American sociologist Jack A. Goldstone examines the causes of revolutions and uprisings in the period between 1500 and 1800. Investigating cases in both Europe and Asia, the conclusions he reaches are surprising. Many thinkers had previously believed that Europe's distinctive history - and particularly the rise of capitalism - had created the specific revolutions and political changes that launched the continent on a path to global supremacy. Goldstone says this is wrong, and that European and Asian states were, in fact, all experiencing similar developments; the reasons behind revolutions in both areas were surprisingly similar. It was how states reconstructed themselves in their aftermath that explained why Europe and Asia went on to develop differently.
Goldstone goes on to identify four factors that led to the collapse of central authority in Eurasia in the early modern period. These are as follows.
Fiscal crises of one sort or another.
Rapid population growth.
Conflict between elites.
The potential for the masses to rise due to popular grievances.
Goldstone developed a novel formula called the "political stress indicator" (or psi) that turned fiscal stress, intra-elite conflict, and the potential for mass mobilization into measurable variables. With this formula, the likelihood of past and present state failures could therefore be predicted.
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