by John Mauldin
We have too many “elites.” History shows this rarely ends well. And we are about to mint even more.
The December issue of The Atlantic has a fascinating with Peter Turchin, a University of Connecticut professor with some unique ideas about human history.
Turchin is actually a zoologist. He spent his early career analyzing population dynamics. Things like why a particular species of beetles inhabits a certain forest, or why it disappears from that same forest.
He developed some general principles for such things, and wondered if they apply to humans, too. Answering that requires data, so he went from studying beetle history to human history.
Turns out, we have something big in common.
One recurring pattern Turchin noticed: something he calls “elite overproduction.”
This happens when a society’s ruling class grows faster than the number of rulers it needs. (For Turchin, “elite” seems to mean not just political leaders but all those managing companies, universities and other large social institutions.)
As The Atlantic describes it:
One way for a ruling class to grow is biologically—think of Saudi Arabia, where princes and princesses are born faster than royal roles can be created for them. In the United States, elites overproduce themselves through economic and educational upward mobility: More and more people get rich, and more and more get educated. Neither of these sounds bad on its own. Don’t we want everyone to be rich and educated?
The problems begin when money and Harvard degrees become like royal titles in Saudi Arabia. If lots of people have them, but only some have real power, the ones who don’t have power eventually turn on the ones who do…
Elite jobs do not multiply as fast as elites do. There are still only 100 Senate seats, but more people than ever have enough money or degrees to think they should be running the country.
“You have a situation now where there are many more elites fighting for the same position, and some portion of them will convert to counter-elites,” Turchin said.
The excess elites become counter-elites, who then try to make alliances with the lower classes that usually don’t work out.
But my eyebrows went up when I saw how Turchin describes the endgame.
The final trigger of impending collapse, Turchin says, tends to be state insolvency. At some point rising insecurity becomes expensive.
The elites have to pacify unhappy citizens with handouts and freebies—and when these run out, they have to police dissent and oppress people.
Eventually the state exhausts all short-term solutions, and what was heretofore a coherent civilization disintegrates.
Terrifying? Yes. It sounds amazingly like what the World Economic Forum proposes with its Great Reset Initiative. I am sure Klaus Schwab and the others there recognize the frustration that many people have.
They are proposing programs to alleviate that frustration — expensive, society-altering programs.
But they would still let the game at the top continue.
I predict an unprecedented crisis that will lead to the biggest wipeout of wealth in history. And most investors are completely unaware of the pressure building right now. Learn more here.