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.

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 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. 

“America’s old civic order will seem ruined beyond repair. People will feel like a magnet has passed over society’s disk drive, blanking out the social contract, wiping out old deals, clearing the books of vast unpayable promises to which people once felt entitled.”

In this environment, Strauss and Howe see a sweeping realignment election where political power is consolidated within one party. And with this power, the winners will pursue a more potent, less incrementalist agenda. In foreign affairs, America’s instincts during the fourth turning will be away from other countries and will focus its energy inward. “America will become more isolationist than today in its unwillingness to coordinate its affairs with other countries but less isolationist in its insistence that vital national interests not be compromised.’ 

Government will shift to more spending on survival and the future (defense and public works) and significantly less on amenities and past promises for elder care, welfare, and the like. Not surprisingly, criminal justice will be swift and rough. Vagrants will be rounded up, the mentally ill recommitted, criminal appeals shortened, and executions hastened. 

There will be no patience for the likes of Black Lives Matter and the anarchist groups seen disrupting Berkeley and the colleges. Traditional cultural norms will reassert themselves, and the exotic lifestyles that have flourished in the last 20 years will be frowned on.

Strauss and Howe say that the probability of war is high in a fourth turning. This can be a class war, sectional war, a global war against anarchists and terrorists, or a war between superpowers. If a war breaks out, it will not likely be a patty-cake war as the U.S. has fought in the Middle East and Afghanistan with politically correct rules of engagement. It would be a total war fought until the losing side is rendered nil. Think of WWII.

Like other fourth turning in American history, this one will be a time of either glory or ruin. The outcome is not guaranteed to be good. Using history as a guide, Strauss and Howe say the coming crisis will reshape the basic social and economic environment that America now takes for granted. It will mean the death of an old social order and a birth of a new one.

And for sure, America does need a realignment. From the 60s to the present, the dominant ruling class has poisoned the foundation of the republic with their secularism, liberalism, and multiculturalism. Normal politics will not correct this; the rot is too deep. Only a massive upheaval will bring the country back on course — provided the right people are in power, which is to say, not the Democratic Party. 

Knowing what Strauss and Howe outline is to know much of what Steve Bannon believes. This is yet one more reason why it is important for him to remain in the White House and have President Trump’s ear.  

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.

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 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. 

“America’s old civic order will seem ruined beyond repair. People will feel like a magnet has passed over society’s disk drive, blanking out the social contract, wiping out old deals, clearing the books of vast unpayable promises to which people once felt entitled.”

In this environment, Strauss and Howe see a sweeping realignment election where political power is consolidated within one party. And with this power, the winners will pursue a more potent, less incrementalist agenda. In foreign affairs, America’s instincts during the fourth turning will be away from other countries and will focus its energy inward. “America will become more isolationist than today in its unwillingness to coordinate its affairs with other countries but less isolationist in its insistence that vital national interests not be compromised.’ 

Government will shift to more spending on survival and the future (defense and public works) and significantly less on amenities and past promises for elder care, welfare, and the like. Not surprisingly, criminal justice will be swift and rough. Vagrants will be rounded up, the mentally ill recommitted, criminal appeals shortened, and executions hastened. 

There will be no patience for the likes of Black Lives Matter and the anarchist groups seen disrupting Berkeley and the colleges. Traditional cultural norms will reassert themselves, and the exotic lifestyles that have flourished in the last 20 years will be frowned on.

Strauss and Howe say that the probability of war is high in a fourth turning. This can be a class war, sectional war, a global war against anarchists and terrorists, or a war between superpowers. If a war breaks out, it will not likely be a patty-cake war as the U.S. has fought in the Middle East and Afghanistan with politically correct rules of engagement. It would be a total war fought until the losing side is rendered nil. Think of WWII.

Like other fourth turning in American history, this one will be a time of either glory or ruin. The outcome is not guaranteed to be good. Using history as a guide, Strauss and Howe say the coming crisis will reshape the basic social and economic environment that America now takes for granted. It will mean the death of an old social order and a birth of a new one.

And for sure, America does need a realignment. From the 60s to the present, the dominant ruling class has poisoned the foundation of the republic with their secularism, liberalism, and multiculturalism. Normal politics will not correct this; the rot is too deep. Only a massive upheaval will bring the country back on course — provided the right people are in power, which is to say, not the Democratic Party. 

Knowing what Strauss and Howe outline is to know much of what Steve Bannon believes. This is yet one more reason why it is important for him to remain in the White House and have President Trump’s ear.  



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