Not everyone took Peter Turchin seriously a decade ago when he said widespread civil unrest would sweep through the United States in 2020.
“They had no reason to believe I wasn’t crazy,” Turchin, who teaches cultural evolution at the University of Connecticut, told Time Magazine’s Melissa Chan.
In 2010, after analyzing historical cycles of instability, Turchin published an article in the journal Nature that predicted America will suffer a period of major social upheaval beginning around 2020. Some were skeptical, he told Chan, “Because people did not understand that I was making scientific predictions, not prophecies.”
Truth told, Professor Turchin’s methodology bares a remarkable resemblance to the kind of cyclical evidentiary approach astrologers have been known to favor when interpreting impactful social trends.
In her Time article, Chan reported that the current racial unrest in the United States erupted at the end of May over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who begged for his life as a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. This outrage occurred during a global pandemic that has been punctuated by record unemployment and fatality statistics that continue to impact minority populations unevenly.
Chan writes that dozens of cities were placed under curfews as marches protesting police brutality and racism blocked highways, bridges and city streets. Videos circulated of heavy-handed policing, pepper spraying of peaceful protesters and journalists, and the shoving of marchers to the ground by officers. Some protests ended in violence, with police cars torched and shops looted. In several states the National Guard was deployed to quell what eventually morphed into peaceful protests.
In his Nature journal article written a decade earlier, Turchin observed that many signs showed the United States was spiraling towards upheaval in the current decade. The nation, he says, has experienced stretches of racial turmoil about every fifty years between 1870 and 1970. In 1870, the nation was roiled in the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War. In 1970, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination was the catalyst.
In making his prediction for 2020, the social scientist looked at data analyzing peaceful and violent anti-government demonstrations that involved at least 100 people between 1780 and 2010. Using a computer model, he factored in economic patterns such as declining wages, wealth inequality, exploding national debt and other social pressures that affect national stability. The model showed social and economic turmoil in the United States would “come to a boiling point in the years around 2020,” he wrote in his paper.
Turchin makes the point that societal crisis, which are triggered when pent up pressures seek an outlet, can typically last for five to15 years. He used the example of South Africa, which the World Bank describes as one of the world’s most unequal countries. Anger over race and wealth continue to rankle the country 26 years after apartheid ended.
Systemic Racism Spreads
Since Floyd’s death on May 25, conversations about systemic racism and police brutality against Black men and women have spread across the nation and globe, Chan reports. Local officials in some cities, including New York and Minneapolis, have announced plans to either defund or dismantle their police departments, while federal lawmakers are pushing to reform police practices in other ways, such as banning chokeholds and creating a national registry of misconduct.
There is growing momentum for finding solutions, but reversing trends has generally been a slow process. Denial that systemic racism exists in the U.S. law enforcement system could delay changes longer, Turchin believes.
The Covid-19 pandemic has further worsened the wellbeing of large swaths of the American population, and looms as a leading driver of national instability. And it could make the public less likely to trust government institutions. As millions of Americans remain jobless, Turchin worries that tensions “may escalate all the way to a civil war.”
What’s astrology’s take on this dreary possibility?
Astrologer Roy Gillett is president of the Astrological Association of Great Britain and a frequent lecturer at astrological conferences in the United States. He says the 2021 Presidential inauguration chart is especially dicey with a Mars/Uranus conjunction in Taurus joined by the Moon at midnight on Inauguration Day. This lineup will be forming a stressful 90-degree aspect to planet Jupiter in Aquarius.
Mars is the planet of action and Uranus the poster child for sudden, erratic change. The Moon is a calming influence in Taurus but could be in for a bumpy, intensely emotional ride in this configuration, especially with the stressful Jupiter aspect overstating and overemphasizing the restless, uncompromising energies unleashed.
A year later in 2022, Gillett says planet Pluto will travel ahead to the exact degree it occupied when the United States broke with Great Britain and declared its independence in 1776.
“Pluto is a small ‘dwarf’ planet but astrologers have observed its 246-year cycle acting as a reference point that describes the nature of radical, often revolutionary change according to zodiacal sign. In the present years leading to Pluto’s 2022 return to its 1776 position, the country will see not only a return to the upheaval of those times but be confronted with the consequences of the negativity it has created – during all the years of the cycle,” Gillett said.
“The nation has to accept the radical change we can see building right now. The more people hold back against it, i.e. sub-groups trying to bully their way to sustain their view, the more fragmented the nation will become and tear itself apart.
“The harsh brutality of a second Corona wave would be a hard teacher. It will not be easy, but the most generous, accepting elements of the American Way must prevail. Then, in the end, great change for the better is possible,” he said.