There are two distinct sectors of society emerging. One is buzzing with passion and new insights in the nature of our society and government. They are proactively using this knowledge to better the world (and themselves) in any way they can. Revolution is whispering in the wind. The other is passively reacting to things that are happening to them. They are becoming increasingly compliant with an overbearing, tyrannical government. Without a foundation, they go whichever way the wind blows.
History has shown us a societal situation like this before. During what are called “4th turnings” groups entrench themselves in the power structure and in support of it, and others organize to resist it. Famous Fourth Turnings of the past include: The Wars of the Roses (1459-1487), The American Revolution (1773-1794), The Civil War (1860-1865), and the Great Depression and World War II (1929-1946)
History is made up of highs and lows. During a high, government and institutions are built up while values are established and commonly held. Another generation is born and these institutions are questioned and undermined. Then, an “unraveling” era unfolds.
Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe document these patterns in their 1997 book The Fourth Turning. The book reminds us that the old adage “There is nothing new under the sun” is truly rooted in fact. The issues that we are facing today – with new faces and slightly different angles – are the same realities that our ancestors dealt with during their times of crisis.
“History is seasonal,” write Strauss and Howe, “…and winter is coming.” “Like nature’s winter, the saecular winter can come early or late. A Fourth Turning can be long and difficult, brief but severe, or (perhaps) mild. But, like winter, it cannot be averted. It must come in its turn.”
As a society we are sensing the coming winter and (hopefully) preparing accordingly, just as past generations did at their time of crisis. Government is certainly preparing for massive upheaval just in time for the arrival of the Fourth Turning. As Strauss and Howe point out, the outcome of this season of radical change and potential destruction is up to us.
The authors accurately predict in 1996 that one of the indicators of modern America’s Fourth Turning will be:
“An impasse over the federal budget reaches a stalemate. The president and Congress both refuse to back down, triggering a near-total government shutdown. The president declares emergency powers. Congress rescinds his authority. Dollar and bond prices plummet. The president threatens to stop Social Security checks. Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling. Default looms. Wall Street panics.”
All of the indicators are in front of us. The new generation has forgotten the lessons of the past. An entrenched elite is refusing to back down. The global economy is teetering on the brink of collapse. The human capacity for intuiting danger is raising red flags across the board. Resistance is growing. The cycle is repeating.
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