Clarity in the Face of Immense World-System Complexity and Crisis: A Review of ̒Economic Crises, Cycles and the Global Periphery̓ by Leonid Grinin, Andrey Korotayev, and Arno Tausch

Author: Harper, Tony
Journal: Journal of Globalization Studies. Volume 8, Number 2 / November 2017

‘It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us’ (Darwin 1958). This famous statement of Darwin could just as easily apply to the complexity of human society as represented by the world-system with its interlacing of economic, political, cultural, and social processes and phenomena within the context of its Core-Periphery structure. It is particularly representative of the state of the world-system at the beginning of the 21st сentury, a state that is overwhelmingly complex to the point of perceived randomness, a morass of complexity that seemingly stands in denial of any explanation by generality or to use Darwin's phrasing, ‘…by laws acting around us’. Be this as it may, the book Economic Crises, Cycles and the Global Periphery authored by Leonid Grinin, Andrey Korotayev, and Arno Tausch not only offers a lucid explanation of current world-system complexity but does so by the application of laws or more appropriately, models, which represent cyclic economic behavior. Using these various cyclical models, the authors disentangle world-system complexity into perceptible patterns which present not only reasonable explanations of the state of the system but also, as should be expected of good science, permits prediction of future states of this system.