Sunday Reads: Refolution?


This next link is an interview with historian/sociologist Jack Goldstone:

It is a lengthy article, but please take time to read the whole thing.

I also suggest looking into the articles listed in the first few paragraphs of the Alternet piece:

…Jack Goldstone, whose 1991 book, “Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World,” revolutionized our understanding of revolutions as products of organizational failure in coping with demographic pressures. 

Goldstone’s book appeared just as America was celebrating “The End of History,” as announced in a then-famous book by Francis Fukuyama. With the end of the Cold War, everything had supposedly been settled. There would be no more revolutions or ideological struggles. Almost 30 years later, no one thinks that anymore, and the demographic factors Goldstone identified — such as the “youth bulges” associated with the Arab Spring — have become commonplace terms in discussing potential revolutions. Goldstone’s model combined measures of demographically-driven social stress from the mass population, the elites and the state to produce a single number, the “political stress indicator,” or psi. State breakdown — and thus revolution — has only occurred when psi rises to dramatically high levels. Unlike earlier theories, Goldstone’s approach explained when revolutions didn’t happen, as well as when they did.

I discovered Goldstone’s work by way of cultural anthropologist Peter Turchin, who refined and expanded his model and applied it to a broader range of societies, including modern industrial states. Four years ago, the month before Donald Trump was elected, I reviewed Turchin’s book, “Ages of Discord: A Structural-Demographic Analysis of American History,” which predicted an approaching period of social and political disintegration, regardless of whether Trump won or lost.

But even in 1991, Goldstone had seen worrying signs in America of the same sorts of problems his book described in England and France in the 17th and 18th centuries, respectively, as well as in China and the Ottoman Empire. Most notable was the problem of “selfish elites” who “preferred to protect their private wealth, even at the expense of a deterioration of state finances, public services, and long-term international strength.”

That’s why Goldstone’s perspective on the problems facing us today seem particularly worth our attention. He and Turchin combined to write an article for Noema magazine in September, “Welcome to the Turbulent Twenties,” and BuzzFeed highlighted their perspective — and specifically, the role of psi — in a late October storyon the possibility of rising political violence in the U.S. But their perspective deserves much more than an occasional mention — it should inform the entire framework in which our discussions take place.

So please give that interview your attention…some responses may give you pause to think, but others are completely on the mark.

The other day:

Here’s a few other items from this week:

Love the message:

Isn’t nature amazing:

Finally, hello Dolly…

I love this woman.

Have a safe day….peace.

9 Comments on “Sunday Reads: Refolution?”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Wow JJ! There’s so much here I don’t even know where to start! Thank you for saving me from TV!!!!

  2. NW Luna says:

    Alexandra Petri satire:

    The people trying to overturn the election are very bad at it so … don’t worry?

    TUTUOLA: Wait a minute. You’re telling me that if they attempt a coup, but it doesn’t go through, we’re not supposed to worry about it?
    BENSON: Probably doesn’t go through.
    [STABLER rubs the back of his neck.]
    STABLER: It won’t go through.
    TUTUOLA: You’re telling me that if you try to do a crime, but you aren’t very good at it, there’s no consequences?
    STABLER: I’m sure that isn’t what they mean.
    TUTUOLA: You’re telling me that you can just attempt to overturn the results of a democratic election, and we, the American people, are supposed to just sit there and say, “Oh, this is fine, they’re not very GOOD at it”?

    JUDGE: On the first, second and third counts, how do you plead?
    SQUIRRELLY DEFENSE ATTORNEY: My client pleads not guilty, your honor.
    JUDGE: On what grounds?
    SQUIRRELLY DEFENSE ATTORNEY: On the grounds that my client is very incompetent.
    ALEX CABOT: Objection!
    JUDGE: Sustained. Do you have a real defense?
    SQUIRRELLY DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You don’t understand. My client tried to do the crime, yes, but my client did not succeed, and furthermore, it was very embarrassing for everyone to watch because my client’s hair dye was melting.

  3. NW Luna says:

  4. NW Luna says:

    • quixote says:

      Yeah, Luna. I had my usual problems with that part of it too. Not saying that the deaths aren’t horrible. And there’s nothing wrong with a day of remembrance either! But what gets me is the lack of reciprocity: we don’t have a day of remembrance for the approx 1800 US women killed in “domestic” violence each year. It’s almost as if some women aren’t quite as significant as other women for some reason

      • bostonboomer says:

        Exactly! Women are murdered and raped every day and society accepts it and uses it for entertainment.

      • djmm says:

        Well said. Violence against women is commonplace and routinely ignored. There is also still frequent sexual harassment and discrimination. Why do the needs of over 50% of the population have to take second place?

        Trans men and women should also be safe and free to be who they are.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yes, I know it’s not politically correct, but I have serious problem with this too.