Modeling Historical Dynasties
Emergence of Dynasties
By Mark Ciotola
First published on March 21, 2019
The term dynasty is used broadly to refer to a continuous ruling group; it could be a related family but does not have to be. The term regime can also be used. The term society refers to a group of related people, typically of a single or similar group of ethnicities, such as the Han people in China or the Frankish people in France. Dynasties exist within a society, but can conquer other societies as well.
Fast Entropy can drive the formation of dynasties or regimes. Within the context of a civilization progressing over millennia, it is often possible to degrade built-up potential even more quickly even given current types of social structures for a particular society. Hence, dynasties form to more quickly achieve that potential (just as a convection bubble forms in a boiling pot of water to release heat more quickly). Dynasties result in more rapid degradation of energy than does a more static society.
Each dynasty has a lifecycle. A dynasty is similar to an individual biological organism than a swinging pendulum. A dynasty is born, matures, endures for awhile, then dies. A new dynasty will not necessarily follow an old one, or might not immediately appear. Yet dynasty will continue to form as long as there exists a potential that cannot be more quickly achieved by other means. Does a dynasty have to have a life cycle. Could it not last forever, or at least indefinitely? Societies and some institutions can last much longer than dynasties. It is conceivable that a dynasty could be managed in a sustainable manner, but this is not what we typically observe in history.
Why has the 300-year pattern appeared so frequently in history from France to China to West Africa? It could be that humans who organize in large, durable regimes traditionally chose monarchies. It could be that the values that lead to success and failure go through a roughly fifteen generation progression. It could be that these regimes have utilized the same sort of resources such as agriculture, and perhaps land becomes excessively exhausted after about 300 years. Conserved social resources could include good will or social flexibility. Property rights, concentration of wealth and gentrification could eventually petrify a regime. Or, this could be viewed in terms of a standard 300 year predator-prey prey scenario. Movements towards stabilization can be described as a march towards thermodynamic or statistical equilibrium. There is a short term type of equilibrium related to on-going flows and a longer-term equilibrium that relates to the “life-cycle” of the regime itself.
Considering Dynasties As Bubbles
A human society can experience bubbles. A new dynasty within a civilization encounters a potential of good will and other physical and social resources, albeit of fixed magnitude. The society governed by the dynasty fills the role of a collection of heat engines, producing both work and entropy. Prosperity expands exponentially, increasing the consumption of potential entropy exponentially. Eventually, it becomes increasingly difficult for the dynasty to rely upon its store of goodwill and physical and social resources, decreasing its efficiency. As efficiency decreases, the dynasty will experience social crises and will eventually stop functioning.
So far, the discussion has been largely speculation. The correct application of factual evidence will demonstrate to what degree the above is valid. The underlying mathematical formulae will be proposed in other sections. This approach is different than mere philosophy or opinion, because it is capable of being numerically disproved or restricted to limiting cases.