The Russian evolutionary anthropologist Peter Turchin coined the term “elite overproduction” to describe the condition of a society that is producing too many potential elite members. These potential elites jostle for positions that are declining in number relative to the increase in elite members. This game of musical chairs creates conflict as these elites engage in a struggle for power within society.
His choice of terms is a bit misleading, as his description of elite overproduction in America is better understood as an overproduction of people who see themselves as potential elites, despite being mediocrities. He points to the glut of lawyers as an example of the excess of people who wildly overestimate their ability. The number of people toting around an MBA is another example of this phenomenon.
The primary appeal of Turchin’s theory is flattery. It is human nature to resent the people who rule over you. A theory of history that says the problem with the world is there are too many people like that know-it-all rumpswab at the office is going to strike most people as plausible. All of us imagine ourselves as the most rational person in the room, so elite overproduction turns a conceit into scientific theory.,,,