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Forum Post: The Fourth Turning (William Strauss and Neil Howe)

Posted 1 year ago on July 24, 2012, 1:06 p.m. EST by NLake72 (510)
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This is really interesting stuff. It's well worth spending a few minutes listening to these authors' perspective. The thumbnail overview is that history more or less repeats itself, and that it happens in cycles of roughly 80 years (a “natural” century-- the natural lifetime of a person.) Every 20 years, a new generation of children are born who have their own perspectives on world events, and each generation has certain behavior patterns... Very thought provoking. In case anyone here has any doubts, it seems we've entered The Fourth Turning as of the 2008 financial crisis, and we've got another 15 years of hard times ahead... All things being equal, of course. The Fourth Turning sounds like some horrible “end of civilization” scenario, and it's always possible... However, from these crises comes a new beginning, for better or worse... How we react to these times is up to us, and will define the content of our nation's character.

Overview of Strauss and Howe's ideas

Part 1 (14 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6B-ZnZgd6E&feature=relmfu

Part 2 (12 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ljM2Cvxrsk&feature=relmfu



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[-] 1 points by ZenDog (13432) from South Burlington, VT 1 year ago

It is an interesting concept, perhaps not without merit.

His point seems to be that the four different archetypal generations each respond differently to circumstance, and he points to WWI and WWII, and the way in which the generation of FDR reshaped the world with institutions and thus provided solutions that presumably could have been and were not found post WWI -

it is interesting and seductive, not sure I buy it in its entirety.

His prediction that a large crisis is looming is interesting. Economic meltdown threatens the whole world, Global Warming sits waiting in the parking lot, our own bread basket sits withered under the glare of rising global mean temps . . .

The prediction of crisis by 2020 - 2025 is no big stretch nor great feat, I think.

He seems entirely too optimistic, to my mind.

[-] 1 points by NLake72 (510) 1 year ago

I agree that this kind of thinking is... seductive, and I don't buy it 100% either, but it seems to have some merit.

I also agree that Howe seems extremely optimistic, certainly he tries to look at the bright side of things... And, this also put me off at first, but I think that's something we all are going to need if we are going to have the courage to face the next few years-- whatever specific hardships they may bring.

[-] 1 points by ZenDog (13432) from South Burlington, VT 1 year ago

What? Optimism?

I would much prefer a sharp eyed pragmatism tempered with an unwavering commitment to principles of truth and justice . . .

He has provided the conservative extremist an opportunity to be forewarned of the changes to come, should the march of history prove as reliable as he suggests. This alone should give anyone reason to pause . . .

[-] 1 points by NLake72 (510) 1 year ago

Yeah, Howe makes no promises how it'll all turn out. He says pretty clearly that leadership matters... America might not survive this crisis, nor was it a sure thing about any of the previous crises our nation has faced. He uses the 1930's analogy: We can choose a Hitler figure, or we can choose an FDR type of figure to lead us out of hard times.

The Fourth Turning is a very grim crossroads, and there's no predicting how it'll all turn out, because nobody knows what the next new age will be about. That's the rub... What we stand up for, what we care most deeply about, the content of our nation's character... This is what will be tested.

Ok Zen, you're right... we're probably screwed. <sigh> In fact, I'm almost sure you're right. Either way, it's not really up to you or me, it's up to you and me to read and think and try to educate others, and try to find ways to keep it all together in a manner our forefathers would approve of.

[-] 1 points by ZenDog (13432) from South Burlington, VT 1 year ago

I'm not saying we are screwed, exactly. I mean, I don't know, we might be.

I am saying that I believe there are many ways in which what we face now is much more challenging than what the people of FDR's time faced.

I am also saying that his optimism is I think a bit misleading, a bit disarming.

The solutions to what we face are sufficiently far enough out of my own reach that the end itself seems to retreat somewhat in terms of importance. What matters is that I stand up, and do my part. The outcome is out of my hands.

[-] 1 points by NLake72 (510) 1 year ago

Well, I think you're pretty much right on the mark, I assume you've read some of this guy's books. These are extremely challenging times we are living in, and yes, I'd say we're in way worse shape the the 1930's-- and it can get a whole lot more... dramatic... in a short amount of time (The Fourth Turning pretty much insists that it will be so.)

But, like you say, you're willing to do your part. That's a sign that teamwork is in your blood, which is the order of the day. Coming together, finding compromise, getting educated and sharing ideas with others... The 1% HATE these things, and it's important that they do: This is a cultural shift, and we'll see more of it in the future... The "me" generation is passing from the light, and a new way of thinking is starting to grow at the grassroots level. This is a positive sign that if the people come together, and agree to work together, that the 1% don't stand a chance. It may not be pretty, but maybe we can keep our instincts and values intact... What we do and think today matters tomorrow. Apparently, it will matter a great deal.