The Fourth Turning
Neil Howe is a generational theorist who has been talking about the upcoming crisis since 1997. Here is a link to a video if a show he did in 1997.
It really does sound accurate as a foreboding.
Here is his blog just this past month he lists a series of specific issues that seem to be heralding where we are going next, with this interesting bit about the gap in world view between the general public and the CFR. Some of it seems obvious, as peons will worry more about how to feed themselves and their children than will those for whom the money always flows.
4. On opinions about America’s future, a growing rift is now emerging between the experts and the public. Today’s experts tend to focus on near-term and on a fairly narrow range of conventionally defined outcomes—and they are generally more optimistic. Today’s public tends to focus on the long-term and on a fairly broad range of possible options—and the public is generally more pessimistic. On the economy, experts talk a lot about the next year or two and they typically apply an aggregate demand model that has been tested over the normal postwar recessions. Most of them are projecting a steady if not dramatic recovery. The public—and many less conventional experts—focus more on changes in household and corporate balance sheets, on structural changes in consumer behavior (toward more savings and less risk), and on the long-term erosion of institutional trust. They’re interested in longer-term outcomes, like whether I can change jobs, retire on time, or feel good about my kids’ prospects. And, with all that on their minds, they’re coming to more pessimistic conclusions about the economy’s direction.
When Pew compared the foreign-policy views of the public to the views of the 642 members of the Council of Foreign Relations, they found a similar rift. On almost every issue, the CFR members were more optimistic—and their optimism had declined less during the 2000s decade—than the public. The public, for example, is much more worried about nuclear Iran, North Korea, the rising power of China, the tension between Russia and its neighbors, and terrorist attacks on America than the CFR members. They are also more worried about how foreign policy can save their jobs and prevent illegal immigration. The list of issues that worried the experts more than the public (global warming, instability in Pakistan) was much shorter.
But in the end I am not sure I understand which way he is projecting this ball to bounce.
Thought I’d share the video though, pretty cool how accurate he was.
[/quote] I am not seeing that on my screen JAG is that showing up in the post?? The links both work for me…. Can you tell me where you get this?
That was a subtle hint to use the site search field to search for your topic in previous threads before posting a thread. I was just half joking because I’m guilty of thread inflation as well.
I’m a huge Neil Howe fan. Have you seen his Lifecourse Blog ?
Yes, one of the links is to the blog, but more specifically and the reason I bring him back to the fore, is that he is referring to the CFR in the passage I linked to, which many members on here find of specific interest.
I looked back and found reference to him but it was back quite some time. Since this part of the site is open and has many new comers, I decided it was best to assume ignorance of the subject on the part of the reader….. Perhaps I erred. Mea Culpa.
I just listened to the 4th turning in audio book form – wow – I can’t image what the book was like. Now history starts to look like a “rewind” or play in reverse.
I give the Fourth Turning – 5 out of 5 stars. It makes for a better case of cyclatory events better than the Jupiter Effect did in the 70s-80s.
Great book. JAG recommended it to me. Bought it 6 months ago, just finished it last week. Ordered 4 copies for friends.
After listening to the audio I bought the book and looking forward to doing the read on the Fourth Turning. I have several “must see”s in front of it – “The Code” by Carl Munck and “The Mysteriious Origins of Man: Rewriting Human History” (3 part series from Netflix) as I look into the possibility that the warnings echoed from ancients had any message on how to survive these ongoing disasters in human history.
It all seems so surreal.
By the People – For the People- EGP
I had read the book eight years ago and it was enough to kick me in the butt to take personal action . Thank you for the reminder . Sometimes we just feel so powerless and give up hope .
Ok, so while familiar with the general premise of the Fourth Turning by Strauss and Howe, it wasn’t until recently that I finally got a hold of a used copy of The Fourth Turning. So having finished it, I’ve been thinking of the current state of affairs in the US and putting in the framework of the book’s theory. These are some of my thoughts, particularly about chapter 11 “How America Should Prepare” (with the excerpts in quotes), and where we probably “should” be by now.
– “Prepare values and forge a consensus”… in short bringing an end to the Culture Wars and develop a larger sense of national unity. Yet now we are well into the Crisis, and it appears there’s not much sign the culture war nonsense is ebbing and little sense of unity. Maybe for a bit after 9/11 we could say otherwise (for better or worse), but over the past 5+ years the political scene has been as fractious as ever (except when it comes to bailing out the TBTF at our expense). Call this a D minus.
– “Prepare institutions… clear out the debris and find out what works, but don’t try building anything big“. Eh, not good here so far. Not only is there a serious inability to clear the debris that prevents institutional change from taking place and perform some painful yet necessary triage on government infrastructure, but things like Medicare Part D and the huge healthcare bill was also huge step in the wrong direction in terms of “not building anything big”. There are noises being made by a serious few, but so far no real progress. A failing F grade here.
– “Prepare politics… define challenges bluntly and stress duties over rights”. It seems like we’re partway there but with critical shortcomings. Some of the challenges are being discussed, but rarely in the right framework or context (example: energy problems being discussed, but proposed solutions center around getting things ‘back to normal’). And while there is some emphasis on collective duty and ‘doing our part’ (like from the Prez), it appears it has fallen flat with a majority of Americans (probably because they see it as insincere political maneuvering). Call it a D plus.
– “Prepare society… require community teamwork to solve local problems”. This is starting to see some traction I think. Both the Tea Party (the original grassroots group anyway) and Occupy Movement (same), whether one agrees with any of their particular goals or not, at least show there is some growing sense of community, cooperation, and involvement. On the national level though we are still fragmented. Give it a C or a C plus.
– “Prepare youth… treat children as the nation’s highest priority but don’t do their work for them”. I think at least this is something America as a whole has embraced, though with some of the instances of “helicopter parenting” and the like it seems maybe some parents dropped the ball on the “don’t do their work for them” bit. Give it a B?
– “Prepare elders… tell future elders they will need to be more self-sufficient, but don’t attempt deep cuts in benefits to current elders”. Unfortunately it seems like we’ve largely failed in this regard, both in telling elders what they don’t want to hear (i.e. they might not get everything they were promised) but need to, and the elders flat refusal to even engage in the necessary discussion. This is not true for everybody of course, but at least on a national level there is a failure here. I have to say failing F grade.
– “Prepare the economy… correct fundamentals, but don’t try to fine tune current performance”. I have to call this an epic fail. From the Federal Reserve to government spending to the bailouts to continued overconsumption, we are doing almost everything wrong on a national level at the worst time. Not like this is a new revelation for any of us here, but simply said our economy is now more fragile and vulnerable after our initial response, not less. On this we also get a failing F grade
– “Prepare the defense… expect the worst and prepare to mobilize, but don’t precommit to any one response”. It’s not my area of expertise, but I’d say it’s a mixed bag. On one hand we do have a very capable military, but on the other hand we have overextended ourselves in both multiple (and some would say unnecessary) foreign entanglements and very expensive, specialized military systems and projects. Maybe give it a C grade.
So…. at least in my own assessments and opinion, it looks like we are edging towards a larger chance of a darker Crisis outcome (like the Civil War) than of one where we come out of it stronger. Factoring the continuing political & culture wars, economic & institutional fragility, and the public’s lack of confidence in the leadership (I use that term very loosely), it seems that we are more likely to experience a revolution, a civil war, or a breakup of the United States than we are to see something like the Great Depression and WW2 where the country went through and came out of the Crisis largely united. In other words, to me it looks like this Crisis will fully manifest itself as an inner struggle rather than as an external one. Although it’s quite possible that we might have both if the leadership is sufficiently sociopathic and/or incompetent enough to make it happen. Obviously the die isn’t cast yet and there is still room for change, but that’s what I’m seeing as a slightly more probable outcome at this point.
I for one feel the dilemna that I know the country needs to be united to get through this, but cannot in good conscience support or stand behind just about anything our government is doing at this point. It’s possible my feelings on this matter are projecting onto my assessment, but I’m trying to step outside myself and view this with a critical eye. So I asy you, what do you guys think? Agree or disagree, and why?
(Oh, and just before anybody goes off on a rant response about authoritarian government or the abuses of past Crisis administrations or the like, in this post I am simply trying to look at the present situation purely from a standpoint of how strong and unified the society is in order to see where we’re heading, and not making a case for any particular movement or agenda)