Category Archives: Collapse

How Stable Are Democracies? ‘Warning Signs Are Flashing Red’ – The New York Times

According to the Mounk-Foa early-warning system, signs of democratic deconsolidation in the United States and many other liberal democracies are now similar to those in Venezuela before its crisis.

Across numerous countries, including Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States, the percentage of people who say it is “essential” to live in a democracy has plummeted, and it is especially low among younger generations.

He fears that the minutiae of politics can easily distract from these more fundamental dangers. “It’s not just about what Trump will do to the E.P.A.,” he said, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency. “It really is that Trump may try to undermine liberal democracy in the United States.”

How Stable Are Democracies? ‘Warning Signs Are Flashing Red’ – The New York Times

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Naturally, the election of Donald Trump is a warning sign. And of course the researcher isn’t biased. But really Donald Trump is just part of the push back against “equality” that seems to be alarming to researchers. Equality encompasses communism, globalism, immigration and diversity, or another way to say all of that is world-wide equality. The people aren’t on-board with that agenda.

The real problem facing the West is equality. Equality got Venezuela in trouble through socialist redistribution schemes. Generally, stealing from wealthy and middle income people to give to the poor will improve society initially. But then the victims of theft start slowly reacting. They start moving out if they can, or they stop working so hard because hard work is disincentivized.

I would say the hysteria of the Left shows that the people are doing the right thing.

Hungry Venezuelans Flee in Boats to Escape Economic Collapse – NYTimes.com

Venezuela was once one of Latin America’s richest countries, flush with oil wealth that attracted immigrants from places as varied as Europe and the Middle East.

But after President Hugo Chávez vowed to break the country’s economic elite and redistribute wealth to the poor, the rich and middle class fled to more welcoming countries in droves, creating what demographers describe as Venezuela’s first diaspora.

Now a second diaspora is underway — much less wealthy and not nearly as welcome.

Well over 150,000 Venezuelans have fled the country in the last year alone, the highest in more than a decade, according to scholars studying the exodus.

Hungry Venezuelans Flee in Boats to Escape Economic Collapse – NYTimes.com

I Use the Science of Predicting the Rise and Fall of Societies. What I Discovered Will Alarm You. – Evonomics

The presidential election of 2016 through the lens of cliodynamics

Cliodynamics is a new “transdisciplinary discipline” that treats history as just another science. Ten years ago I started applying its tools to the society I live in: the United States. What I discovered alarmed me.

My research showed that about 40 seemingly disparate (but, according to cliodynamics, related) social indicators experienced turning points during the 1970s. Historically, such developments have served as leading indicators of political turmoil. My model indicated that social instability and political violence would peak in the 2020s (see Political Instability May be a Contributor in the Coming Decade).

I Use the Science of Predicting the Rise and Fall of Societies. What I Discovered Will Alarm You. – Evonomics

Can the Center Hold? State Fragility Comes to the U.S. and France

For a society to function stably and peacefully, the center must hold. Most of the time it does—until it doesn’t, often for reasons that resist logical explanation. When it gives out, the result is often messy and always uncertain. The center has given out in Syria and Libya, and is faltering in Venezuela and Brazil. But it is also being sorely tested in France and the U.S., in ways that suggest difficult times ahead.

Can the Center Hold? State Fragility Comes to the U.S. and France

“Humans have a habit of going into phases of mass destruction, generally self imposed to some extent.”

This is just one Arch Duke Ferdinand scenario. The number of possible scenarios are infinite due to the massive complexity of the many moving parts. And of course many of them lead to nothing happening. But based on history we are due another period of destruction, and based on history all the indicators are that we are entering one.

It will come in ways we can’t see coming, and will spin out of control so fast people won’t be able to stop it. Historians will look back and make sense of it all and wonder how we could all have been so naïve. How could I sit in a nice café in London, writing this, without wanting to run away. How could people read it and make sarcastic and dismissive comments about how pro-Remain people should stop whining, and how we shouldn’t blame everything on Brexit. Others will read this and sneer at me for saying America is in great shape, that Trump is a possible future Hitler (and yes, Godwin’s Law. But my comparison is to another narcissistic, charismatic leader fanning flames of hatred until things spiral out of control). It’s easy to jump to conclusions that oppose pessimistic predictions based on the weight of history and learning. Trump won against the other Republicans in debates by countering their claims by calling them names and dismissing them. It’s an easy route but the wrong one.

So I feel it’s all inevitable. I don’t know what it will be, but we are entering a bad phase. It will be unpleasant for those living through it, maybe even will unravel into being hellish and beyond imagination. Humans will come out the other side, recover, and move on. The human race will be fine, changed, maybe better. But for those at the sharp end?—?for the thousands of Turkish teachers who just got fired, for the Turkish journalists and lawyers in prison, for the Russian dissidents in gulags, for people lying wounded in French hospitals after terrorist attacks, for those yet to fall, this will be their Somme.

What can we do? Well, again, looking back, probably not much. …

History Tells Us What Will Happen With Trump and Brexit

America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny — NYMag

As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage in Plato’s Republic. It has unsettled — even surprised — me from the moment I first read it in graduate school. The passage is from the part of the dialogue where Socrates and his friends are talking about the nature of different political systems, how they change over time, and how one can slowly evolve into another. And Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering point: that “tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy.” What did Plato mean by that? Democracy, for him, I discovered, was a political system of maximal freedom and equality, where every lifestyle is allowed and public offices are filled by a lottery. And the longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would become. Its freedoms would multiply; its equality spread. Deference to any sort of authority would wither; tolerance of any kind of inequality would come under intense threat; and multiculturalism and sexual freedom would create a city or a country like “a many-colored cloak decorated in all hues.”

This rainbow-flag polity, Plato argues, is, for many people, the fairest of regimes. The freedom in that democracy has to be experienced to be believed — with shame and privilege in particular emerging over time as anathema. But it is inherently unstable. As the authority of elites fades, as Establishment values cede to popular ones, views and identities can become so magnificently diverse as to be mutually uncomprehending. And when all the barriers to equality, formal and informal, have been removed; when everyone is equal; when elites are despised and full license is established to do “whatever one wants,” you arrive at what might be called late-stage democracy. There is no kowtowing to authority here, let alone to political experience or expertise.

America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny — NYMag

I think the point here is that in stepping back one can see the whole system at risk. It might be war or revolution, but something big is coming.

Is American democracy headed to extinction? – The Washington Post

Behind dysfunctional government, is democracy itself in decay?

It took only 250 years for democracy to disintegrate in ancient Athens. A wholly new form of government was invented there in which the people ruled themselves. That constitution proved marvelously effective. Athens grew in wealth and capacity, saw off the Persian challenge, established itself as the leading power in the known world and produced treasures of architecture, philosophy and art that bedazzle to this day. But when privilege, corruption and mismanagement took hold, the lights went out.

Is American democracy headed to extinction? – The Washington Post

Trump-Sanders Phenomenon Signals an Oligarchy on the Brink of a Civilization-Threatening Collapse – Evonomics

“The collapse of urban cultures is an event much more frequent than most observers realize. Often, collapse is well underway before societal elites become aware of it, leading to scenes of leaders responding retroactively and ineffectively as their society collapses around them.” –  Sander Vander Leeuw, Archaeologist, 1997

The media has made a cottage industry out of analyzing the relationship between America’s crumbling infrastructure, outsourced jobs, stagnant wages, and evaporating middle class and the rise of anti-establishment presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Commentators are also tripping all over one another to expound daily on the ineffectual response of America’s political elite – characterized by either bewilderment or a dismissal of these anti-establishment candidates as minor hiccups in the otherwise smooth sailing of status-quo power arrangements. But the pundits are all missing the point: the Trump-Sanders phenomenon signals an American oligarchy on the brink of a civilization-threatening collapse.

The tragedy is that, despite what you hear on TV or read in the paper or online, this collapse was completely predictable. Scientifically speaking, oligarchies always collapse because they are designed to extract wealth from the lower levels of society, concentrate it at the top, and block adaptation by concentrating oligarchic power as well. Though it may take some time, extraction eventually eviscerates the productive levels of society, and the system becomes increasingly brittle. Internal pressures and the sense of betrayal grow as desperation and despair multiply everywhere except at the top, but effective reform seems impossible because the system seems thoroughly rigged. In the final stages, a raft of upstart leaders emerge, some honest and some fascistic, all seeking to channel pent-up frustration towards their chosen ends. If we are lucky, the public will mobilize behind honest leaders and effective reforms. If we are unlucky, either the establishment will continue to “respond ineffectively” until our economy collapses, or a fascist will take over and create conditions too horrific to contemplate.

Sound familiar? America has witnessed a similar cycle of oligarchic corruption[1] starting in the 1760s, 1850s, 1920s, and 2000s:

Trump-Sanders Phenomenon Signals an Oligarchy on the Brink of a Civilization-Threatening Collapse – Evonomics

The following table is from The 4th Turning. The argument of The 4th Turning is that England and the US go through four periods: High, awakening, unraveling and crisis. After a crash is over the society moves into a “high” period which lasts for about 20 years. After that there is the awakening. Then there is the unraveling and finally another crisis period again. Each period lasts about 20 years.

Effectively, society reaches a crisis period about the time that all (or vast majority) of the people who experienced the last crisis have died. The current crisis period is expected to last from 2005 to 2025.

Timing of generations and turnings

Generation Type Birth years Formative era
Late Medieval Saeculum
Arthurian Generation Hero (Civic) 1433-1460 (27) Unraveling: Retreat from France
Humanist Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1461–1482 (21) Crisis: War of the Roses
Reformation Saeculum (104)
Reformation Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1483–1511 (28) High: Tudor Renaissance
Reprisal Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1512–1540 (28) Awakening: Protestant Reformation
Elizabethan Generation Hero (Civic) 1541–1565 (24) Unraveling: Intolerance and Martyrdom
Parliamentary Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1566–1587 (21) Crisis: Armada Crisis
New World Saeculum (112)
Puritan Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1588–1617 (29) High: Merrie England
Cavalier Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1618–1647 (29) Awakening: Puritan Awakening
Glorious Generation Hero (Civic) 1648–1673 (25) Unraveling: Reaction and Restoration
Enlightenment Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1674–1700 (26) Crisis: King Philip’s War/
Glorious Revolution
Revolutionary Saeculum (90)
Awakening Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1701–1723 (22) High: Augustan Age of Empire
Liberty Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1724–1741 (17) Awakening: Great Awakening
Republican Generation Hero (Civic) 1742–1766 (24) Unraveling: French and Indian War
Compromise Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1767–1791 (24) Crisis: American Revolution
Civil War Saeculum (67)
Transcendental Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1792–1821 (29) High: Era of Good Feeling
Gilded Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1822–1842 (20) Awakening: Transcendental Awakening
  Hero (Civic)0    
Progressive Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1843–1859 (16) Crisis: American Civil War
Great Power Saeculum (85)
Missionary Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1860–1882 (22) High: Reconstruction/Gilded Age
Lost Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1883–1900 (17) Awakening: Missionary Awakening
G.I. Generation Hero (Civic) 1901–1924 (23) Unraveling: World War I/Prohibition
Silent Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1925–1942 (17) Crisis: Great Depression/World War II
Millennial Saeculum (age 73)
Baby Boom Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1943–1960 (17)[41] High: Superpower America
Generation X1 Nomad (Reactive) 1961–1981 (20) Awakening: Consciousness Revolution
Millennial Generation2 Hero (Civic) 1982–2004 (22) Unraveling: Culture Wars, Postmodernism
Homeland Generation3,4 Artist (Adaptive) 2005–present (age 11) Crisis: Great Recession, War on Terror

The Strauss–Howe generational theory, created by authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, identifies a recurring generational cycle in American history. Strauss and Howe lay the groundwork for the theory in their 1991 book Generations, which retells the history of America as a series of generational biographies going back to 1584.[1] In their 1997 book The Fourth Turning, the authors expanded the theory to focus on a fourfold cycle of generational types and recurring mood eras in American history.[2] They and their consultancy, LifeCourse Associates, have expanded on the concept in a variety of publications since then.

The theory was developed to describe the history of the United States, including the 13 colonies and their British antecedents, and this is where the most detailed research has been done. However, the authors have also examined generational trends elsewhere in the world and identified similar cycles in several developed countries.[3] The books are best-sellers and the theory has been widely influential and acclaimed. Eric Hoover (2009) has called the authors pioneers in a burgeoning industry of consultants, speakers and researchers focused on generations.[4]

Academic response to the theory has been mixed—some applauding Strauss and Howe for their “bold and imaginative thesis,” and others criticizing the theory.[5][6] Criticism has focused on the lack of rigorous empirical evidence for their claims,[7] and a perception that aspects of the argument gloss over real differences within the population.[6]

Strauss–Howe generational theory – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Putin’s Downfall: The Coming Crisis of the Russian Regime

Russia’s current regime will not last long. The tumultuous events in Ukraine in 2014 reduced the country’s possible trajectories to a single one – a path that will quickly lead to the collapse of the Putin government if there is no radical change in its course.

Before the Crimea–Ukraine affair, it looked as though President Vladimir Putin’s political regime was fairly stable and could last for several years without profound change. However, there was a qualitative shift in the regime’s character after 2014. Now, it draws its legitimacy from military action, rather than from the ballot box. The roots of this shift go back to the political crisis of 2011–2012, when mass anti-government protests and poor electoral results for the ruling party showed that the old form of politics was coming to an end.

Today, the regime derives its legitimacy not from the bottom up, through elections, but from the top down, by placing the country on a permanent war footing. Although Putin stayed in power, his role changed fundamentally – now, he is more like a tsar than the chair of a board. The regime has moved from a hybrid system that still maintained the outward trappings of a democracy to a full-scale authoritarian state, while the shifting balance of power has made the elites more dependent on the president.

Although Putin’s popularity skyrocketed after the annexation of Crimea, he has been trapped by his choices. His regime is addicted to military action and now needs a series of ever-stronger hits of foreign conflict in order to maintain its legitimacy. This position is unsustainable, given shrinking financial resources, the waning patience of elites who don’t want to live in a military camp forever, and Russia’s fast-deteriorating administrative and political systems. The country is being held hostage by the regime; the regime is a hostage of Putin, and Putin is a hostage of his own actions, which have drastically narrowed his range of options.

Given all this, Russia’s current trajectory is that of a plane in a tailspin. There are three possible outcomes:

Putin’s Downfall: The Coming Crisis of the Russian Regime [PDF]

Bill Whittle: How to Stop the Civilizational Collapse | Frontpage Mag

But just before we get started on the plan, let’s talk a little bit about the case.  There is no question that the wheels are coming off of Western civilization.  And the problem is that the wheels have come off of every civilization, and they’ve come off of every civilization in exactly the same way throughout history, starting with the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans.  Same pattern every time, every time we see it.  And I didn’t understand it until very recently.

But just to make the case — when you flood the country with illegal immigrants who bring a great deal of crime, a great deal of social disruption — we have to carry them on the social roles that are already overstuffed due to the Cloward-Piven strategy that I know so many of you know about.  And when we do all of this just in exchange for votes for one party, we’re now talking about a criminal enterprise that would rather rule over the ruins than be part of governing a successful and happy republic.  That’s just true.

If you look at the European invasion, this latest invasion of Muslim immigrants that are coming up, so-called families of people trying to seek, you know, asylum, when 98 percent of them are military-age men who are screaming about jihad, and you put 750 Muslim refugees in a German village that holds just 105 people. One hundrend and five people in a village in Germany have been forced to accept 750 Syrian refugees, and people in Bavaria are talking civil war in Germany.  That’s happening this week. That’s happening today.

Bill Whittle: How to Stop the Civilizational Collapse | Frontpage Mag

Cloward–Piven strategy

The Cloward–Piven strategy is a political strategy outlined in 1966 by American sociologists and political activists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven that called for overloading the U.S. public welfare system in order to precipitate a crisis that would lead to a replacement of the welfare system with a national system of “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty”.

Cloward–Piven strategy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Angela Merkel’s ‘open door refugee policy will lead to civil war’ as Pegida marches | Daily Mail Online

A German official has said that Angela Merkel’s open door migrant policy will lead to ‘civil war’ after thousands marched through one city’s streets holding crucifixes during an anti-Islam protest.

Hansjoerg Mueller, of the Alternative for Germany party, said the country was ‘sliding towards anarchy’ and risks becoming a ‘banana republic without any government’.

He made the claims after about 8,000 people joined the anti-Islam Pegida movement for a rally in Dresden over Angela Merkel’s decision to allow up to one million migrants into the country this year.

Angela Merkel’s ‘open door refugee policy will lead to civil war’ as Pegida marches | Daily Mail Online

r/K Selection Theory

To my eye, it is inherently clear that this r/K divergence is the origin of our political divide. Indeed, while policy proposals from Conservatives are predicated upon the premise that resources are inherently limited, and individuals should have to work and demonstrate merit to acquire them, Liberals advocate on behalf of policy proposals which seem to be predicated upon an assumption that there are always more than sufficient resources to let everyone live lives of equal leisure. To a Liberal, any scarcity must clearly arise due to some individual’s personal greed and evil altering a natural state of perpetual plenty.

Here, we see how these two deeply imbued psychologies generate grossly different perceptual frameworks within those who are imbued with them. Just as a Liberal will never grasp why a Conservative will look down upon frequent promiscuity and single parenting, the Conservative will never grasp why the Liberal will be so firmly opposed to free market Capitalism, or the right to self defense when threatened. Each sees an inherently different world, and is programmed to desire an inherently different environment.

r/K Selection Theory |

Is western civilisation in terminal decline? | Business | The Guardian

The decline of the west is juxtaposed with the rise of the east, notably China. (It is hard to tell whether Russia is rising or falling; either way, it is disturbing.) Fitting a rising power into a decaying international system has rarely occurred peacefully. Perhaps superior Western and Chinese statesmanship will avert a major war; but this, in historical terms, would be a bonus.

The increasing fragility of the international political order is diminishing the global economy’s prospects. This is the slowest recovery from a major slump on record. The reasons for this are complex, but part of the explanation must be the weakness of the rebound in international trade. In the past, trade expansion has been the world’s main growth engine. But it now lags behind the recovery of output (which is itself modest), because the kind of global political order hospitable to globalisation is disappearing.


And yet, even as trade relations become increasingly politicised, our leaders continue to urge us to gear up to meet the “challenges of globalisation,” and few question the benefits of cost-cutting through automation. In both cases, politicians are trying to force adaptation on reluctant populations who crave security. This strategy is not only desperate; it is also delusive, for it seems obvious that, if the planet is to remain habitable, competition in economic growth must give way to competition in quality of life.

In short, we are far from having developed a reliable set of precepts and policies to guide us toward a safer future. Small wonder, then, that western populations look ahead with foreboding.

Is western civilisation in terminal decline? | Business | The Guardian

Greece: Donald Tusk warns of extremist political contagion – FT.com

The bitter stand-off over Greece has given new energy to radical political groups on the left and right, creating a pre-revolutionary atmosphere that Europe has not seen since 1968, the EU leader who brokered Monday’s bailout deal has warned.

Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who now heads the European Council, said he feared “political contagion” from the Greek crisis far more than its financial fallout, arguing that common cause between far-right and far-left groups has been a precursor to some of Europe’s darkest moments of the last century.

“I am really afraid of this ideological or political contagion, not financial contagion, of this Greek crisis,” said Mr Tusk.

“I can feel, maybe not a revolutionary mood, but something like widespread impatience. When impatience becomes not an individual but a social experience of feeling, this is the introduction for revolutions.”

Greece: Donald Tusk warns of extremist political contagion – FT.com

All those forces still exist. Maybe they have been driven slightly under the surface, but they will be ready to surface again very quickly.

Letting Greece crash by defaulting on all its debt is really the way forward. But that means a decade-long depression. Nobody is excited about that.