In its ongoing effort to counter Steve Bannon’s influence in the White House, the New York Times recently ran a piece essentially ridiculing Bannon’s for his admiration of The Fourth Turning (1997) by William Strauss and Neil Howe.
As is the Times‘ MO, instead of addressing the substance articulated in The Fourth Turning, it dismisses the authors as ‘amateur historians’ and writes that their thesis is provocative and disputed.
Well, yes, The Fourth Turning theory of history is provocative. And it certainly is disputed by those who are presently warmly ensconced in today’s establishment as well as their paid mouthpieces, for reasons that will soon become evident. But disapproval from the status quo doesn’t mean Strauss and Howe are wrong. Quite the contrary. As for me, I find their arguments and analysis very compelling.
For those not familiar with the Fourth Turning, it takes a cyclical view of history. This is not based on the movement of the planets and stars but human nature and how people view things differently based on what generation they are in.
The Fourth Turning: An... Best Price: $5.06 Buy New $11.75 (as of 10:55 EST - Details) In a nutshell, the argument of Strauss and Howe is that as history moves in eighty to a one hundred year cycles. Within this saeculum cycle, there are four distinct turnings. The authors define a turning as “an era with a characteristic social mood, a new twist on how people feel about themselves and their nation. It results from the aging of the generational constellations. A society enters a turning every twenty years or so, when all living generations begin to enter their next phase of life.”
In sequential order, the distinct turnings within a cycle are 1) a high, 2) an awakening, 3) an unraveling, and 4) a crisis.
Strauss and Howe give a comprehensive review of how this cycle has consistently moved through Anglo-American history starting in the late medieval period up until the present time. Speaking of the present, Strauss and Howe say, “The saecular rhythm foretells another American crisis in the first quarter of the twenty-first century.”
This crisis, which would be the fourth turning of the cycle which began with the end of WWII, is one more reason established elite want to belittle Bannon and his belief. That’s because it threatens them personally, for a crisis is “a decisive era of secular upheaval when the values of the regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one.” In other words, the current elite will get replaced by a new elite.
Also, the fingerprints of the reigning establishment are all over the current unstable system the country and indeed the world finds itself in.
Here is some of what Strauss and Howe predict might be in our near future as the U.S. endures a fourth turning with a climax coming around the year 2022.
The core elements of the crisis — massive debt, civic decay, global disorder — will matter more than specific details. Events in a crisis will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric. Problems that were swept under the rug in previous years will take on profound meaning in a time of crisis.
The old age for the Baby Boom generation will loom large, exposing the thinness in their private savings and the unsustainability of government promises to them. As more elders and others become dependent on the government for the basic necessities of life, the government will less able to support them. At the same time, the younger generations will realize that not only will they not get back a pittance, if anything, of what they are contributing to Social Security and Medicare but also that they will be expected to carry a heavier tax burden to support their elders. Trust and faith in government will further weaken from its already low state.