Peter Turchin foresaw a decade of increasing volatility in western Europe and the United States.
The ensuing rise in populism has made him somewhat famous and sparked the curiosity of economists in “cliodynamics.” His focus on the “overproduction of elites” creates unsettling problems and provides instructive policy insights. Elite civilizations create an increasing number of aspiring elites because access to education tends to increase. The benefits of being at the top are precious, and those who do not get them feel their absence strongly.
People who are articulate and educated revolt, causing a rush for political and economic dominance. Elites cease cooperating, counter-elites emerge, and order collapses. Due to the dominance of a few “superstar” companies, few prominent professions are available. Over thirty percent of British graduates are overqualified for their professions. Under Jeremy Corbyn, the British Labour Party attracted an increased number of upper-middle-class and middle-class individuals. Joe Biden’s margin over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries was much narrower among college graduates than high school dropouts.