Two forecasts by Randall Collins

Tsirel S.V.

Dr. Sci. (Mining), Principal research scientist, Saint-Petersburg Mining University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

ID of the Article: 6657

For citation:

Tsirel S.V. Two forecasts by Randall Collins. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 4. P. 155-161


The article analyzes two forecasts by Randall Collins. First one about the collapse of the Soviet Union in the next 30–50 years was based on the proposed geopolitical theory, he created in 1970s. The essence of the forecast was that the Soviet Union lost its peripheral position and is unable to protect its overlong border, which led to geopolitical defeat. In 1980, the forecast was presented by Collins to US public, at that time rather expecting defeat in the cold war than winning. However, the prediction came true, and in 1999 Collins described his forecast in one of the chapters in his book “Macrohistory: Essays in Sociology of the Long Run”. In 2015 the book was translated to Russian by Rozov N. and caused discussions among leading Russian sociologists. Author shows that Collins’ forecast described an important aspect of the complex processes that led to the collapse of the USSR, but still not the most important. The most important role in the collapse of USSR played economical thesis of Marxist theory requiring economic victory of the socialist camp. Second forecast – about collapse of capitalism, authored by Collins in the book “Does Capitalism Have a Future?” published in 2015 in 14 languages simultaneously (including Russian). This forecast is based on a truncated version of Marxism, the main idea is that with labor productivity growth capitalism would not be able to provide work for 50% or more employees and that will lead to its collapse. Collins is considering 5 possible methods to employ workers and finds all of them unsatisfactory. In author’s opinion Collins found and vividly described the most important problems nowadays (over the year that has passed since the publishing of that book, said problems have become even more acute). Though, in author’s opinion, underlying theory is too simplified to consider such complex problems, financial analysis is mostly addressing past than the future. And when analyzing the ways to improve employment he misses an area best described by requiring personal contact between people (e.g. contribution of medicine in the United States GDP increased 5 to 17.5% in 50 years), and many other activities. Therefore, this forecast, contrary to the first one, may be classified as a warning, anti-utopia, but not as a prediction.

forecast; geopolitics; legitimacy; Marxism; collapse of the Soviet Union; capitalism; unemployment

Collins R. (1995) Prediction in Macrosociologv: The Case of the Soviet Collapse. American Journal of Sociology. 1995. Vol. 100. No 6 (May): 1552–1593.

Collins R. (2015). Macro-History: Essays in Sociology of the Long Run. Per. N.S. Rozova. Moscow: LENARD, Edotorial URSS. (In Russ.)

Does Capitalism Have A Future? (2013) by Wallerstein I., Collins R., Mann M., Derluguian G. and Calhoun C. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Gaidara.

Kennedy P. (1987) The Rise and Fall of Great Powers. New York.

National Health Expenditures by Type of Service and Source of Funds, Calendar Years 1960–2014 (2015). In: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. November 5.

Reinhart C.M, Rogoff K. S. (2009) This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly. Princeton University Press.

Frumkin K. G. (2014) Posle kapitalizma. Budushchee zapadnoj tsivilizatsii [After Capitalism. The Future of Western Civilization] Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Algoritm. (In Russ.)

Grinin L. E., Grinin A. L. (2015) Ot rubil do nanorobotov. Mir na puti k ehpohe samoupravlyaemyh sistem [From Hacking Away Before Nanorobots. The World Towards an Era of Self-Managed Systems]. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Uchitel. (In Russ.)

Kondrashov A., Markina N. (2012) Zhizn’ bez otbora: blago ili opasnost’? [Life without selection: benefit or risk?]. Troitskij variant. No. 23(117), 11/20/2012. (In Russ.)

Romanovskij N. V. (2016) Historical macrosociology: a presentation (about R. Collins book “Macro-History: Essays in Sociology of the Long Run”). Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological studies]. No 1: 163–167. (In Russ.)

Frumkin K. G., eds (2016). Singulyarnost’. Obrazy “postchelovechestva“ [Singularity. Images of “Postmankind”]. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Algoritm. (In Russ.)

Tsirel S. V. (2015) Granitsy i stolitsy [Borders and capitals]. In: Istoriya i teoriya tsivilizatsij: v poiskah metodologicheskih perspektiv [History and Theory of Civilizations: in Search of Methodological Perspectives]. Vladivostok: Izdatel’stvo DFU: 93–101. (In Russ.)

Vremya mira. Al’manah [World time. Almanac] (2000). Vol.1. Istoricheskaya sotsiologiya v XX veke [Historical Sociology in 20th century]. Rozov N. S., eds. Novosibirsk. (In Russ.)

Content No 4, 2017