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End Times

End Times

Elites, Counter-Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration



'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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About the author

Peter Turchin

Peter Turchin is Project Leader at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna, Research Associate at University of Oxford, and Emeritus Professor at the University of Connecticut. Trained as a theoretical biologist, he is now working in the field of historical social science that he and his colleagues call Cliodynamics. Currently his main research effort is directed at coordinating CrisisDB, a massive historical database of societies sliding into a crisis - and then emerging from it. His books include Ultrasociety and Ages of Discord.
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