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Niall Ferguson

America, China, Russia and the Avalanche of History

The world doesn’t move in cycles or with a grand design. Echoes of the 1970s remind us that one disaster often begets others.

About to get buried by the past?

About to get buried by the past?

Photographer: Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images

Does the arc of history bend toward justice? Or is everything falling apart?

Philosophers of history have long sought a cycle of history. Ibn Khaldun offered one version in his “Muqaddimah” (1377): Islam in its infancy has “desert toughness” — but power leads to sedentary habits and luxury, while extravagance leads to fiscal crisis.