Entrenched time delays versus accelerating opinion dynamics: are advanced democracies inherently unstable?
Institute for Theoretical Physics, Goethe University Frankfurt,
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
a e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Received in final form: 14 September 2017
Published online: 15 November 2017
Modern societies face the challenge that the time scale of opinion formation is continuously accelerating in contrast to the time scale of political decision making. With the latter remaining of the order of the election cycle we examine here the case that the political state of a society is determined by the continuously evolving values of the electorate. Given this assumption we show that the time lags inherent in the election cycle will inevitable lead to political instabilities for advanced democracies characterized both by an accelerating pace of opinion dynamics and by high sensibilities (political correctness) to deviations from mainstream values. Our result is based on the observation that dynamical systems become generically unstable whenever time delays become comparable to the time it takes to adapt to the steady state. The time needed to recover from external shocks grows in addition dramatically close to the transition. Our estimates for the order of magnitude of the involved time scales indicate that socio-political instabilities may develop once the aggregate time scale for the evolution of the political values of the electorate falls below 7–15 months.
Key words: Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
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