past but it is far from sufficient to make up for the 50 year problem.


Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Matt Gaetz, and John Kennedy, are among the most educated in Congress. And yet are the most self-serving, craven, mendacious, and anti-democratic to have served in the modern era. What evidence is there that education applied any constraint on them? Where does good character come from?


And the type of education surely matters. If the goal is to break through this 50-year horizon, then presumably an important part is to really get inside the heads of people at least that long ago. Not to just translate our quarrels & concerns backwards, but rather to stay immersed in the issues of (say) 1920 long enough to feel what was important to people of the time.


...


Yet education does not help. Being told about the events does not really capture the emotions that lead to them. Education is the reason the details are different but fundamentally nothing gets prevented.


This is basically the Old Testament IMO. Same mistakes over and over, separated by a couple of generations once one generation gets comfortable.


Education doesn't work when people only watch their propaganda media. And when your entire social and professional circle is in the cult good luck breaking out.


Taking b) and running with it, education is, in my opinion, the silver bullet for a number of societies ills. It's very interesting to note how higher education in the US has such a high barrier to entry that it actively discourages outsiders.

It feels as if the Australian Government wants to move in the same direction, and / or have already been doing so for a few years.

Education has its own benefits to society as a whole, therefore we all suffer when a majority are locked out of pursuits that require and encourage depth of thought and logical thinking.


True, if you are on the right (political spectrum) you do not want to encourage higher education, it shifts people to the left, as analytical thinking starts undoing idealism. US is a good example of this, with most universities having more left communities around them.

Perhaps it is an intentional long play by the Right in Australia to pursue this kind of minimisation of education


I don't think analytical thinking has anything to do with political leaning, I'd argue that the US higher education system particularly the humanities is a breeding ground of idealogues. I would say the tendency of education to lean left is largely due to left leaning people being more attracted to working in academia.


I don't think there is any general rule, the fact that higher educated elites in the US and western Europe happen to be left leaning is a self-perpetuating accident of history. In many other countries, higher educated elites are right-leaning.


This is an umbrellas make it rain reverse causation. If you look outside the US the education level does correlate with the political spectrum. The higher educated the population the entire spectrum shifts left. See Northern Europe, Japan, Australia, Singapore, China, even political ideology (democracy vs socialism) doesn’t change this correlation


I can tell you that in the former Soviet bloc, higher education correlates very powerfully with leaning right.

I'd bet it's more likely that higher education correlates well with elitism, and that elitism happens to have a left-ish flavor in some countries and a right-ish flavor in others, simply by accident of history, not by some general rule.


> This is an umbrellas make it rain reverse causation.

I don't see how.

> If you look outside the US the education level does correlate with the political spectrum.

I didn't mention anything about the US, it's a global phenomenon. Personality is a largely biological construct, and it's also highly correlated with political leaning.

Looking at the big 5 model, left leaning people tend to be high in neuroticism(emotional stability) and openness, and low in conscientiousness. Right leaning people tend to be the opposite.

These same traits influence peoples decision to work in academia, openness is a beneficial trait for learning new ideas.

Meanwhile people high in conscientiousness, low in neuroticism are highly sought after in industry.


I’m saying even the right shifts left. It’s not about “left leaning people” it’s the entire spectrum moves. There are still of course right and left leaning people on that spectrum


What I'm saying is that the teachers are left leaning, and it influences their students.


I guess your education did not teach you that correlation does not imply causation. The simpler explanation for why people that are educated lean left is that the people teaching them lean left. Why do teachers lean left? Because they are often broke and underpaid. The fact that there is such uniformity of thought in higher education just goes to show the power of indoctrination.

I feel bad harping on common talking points but most degrees do not teach analytical thought.


I’m talking the whole spectrum, you are caught up on American domestic ideas of left v right.

As my example stated, the far right in Australia would be considered left in the US... the whole spectrum has moved... not talking about individuals... they still exist across that spectrum


"education, it shifts people to the left, as analytical thinking starts undoing idealism."

True; college students are noted for their lack of idealism.

Conversely right leaning occupations such as veterans, oil rig workers and farmers always have their head in the clouds with high minded idealistic notions that don't work in the real world.


> Conversely right leaning occupations such as veterans, oil rig workers and farmers always have their head in the clouds with high minded idealistic notions that don't work in the real world.

Is this a joke?


> Is this a joke?

Yes. The person I was replying to seemed to assume that college was where people are disabused of idealism. My response was satirical.


I am not going to lie, I was really worried for a bit.

I don't know if I'm delusional at this point for mistaking sarcasm for mainstream political culture opinion, if it's scary that belief is even possibly real, or somewhere in between.


> Is this a joke?

Yes, I think it was a joke.


A lot of them were very supportive of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just because someone is more blue collar absolutely doesn't mean that they don't subscribe to high minded idealistic notions.


So why are the countries I listed Right way more progressive than the US? Is it’s function of culture something unique about US culture?


You could say that analytical thinking undo gullibility. Idealism and principles though, may better be understood, applied and defended, with well-rounded education.


Good point. I think that is a better way to describe what I mean


I think that’s a mistake, because while I agree there’s a left lean among academics, I don’t think that necessarily translates into the graduate population generally. Conservatism needs educated leaders as well anyway. If there is a problem there the answer is balancing out education, not reducing it.


Diversity of thought in the education system is a problem - like hires like, and is demonstratively intolerant of challenge, so the dominant mood gets entrenched. If the political poles were reversed (conservatives dominating education) this would be just as much of a problem - it’s a function of human behavior.

(UCLA’s) Eugene Volokh’s blog has been examining this for some time from the perspective of legal education, and of course Bret Weinstein rather famously came into contact with it when (literally) run out of Evergreen.

I remember we used to make jokes about how off the wall Evergreen was, but now I think those things we used to laugh about have become more normalized. They are certainly avant garde, but it seems the tendency of entrenchment dictates that where Evergreen goes so goes the nation’s education system. If you want to see where the nation’s education will be in another 15-20 years, look no further than Evergreen today.


How a "shift" interacts with identity politics is interesting to consider.

One cannot "shift" demographic group merely by attending classes and many groups are highly polarized by demographic group often in excess of 3 to 1 for one party or another.


In Soviet Union, and I believe generally in socialist block, in its final times most young highly educated people were visibly right-leaning.

Probably it's fair to say education may give feelings of better understanding of things (whether it justified or not is a separate topic), and when it is not translated into higher social, and economic positions it naturally leads to growing hostility towards current system. Will it take a right, or left form, or something you cannot reliably put in this spectrum - is the issue if present conditions.


Samuel Huntington observed 'convulsions' every 60 years in American history:

> American history is driven by periodic moments of moral convulsion. The late Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington noticed that these convulsions seem to hit the United States every 60 years or so: the Revolutionary period of the 1760s and ’70s; the Jacksonian uprising of the 1820s and ’30s; the Progressive Era, which began in the 1890s; and the social-protest movements of the 1960s and early ’70s.

* https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/collapsing...

The 2020s was about when the US was 'due' for something to happen, so the next decade or so will apparently be a bit of a ride.


I feel like there's an important data point overlooked in the 1860s?


Not to mention the labor upheavals of the early 20th century.


How was the the revolutionary period "moral convulsion?" Political, sure, but not moral.


The widespread adoption of the civil libertarian ethos (under the guise of unalienable rights, endowed by a creator) might be the greatest moral convulsion in human history.


> civil libertarian ethos

People living in the colonies already had this. When Parliament started asserting more control over the colonies, they fought to restore their control over government.


I read Turchin's Secular Cycle where he goes over the data sets he uses to draw these conclusions on earlier societies. While the things he's trying to measure are not easy (for instance he uses the number and dates of found coin hoards as a relative measure of instability in England), the amount of data is pretty impressive. I actually gave up after he did all the data on England and skipped France, the Islamic Empires and I think there was one other society, and went to the conclusion. I haven't read "Age of Discord" yet, but it looks like he has a pretty detailed summary here.

http://peterturchin.com/age-of-discord/


I realize this is what you meant but just want to clarify that Turchin did not skip the data for France, the Islamic empires, etc. He covers each one in some depth.


Yes sorry that's exactly what I meant. He had me convinced at the first few sets of data.


>at the 25+ crowd with fresh degrees, tons of debt and not-precisely-excellent earning opportunities

There are numerous studies and theories saying that late 19th-early 20th century revolutions wouldn't have happened if they hadn't been coordinated by educated people who hadn't found a stable job (mostly as government employees, not that many private white-collar jobs back then). The Russian revolution definitely wouldn't have happened without university-educated Lenin and Trotsky, and I'd say that even Stalin falls under "educated but with no stable job" umbrella (if I'm not mistaken he had gone to a priest seminary).

In my country (Romania) most of the inter-war intellectuals had turned extremists for exactly that reason, i.e. too few white-collar jobs to chase for people who had finished university. The most well-known examples are guys like Eliade or Cioran, but a more relevant one is Corneliu Zelea-Codreanu [1], which is currently well liked by some people in the US [2] and in Northern Italy [3]. A very relevant book on the subject can be found here [4], unfortunately for the time being with no English translation.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corneliu_Zelea_Codreanu

[2] https://www.chicagotribune.com/nation-world/ct-charlottesvil...

[3] https://www.repubblica.it/cronaca/2018/11/20/news/lealta_azi...

[4] https://www.amazon.com/Limitele-Meritocratiei-Intro-Societat...


Kinda fits the current US situation too: The political violence isn't as new as a lot of people seem to believe - it started years ago, on college/university campuses. While that early violence was done by the students, several times people got videos of their professors in the crowd helping to coordinate.

Once that became normalized it spilled off campus and grew into what we're seeing now.


Ahhh yes. Look at all the university students and professors who just stormed the capitol building in full tactical gear. Really everything bad is all the left's fault. Somehow.


This is such a ridiculously uncharitable interpretation of what the person you're replying to said. It makes me feel like I'm on twitter


Alright, why don't you start by explaining what you think they mean by "what we're seeing now", or by "violence done by the students", and how those things are causally linked?


Instead of letting you shift the goalposts, I'll explain why I think it was uncharitable.

Imo, it is very clear that the OP was not trying to imply that the students/professors were the ones personally or even indirectly involved in these riots. I also feel that it is clear that they were not trying to say that the students were nessicary doing anything wrong. They were replying to their parent comment which was discussing the effects that education had on Russian revolutionary leaders, and connected that same discussion to what we see today.

Do you think that they're wrong? Are they missing something critical? Reply to that instead of complaining about how it AlwAYs ComES bACk tO thE LefT.

If the facts make a certain group look bad, arguing that it's unfair to make that group look bad doesn't add anything. Add your own insight to the conversation and tell us why you think it's wrong or more nuanced


that’s because you’ve fallen for their dogwhistle. nothing like what they described actually occurred, and blaming college students is coded language to allude to the manufactured and not-so-secretly anti-semitic boogie man of “cultural marxism”.


All of the Bolsheviks were well-read. Even their token thug, Stalin, was probably reading political theory at what we would describe as a doctoral level. While Lenin did not respect Stalin as an intellectual peer, we do know that he spent a great deal of time pouring over dense political tomes. No TV, radio, internet...people read books to entertain themselves.

But, to put a fine point on it, the Russian Revolution happened without Lenin or Trotsky. The Bolsheviks overthrew the February Revolution in a coup.


Hello fellow Central European :-)

In interwar Czechoslovakia, we had quite a few intellectuals who were openly Stalinist.


Within the professions that make up "tech" 10 years is enough time for institutional memory to go out the window.


Are you saying most tech people only spend~10 years in the industry?

That's much less than what I would think.

But maybe I misunderstand. It happens regularly :)


Well except certain groups within Apple, TSMC, the big japanese corps, IBM mainframes, and lesser known places.


Yeah we have fascists in Germany again. People forget. And who the fuck really reads history books anyways?


> tertiary education complex is at least as influential as the military industrial complex

If you gave me full control (on the sly, so they maintained the role they currently have) of Harvard, Yale, NYT, and WaPo—I wouldn't care who held the Presidency or sat in Congress, and the military is a distant afterthought. All would follow my dictates to the letter and I would be able to entirely transform every aspect of the country.

So who, again, is in power? Votes (and by extension, voters) don't matter because they do not affect actual power. It's kayfabe on a grand scale.


Elite in pollitical sense does not equal "someone with college degree".


Turchin (not in the linked article, but elsewhere[0]) explicitly refers to rise in number of underemployed graduates as a trigger for the creation of a counter-Elite.

[0] http://peterturchin.com/cliodynamica/the-storming-of-the-u-s...

"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 way I understood it, elite overproduction is about successful wealthy people, not enjoying the political influence that they believed they would enjoy after attaining their wealth.


It’s not really about wealth or political power specifically. It’s about status and power generally. Some of the pseudo-elite may pursue wealth, others social status, others political influence, etc. These are largely fungible though, so the problem is when you overproduce the elite class generally, all of these go into deficit.


Idle hands among those who have far reach will eventually do things that lead to conflict.


Perhaps unfortunately, 50 years might not be long enough for generational turnover in US government. Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell are both 78 years old. Nancy Pelosi is 80. Senators Diane Feinstein and Chuck Grassley are 87.


It's 48 years since Joe Biden became a senator, and he was one of the youngest senators ever. None of those people held a national-level office 50 years ago. There has been a complete turnover in leadership in the past 50 years.


Whew, thank goodness! I'd hate to see centenarians in Congress!


I think, it's an interesting model, and would probably work all else being equal. But in that case, I believe he misses one critical variable. We are much less violent than 50 years ago because kid beating largely went out of fashion.


"We are much less violent than 50 years ago"

I would say that the population is, on average, much older and has more to lose. Fortysomethings do not regularly engage in street chaos. This is even more visible in Europe, even in formerly violent places like the Balkans or Northern Ireland.

Once the share of the young hotheads in the population drops, you have much smaller probability of really serious riots.


The drop in violence is enormous and visible in crime rates across basically any age demographic you look at. It’s not just a function of an aging society. It also doesn’t seem obviously correlated with policing, since it exists across cities with radically different policing regimes. A lot of people think it has to do with environmental factors, and specifically lead.


> A lot of people think it has to do with environmental factors, and specifically lead.

Ironically, we are studying whether lead caused cohesion problems for the Roman Empire [1] [2], so it isn't as if we didn't suspect lead before to cause civilization-scale problems. And while the modern drop in blood lead levels is big in the developed world [3], it is still orders of magnitude greater than pre-industrial levels.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/kristinakillgrove/2019/11/29/ar...

[2] https://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/wi...

[3] https://www.who.int/docstore/bulletin/pdf/2000/issue9/bu0686...


Young people are less violent then they used to be. It is not just about their share in population, they behave less violently then young people 50 years ago.


People who are less violent can easily become violent because they don’t understand the cost and destruction of force escalation.


Afaik, generations that grew up in violent times are more violent then those who grew up in peaceful times. Being used to violence, seeing it and/or being traumatized by it offsets whatever lack seeing the cost does.


Really the violent people are the actual pacifists, and the peaceful ones are secretly capable of great violence? [CITATION NEEDED]


Also because of the banning of lead in many products...


yes but how many false positives are there from other clairvoyants and how many of those have just as succinct rational


B) is a myth. Statistics show consistently and over and over that those who do the best in the US are the college-educated. Media is produced by the college-educated so it is their class' problems gets the most attention but it is clearly not their problems that are the worst. It's all those who were too dumb or too socially disadvantaged to get a higher education what will be SOL in the future. Those who voted for Trump and will vote either for him or his successor in 2024.


This Turchin fellow seems to have missed the boat by about 20 years.

The book "Generations: The History of America's Future" by Strauss and Howe was published in 1991 and predicted exactly the same thing. It was a bestseller at the time.

It's so well known that it's notable on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generatio...

It predicted a "crisis of 2020" caused by a number of factors including the temperaments of baby boomers.

There's an interesting interview with one of the authors here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/28/us/politics/coronavirus-r...


Fascinating! I hadn’t heard of this before. The closest I’ve found in the same vein is a 1994 article by Edward Luttwak who predicted another wave of fascism in the western world driven by economic decline of the middle class:

“It is only mildly amusing that nowadays the standard Republican/Tory after-dinner speech is a two-part affair, in which part one celebrates the virtues of unimpeded competition and dynamic structural change, while part two mourns the decline of the family and community ‘values’ that were eroded precisely by the forces commended in part one. Thus at the present time the core of Republican/Tory beliefs is a perfect non-sequitur. And what does the moderate Left have to offer? Only more redistribution, more public assistance, and particularist concern for particular groups that can claim victim status, from the sublime peak of elderly, handicapped, black lesbians down to the merely poor.”

Link to article here. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v16/n07/edward-luttwak/why-f...



Also Peter Zeihan forecasted a lot of this based on demographics and finance in his first book.


See also Samuel P. Huntington:

> American history is driven by periodic moments of moral convulsion. The late Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington noticed that these convulsions seem to hit the United States every 60 years or so: the Revolutionary period of the 1760s and ’70s; the Jacksonian uprising of the 1820s and ’30s; the Progressive Era, which began in the 1890s; and the social-protest movements of the 1960s and early ’70s.

> These moments share certain features. People feel disgusted by the state of society. Trust in institutions plummets. Moral indignation is widespread. Contempt for established power is intense.

> A highly moralistic generation appears on the scene. It uses new modes of communication to seize control of the national conversation. Groups formerly outside of power rise up and take over the system. These are moments of agitation and excitement, frenzy and accusation, mobilization and passion.

> In 1981, Huntington predicted that the next moral convulsion would hit America around the second or third decade of the 21st century—that is, right about now. And, of course, he was correct.

* https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/collapsing...

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_P._Huntington


There's a fundamental imbalance in our attempts at using marks, tokens, & bills to simulate resources & desires, and it is thus: the natural world doesn't work this way at all. In the natural world, living things die. Living things die because things never actually stay exactly the same, so nothing goes on forever, and to achieve something like forever, living things copy themselves before they die, bestowing their resources upon this copy. But, in the natural world these resources stop right there and don't compound. Capital, because it exhibits no entropy outside of inflation, does compound and will always send us right back here again to societal collapse in eternal return. Our desire, birthed in hunting & gathering, which was formed to stand in opposition to entropy, like entropy, has no limit. Thus our desires will always lead to excess capital accumulation, until such a time that our tokens and assets can become entropic or until we collapse. The lion will lay with the lamb, or we will be the hand of our own destruction, enabled by technology, or in the language of the Daodejing:

"To understand others is to have knowledge;

To understand oneself is to be illumined.

To conquer others needs strength;

To conquer oneself is harder still.

To be content with what one has is to be rich.

He that works through violence may get his way;

But only what stays in its place

Can endure.

When one dies one is not lost; there is no other longevity."


One of my high school classmates wrote a paper about this that was pretty prescient.

I remember it because I thought is was insane, and then we worked together at a summer gig and talked about it at length - he flipped me. Prediction that were key was a long war in the early 2000s and significant unrest in the 2020-2030 timeline.

His rationale was that the fall of the Soviets would take about 10-15 years to have a real impact on US policy and the 2020-30 timeframe was when the ruined farmers (caused by the policies of the 80s and 90s) passed the torch to the next generation in full and the broader ex-urban economy would be dead beyond redemption.

He was a brilliant kid, who unfortunately passed away too young in an accident.


it's an interesting idea, kind of foundation trilogy psychohistory like but it's also in some ways very obvious and hard to disprove at the same time. He gives two generations as the length for instability to dwell up, and if you move that like a sliding window over American history most of the time it'd probably be true depending on your definition of violent upheaval.

However if you expand it to other countries I think it quickly breaks down. In Latin America or the ME you have these cycles on a per year basis if they actually ever stop, in some regions you have way more piece and stability for hundreds of years.

The 'two generations' logic makes sense if you sneak into your assumption that you're in what I'd call moderately violent, fairly stable society like the US, but the reasoning is kind of circular.

Also assuming cliodynamics actually did have predictive power far beyond common sense then you have fully entire Foundation territory because then you're in some sort of strange loop where the acceptance of cliodynamics likely diretly impacts cliodynamics.


The full model posits two cycles, one of which involves these "fathers-and-sons" cycles, because there are deep underlying problems. One generation tries to solve them, violently, the next generation abhors revolution enough to not do that.

However, eventually you get an actual success at fixing the underlying problems (often related to elites accumulating too big a percentage of the resources), then the "fathers-and-sons" cycles stop because there's not a big well of repressed anger for counter-elites (Robespierre, Cromwell, Lenin, etc.) to draw on.

So, for each country, it will not always be a two-generation cycle because it depends on whether you have the intra-elite competition, fueled by an ever-increasing concentration of power at the very top, which causes the disaffected masses to have a counter-elite to follow down the path of upheaval.


It's also not helped by the graph for the USA the article uses. Sure, you've got three spikes of race-related events at half century intervals, but all the other time series are uncorrelated (and even for race related incidents there's an obvious structural difference between centuries).


Cycles in history are an ancient and intriguing idea; modern - disputed - forms include Strauss-Howe generation theory.

This "cliodynamics" seems to be an effort to put these sorts of ideas on a more academically respectable footing.

https://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generati...


I feel like an important often missed variable is what part of the population is actually not having enough food & shelter or not able to support their family.


Also work and leisure. Covid hit both of those. Bored, unemployed people are more likely to protest, and protesters are more likely to riot.


I think you meant - covid mitigations hit both of those.


I agree that is wrong, but it is not new. Standard of living are much higher than say the 50's. There is something else going on. A mix of nihilism, vast inequality and a societal sensory apparatus that is profiting immensely from churning hate.


As they say, history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.


That's brilliant! I wholeheartedly agree. In case anyone wonders where this saying comes from, my quick search attributes it to Margaret Atwood, from her book "The Testaments" [0].

  [0] https://niemanstoryboard.org/stories/as-they-say-history-does-not-repeat-itself-but-it-rhymes/


That quote comes from far before that 2019 book. It showed up as early as the 70s in that form, frequently attributed (without verified evidence) to Mark Twain [0]

[0] https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/01/12/history-rhymes/


Aha! Thanks for the correction.


The quote is much older than the testements.


I still think this article is on track to be correct. 2020 was a precipitation of the stormy clouds that will begin raining in 2021.

Lot of people have this weird idea that 2020 was somehow the last of it. I think it was the beginning and 2021 and onwards will be a tough battle.


What is a “violent upheaval”?

Without a specific definition, such as “civil war resulting in 620,000 deaths”, they’re fairly easy to predict.


I think what happened in 2020 qualifies. While tame compared to the Civil War, it was comparable to the upheaval that happened about 50 years ago, and certainly not easy to predict.

> between 15 million and 26 million people participated at some point in the demonstrations

> arson, vandalism and looting caused about $1–2 billion in insured damage between May 26 and June 8,

> By early June, at least 200 American cities had imposed curfews, while more than 30 states and Washington, D.C, had activated over 62,000 National Guard personnel in response to unrest.

> By the end of June, at least 14,000 people had been arrested at protests

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020%E2%80%932021_United_State...


To put that in perspective, the 1992 Los Angeles riots had similar damage and arrest numbers, and were significantly more violent (63 killed). And that was a single city.


Technically he would have counted deaths, if I recall correctly. I agree w your idea though.


I think 2020 might also qualify on that count.

Massive 1-Year Rise In Homicide Rates...in 2020

> New Orleans-based data consultant Jeff Asher studied crime rates in more than 50 cities and says the crime spikes aren't just happening in big cities. With the numbers of homicides spiking in many places, Asher expects the final statistics for 2020 to tell a startlingly grim story.

> "We're going to see, historically, the largest one-year rise in murder that we've ever seen," he says.

https://www.npr.org/2021/01/06/953254623/massive-1-year-rise...


Is that really unprecedented? In 2016 Chicago had 60% more homicides than in 2015. Short-term spikes in statistics with small denominators can be expected. In 2015 Baltimore had 63% more homicides than in 2014.


Sure, but the increase in the murder rate in 2020 wasn't a spike in a single city, it was a spike nationwide.


Right, it just doesn't seem that dramatic in context. They are saying a 13% year-over-year bump in the homicide rate is the greatest ever recorded, but there was an 11% bump from 2014-2015 and 10% from 2015 to 2016, according to the FBI UCR. So 13% is the highest but is it really such a shocking figure?


AIUI, it's not saying that the increase in 2020 was only 13%, merely that 13% would be the largest increase in 50 years.

We'll have to wait and see what the final figure is, but the midyear figure in the article is much higher:

> Murder up 36.7% in 57 agencies with data through at least September (though most have data through November).

(Note: I have no idea if Jeff Asher is a credible source, but NPR seems to think so.)


In describing how he built his database Turchin says [0] it is about lethal events:

"Instability events vary in scale from intense and pro- longed civil wars claiming thousands (and sometimes even millions) of human lives to a one-day urban riot in which several people are killed, or even a violent demonstration in which no lives are lost. In constructing the database I chose to include only lethal events."

[0] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0022343312442078


Does the model predict or account for the Oklahoma Federal building bombing (1996, 168 people killed)?


It seems to be taken in account. From the article:

"Thus, although the most common fatality rate per event was 1 (48% of cases), in rare cases the ‘butcher bill’ could run into hundreds (less than 1% of events had a fatality rate of 100 or more). As a result, the rare but bloody events have a disproportionate effect on the trajectory. A good example of this effect is the latest ‘peak’ in the trajectory (during the 1990s) – it is entirely due to 168 deaths associated with a single event, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing."


Something other than a natural phenomena or war with an outside entity that makes you declare martial law in a considerable part of the country.


He goes into it in some detail in the book - the math goes beyond my ability to summarize. He looks at conflicts / murders / etc per year.


I recommend reading William Strauss and Neil Howe's book The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy - What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny [1]. The book introduces the idea of generational cycles [2] According to the theory, historical events are associated with recurring generational personas (archetypes) and I couldn't put it down when I read it over the summer. Several people whom I deeply respect recommended this book, including the famous bond trader Jeffrey Gundlach.

After reading the book, it was really no surprise to me when the capital was overrun with rioters. The book convinced me, we could very well have a bloody revolution or war considering the unaddressed underlying conditions: extreme wealth inequality, pandemic, desperation, hunger and feeling like one has no personal stake. The rise of China and decline of the United States contributes to another dangerous possible outcome. The tech industry's most recent moves to purge conservatives/libertarians may make our social condition even worse, by isolating rather than including the most desperate people in our society.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Fourth-Turning-American-Prophecy-Rend...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss–Howe_generational_theo...


> After reading the book, it was really no surprise to me when the capital was overrun with rioters.

May it be possible you formed a bias? Take extreme examples of preppers or religious nuts - if something happened tomorrow, they'd be the first to say "I've been telling you for years". Does that mean they were right all along or rather that given a long enough time frame anything can happen?

> unaddressed underlying conditions: extreme wealth inequality, pandemic, desperation, hunger and feeling like one has no personal stake.

on the flip side, no revolution since and including arab uprising was successful, and unlike us, they're actually prepared to sacrifice themselves for their ideals.


> we could very well have a bloody revolution or war considering the unaddressed underlying conditions

A revolution/civil war in the US is impossible. The US military is the best-equipped in the world (with tons of equipment no private individual can ever hope to acquire) and backed by the world's leading intelligence community. Regardless of how angry or desperate American citizens are, they don't have the capacity to wage anything resembling a war on the government. Violent protests (and continued domestic terrorism) are an entirely different matter, though.


If you would have asked me one year and one month ago if I thought San Francisco and New York would be ghost towns today, I would have said exactly the same thing.


If you use Google, you can find predictions of just about anything.


Turchin has also correctly predicted that the elections would be very close :

http://peterturchin.com/cliodynamica/america-in-november-202...

However, so far he has been "wrong" about his "prediction" that after that the events would be completely unpredictable. In fact, so far events have been very predictable - this might change after the inauguration though?


What I am most worried about the global decline of liberal democracy and the rise of rise of autocratic ethno-religious nationalism. For example:

Turkey and Erdogan with Islam,

Poland and Duda with Catholicism

Russia and Putin with Russian Orthodox

India and Modi with Hinduism

US and Trump with White Evangelical Christianity

It seems the old liberal democratic order is under severe strain.


Elite overproduction happens in several ways - with tech, new services, new hardware, we all have the capability of an elite from a few decades back.

We’ve lowered the barrier to being an elite, to having that reach.

Also, we’ve made it possible to see that everyone around you might also be an elite.

Not only is elite over production occurring, we’ve lowered the cost to produce elites, and we’ve increased societal visibility of the elites that exist.


Anyone else feel like we’re revisiting the conformity phenomenon of the 50’s?


I expect Marshall Law declared within 24 hours. Before impeachment vote. Pelosi asked the military to ignore commands from Trump. They turned her down, and warned this is an act of sedition. So that tells me they are on his side.

I don't think Trump would accept being barred from running in 2024 if the impeachment vote is allowed to go through. This is his only move right now. The national guard is already in the capital.

Booting him off of Twitter and social media, was a plan to disrupt his ability to address the nation, and possible liability around not carrying his address should he win. As I think some TV stations will probably block the emergency address. Trump is also convinced he would win the in person ballot, should a military declare a new election.

Media speaks almost in one voice now, joined by big tech, the left will be controlling almost all the levers of power otherwise. So he has large support in the population to stop that


Now that I think about it. He won't do it. They would arrest him.




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