In his recent book End Times, Peter Turchin tries to lay out his story about social, political, and economic change for a popular audience.
There were a few of us who said something much less popular. We predicted that the grand technological breakthroughs were not going to happen, and the grand social awakenings were not going to happen, and the grand apocalyptic catastrophes were not going to happen. .. We predicted instead that demand destruction and an assortment of temporary gimmicks would keep things rolling on ….
What made Europeans so successful in the task of conquering the world? My interpretation is that it was the result of periodic “Seneca Collapses” of the European population which made it possible to accumulate resources that would then be available to propel the European expansion. It is an effect that may be called the”Seneca Rebound” that makes growth faster after a collapse.
I want to review here some of the reasons why I expect an era of crisis to arrive sooner rather than later.
I’d like to suggest that from now on, any claim about the future needs to be confronted up front by the two hard questions…
The fixation on imaginary “perfect storms” critiqued in last week’s post is only one expression of a habit of thinking that pervades contemporary American culture and, to a lesser extent, most other industrial societies.