Tag Archive: prediction

I’ve been reading Peter Turchin’s excellent work on cliodynamics (or, as fans of the Foundation series would call it, “psychohistory”). While his book “War and Peace and War: The Life Cycles of Imperial Nations” provides an excellent read of his theories, his paper on “Secular Cycles” is a good academic look into his theories (and it’s free too).

I can’t do justice to his Secular Cycle theory in a short paragraph, but for those who don’t wish to read the whole paper, I can give a very short summary of his theory as to the disintegrative forces that cause an Empire or society to collapse or enter political revolution. Essentially, prosperity leads to a growth in population, as well as a growth in the elite population and elite consumption. These pressures strain the economy, and result in populist unrest which creates social reforms and ends in the culling of the elite population (either through violence or through seizure of elite estates which results in loss of status/wealth of the elites in question).

By comparing modern America with the indicators in Table 1.1, I concluded that America currently is in the Stagflation (Compression) Phase of the Secular Cycle, and will soon enter the Crisis Phase of the Secular Cycle. Because we live in an industrial rather than agricultural society, I’ve replaced all the agricultural statements with their industrial equivalent. Some of these, such as “number of rural settlements”, had no industrial analogue, so I ignored them. Here is how it matches up:

Population dynamics: “population is high and continues to increase but the rate of growth decelerates” – Check. We have a high population but it’s growing more and more slowly. However, it is not clear whether this change is due to socioeconomic pressures or simply due to changes in birth control technology (which would be independent of the Secular Cycle). Only time will tell.

Elite dynamics: “Golden Age; increasing numbers; increased competition for elite positions; conspicuous consumption by some segments; appearance of counter-elites” – Partial check. I’m not sure if we have increasing numbers or the appearance of counter-elites. However, we certainly have conspicuous consumption by some segments (the rich get richer and by yachts, etc.), and we certainly have increased competition for elite positions, as witnessed by the increasing higher education required to get an upper class job (in the past, a Bachelor’s degree would have sufficed, whereas today a PHD is required to get a very well paying job, and even then upper class status, as measured by living in a good neighborhood, often requires dual income earners).

State strength and collective solidarity: “High, but declining” – Check. When 9/11 occurred, the society showed very strong solidarity and support of the state. Today, this is starting to change as factionalization emerges.

Sociopolitical instability: “Instability is low but increasing” – Unknown. Such instability is hard to gauge because of media sensationalism and the short period Generational Cycle identified by Turchin. This suggests that the sociopolitical instability is currently low.

Industrial production: “slow increase or stagnation” – Check. Industrial production growth in the United States has tapered in the past decade or two.

Independent business: “low” – Check. Most production has been taken over by large corporations.

Real wages: “declining to the lowest point” – Check. Real wages have fallen since 1970, despite improvements in technology and the GDP.

Personal consumption; subsistence level: “declining; poverty, misery, vagrancy” – Nope. While poverty levels are rising due to the Great Recession, they are still not unusual considering the big picture view of history.

Artisanship and handcrafts: “increasing jobless workers become artisans” – Check. People are leaving production-oriented jobs to enter “softer” jobs in the service industry.

Trade: “increasing in volume and spatial scale” – Check. Globalization. ‘Nough said.

Usury: “increasing worker indebtedness” – Check. Massive increase.

Large private industry ownership: “increasing” – Check. The ultra-rich own a very disproportionate share of industry.

Economic inequality: “increasing” – Check. Growing tremendously.

Incidence of epidemics: “increasing; post-epidemic population increases sluggish” – Nope. Medical advances mean that epidemics have nothing to do with population.

Internal peace and order: “high, but gradually unraveling; increasing resistance to taxation” – Check. Heard of the Tea Party?

State finances: “declining real revenues, increasing expenditures due to growth of the army and bureaucratic apparatus” – Partial check. Real revenues are mildly increasing, while expenditures are rapidly increasing due to the growth of the army and bureaucratic apparatus.

Taxes: “stagnate or even decline in real terms; heavy tax burdens on the workers” – Check. Tax cuts for the rich and corporations, none for the middle or lower classes. http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=205

Ideology: “growth of social pessimism; criticism of powers-that-be; ideological and social conflicts” – Check. Just look around you.

State policy: “increasing attempts at social reforms, construction of infrastructure; colonization of borderlands; external  aggression for acquisition of new resources” – Partial check. We’re seeing some social reforms such as Obamacare, but this isn’t out of the ordinary in comparison to earlier reforms such as the War on Poverty, for example. Infrastructure construction also seems to be lagging badly, as the transportation and energy infrastructure is woefully outdated. On the other hand, the Iraq War is a perfect example of external aggression for acquisition of new resources.

I think the evidence is conclusive. We’re seeing severe economic inequality as the massive labor supply (due to both population growth and second wave feminism) creates severe income inequality and the ability to obtain stable employment, purchase a house, and maintain a stable lifestyle becomes increasingly out of reach for the middle class. This will come to a head around 2020-2025 (2030 at the latest), as disgruntled Americans will rise up to attempt to reclaim the American Dream. I’ll elaborate more on this in a later post.

Obama: 275, Tossups: 72, Romney: 191


Media hype notwithstanding, the latest polls show Obama consistently ahead in Ohio and New Hampshire, with a lead above the aggregate margin of error. At this point the only wild card that could snatch away another four years in the White House for Obama would be voting fraud in Ohio.

My prediction for the actual result? North Carolina leans towards Romney pretty strongly, while Colorado leans towards Obama. Obama holds marginal polling leads in Iowa and Virginia, and Romney a marginal lead in Florida. Thus, I’d say 303-235 is the most likely outcome, though the only thing I can confidently guarantee is that Obama gets 275 electoral votes.

Meanwhile, it looks like the Democrats will shore up their slim Senate majority, while the Republicans will hold on to their significant House majority.