War and Peace and War The Rise and Fall of Empires [Free Read] by Peter Turchin – eBook, Kindle & PDF Read

Peter Turchin Í 9 Free read

War and Peace and War The Rise and Fall of Empires

Tes But as empires grow the rich get richer and the poor get poorer conflict replaces cooperation and dissolution inevitably follows Elouently argued and rich with historical examples War and Peace and War offers a bold new theory about the course of world history. Turchin begins by referring to Hari Selden the mastermind of psychohistory in Isaac Asimov s Foundation Trilogy in describing his project a logical cause effect analysis of how where when why great empires are born their life cycle and finally their decline fall In a nutshell he finds it s all about social cohesiveness Turchin s style becomes somewhat turgid tedious but his thesis has merit This is worth plowing thru

Summary War and Peace and War The Rise and Fall of Empires

Y’s capacity for collective action He demonstrates that high levels of cooperation are found where people have to band together to fight off a common enemy and that this kind of cooperation led to the formation of the Roman and Russian empires and the United Sta. Very interesting but as frustrating as it is challengingThe title of this book is a bit misleading it does indeed regularly deal with war and peace and with the rise and fall of imperia but actually Turchin covers a much larger field and presents two theories on the entire world history His first theory states that large empires or states have always developed in places that where near a border with another group or a state that was perceived as fundamentally different and threatening Turchin makes no secret that this view is very similar to that of Samuel Huntington and his Clash of civilizations He prefers to use the term of metaethic frontier It is always close to such a border that new states emerge that gradually develop into large empires it never starts in a center far away from such a border and thus less challenged and threatenedHis second theory is inspired by the 13th century Arab historian Ibn Khaldoen namely that the power of a society a state or an empire rests primarily on its internal cohesion its asabiya as Khaldoen describes it Turchin illustrates this with numerous examples and is reasonably convincing on this finding support with other social scientist like Robert Putnam and his Social Capital conceptThe emergence of empires imperiogenesis and their fall imperiopathosis are connected with those two concepts of metaetnic frontier and asabiya a realm arises when it is at such a boundary and can develop an intense form of internal cohesion in response to the threat by a fundamentally different enemy and it goes under if that border shifts and the threat thus falls away and or if the cohesion crumbles mostly due to growing ineuality as a result of Malthusian cycles In most cases according to Turchin this process takes about a millennium On top of that Turchin distinguishes other cycles within that very large time frame secular cycles covering 2 to 4 centuries much shorter cycles of 60 to 80 years and finally ultra short cycles of several generations He himself uses the image of wheels in wheels in wheels with which he wants to indicate that the historical reality is never simple and there are lot of feedback loops that interfere with each other Most of these cycles are related to the eual or uneual distribution of wealth and the fierceness of wars be it external or civil wars This all sounds very interesting and Turchin illustrates it with many examples from world history that in general sound rather convincing But as you might suspect there are some comments to make In the first place it is striking that almost all of his examples and models relate to agrarian premodern societies and hardly if at all to recent industrial ones Turchin is also aware of this himself and tries to counter that in his final chapter by uickly bringing up some reflections on the empire of the United States the European Union very strange to define this as an imperium China and even Russia His arguments in this section are not convincing the modern world is uite different from the premodern one and it seems that the elements of metaethnic frontier and asabiya play a much less important role in our globalized world where boundaries are much less defined Turchin in this section focuses rather strongly on the meta ethnic frontier that Islam has created in recent decades but with that he simply repeats the weaknesses of Samuel Huntington s arguments because up until now there s no asabiya to discern in the Islamic world He also often illustrates his theories with extensive uotations from primary sources and especially chronicles of Roman European Medieval Arab or early Russian origin from which he deduces all sorts of things that have to prove his theories Of course tish is tricky because these chronicles are very place time and person related and offer only perspective For this use of chronicles Turchin was as predicted very heavily attacked by classical historiansIn this book Turchin also repeatedly pleads for the use of theoretical models also in history and specifically of Cliodynamics his own pet child which deals with history mainly through uantitative statistical approaches I must concede that his arguments for this are nuanced he offers a nonlinear and nondeterministic approach to reality in the sense that he also allows deviations and exceptions and a certain role of individuals with free will and that is to his benefit And he is aware that these uantitative approaches are tricky Turchin is modest enough to indicate that Cliodynamics is still in its infancy A lot work needs to be done in the history of scientific maturity that was enjoyed by classical mechanics in the 18th and 19th centuries But at the same time he maintains that with the enormous influx of uantitative data in recent decades much larger steps can be taken And that may be true to some extent but I think we are better remain critical The fact that in his closing chapter for example he alludes to the possible resurrection of a great Cossack empire in southern Russia leaves one to thinkTurchin in this book builds up his theories step by step and takes a lot of effort to illustrate elaborate and nuance his points of view but at times it gives a rather inconsistent impression and it doesn t have thet compelling logic that you can find for instance with Jared Diamond which for him is partly a model but which he also renounces In that context one striking thing Turchin is zoologist by training and with that he is the umpteenth non historian who approaches history with the rough brush Jared Diamond Samuel Huntington Steven Pinker are other examples Now I m not saying this can t be illuminating on the contrary I was wowed by Pinker but it s high time that also trained historians take their stand in this matter because they are better than anyone else euipped with knowledge of the past and a sense for nuance and contingency of the human agency There are some promising developments of this in the field of WorldGlobalInterconnected History but there s still a long way to go All this does not detract from the fact that the central concepts of Turchin the metaethnic frontier and the asabiya factor are absolutely relevant and valuable keys to dealing with history They should be given serious thought but they are certainly not the only ones and it remains important to be very careful with them because reality even that of the past remains a chaotic and slippery thing 3 stars

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Like Jared Diamond in Guns Germs and Steel Peter Turchin in War and Peace and War uses his expertise in evolutionary biology to make a highly original argument about the rise and fall of empires Turchin argues that the key to the formation of an empire is a societ. I m a bit skeptical of Big History books primarily because the world we live in today is so radically different from the cyclical political orders that existed in the past Humans are the same but modern technology is a social variable that we are still desperately trying to wrap our heads around This is a book that tries to apply predictive logic to the rise and collapse of imperial systems reviving Ibn Khaldun s concept of asabiyya or group cohesion and applying it to the contemporary world Although the world we live in today is very different from the past I do think there is some truth to the fact that the strength of societies is tied to levels of inter group trust and cooperation When those things fray collective action becomes impossible and decay of some sort inevitableTo put it another way the things that drive down social trust and reduce cohesion end up weakening society as a whole Ethnic diversity is the popular one people like to accuse today but in fact the most successful empires in history have had no problem integrating new ethnicities into the fold and often took great pride in this for example the Roman Islamic and in a limited sense American empires Some things that do reduce cohesion are exploding wealth ineuality that sets different classes against one another and the over production of elites who become heavily invested in waging bitter political conflicts with one another over the necessarily limited number of elite positions in society The poor and lower middle classes inevitably become pawns and victims of these status seekersOne of the things that increases social cohesion is the presence of outsider threats that galvanize society usually on some kind of threatening physical frontier Empires have often emerged along civilization borderlines where people marked by some type of significant divide come face to face with one another and come to understand both their shared identities and the need for inter group cooperation vividly The effectiveness of a country like Israel is less due to some sort of mystical characteristics of its people than the Darwinian social cohesion effect of living on a borderline and being under constant threat The same goes with Palestinians who despite being the weaker party due to their lack of a superpower patron have coalesced into one people rather than a disparate group of tribes living under Ottoman rule Throughout history imperial peoples have been formed in crucibles of threat and external pressure Religion also plays an important role as a metaphysical social cement that leads people to trust cooperate and sacrifice for one another as a collectiveCan we predict the rise and fall of societies based on uantitative inputs This is the contention of the nascent field of cliodynamics that the book makes an argument for I m not saying its impossible but we are some ways off from that To his credit Turchin acknowledges that such a prospect is not immediately on the horizon although this book sort of tests the waters for some future such analysis He is an interesting thinker and has given something to contemplate here The United States is one society that seems to be fraying under many of the fissiparous pressures that this book identifies with declining social trust huge wealth gaps and the decaying appeal of the core metaphysical ideology of the nation making the prospect of cohesion for any common purpose look and remote I expect that if the real fraying comes people will ignore all these structural factors and point the fingers at whoever looks different from them


10 thoughts on “War and Peace and War The Rise and Fall of Empires

  1. says:

    I'm a bit skeptical of Big History books primarily because the world we live in today is so radically different fr

  2. says:

    This is a compelling read on world history with some interesting views Turchin develops his own theories on the rise and fall of empires espe

  3. says:

    Subtitle The Rise and Fall of EmpiresSo as you may have heard me say before the books I read can mostly be divided into tw

  4. says:

    Very interesting but as frustrating as it is challengingThe title of this book is a bit misleading it does indeed regularly deal with war and peace and with the rise and fall of imperia but actually Turchin covers a much larger field and presents two theories on the entire world history His first theory states that large empires or states have always developed in places that where near a border with another gr

  5. says:

    In this book Turchin attempts a familiar task trying to discern laws of history In this particular case Turchin generalizes about the formation rise and fall of empiresAlisdair MacIntyre it seems to me proved that social science in the sense of prediction is impossible in principleThat doesn't mean we can't discern cycles and causative factors in human history but only that we must be very cautious about how complete and accurat

  6. says:

    A fascinating group selectionist take on the dynamics of the rise and fall of empires in history

  7. says:

    Yet another Big History book this one really pulled out in front of the pack for me and I think it's the best one I've read so farFirst there's no better way to make me smile than with a reference to psychohistory from my favorite sci fi series of all time Turchin compares his goal of scientifying history to Asimov's famous literary conceit right there at the very beginning of the Introduction Turchin is serious about it though offering a

  8. says:

    I am the kind of person who is always seeking a set of abstract principles within which to contextualize my experience of events and information This characteristic has often dampened my enthusiasm for the study of history since my encounters with history books usually amount to poring over lists of occurrences with only the occasional idea or theme that ties everything together I’m also aware that my predilection for abstraction is a p

  9. says:

    Turchin begins by referring to Hari Selden the mastermind of psychohistory in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy in describing his project a logical cause effect analysis of how where when why great empires are born their life cycle

  10. says:

    History is a spiral it always repeat itself but each time the loop is a bit different from the previous

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