End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration
THE TIMES THOUGHT BOOK OF THE YEAR
A GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE YEAR
'A great collected narrative of human hope and human failure' Observer
'Extraordinary. . . the culmination of many years of highly original and innovative work' Bloomberg
One of the most iconoclastic thinkers of our time offers a brilliant new theory of how society works
What leads to political turbulence and social breakdown? How do elites maintain their dominant position? And why do ruling classes sometimes suddenly lose their grip on power?
For decades, complexity scientist Peter Turchin has been studying world history like no-one else. Assembling vast databases mined from 10,000 years of human activity, and then developing new models, he has transformed the way we learn from the past. End Times is the result: a ground-breaking account of how society works.
The lessons, he argues, are clear. When the balance of power between the ruling class and the majority tips too far in favour of elites, income inequality surges. The rich get richer, the poor further impoverished. As more people try to join the elite, frustration with the establishment brims over, often with disastrous consequences. Elite overproduction led to state breakdown in imperial China, in medieval France, in the American Civil War - and it is happening now.
But while we are far along the path toward violent political rupture, Turchin's models also light the way to a brighter future. Drawing insight from those occasions in history where the balance was restored, End Times also points towards a different future: an escape from the patterns of the past.
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