Peter Turchin's Latest Book Predicting US Social Disintegration

End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites, and the Path of Political Disintegration

Back in 2010, when Nature magazine asked leading scientists to provide a ten-year forecast, Turchin used his models to predict that America was in a spiral of social disintegration that would lead to a breakdown in the political order circa 2020. The years since have proved his prediction more and more accurate, and End Times reveals why.
YMMV on the bolded statement.

Turchin argues: When the equilibrium between ruling elites and the majority tips too far in favor of elites, political instability is all but inevitable. As income inequality surges and prosperity flows disproportionately into the hands of the elites, the common people suffer, and society-wide efforts to become an elite grow ever more frenzied. He calls this process the wealth pump; it’s a world of the damned and the saved. And since the number of such positions remains relatively fixed, the overproduction of elites inevitably leads to frustrated elite aspirants, who harness popular resentment to turn against the established order. Turchin’s models show that when this state has been reached, societies become locked in a death spiral it’s very hard to exit.

In America, the wealth pump has been operating full blast for two generations. As cliodynamics shows us, our current cycle of elite overproduction and popular immiseration is far along the path to violent political rupture.

If Turchin is right the end is nigh. Certainly the US political process has been disrupted and is more volatile. There is a significant portion of the voting public believe that their economic plight has been ignored by establishment politicians. And the recent inflation has made their situation worse. It appears Powell has stemmed inflation but I don’t believe food costs will return to previous pricing. And salaries/wages raises have been reduced by reduced buying power.
Americans are disgruntled and depressed.

Americans do not appear to be happy that US corporate profits are at all time high. Likely because they don’t own any or very little stock.

US Corporate Profits Soar With Margins at Widest Since 1950

My state’s [NM] governor has done her part to help the citizenry. $500 individual taxpayer rebates in 2002 & 2023. At least the NM voter believes the governor has an inkling of their difficulties. Or one could believe the NM governor is attempting to buy votes. She is eligible to run again in 2024 for re-election.


Doesn’t NM have a big problem with poverty?


As the “trickle down” has not tricked, after forty years, the (insert minority of your choice) is being scapegoated as the source of the problem, taking opportunity away from USians. A few days ago, a prominent “thought leader” promised to “remove all the criminal elements that have invaded our country”.

Years before Turchin’s 2010 outlook, the “General Rants” sprang forth, covering concentration of wealth, theocracy, and police state.



Yep, somewhat mitigated by quite a few retirees moving with their pensions then 401Ks to the state. But the 10% increase in population over the past 50 years does seem to drive housing cost upward quite a bit.

And since we are near the border and the dominant percent of the population is Hispanics; we do have a lot of undocumented labor driving down wages. And these workers can easily blend into the population.

Thank for the recommendation. I have read 3 of Turchin’s other books and really like him.

I just placed a hold for “End Times” at my local library.

Oh baloney. It’s such a common meme that probably 10% of cartoons feature a guy standing on a corner with “The End Is Near” painted on a sign.

Here’s the reality:

In the Gilded Age people were treated as serfs while a lucky few displayed ever more lavish and ostentatious signs of wealth, including building 50 room mansions overlooking ramshackle tenaments housing their workers. Worker riots were common.

During the Great Depression people did, literally, sell apples on street corners trying to make ends meet. Half the banks in the country disappeared, usually with all their depositors’ monies and 25% of the country was unemployed, with a greater percentage underemployed. Dozens were killed and many dozens more shot or otherwise injured in riots relating to unionization for workers against owners.

Before the Great Depression there was the Long Depression (at the time it was called the Great Depression until 1929 came along) which lasted 20 years, right on the heels of the Gilded Age. You can imagine the suffering. There was no government aid for the poor, and there were lots and lots of them.

Recessions and depressions and panics happened roughly ever decade or so from the time of the Revolution through the 19th century. Political polarization was high, poverty and exploitation was even higher. The media, newspapers and magazines were viciously partisan, even proudly carrying their bias on the masthead. It was simple to know who supported who just by looking at the newspaper under their arm or on their porch.

During the 1960’s riots enveloped most major cities; minority neighborhoods were burned to the ground, anti war parades disrupted by blue collar thugs, soldiers deployed on college campuses, local ROTC and recruiting centers bombed.

Inflation has waxed and waned throughout the history of the country, whether on the gold standard or not, and sometimes when not there was an outcry to “increase the money supply” by adding other metals to the lard, two Presidential elections at the turn of the 20th century were fought over the silver vs gold controversy.

I needn’t detail the agonies of the Civil War, the Great War, World War II, and the lesser conflicts as have happened throughout the US existence, and which have killed a hundred million and maimed even more, do I?

It’s odd that people recall history with such a favorable glow while worrying so desperately about “the times we live in.” By contrast, and even with such unprecedented political doings as we are seeing (“everything is unprecedented until it happens”), we are living in a time with ahistorical wealth shared by the most people ever, with endless food supply and diminishing hunger around the world , with miraculous remedies for once incurable diseases, with bountiful leisure time and things to do with it as have never before been experienced by humankind.

But there is always profit to be made from scaring people, and this is another that will surely be successful. No, “food prices” will not go back to what they were; then again, salaries and wages are doing their best to keep up. Yes, people are being laid off, but there are help wanted signs at every other store, and a robust economy keep hiring, hiring, hiring in nearly every sector, not just cashiers and stockboys.

Americans who are “disgruntled and depressed” are consuming and spitting back the wrong narrative, being fed to them by misanthropes too dim to look around. By and large, and with certain obvious exceptions, it’s about the best time to be alive in human history.


Globalization & China Shock** caused significant disruption in US manufacturing workforce. China became the factory for manufactured goods. US imports increased 20 times over a relatively short period.
Relatively uneducated workers lost their good paid jobs [many unionized] with health care to China as US CEOs gleefully built factories in China slashing labor costs but increasing profits. Those CEOs just occasionally had negative black articles written about Chinese factory workers committing suicide due to horrendous working conditions. Those manufacturing workers could not make the transition to similar paid jobs quite a lot of them ended up in minimum wage jobs that resulted in an upheaval of their economic situation. After years of living in reduced circumstances more & more middle aged males committed suicide. [nearly 50% increase 1999-2014][1]
Many Chinese benefited from becoming the world’s factory. But developed nations were negatively affected****.

The corporate world is in a constant war against unions. Globalization gave corporations a great opportunity to decimate the number of union workers by off shoring production. And they grabbed it with both hands. And as the number of union workers are reduced so is their vote via political contributions.
No longer is there a party representing the common worker. Both political parties court corporations and the professional class.

GoofyHoofy***“By and large, and with certain obvious exceptions, it’s about the best time to be alive in human history.”***
Indeed for the professional class. Not so much for the common laborer.

Thomas Frank writes of a Carter disaffection with union labor:
" One of the most shocking quotes in the book is from Alfred Kahn, an advisor to Jimmy Carter, who said, “I’d love the Teamsters to be worse off. I’d love the automobile workers to be worse off.” He then basically says that unionized workers are exploiting other workers.

Isn’t that amazing? He’s describing a situation in the 1970s. There was all this controversy in the 1970s about labor versus management—this was the last decade where those fights were front and center in our national politics. And he’s coming down squarely on the side of management in those fights."

No longer does the common laborer has a champion to represent its interests. A KEY FACTOR, IMO in the result of the 2016 presidential election. And those workers remain to be courted. Well at least those that have not offed themselves.

[1]Suicidality and Death by Suicide Among Middle-aged Adults in the United States

**China Shock read or watch anything by MIT economist David Autor
But here are 2 links
****AM18 Global Situation Space | The Big Picture on Inequality - YouTube

**** Apple wouldn’t be the company it is today without China. It’s where Apple manufactures nearly all of its products and sells many of them.*

But my colleagues have a disturbing new article about what Apple’s dependence on China costs the company and China’s citizens. Reading it left me questioning whether it’s worth it for Apple and other American companies to operate in China if it means flouting their principles.

Jack Nicas, one of the reporters for the article, spoke to me about their investigation into the compromises that Apple makes to stay in the good graces of the Chinese government.

Shira: It’s been clear for a long time that Apple is obeying Chinese laws in ways the company doesn’t love. What was new and notable from your reporting?

Jack: We knew that the company had moved data from Chinese users of Apple devices inside China’s borders. We knew that Apple had removed apps at the Chinese government’s request. What we didn’t know until now was the degree to which Apple had acquiesced to the Chinese government’s demands in both cases.


I’m guessing you are a boomer, the Generation of Whine. I suppose it is possible that the post-WWII 1950s was the best time to be an American White Guy, but otherwise Goofy is absolutely correct. Today is the best of times for Americans of color and women, who together make up the great majority of Americans.

Not sure how you define “common laborer”, but it appears that the majority of those with lower than average incomes are voting for the party that is anti-union. People get what they vote for.

64% of congressional districts with median incomes below the national median are now represented by Republicans…"


Most of the Unions have gone corporate. The only one that actually gives their members a voice is Unite Here. They are a really good union that looks out for their members. The Teamsters, for the most part, are as crooked as all get out but they do have a group that is trying to make it more Democratic. But they have a hard road ahead of them. The IBEW is a top down union that is not in it for their members. They are on the side of the Corporations trying to hold their members down. These are not the unions of yesterday but a Corporate Conglomerate trying to hold their pay up while keeping their members pay down.


Yes they are. That is because neither political now represents the worker.
You might to check check out:

Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?

Frank points out that the Democrats have over the last decades increasingly abandoned their traditional goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. With sardonic wit and lacerating logic, he uncovers the corporate and cultural elitism that have largely eclipsed the party’s old working- and middle-class commitment. And he warns that the Democrats’ only chance of regaining their health and averting a future of ever-increasing inequality is a return to their historic faith.

Frank author of “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” once the darling of the left turned his pen to castigate the left. And worse come out in support of populism in his most recent “The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism”.


Politically unions are insignificant. With reduced membership they bring little to political campaign equation. It’s all about corporate donors nowadays.

The percentage of workers belonging to a union (or total labor union “density”) varies by country. In 2021 it was 10.3% in the United States, compared to 20.1% in 1983.

  1. That was about the year Jack Welch started off shoring by shipping Louisville appliance factory jobs to Mexico. Welch was an implacable foe of union labor. To hear him tell it unions destroyed the American economy, that there were no competitive unionized industries in the United States. At least they were a drag upon executive compensation.[grin].

Between 1980 and 1985, GE’s workforce plummeted from 411,000 to 299,000 workers. The overall percentage of unionized workers in the company fell from 70 percent when Welch took over to 35 percent by 1988.

Welch’s entire career was class warfare: the rich against the poor. The only worthwhile value for Welch was the quarterly profit report. Anything that got in the way of that—especially an unproductive division of workers—was happily sacrificed for that goal.
Also Welch manipulated financial data of the financial sector of GE[1] to show constant & steady increased earnings boosted GE stock & he was acclaimed manager of the century by US financial magazines.

[1]the celebrated GE Capital became a cookie jar to smooth quarterly earnings with little transparency about systemic risk which became more apparent in a new regulatory climate. Former GE executives later admitted to SEC investigators, for example, that the insurance business hid declining results over the years, burying risks that ultimately kept the company from booking needed reserves as shortfalls emerged.


Jack Welch had nothing to do with it. It was the unions themselves that destroyed the movement. When they all didn’t stand up for the Air Traffic Controllers in 1981 it put the nail in their coffins. They just didn’t understand what not standing up to Reagan would cost them.

Looking Back On When President Reagan Fired The Air Traffic Controllers : NPR.



Well those factory union workers in Louisville did lose their jobs.


Yes the number of White males are on the decline. And the number of women & persons of color are on the rise. Women have benefited most from wages increase per
Table 4.b: Median Income for Adults with Positive Earnings by Race-Gender.
Yet still workers incomes still grew well below real per capita GDP. Except those at the highest income level at 99 percentile. Their incomes grew at more than
double the rate of per capita GDP.

Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018

The three decades following the Second World War saw a period of economic growth that was shared across the income distribution, but inequality in taxable income has increased substantially over the last four decades.

Multiple studies have found that labor, capital, pre-tax, and post-tax income has been increasingly concentrated at the top of the distribution since the middle of the 20th
The middle class is shrinking and income inequality is on the rise.

So not the best of times for the worker.


A symptom of the Social Disintegration? :imp:

The Captain


The middle class is shrinking because humanity has been excellent at making labor saving devices. First it brought serfs to the cities, then it decimated farmers, now it’s the time for the middle class to go.

Just wait for the armies of humanoid robots not much further than ten years from now.

The Captain

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I don’t know how much it made the national media, but, here in Motown, the corruption of the Chrysler department of the UAW was big news.

Seems the “JCs” at Chrysler bought off the heads of the union’s Chrysler department, so the union leadership would push the rank and file to approve contract provisions very favorable to the “JCs”.

I was almost surprised the (L&Ses) in DC did not leverage the scandal to decertify the UAW and declare the auto industry non-union.

The national UAW has a new President now. He has staked out their bargaining position as getting back everything they gave up to benefit the companies a dozen years ago, like eliminating the two tier pay system.


I had over 30+ years in as a CWA tech, and very much appreciated the union bargaining for pay and benefits, my union dues were a pittance compared to what I gained from being represented.

Not only did unions not collectively stand up to Reagan, almost all ( definitely not all ) of the union members I knew back then proceeded to vote for Reagan !! Talk about cognitive dissonance,lol, Americans will bite off their own nose to spite their face…not much has changed since then


Most remember the booming stock market & fall of the Soviet Union that freed up some defense spending.
Folks tend to forget his administration:" deregulated derivatives, that deregulated telecom, and that put our country’s only strong banking laws in the grave. He’s the one who rammed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) through Congress and who taught the world that the way you respond to a recession is by paying off the federal deficit. Mass incarceration and the repeal of welfare, two of Clinton’s other major achievements, are the pillars of the disciplinary state that has made life so miserable for Americans in the lower reaches of society."
The first US government major push toward globalization, weakening regulation [repeal of Glass-Seagul Act{1}] on the financial entities setting up 2008 financial crisis, and the 1994 crime bill, written by the current occupant of the Oval Office, that resulted in more persons of color being jailed.

2007–2008 financial crisis - Wikipedia
Once the wall permitting financial institutions to commingle their commercial (risk-averse) and proprietary trading (risk-taking) operations.
That set the stage for: Arguably the largest contributor to the conditions necessary for financial collapse was the rapid development in predatory financial products which targeted low-income, low-information homebuyers who largely belonged to racial minorities.[10] This market development went unattended by regulators and thus caught the U.S. government by surprise.[11]
in which no CEO of the financial institution were held accountable{2}. To Big To Fail


I get it TJ a lot of people have lost their jobs since Reagan was President. A lot of union workers think he was the greatest president ever. That is why I say start a business. Do not put your future in the hands of anyone but yourself. The people that say you can’t do it are just gas lighting you.


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