Perhaps it is a function of the "season" or the "silly season" in the news that subjects usually bubbling under may acquire a prominence or significance before merging back into the ambient noise. One of the subjects that acquired a signature tune last month was the science of 'cliodynamics'. This was a term coined by Peter Turchin, a mathemematical ecologist from the University of Connecticut who sieves that kaleidoscope of the past to discern measurable and predictable laws. For where there is law, there is prediction.
Ignoring the arguments for and against looking for laws in human behaviour, I turn to why this minor article was picked up by the press. The attention was garnered by the convergence of science and prophecy; we are fascinated by the lure of a science that could predict, and prevent, future events. All politicians are tempted by a rational crystal ball. Especially in the now, when all trends appear broken, all narratives lost, the rise of an eschatological story is probably overdue.
Apart from the power laws charted in economic and technological innovation, the dynamics of human activity at a macroscopic level remain opaque. I doubt that cliodynamics will replace the usual teleology adopted by those proud to predict in the face of overwhelming evidence; that of class struggle