The “Fourth Turning”, Final Stage Of Ongoing Global Crisis?

Fourth Turning – The Shadow Of Crisis Has Not Passed is an amazing four-part article I picked up on the™ website. You can view the original post on Washington’s Blog.

Neil Howe.

Historian, economist, and demographer Neil Howe.

William Strauss

Historian, playwright, theater director, and lecturer William Strauss.

Written by an author publishing under the pseudonym of “JimQ”, this article picks up on the generational theory developed by William Strauss & Neil Howe in their book The Fourth Turning: an American Prophecy, published in 1997 (see description below).

“When you read pertinent passages from Strauss & Howe’s prophetic assessment of history from a generational perspective, eighteen years after its publication and seven years into the Crisis they forecasted with uncanny accuracy, you find yourself shaking your head and appreciating their visionary generational appraisal of antiquity.”

– JimQ

JimQ expands on this generational theory in the context of the current global crisis that started reshaping our world back on September 11, 2001, and especially after the onset of the still-ongoing global financial crisis in 2008.

In Part One of his four-part article, JimQ explains the model of generational theory developed by Strauss and Howe in The Fourth Turning.

This excerpt captures the general idea behind this concept:

“Members of a generation share an age location in history, tend to share some common beliefs and behaviors, including basic attitudes about risk taking, culture and values, civic engagement, family life, and tend to have a sense of common perceived membership in that generation. The generational attitudes, moods, leaders, and events that occur during recurring 80 year cycles drive the pathway of history.”

– JimQ

In Part Two, he provides a compelling summary of the existing evidence suggesting that the current crisis has only begun, “with debt, civic decay and global disorder propelling the world towards the next more violent phase of this crisis”.

In Part Three, he explains why he believes that the most likely clash on the horizon is between the government and the people.

“The wave of dismay, disillusionment and blinding rage that will sweep across the land will mark the next phase of this Fourth Turning.”

– JimQ

Finally, in Part Four, he expounds his proposition that “war on multiple fronts will thrust the world through the great gate of history towards an uncertain future”.

“There are dark periods of history and they recur on a regular cycle. And we are in the midst of one of those dark periods.”

– JimQ

Even though I do not necessarily agree with everything JimQ says, I recommend reading this piece as part of your reflection upon the current state of affairs in the World.

Part Two is the one that most impressed me, with its comprehensive overview of recent developments. JimQ offers incisive insights on the events that have been unfolding over the last few years, especially regarding the global debt build-up, civic decay, and global disorder, about which he states that “the one constant since the onset of this Crisis in 2008 has been a never ending onslaught of violent upheavals, wars, revolutions, coups, financial collapses, currency wars, and shifting alliances”.

I agree with JimQ that we are definitively in the midst of a developing Global Crisis, the issue of which no one can predict. However, Strauss and Howe did convey dire warnings about the possible outcomes. I suggest you substitute “nation” by “nations” in the following excerpt; Strauss & Howe’s generational theory is based on the history of the United States, but I believe it can be applied globally:

“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.”

– Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

However, this is not the only possible outcome. I believe that we are individually and collectively endowed with the free will necessary to create a far more positive scenario.

I agree with Strauss & Howe that we collectively, as a species, do have a choice between an apocalypse or a new golden age (here again, I suggest you replace nation by nations, and “America” with “the World”, as this is truly a Global Crisis):

“Thus might the next Fourth Turning end in apocalypse – or glory. The nation could be ruined, its democracy destroyed, and millions of people scattered or killed. Or America could enter a new golden age, triumphantly applying shared values to improve the human condition. The rhythms of history do not reveal the outcome of the coming Crisis; all they suggest is the timing and dimension.”

– Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

Let’s hope we collectively opt for a new golden age…

The Fourth Turning: an American Prophecy

The Fourth TurningFirst came the postwar High, then the Awakening of the ’60s and ’70s, and now the Unraveling.  This audacious and provocative book tells us what to expect just beyond the start of the next century.  Are you ready for the Fourth Turning?

Strauss and Howe will change the way you see the world–and your place in it.  In The Fourth Turning, they apply their generational theories to the cycles of history and locate America in the middle of an unraveling period, on the brink of a crisis.  How you prepare for this crisis–the Fourth Turning–is intimately connected to the mood and attitude of your particular generation.  Are you one of the can-do “GI generation,” who triumphed in the last crisis?  Do you belong to the mediating “Silent Majority,” who enjoyed the 1950s High?  Do you fall into the “awakened” Boomer category of the 1970s and 1980s, or are you a Gen-Xer struggling to adapt to our splintering world?  Whatever your stage of life, The Fourth Turning offers bold predictions about how all of us can prepare, individually and collectively, for America’s next rendezvous with destiny.

– From Paperback Edition (1997),

About Henri Thibodeau

Freelance writer and translator based in Quebec, Canada.
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