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Does History Cycle?
Peter Turchin
Peter Turchin
is a professor of Biology and Anthropology in the University of Connecticut and Vice President of the Evolution Institute | Follow him on Twitter

In the Economist’s World in 2013 issue there is an article, The Cycle of History (thanks to John McGonagle for bringing it to my attention). The author, Max Rodenbeck, discusses the recent events of the Arab Spring from the point of view of Ibn Khaldun’s theory. Ibn Khaldun, as many of my readers know, was concerned with understanding the waxings and wanings of collective solidarity, or asabiya. Among other things he made an observation that the dynamics of asabiya tend to move in cycles.

His theory was formulated by observing historical dynamics in his native Maghreb (North Africa west of Egypt). The cycle begins when Bedouins, who have a lot of asabiya, erupt from the desert and establish a new ruling dynasty in the coastal area with cities and other trappings of civilization. The dynasty lasts for about four generations, but eventually it loses asabiya and becomes corrupt. At this point, a new group of Bedouins erupts from the desert and establishes the next ruling dynasty. And so on.

Read more at Social Evolution Forum.

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