November 21, 2013

"So why is it important that we have a multitude of desperate law school graduates and many more politically ambitious rich than 30 years ago?"

"Past waves of political instability, such as the civil wars of the late Roman Republic, the French Wars of Religion and the American Civil War, had many interlinking causes and circumstances unique to their age. But a common thread in the eras we studied was elite overproduction."

Excerpt from an article at Bloomberg.com (by Peter Turchin, vice president of the Evolution Institute and professor of biology and anthropology at the University of Connecticut) titled "Blame Rich, Overeducated Elites as Our Society Frays."

Worth clicking for the illustration, a diagram of how this terrifying process, depicting "Unemployed Lawyers" as a crucial link in a chain between "Wealth Glut" and Elite Fratricide."

But the chain can be broken — "catastrophe isn’t preordained" — and you can probably guess how. But first, you gotta believe the catastrophe is coming, so soften up and get scared.

11 comments:

rhhardin said...

I blame the lower classes.

Shouting Thomas said...

It's a natural and expected progression.

The legal profession became fat and over-populated, and more and more people migrated to it to try to get their share of the spoils.

This is a cyclical reality of all professions.

Another profession that offers the hope of making money will come in sight and people will flock to that. And, over time, that profession will also become over-populated.

Medical care professions are now the target of the hungry, unemployed masses.

John Lynch said...

First, employ the lawyers.

Matt Sablan said...

If only there were a place to send second sons to get out of the way.

JHapp said...

Lower the retirement age. If you rich and not burned out by 60 your probably a leech.

Henry said...

By Turchin's analysis, the liberal coasts are doomed to instability while the heartland is safe.

I wonder if he bothered to think this through. It's so easy to confine your theories to stratospheric abstraction while avoiding the local divergences.

But here's another question for Turchin: Who says our society is fraying? His little chart of doom shows an uptick for our decade, but ONLY because of an increase in terrorism incidents.

And the cure? Ah, the Great Compression. Somehow proponents of great compression policies forget that the 1930s and 1940s featured more than progressive income taxation and the unifying failures of the New Deal. Let's cure our troubles with a decade of poverty, a cataclysmic global war and a half-decade of government austerity programs.

I love this little aside from the Wikipedia article on The Great Compression:

In Switzerland, where progressive taxation was never implemented, compression never occurred.

Here's Nassim Taleb on Switzerland:

The most stable country in the history of mankind, and probably the most boring, by the way, is Switzerland. It's not even a city-state environment; it's a municipal state. Most decisions are made at the local level, which allows for distributed errors that don't adversely affect the wider system. Meanwhile, people want a united Europe, more alignment, and look at the problems. The solution is right in the middle of Europe -- Switzerland. It's not united! It doesn't have a Brussels! It doesn't need one.

Mitch H. said...

An excess of lawyers and rich Northeasterners caused the Civil War? That's unhinged. And, looking further - whoops! Anthropologist! He clearly learned his specious wiggle-matching from the best of 'em.

Turchin, huh? Wonder if he's descended from the immigrant Cossack general who sacked Athens, Alabama during the Civil War? Hmm, from his Wiki page, it seems unlikely, our Turchin is also a first-generation immigrant.

Likewise, the current state of the Wiki page strongly suggests that his "population pressures drive warfare" theories are not well-supported by actual statistical analysis. Like a distressingly large percentage of the evolutionary biology crowd, he's fond of "Just So" stories, great narratives with little or no underlying data support.

RecChief said...

huh seems like its liberals who are over educated. what to do..what to do...

Andy Freeman said...

Switzerland is easy - it's small, homogenous, and swiss. The first two mean no surprises and the last means good outcomes.

They're also serious about maintaining their borders, official languages, and culture.

Richard Dolan said...

Remarkably silly and superficial article. Can't imagine anyone bothered to finish reading it.

Zach said...

Huh? The late Roman Republic didn't have too many elites. It had never ending civil strife, which involved an extremely large number of proscriptions, executions, etc. Part of the reason that people like Cato and Caesar became so prominent so early in life is because the previous generation had so many people killed.