Imagining life as an eternal circular movement has been usual since antiquity. Ancient societies widely adhered to the idea of ages changing in cycles, as celestial bodies recurrently changed their positions, thus supposedly regulating events on Earth.
This view of the cyclic development of everything existing in the world, besides the usual forms of cycles such as solar and lunar cycles, sedimentary cycles and life cycles, has passed onto economic cycles. These cycles are made up of economic rises and falls, as well as cycles of political change.While Spengler and Toynbee took specific cultures (civilizations) localized in time as going through their specific cycles, the Marxist concept denies the idea of world history moving in closed circles, as well as the theory of its continuous mechanical advancement, progressively, along a straight line.
According to historical materialism, world history flows as a whole consistent progressive process of change in the social and economic formations, in which movement does not follow a straight line, but a spiral, i.e. some of the features which characterize earlier stages of historical development reoccur, yet they do so at a new, higher level.
The word “centralization” came into use in France in 1794 as the post-French Revolution French Directory leadership created a new government structure. The word “decentralization” came into usage in the 1820s. “Centralization” entered written English in the first third of the 1800s.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that the French Revolution began with “a push towards decentralization… [but became,] in the end, an extension of centralization”.
In early twentieth-century America, one response to the centralization of economic wealth and political power was a decentralist movement. It blamed large-scale industrial production for destroying middle-class shopkeepers and small manufacturers and promoted increased property ownership and a return to small-scale living.
Many books and other works dedicated to decentralization have been written. Daniel Bell wrote The Coming of Post-Industrial Society (1973), while Alvin Toffler published Future Shock (1970) and The Third Wave (1980). Futurist John Naisbitt’s 1982 book Megatrends was on The New York Times Best Seller list for more than two years and sold 14 million copies. Many other books and articles were published in these years. Stephen Cummings wrote that decentralization became a “revolutionary megatrend” in the 1980s.
However, all of this has so far been a kind of volatility around the centralization trend, in the same way it has been with the business cycle or economic cycle and/or trade cycle – when we see the downward and upward movement around its long-term growth trend up to the moment when the technology capable of changing the World, its organization and way of life emerges. Along with the distributed ledger technology known as Blockchain, the time for a bigger cycle is coming into being.
Beginning from the Renaissance, which followed a colossal European crisis which occurred for a number of reasons including the Little Ice Age, new breakthroughs in science and innovation, followed by the start of the Technological Revolution, the strongest centralization of everything has emerged, be it power, infrastructure, manufacturing, distribution, finance and media. This wave, this cycle was much bigger than the earlier cycles of centralization. By 2000–2010, the centralization wave reached its peak in social, industrial, financial and geopolitical spheres, and by then we could see the emerging blockchain technology to bring to life a decentralized public ledger.
That means it’s time for a global correction. In terms adopted by Nikolai Kondratiev, a Russian scientist, to describe the economic cycles he discovered — improvement, prosperity, recession, and depression — we are at the beginning of the recession cycle. If there are Kondratiev’s cycles lasting for a period of 50 years, as well as lesser cycles, such as the Kuznets cycle, Juglar cycle and Kitchin cycle, then there must be bigger cycles as well. It is such a Cycle A, Wave A, cycle top, which we have come to now.