Category Archives: Collapse

“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

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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.

The Historical Foundation for Crisis

In the YouTube video below, the authors discuss their book back in 1997 – The Fourth Turning. The fourth turning is the fourth cycle or turning of history – a crisis period. The turnings (lasting about 20 years each) are as follows: High (after a crisis), awakening, unraveling and crisis, then the process starts all over again with another high. In 1997 the authors predicted the US would enter a crisis period lasting from 2005 to 2025. At some point during this 20 year period the country would experience crises on the order of a great-depression and/or world war.

Really it just comes down to how crisis affects the generations. About the time the people who experienced the last big crisis have died out, then the country is susceptible all over again to another crisis. The entire process lasts about 80 tp 90 years. The time leading up to another crisis lasts from 60 to 80. Somewhere about 60 to 80 years after a big crisis there will be another big crisis. This kind of crisis would be on the order of a great-depression and possibly world war. There is a correlation between big financial crises and big wars.

Neil Howe and William Strauss on The Fourth Turning in 1997 CSpan

Neil Howe and William Strauss on The Fourth Turning in 1997 CSpan – YouTube

Related articles: Fourth Turning

Below is a table that provides a little historical prospective on this cycle process.

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 (65+)
Baby Boom Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1943–1960 (17)[40] High: Superpower America
“13th Generation”
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 Crisis: Great Recession, Climate Change, War on Terror

 

Strauss–Howe generational theory – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Generational archetypes and turnings

Turnings
While writing Generations, Strauss and Howe discovered a pattern in the historical generations they examined which revolved around generational events which they call turnings. In Generations, and in greater detail in The Fourth Turning, they identify the four-stage cycle of social or mood eras (i.e. turnings).

High
According to Strauss and Howe, the First Turning is a High. This is a post-Crisis era when institutions are strong and individualism is weak. Society is confident about where it wants to go collectively, though those outside the majoritarian center often feel stifled by the conformity.

According to the authors, America’s most recent First Turning was the post-World War II American High, beginning in 1946 and ending with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

Awakening
According to the theory, the Second Turning is an Awakening. This is an era when institutions are attacked in the name of personal and spiritual autonomy. Just when society is reaching its high tide of public progress, people suddenly tire of social discipline and want to recapture a sense of personal authenticity. Young activists look back at the previous High as an era of cultural and spiritual poverty.

Strauss & Howe say America’s most recent Awakening was the “Consciousness Revolution,” which spanned from the campus and inner-city revolts of the mid-1960s to the reelection of Ronald Reagan in the mid-1980s.

Unraveling
According to Strauss and Howe, the Third Turning is an Unraveling. The mood of this era is in many ways the opposite of a High: Institutions are weak and distrusted, while individualism is strong and flourishing. Highs come after Crises, when society wants to coalesce and build. Unravelings come after Awakenings, when society wants to atomize and enjoy. They declare that America’s most recent Unraveling was the Long Boom and Culture War, beginning in the mid-1980s and ending in the late 2000s.
Crisis

According to the authors, the Fourth Turning is a Crisis. This is an era in which institutional life is destroyed and rebuilt in response to a perceived threat to the nation’s survival. Civic authority revives, cultural expression redirects towards community purpose, and people begin to locate themselves as members of a larger group. America’s most recent completed Fourth Turning began with the stock market crash of 1929 and climaxed with the end of World War II. The G.I. Generation (a Hero archetype, born 1901 to 1924) came of age during this era. Their confidence, optimism, and collective outlook epitomized the mood of the era. According to the authors, the Millennial Generation (Hero archetype, born 1982 to 2004), show many traits similar to those of the G.I. youth, including rising civic engagement, improving behavior, and collective confidence.

Cycle
Each turning lasts about 20–22 years. Four turnings comprise a full cycle of approximately 80 to 90 years, which the authors term a saeculum, after the Latin word meaning both “a long human life” and “a natural century.”

Generational change drives the cycle of turnings and determines its periodicity. As each generation ages into the next life phase (and a new social role) society’s mood and behavior fundamentally changes, giving rise to a new turning. Therefore, a symbiotic relationship exists between historical events and generational personas. Historical events shape generations in childhood and young adulthood; then, as parents and leaders in midlife and old age, generations in turn shape history.

Each of the four turnings has a distinct mood that recurs every saeculum. Strauss and Howe describe these turnings as the “seasons of history.” At one extreme is the Awakening, which is analogous to summer, and at the other extreme is the Crisis, which is analogous to winter. The turnings in between are transitional seasons, similar to fall and spring. Strauss and Howe have identified 26 turnings over 7 saecula in Anglo-American history, from the year 1435 through today.

At the heart of Strauss & Howe’s ideas is a basic alternation between two different types of eras, Crises and Awakenings. Both of these are defining eras in which people observe that historic events are radically altering their social environment. Crises are periods marked by major secular upheaval, when society focuses on reorganizing the outer world of institutions and public behavior (the last American Crisis was the period spanning the Great Depression and World War II). Awakenings are periods marked by cultural or religious renewal, when society focuses on changing the inner world of values and private behavior (the last American Awakening was the “Consciousness Revolution” of the 1960s and 1970s). During Crises, great peril provokes a societal consensus, an ethic of personal sacrifice, and strong institutional order. During Awakenings, an ethic of individualism emerges, and the institutional order is attacked by new social ideals and spiritual agendas. According to the authors, about every eighty to ninety years—the length of a long human life—a national Crisis occurs in American society. Roughly halfway to the next Crisis, a cultural Awakening occurs (historically, these have often been called Great Awakenings).

In describing this cycle of Crises and Awakenings, Strauss and Howe draw from the work of other historians and social scientists who have identified long cycles in American and European history. The Strauss–Howe cycle of Crises corresponds with long cycles of war identified by such scholars as Arnold J. Toynbee, Quincy Wright, and L.L. Ferrar Jr., and with geopolitical cycles identified by William R. Thompson and George Modelski. Strauss and Howe say their cycle of Awakenings corresponds with Anthony Wallace’s definitive work on revitalization movements, Strauss and Howe also say recurring Crises and Awakenings correspond with two-stroke cycles in politics (Walter Dean Burnham, Arthur Schlesinger Sr. and Jr.), foreign affairs (Frank L. Klingberg), and the economy (Nikolai Kondratieff) as well as with long-term oscillations in crime and substance abuse.

China Collapsing? | Journal of Diplomacy

In the Wall Street Journal, David Shambaugh, an expert on China working at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, made a poignant prediction about China. It’s beginning to unravel.

We shouldn’t believe him, right? There have been others before him that have predicted the collapse of China. Most famous, Gordon Chang said it would happen in 2011. It didn’t occur, so then he amended his timeline. He said that he was only off by one year. But he was still wrong.

Then, another scholar joined the discussion but stopped short of making a prediction. Roderick MacFarquhar, a Harvard professor and China specialist, talks about present day China in a familiar way. While not presaging its collapse, as David Shambaugh has done, he recognizes the crisis of the party. The dangers of a corruption campaign that goes too deep as well as a party that is lost its way. MacFarquhar  says, “We don’t know at what stage of the campaign against corruption, the campaign on closing in of ideas from abroad, which could harm the economy, of course, at what stage someone inside China will say: “This is not going to work. We’ve got to change.”

China Collapsing? | Journal of Diplomacy

Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says – NYTimes.com

A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.

“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.

But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found. Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health.

Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says – NYTimes.com

So we are looking at some kind of a collapse of ocean life. It is possible to avert the collapse, but how likely is that? How likely is it for countries around the world to make major changes in how they affect the ocean? I have my doubts about that. I think current trends will mostly continue as world population increases. That will put even more stress on the oceans of the world. What about another major oil spill like the BP Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010?

“If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,” Dr. Pinsky said. “In effect, that’s what we’re doing to the oceans.”

I’m all for not dumping acid into the ocean, but of course one of them has to jump on the climate change bandwagon: “Ultimately, Dr. Palumbi warned, slowing extinctions in the oceans will mean cutting back on carbon emissions, not just adapting to them.”

 

 

Lessons From The Last Time Civilization Collapsed – NPR

“We should be aware that no society is invulnerable and that every society in the history of the world has ultimately collapsed.”

Consider this, if you would: a network of far-flung, powerful, high-tech civilizations closely tied by trade and diplomatic embassies; an accelerating threat of climate change and its pressure on food production; a rising wave of displaced populations ready to sweep across and overwhelm developed nations.

Sound familiar?

While that laundry list of impending doom could be aimed at our era, it’s actually a description of the world 3,000 years ago. It is humanity’s first “global” dark age as described by archaeologist and George Washington University professor in his recent book .

The question that haunts Eric Cline is why. What drove such a complex set of societies to all perish almost all at once? …

Thus complexity itself may have been the greatest threat to late Bronze Age civilization once the pressures began. And it is that fact, more than anything else, that speaks to the dangers we face today. As Cline wrote in the Huffington Post:

“We live in a world that has more similarities to that of the Late Bronze Age than one might suspect, including, as the British archaeologist Susan Sherratt has put it, an ‘increasingly homogeneous yet uncontrollable global economy and culture’ in which ‘political uncertainties on one side of the world can drastically affect the economies of regions thousands of miles away.’ “

So, what exactly is the lesson Cline thinks we should take away from 1177 B.C.? In an email to me, Cline wrote:

“We should be aware that no society is invulnerable and that every society in the history of the world has ultimately collapsed. We should also be thankful that we are advanced enough to understand what is happening.”

But are we advanced enough to do anything with our understanding?

Lessons From The Last Time Civilization Collapsed – NPR

This article adds to my accumulation of articles about collapse in the past and the similarities today. It suggests that we should be worried but there is no sense of timing. How much time do we have? It gives us little clue.

Below is a comment I wrote for another article that will give us a better sense of timing.

What China and America Are Wondering: Is “Major War” Obsolete?

There´s two ways to look at this problem: The inside view or the outside view. The inside view is probably used by 99.99% of the people, and it tends to produce weak forecasts. In this view we look at the merits of the case at hand – war between China and the US. In the outside view we just look at major wars in the past. When and how did they happen. The outside view tends to produce much better forecasts.

If you use the inside view then many people will conclude that a major war between China and the US is not likely to happen. If you use the outside view then you will likely conclude that a major war between China and the US IS likely to happen.

“In history the probability of war is high when a powerful rival approaches or passes a hegemonic leader. Depending on how you count one gets the following probabilities: 10/13 (77%), 11/15 (73%) or 6/7 (86%). With China approaching the US today, the real probability of war is higher. That’s because historical results are heavily weighted by the US passing Britain without a war. Two democracies with similar cultures passing without a war. That doesn’t exactly describe the US-China situation. Also, one could argue that the rivalry between the US and Soviet Union (Russia) continues today. That means we don’t know the true outcome.” – http://bit.ly/1AuyVGm

Adjusting the above data could bring up the probability of war to as high as 100%. The true answer is somewhere between 73% and 100%. Not good.

Another thing we know about war is that it follows the same crash distribution as forest fires. A feedback loop where the past heavily influences the future means that societies crash (financial or war) just like a forest. What happens to a forest after a very long time without a fire, or all the fires are put out? Does that mean a big fire will never happen, or we should be even more worried about one?

“In 1907, in the wake of an epochal financial crisis that almost brought a complete global collapse, several countries started to think of finance primarily as an instrument of raw power that could and should be turned to national advantage. That kind of thinking brought war in 1914. A century later, in 2007-2008, the world experienced an even greater financial shock, and nationalistic passions have flared up in its wake. Destructive strategies may not be far behind.” – http://bit.ly/1AuAcxc

There was a big financial crash in 1907 and 7 years later a big war occurred. In 1929 there was a big financial crash and 10 years later a big war occurred. In 2008 there was a big financial crash and a big war occurred in 2015-2018?

Based on the outside view and historical data, you should be out in your backyard digging a fallout shelter right now.

So we go from a general sense of danger, but not necessarily imminent, to an imminent sense of danger. Every society in history has collapsed. And the US is in fairly substantial danger of major war and collapse, right now.