Victor Topa: Cycles of Business, Cycles of History


The historical work of  Strauss-Howe has long interested me. On this site I will bring together some links to reviews, notes on the books, articles describing on-going debates and controversies around the work. It will  bring together abstracts of all academic articles on the thesis. 

With time I hope to also write a little about cycles of business and cycles of history and the power of generations from my own reading and perspectives. The ideas of Strauss and Howe, have been taken up by people around Donald Trump, including Stephen Bannon, but their position is not a Q Anon kind of conspiracy theory and should be reduced to these kinds of people and their responses. There ideas have a long history in themselves. 

Cliodynamics is viewed with deep scepticism by most academic historians, who tend to see history as a complex stew of chance, individual foibles and one-of-a-kind situations that no broad-brush ‘science of history’ will ever capture. “After a century of grand theory, from Marxism and social Darwinism to structuralism and postmodernism, most historians have abandoned the belief in general laws,” said Robert Darnton, a cultural historian at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a column written in 1999.

However, the argument that there are patterns in human history and cycles of civilisations that rise and fall seems to me to have a great deal of validity. There are cycles in population numbers in which pandemics and migrations change the balances of power between regions. It does seem that these occur in recurrent patterns. There are periods of rapid change in social structures which are often followed by periods of stagnation before a new wave of change and reform takes place. There are cycles in state strength and political instability, which do seem to run in sets of 50-70 years and be influenced by changes in generations. Whether or not we can see a real science in history and can predict the future, I do not know, but I find the ideas and the arguments compelling and as a business man I can certainly see how they can apply in a business and economic context. .