Thursday, October 20, 2022

Physical Factors of the Historical Process | Alexander Chizhevsky

In 1924 Russian scientist Alexander Chizhevsky advanced a theory claiming that the solar activity cycles affected all of human history. He drew insight from the striking observation that two Russian revolutions of the early XX century (in 1905-07 and 1917) and several major European revolutions of the XIX century (in 1830, 1848, and 1871) occurred in the years of maximum solar activity. 

To justify his conviction, Chizhevsky scrutinized the available sunspot records and solar observations comparing them to riots, revolutions, battles and wars in Russia and 71 other countries for the period from 500 B.C. to 1922 A.D. He proposed to divide the eleven-year solar cycle into four phases:

  1. 3-year period of minimum activity (around the solar minimum) characterized by passivity and “autocratic rule”;
  2. 2-year period during which people “begin to organize” under new leaders and “one theme”;
  3. 3-year period (around the solar maximum) of “maximum excitability,” revolutions and wars;
  4. 3-year period of gradual decrease in “excitability,” until people are “apathetic.”
Chizhevsky found that a significant percent of revolutions and what he classified as “the most important historical events” involving “large numbers of people” occurred in the 3-year period around sunspot maximums. Through his further studies, Chizhevsky came to believe that correlations with the solar cycles could be found for a very diverse set of natural phenomena and human activities. In his book, he compiled a list of as many as 27 of them that supposedly fluctuated with the solar cycle, ranging from crop harvests to epidemic diseases to mortality rates. According to his studies, the periods of maximum solar activity were generally associated with negative effects such as lower harvests, intensification of diseases (including psychological ones), and higher mortality rates. However, Subsequent studies generally did not confirm the strength and scope of all the links between solar activity and various physical and social processes claimed by Chizhevsky.

Even as the link between solar activity and revolutions was not as strong as originally claimed by Chizhevsky, it appeared to be able to withstand a statistical test. In 1992 Russian scientist Putilov analyzed large samples of historical events mentioned in the chronology sections of two of the largest Soviet historical encyclopedias (numbering nearly 13,000 events in one book and 4,600 in another). He classified the events into four groups on the dimensions of “tolerance” (e.g., riot-reform) and “polarity” (e.g., civil war-external war). Putilov found that frequency and “polarity” of historical events increased in the year of the maximum of the sunspot cycle and in the next year after it, particularly when compared with the year of the minimum and the year before the minimum. The probability of revolution (the most polar and intolerant of historical events) was the highest during the maximum and the lowest in the year before a minimum of solar activity, with very high statistical significance. The results suggested that solar activity does impact historic events, particularly in the years of sunspot maximums. 
In Chizhevsky’s own words (translated):

Alexander Chizhevsky (1922) - The principles of modern natural science have urged me to investigate whether or not there is a correlation between the more important phenomena of nature and events in the social-historical life of mankind. In this direction, beginning in the year 1915, I have performed a number of researches, but at present I am submitting to the public only those which are directed towards determining the connection between the periodical sun-spot activity and (1) the behavior of organized human masses and (2) the universal historical process. The following facts are based upon statistics gathered by me while submitting to a minute scrutiny the history of all the peoples and states known to science, beginning with the V century B. C. and ending with the present day.

1. As soon as the sun-spot activity approaches its maximum, the number of important mass historical events, taken as a whole, increases, approaching its maximum during the sun-spot maximum and decreasing to its minimum during the epochs of the sun-spot minimum.

2. In each century the rise of the synchronic universal military and political activity on the whole of the Earth's territory is observed exactly 9 times. This circumstance enables us to reckon that a cycle of universal human activity embraces 11 years (in the arithmetical mean). The fluctuation's mean curves of the universal historical process on all the surface of the Earth during the period from V century B.C. till XX century A.D. (along the abscissa axis are marked the years, along the ordinate axis – the quantity of important historical events. Dots mark the pretelescopic and later – astronomical data of the sun-spot maximum. Hyphens mark its minimum):

Parallelism of the curves of sun-spot activity (below) and the universal human military-political activity (above) from 1749 till 1922:

3. Each cycle according to its historical psychological signs is divided into 4 parts (periods):

I. Minimum of excitability: 3 years;
II. Growth of excitability: 2 years;
III. Maximum of excitability: 3 years;
IV. Decline of excitability: 3 years;

The number of historical events in each cycle is distributed approximately according to the data for 500 years (XV—XX cent.) in the following manner (in the mean):

I  period: 5%;
II  period: 20%;
III  period: 60%;
IV  period: 15%.

Schematic Summary of Properties of a Complete Historiometric Cycle:

4. The course and development of each lengthy historical event is subject to fluctuations (periods of activity and inactivity) in direct dependence upon the periodical fluctuations occurring in the sun's activity. Formula: the state of predisposition of collective bodies towards action is a function of the sun-spot periodical activity.

5. Episodic leaps or rises in the sun's activity, given the existence in human societies of politico-economical and other exciting factors, are capable of calling forth a synchronic rising in human collective bodies. Formula: the rising of the sun-spot activity transforms the people's potential energy into kinetic energy.

My studies in the sphere of synthesizing historical material have enabled me to determine the following morphological law of the historical process:

6. The course of the universal historical process is composed of an uninterrupted row of cycles, occupying a period equaling in the arithmetical mean 11 years and synchronizing in the degree of its military-political activity with the sun-spot activity. Each cycle possesses the following historio-psychological peculiarities:

a. In the middle points of the cycle's course the mass activity of humanity all over the surface of the Earth, given the presence in human societies of economical, political or military exciting factors, reaches the maximum tension, manifesting itself in psycomotoric pandemics:  revolutions, insurrections, expeditions, migrations etc., creating new formations in the existence of separate states and new historical epochs in the life of humanity. It is accompanied by an integration of the masses, a full expression of their activity and a form of government consisting of a majority.
b. In the extreme points of the cycle's course the tension of the all-human military-political activity falls to the minimum, ceding the way to creative activity and is accompanied by a general decrease of military or political enthusiasm, by peace and peaceful creative work in the sphere of state organizations, international relations, science and art, with a pronounced tendency towards absolutism in the governing powers and a disintegration of the masses.

7. In correlation with the sun-spot maximum stand:

a. The dissemination of different doctrines political, religious etc., the spreading of heresies, religious riots, pilgrimages etc.
b. The appearance of social, military and religious leaders, reformists etc.
c. The formation of political, military, religious and commercial corporations, associations, unions, leagues, sects, companies etc.

8. It is impossible to overlook the fact that pathological epidemics also coincide very frequently with the sun-spot maximum periods.

9. Thus the existence of dependence between the sun-spot activity and the behavior of humanity should be considered established.

One cycle of all-human activity is taken by me for the first measuring unit of the historical process. The science concerned with investigating the historical phenomena from the above point of view I have named historiometria.

At present I am working on a plan of organizing scientific institutes for determining the influence of cosmic and geophysical factors upon the condition of the psychics of individuals and collective bodies, and devising a working method for them.

A. Chizhevsky
November, 1922; 10 Ivanovskaia st., Kaluga, Russia.

Sergey Smelyakov (2006) - Chizhevsky's Disclosure: How the Solar Cycles Modulate the History.
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