Sunday, January 08, 2017

Did we just pass peak Rod Liddle?

Rod Liddle - Sunday Times scourge of bien-pensant liberals

What a delight, week-on-week, to read Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times skewering snowflake students, wittering luvvies and the ludicrous - often malevolent - antics of politically-correct officialdom.

But this week the Liddle howitzer is badly misfiring:
"Meanwhile some academic at Connecticut University has predicted that political instability will engulf the world and civilisation will be destroyed before the zombies have even had time to set their alarm clocks. Peter Turchin suggested that world mayhem, violence and misery will peak in the 2020s. “The presidential election which we have experienced, unfortunately, confirms this forecast,” the smug idiot added."
Peter Turchin is not some crazed liberal. He's one of the good guys, a mathematician who has been working for years on historical cycles of civilization expansion and collapse.

His approach, Cliodynamics, identifies the signs of civilizations going to seed: widening inequality, indebted states and most importantly, an overproduction of elites vying for power. All this leads to instability and political conflict.

Turchin's work has been validated for Antiquity (the Roman Empire) and the Mediaeval period. Recently he has applied his database and mathematical models to contemporary America in his recent book, 'Ages of Discord'.

Here's more.

There are arguments to be had with Turchin's approach. Capitalism has different dynamics to those of ancient slave-owning or feudal societies, not least in the differentiation between economic and political power (there appear to be few problems of elite overproduction in the economic sphere, at least until AI really starts taking over). A flavour of those debates can be seen here.

So, Rod, Peter Turchin is not a 'smug idiot'.


If only this was all that was wrong with Mr Liddle's column today, but the whole thing is tired and lacklustre. Same old same old. Time for some new ideas, some originality.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Keep it polite and no gratuitous links to your business website - we're not a billboard here.