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Alexandre Deulofeu, biography

Alexandre Deulofeu

Biography taken from the English Wikipedia.

Alexandre Deulofeu. Alexandre Deulofeu i Torres (L’Armentera, 1903 — Figueres, 1978) was a Catalan politician and philosopher of history, he wrote about what he called «Mathematics of History», a cyclical theory on the evolution of civilizations.

Alexandre Deulofeu was born at L’Armentera, province of Girona, Catalonia (Spain), on 20th September 1903, where his father was a pharmacist. When he was three years of age, the family moved to Sant Pere Pescador, and nine years later to Figueres. He studied high school in Institut Ramon Muntaner at Barcelona, and he studied pharmacy and chemistry at Madrid, and finished chemistry at Barcelona. Back in Figueres he won a chair in a competitive examination and started teaching in the institute of Figueres, at the same time carrying out a period of strong political activity, first as a leader of the Republican Nationalist Youth in Empordà, and then as a town councillor with ERC (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya). During the Civil War he was a chance mayor at Figueres, where he avoided fights, looting and pursuits. He was mobilized to the front as a military health officer. On 5th February 1939 he went into exile when the republicans withdrew. During exile he carried out several trades, he was a teacher in different matters, he played the violin and the saxophone in various music groups both for fun and classical, he was an experimental farmer, creating plantations without soil with liquid solutions he invented, a worker in a factory, bricklayer, writer, poet, etc. He became friends with Francesc Pujols and Salvador Dalí. He came back from exile on 22nd January 1947, dedicated himself to pharmacy, carried out his researches, and went on writing. He died at Figueres on 27th December 1978, without finishing the extended version of his main work, «Mathematics of History».

He declared that civilizations and empires go through cycles which correspond to the natural cycles of living beings. Each civilization may fulfil a minimum of three 1700 years cycles each. Included within civilizations, empires have a medium length of 550 years. He also declared that, by knowing the nature of cycles, wars may be avoided, being unnecessary, causing the processes to be peaceful instead of violent. He also affirmed that mankind, knowing the cycles, will be able to modify them, and that it must strive towards an organization as a Universal Confederation of free peoples.

The wording of the mathematic law which, in his opinion, determines the evolution of the peoples, can be epitomized under the following items (Chapter III of «Mathematics of History» in Catalan, 1967 edition):

  1. All the peoples go through periods of great demographic division, alternating with periods of great unification or imperialistic periods.
  2. The periods of great division last six centuries and a half. The periods of great unification last ten centuries and a half. Therefore the evolutionary cycle comprises seventeen centuries.
  3. During this evolutionary process the peoples go through perfectly defined phases, and at the end of the cycle they are in the same position than at the beginning.
  4. The evolutionary cycle comprises all the types of human activity, so, besides considering a political cycle, we must also consider a social, arts, philosophical, scientific cycle…
  5. All peoples follow the same evolution, but this gets ahead or lags behind depending on the geographic situation of each country.
  6. Not all the peoples show the same creative force. In each cycle there is an area of maximum creative intensity, and this area moves from one cycle to the next following the steps of the overall process. In Europe this goes in the Mediterranean from the East to West, and then from the Iberian Peninsula to Gaul, it follows to the British Isles, then through the Germanic peoples and finally arrives to the Northern and Slavonic peoples.
  7. The imperialist nuclei which give rise to periods of great political unification follow perfect biological processes, identical to each other, which last for five to six centuries.
  8. The transformation of the socio-political regimes does not take place following a constant upward or downward trend, but by means of forward and backward steps, each being alternatively more intense than the others, which results in a broken line, the result of which is an advancement in a given direction. It is what is called «Law of two steps forward and one backwards».

His thought is related to the ideas of Oswald Spengler and Arnold J. Toynbee, who also stated theories on the cyclical character of civilizations, but without reaching the more exact, mathematical measure expounded by Deulofeu.

During his exile, and also later, Deulofeu visited several museums, temples and monuments in different countries where, among other things, he thought he had found the origin of Romanesque art during the 9th century, in an area between Empordà and Roussillon, which was what he called the second cycle of western European civilization, after the first cycle.