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[Ideas Festival] Peter Turchin: End Times

Full Circle
01/12/2023 from 19:30until 01/12/2023 - 19:30
1 Dec
Full Circle Brussels
Chaussée de Vleurgat 89
1050  Brussels

The lessons of world history are clear, Turchin argues: when the equilibrium between ruling elites and the majority tips too far in favor of elites, political instability is all but inevitable. As income inequality surges and prosperity flows disproportionately into the hands of the elites, the common people suffer, and society-wide efforts to become an elite grow ever more frenzied. He calls this process the wealth pump; it’s a world of the damned and the saved. And since the number of such positions remains relatively fixed, the overproduction of elites inevitably leads to frustrated elite aspirants, who harness popular resentment to turn against the established order. Turchin’s models show that when this state has been reached, societies become locked in a death spiral it’s very hard to exit.

In America, the wealth pump has been operating full blast for two generations. As cliodynamics shows us, our current cycle of elite overproduction and popular immiseration is far along the path to violent political rupture. There is only one possible end time, and the choice is up to us, but the hour grows late.