Scientist Who Predicted America’s Current Problems Predicts New Civil War
A previously unpublished paper submitted for peer review predicts that the United States is “headed for another civil war,” according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- Sociologist Jack Goldstone of George Mason University and Peter Turchin, “an expert on the mathematical modelling of historical societies,” argue that the conditions for violence in the US are reaching levels that have not existed since the 19th century during the lead up to the Civil War.
The reason for this are trends that began in the 1980s, "with regard to inequality, selfish elites, and polarisation that have crippled the ability of the US government to mount an effective response to the pandemic disease," they write.
This has also "hampered our ability to deliver an inclusive economic relief policy, and exacerbated the tensions over racial injustice."
- The model the two developed measures data like median workers’ wages to GDP per capita, life expectancy, the number of new millionaires, political polarization, and the degree of overlap between the parties.
- Using these variables, the model correctly “predicts” the instability of the Civil War era and the 1930s where Jim Crow, Gilded Age inequality, and fascism reigned in the states.
- The baby boom in the post-WWII era set the stage for unrest given three conditions for the relatively well-off generation: tightening paths to upward mobility for the working class, halting wages and accruing more wealth for themselves, and resisting taxation to starve the government of revenue.
- Typically, the conditions in the country begin to deteriorate before the final shock. "It could be a pandemic or a loss in a war or perceived abuse by public security forces," said Charles Fiertz of Fund for Peace in Washington, DC. If the country cannot adapt to its own vulnerabilities, a collapse can occur.
The report noted that “Ten years ago, Professor Turchin pointed his model towards the future, and made an uncannily accurate prediction. Just like in the 1850s, crisis indicators were rising, he wrote in the journal Nature.” He also wrote that those indicators "look set to peak in the years around 2020.”
Professor Goldstone currently predicts further social unrest after the $600 Covid-19 welfare program expires. "The risks of violence in November are very high. There's a real risk that, if the election is close, whichever side loses will be strongly motivated to mobilise people to challenge the result," Professor Goldstone said. As it stands, the chances of violence are higher than the chances of peace.
Ultimately, a move back toward stability will be difficult. However, Goldstone believes this era has brought out the best in some Americans amongst peaceful Black Lives Matter protests and a newfound spirit of progressivism.
"There's good as well as bad going on at the same time — and we always hope the good will win,” he remarked.