As 2020 continues to lead in the running for worst year thus far, Y2K and 2012 are laughable to even consider as past doomsday candidates. Many of us who naively had “good vibes” about 2020 have now come to terms with, well, there’s always next year. But turns out, one guy had it all figured out eight years ago.
On Oct. 30, 2012, a Vice article titled “2012 Is Bullshit; 2020 Is When We’ll Really Be in Trouble,” accurately predicted what 2020 would have in store for us. It may have left out the global pandemic part of things, but the rest was pretty spot on.
In the interview, Russian-American scientist Peter Turchin, who specializes in population biology, offers an eerie prophecy based on the premise that violence in the U.S. has shown to operate in a 50-year cycle. In his explanation, he essentially says history tends to repeat itself when upheaval is forgotten two generations later and the loop restarts.
“It’s then the grandchildren of that generation—who never experienced the severity of upheaval firsthand—who are likely to start causing problems again,” said Turchin. “My theory suggests that it will be 2020 when the US hits a new peak of violence.”
To make things even more unsettling, Turchin’s definition of “violence” only solidifies his prediction. In his research, he categorizes violence into three distinct types: “groups on groups” (a.k.a. riots), “groups against individuals,” (like police brutality, for example) and “individuals against groups” (such as mass shootings).
The root of all evil? Power, according to Turchin. Revolutions are an inevitable result when “when members of the elite try to overturn the political order to better suit themselves.” Sadly, politics and power will always remain a constant battle, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s impossible to break the cycle.
If history repeats itself because it’s forgotten, then it must be our responsibility to make those after us remember.