Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Secular Cycles" Draft Chapters
(Turchin and Nefedov)

I've been reading David Hackett Fischer's book on long-run waves in history: "The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History. David Hackett Fischer. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996."

Still looking for good critical scholarship on long waves. I've found the economist Paul Krugman's critical review of Fischer's book and the eh-net review. Fischer is adamant that "waves" are not "cycles" and they do suspiciously change their character as they march towards the modern era. They reminiscent of technical analysis in the stock market, the notorious bit of perfect-hindsight economic theorizing that Taleb discusses in "Fooled by Randomness".

Draft chapters of a new book on long-run secular cycles are being made available on the page linked to above. From Turchin's Cliodynamics page:

"Secular Cycles by Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov, to be published towards the end of 2006...In Secular Cycles the Russian historian Sergey Nefedov and I have collaborated on presenting our best case study of theoretical history. Our book focuses on grand—centuries-long—oscillations in demographic, economic, social, and political structures of historical agrarian societies. We start the book with an overview of the demographic-structural theory explaining secular cycles, but our main goal is the presentation of a large amount of empirical material documenting the trajectories of actual societies. Our survey includes chapters on England, France, and Russia from medieval to early modern periods; the Roman Republic and Empire; China from the Han to Qing eras; the ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, medieval Near East, and India. I am posting draft chapters, and any and all comments will be extremely welcome."

There's also a whole book on long-run historical cycles available online: Long Cycles: Prosperity and War in the Modern Age, Joshua S. Goldstein, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. [available here]