The Unpredictable, Chaotic Nature of History

History is not a means to making accurate predictions. We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons and to realize our present situation is neither natural nor unenviable

Yuval Harari

We describe chaotic systems in two manners, level 1 and level 2. In level 1 chaotic systems, like the weather, the system does not depend on the predictions made on it.  Level 2 chaos is chaos that is affected by the predictions and thus can never be predicted accurately. Markets, for example, is a level 2 chaotic system. The reason why we cannot predict level 2 chaos because the system will respond and counterbalence the prediction. For example: what if we made a device that can accurately predict the price of oil tomorrow? The market will respond and the forecast would fail to materialize.  If today’s price is $90 and the computer predicts it will be $100 tomorrow, investors will clamor and buy oil to profit off the future price increase. But, due to this, the price fill will jump to $100 today rather than tomorrow. Then what will happen tomorrow? Nobody knows.

Just like markets, history is a level 2 chaotic system and revolutions are by definition unpredictable.History cannot be determined and cannot be predicted because of its chaotic nature. There are just too many forces are at work. A predictable revolution never results. Nobody thought the Bolshevists would take over power in Russia, but they accomplished this feat in in 4 years. And the idea that the Arabs would rule an area from the Atlantic to India was even more preposterous before they accomplished the feat.


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