Darkstream: Ages of Discord and America

From the transcript of the Darkstream:

I’m going to talk about Civil War 2.0 and I’m going to talk about the book Ages of Discord by Peter Turchin and what it has to do with the situation that the United States is presently facing. Now this is not a book that I would recommend to everyone, although it’s an important book, unless you’re someone who regularly reads history for fun, unless you’ve got an IQ in the 120 and up range,  this isn’t going to be the book for you. It’s an academic book it’s written in a very academic research style. The author, Peter Turchin, is very intelligent, but he is also very caught up in the mainstream narrative and so you need to be aware of that and not get too carried away by it. You know, not take it as gospel truth.

The way that it’s interesting, what’s interesting about it,  is that it gives you some new tools with which you can analyze the current situation. The thing that I thought was particularly striking about it, and what I’d liked about it, is that Turchin makes a real effort to put things in a proper historical context. He doesn’t just come up with a thesis and apply it solely, or even primarily, to the situation right now, but he also applies it to other historical situations. I believe he had a recent blog post, the one that I linked to today, where he talks about how he applied his calculations to thirty different historical situations, and that is taking a really intelligent approach to it. Instead of just saying, “well I think X is going to happen” and taking shots in the dark, what he did was he looked at the thirty historical situations and then measured their outcomes, and what he came up with should be disturbing to those who think that things are always going to work out just fine is that in ninety percent of the high-stress societal crises there was what he considers to be a negative outcome.

So what he is projecting, using his own metrics, his own tools, is a situation that he considers to be mid to high-level severity, and that ranges from serious societal disruption to full-blown civil war. Now I personally don’t subscribe to the full-blown civil war theory simply because there are no two obvious sides. I think that we’re much more likely to see a breakup and a collapse of the central government as well as the basic societal narrative rather than two discrete sides like we had with the North and the South during the U.S. Civil War of 1861-1865, but what’s particularly interesting about Turchin’s work is that it’s based on the concept of measuring societal stress.

The level of stress in the United States in 2016 was roughly comparable to the level of societal stress seen in 1860, and that’s very, very consistent with observations that you’ve seen from other students of history and military history, where it’s been said everything that’s happening in the United States – I
woud actually push that further and I would say everything that’s happening across the West – is essentially positioning for civil war.