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Scientific future readers believe that the United States and Europe are heading for serious trouble.
Cliodynamics is perhaps the most accurate form of reading the future that humanity has ever managed to come up with. It is a fairly scrawling field that attempts to read patterns in cultural trends, economics, macro-sociological movements and even the mathematical analysis of historical periods in order to deduce what events will take place in the coming years. And according to these researchers, Europe and the United States is entering into a period of intense instability.
According to Peter Turchin, one of the leading cliodynamicists who is based at the University of Connecticut, this period of instability will hit its nadir in 2020. He made his predictions in an article published in the journal Nature in 2010 where he claimed that both regions would be struck by waves of political instability.
In the United States, he wrote, this would be caused by stagnating or declining wages, a growing gulf between the richest and poorest in society, the overproduction of highly educated young people who would not have the opportunity to exploit their talents and a monumental level of public debt. He said that these factors appeared to cause waves of trouble approximately every fifty years in America. He writes that this can be clearly seen by looking at the annals of history. In 1870, there was a financial crisis that plunged North America and Europe into crisis, in the 1920s, there was the Great Depression which eventually contributed to the rise of the Third Reich in Germany and the Second World War. Finally, in the 1970s, there was a series of major political scandals including Watergate in conjunction with the incredible social damage caused by the Vietnam War. According to Turchin, it is apparent that this wave of chaos and social destruction will strike once again in the next five years.
Looking back on his predictions now, Turchin believes that he has been vindicated claiming that the rise of right-wing populism across the European continent and the election of Donald Trump proves that serious trouble is on the horizon. “My model indicated that social instability and political violence would peak in the 2020, ” Turchin wrote “The presidential election which we have experienced, unfortunately, confirms this forecast.” He also pointed out that the factors he highlighted as potentially leading to a full-scale social crisis were all in evidence such as wealth inequality, governmental dysfunction and the growing popularity of extremist politics.
While Turchin’s predictions are compelling, others in the field of cliodynamics are advising the public not to panic unduly. Cliodynamics is still a virgin field and there are a huge number of ways that the future could pan out which will not necessarily result in the waves of social unrest that have been witnessed in the past. Turchin’s critics have also pointed out that his sample size is fairly small which may make his findings slightly skewed.
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