File Name: peter turchin war and peace and war .zip
- War and Peace and War : The Rise and Fall of Empires
- Peter Turchin
- Journal of Social History
- War and Peace and War by Peter Turchin
He demonstrates that high levels of cooperation are found where people have to band together to fight off a common enemy, and that this kind of cooperation led to the formation of the Roman and Russian empires, and the United States.
War and Peace and War : The Rise and Fall of Empires
At its core, this book addresses the question raised by Asimov his protagonist Hari Seldon, a scientist of Psychohistory from the Foundation Trilogy : Is a science of history possible? Can we design a theory for the collapse of mighty empires that would be no worse than, say, our understanding of why earthquakes happen? Again, here's a nice succinct summary of the book from the author tl;dr :.
The very stability and internal peace that strong empires impose contain within it the seeds of chaos. Stability and internal peace bring prosperity; prosperity causes population increase.
Demographic growth leads to overpopulation; overpopulation causes lower wages, higher land rents, and falling per-capita incomes for the commoners. At first, low wages and high rents bring unparalleled wealth to the upper classes, but as their numbers and appetites grow, they too begin to suffer from falling incomes. Declining standards of life breed discontent and strife.
The elites turn to the state for employment and additional income, and drive up its expenditures at the same time that the tax revenues decline because of the impoverished state of the population. Freed from all restraints, strife among the upper classes escalates into civil war, and the discontent among the lower classes explodes into popular rebellions. The collapse of order brings in its wake the four horsemen of apocalypse—famine, war, pestilence, and death.
Population declines, and wages increase, while rents decrease. As incomes of commoners recover, the fortunes of the upper classes hit the bottom.
Economic distress of the elites and lack of effective government feed the continuing internecine wars. But civil wars thin the ranks of the elites.
Some die in factional fighting, others succumb to feuds with neighbors, and many just give up on trying to maintain their noble status and quietly slip into the ranks of commoners. Intra-elite competition subsides, allowing order to be restored. Stability and internal peace bring prosperity, and another secular cycle begins. Turchin coins a new term for the science of history called Cliodynamics.
It may be sciencey in spirit, but isn't really quantified, and appears to be quite far from even the rigor of a social science. Nonetheless, it's super interesting! Here are some patterns Turchin points to:.
A big cause of the decline in asabiya is economic inequality, which tends to increase under normal circumstances "Matthew principle" and largely because of population growth. Beyond just economics, "the degree of solidarity felt between the commons and aristocracy, is one of the most important characteristics explaining its success at empire building.
Wealth inequality tends to be reduced as population density decreases, either through deaths or increase in territory:. Confirming my suspicions from an explorable exploration I made a while back: "The only way to stop this process constantly breeding inequality is by either abolishing private property altogether or by abolishing the right to inherit it.
A milder form of keeping inequality in check is a steeply progressive tax on inheritance. In other words, some sort of redistributive scheme could be used. At one point the author digresses into the economics of agrarian land distribution, and describes a series of simulations he ran. I think doing something like this as an explorable explanation would be super fun.
Imagine a visual treatment of a country split up by multiple families, and how that split changes through the generations. Here are some variants to try:. Turchin details how cooperation was once understood to be the main basis of human society, but this view fell out of favor in modernity. This is supported by many leading thinkers:.
The problem: "When the group size becomes large enough, cooperation among rational agents unravels as free-loading becomes rampant. The collective-action problem strikes again. There is a continuum between individualism and cooperation, and we've probably over corrected towards the former. Turchin looks at a wide variety of examples to make his points, and I learned a lot trying to keep track of various indigenous proto-nations. Many of his insights span across a long period of time, unite many seemingly unrelated civilizational conflicts:.
I think I've distilled most of what I found valuable in the book a lot. Let me complain just a bit. Firstly, there are way too many small ethnic groups for me to keep track of. Secondly, what's up with the formatting in the Kindle version? Lastly, I found that the book was not super well structured, jumping around conceptually, chronologically, and spatially, and going over the same ground multiple times. That all said, I'll be reading more Turchin in the future.
Again, here's a nice succinct summary of the book from the author tl;dr : The very stability and internal peace that strong empires impose contain within it the seeds of chaos. Here are some patterns Turchin points to: New empires and nations are born at metaethnic frontiers, where us-versus-them mentality is strongest. This is in line with the worldview in Huntingdon's Clash of Civilizations. Successful empires grow under two conditions: 1. Social Capital isn't about morality. For example, it's not the case that social power must come from democracy.
It can come from tribalism or elsewhere. To be successful, even an oppressor group needs to be socially cohesive. Asabiya can also increase as a response to new invaders, for example "Prior to the conquest of the sub-Saharan Africa by western powers in the 19th century, Africans had no sense of shared identity.
But shared experience of first colonization, then decolonization, and now the tendency of the rest of the world to lump them together. Turchin calls such dynamics the fathers-and-sons cycles. The survivors of the civil war and their children had direct experience of conflict, so are reluctant to allow the hostilities to escalate again, but the grandchildren of the civil warriors did not experience its horrors first hand.
Turchin presents a much more nuanced view of a cyclical view of history than The Fourth Turning , "The fathers-and-sons cycles are nested within secular cycles, which in turn are nested within asabiya cycles. The drop of population set in motion the Malthusian machinery, but now working in reverse.
The frontier provides rewards for risk taking, and more upward mobility. Here are some variants to try: Equal distribution of land to heirs but unequal numbers of children per family. Primogeniture, where oldest son gets all land. First son gets half of the inheritance, but the remainder is divided equally among others. Wealthier men tend to choose wealthier brides. Some people are just more effective than others. Cooperation versus individualism Turchin details how cooperation was once understood to be the main basis of human society, but this view fell out of favor in modernity.
Historical trends Turchin looks at a wide variety of examples to make his points, and I learned a lot trying to keep track of various indigenous proto-nations.
Many of his insights span across a long period of time, unite many seemingly unrelated civilizational conflicts: One ancient source of metaethnic strife is farmers vs. Because the early Hebrews were herders, naturally the evil guy in the story was Cain. In eastern Europe, from the tenth century on, the cultural chasm was further deepened by the tendency of the settled cultivators to adopt Christianity opposed by the inclination of the nomads to Islam.
A failure mode for Asabiya is social conservatism. In pre-unified Russia, each prince tried to resist the Tatar-Mongol hordes on his own, and all lost in a typical example of the tragedy of the commons. In south Italy, primacy of family unit caused people to distrust their neighbour, preventing large scale social collaboration and economic prosperity. For example Christians vs. Pagans in the Russian conquest of Siberia, Christians vs.
Muslims during the Crusades, in Iberia and in the new world. This was also true for early Romans, who were bound together by religion. Recurring thought: perhaps we'll need aliens to bring all of humanity together: "Thus, in the old Europe, although the Irish hated the English, and the French fought against the Germans, in the New World all these people cooperated with each other and fought together against the Indians".
Wealth and power physics analogy: "Distribution of landed wealth within the society usually correlates very well with the distribution of political power, because wealth and power are akin to potential and kinetic kinds of energy in physics. Wealth, or rather income derived from it, is readily converted into power by buying influence or hiring retainers.
Vice versa, political power brings with it the ability to acquire land, thus storing power for future use. This is one of the best-kept secrets in the economic sciences. Just as you cannot construct a viable society, so you cannot put together a viable company from knaves alone. I haven't thought about these concepts as being so interconnected. This suggests that the senatorial aristocracy was more likely to be killed in wars than the average citizen. Muslim world Islam as an attractive religion for those that recently experienced chaos: "This quality of Islam continues to aid its spread even today.
Ten years after experiencing the horror of civil war and genocide, many Rwandans are turning to Islam. During the decade since , the number of mosques in Rwanda doubled to ". All Muslims are unified in the umma, which let Muhammad unify multiple tribes into a meta-tribe. Through this lens of us vs. Part of what kept the empire alive for so long was the 3 century long struggle against the Ottoman empire. The Crusaders were expelled from their last stronghold of Acre in The establishment of Israel in merely elevated it to new heights, and the second Iraq war increased the pressure to what might be an unbearable pitch for the Arabs.
It is possible that the world changed so much from the days of Ibn Khaldun that his law of asabiya does not operate any longer. But is it wise to bet on it? Also, they have never been an empire. Italy was the only European state that was defeated by an African country Ethiopia in the nineteenth-century scramble for colonies.
Interesting recurring metaethnic frontier: Romans vs Barbarians in early 1st millennium, and Frankish Christians vs. Also recurring alliances a milennium later: "The first members of the European Union were, and the most enthusiastic proponents of the European Union are, France, Germany, the countries of Benelux, and Italy—almost precisely the regions that were part of the Carolingian Empire.
Cheryl J. Sergey Gavrilets DySoC dysoc. John D. Reeve Dept. Joseph G. University of Connecticut. Annual review of ecology and systematics 24 1 , ,
Journal of Social History
No other event on American soil has been as large-scale, destructive, and course-changing as the Civil War. Historians and novelists have written exhaustively about the violent conflict and its societal causes and repercussions, and continue to do so as they find new angles for exploration. Watch the video and read the full article. End of days: Is Western civilisation on the brink of collapse? So is there any evidence that the West is reaching its end game?
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War and Peace and War by Peter Turchin
As of [update] , he is a director of the Evolution Institute. Peter Turchin was born in in Obninsk , Russia, and in he moved with his family to Moscow. In he enrolled at Moscow State University 's Faculty of Biology and studied there until , when his father, Soviet dissident Valentin Turchin , was exiled from the Soviet Union. In Turchin received a B.
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