Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Fourth Turning

The Fourth Turning (The History of Americas Future), next to the Bible, had been one of the most influential books that I have ever read. In this book by Neil Howe, and (the late) William Strauss the authors look at The United States in a Cultural, Historical, and Political perspective. Through this analysis, the authors identify cycles in U.S. History. For instance:

* The First Turning is a High —an upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism, when a new civic order implants and the old values regime decays. Old Prophets disappear, Nomads enter elderhood, Heroes enter midlife, Artists enter young adulthood—and a new generation of Prophets is born. (1)
This is best viewed as the WWII generation, and the subsequent Baby-boomers who were their children.

* The Second Turning is an Awakening —a passionate era of spiritual upheaval, when the civic order comes under attack from a new values regime. Old Nomads disappear, Heroes enter elderhood, Artists enter midlife, Prophets enter young adulthood—and a new generation of child Nomads is born. (2)
This is best viewed as the 1960's Revoulutionary period from Women's Liberation Movements, Black Panthers, Sexual Revolution, to Woodstock.

* The Third Turning is an Unraveling —a downcast era of strengthening individualism and weakening institutions, when the old civic order decays and the new values regime implants. Old Heroes disappear, Artists enter elderhood, Prophets enter midlife, Nomads enter young adulthood—and a new generation of child Heroes is born. (3)
This is best viewed at the period of 1980s to 1990s where terms like latch key were used for the first time, heavy metal, and the Nation at Risk Report.

* The Fourth Turning is a Crisis —a decisive era of secular upheaval, when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one. Old Artists disappear, Prophets enter elderhood, Nomads enter midlife, Heroes enter young adulthood—and a new generation of child Artists is born. (4)
The 911 attacks marked the gateway to his period. Deficit spending, unraveling of financial institutions, and civil, political, or international unrest lead to the CRISIS.

There is no doubt, we have entered the Fourth Turning. The book has accurately predicted the future. For instance, the Neo-Conservative Revolution which led to our invasion of Iraq was suggested, the financial fallout of excess (credit bubble), and the pendulum swing to a candidate who more closely resembles a socialist now appears to be a matter of coming true in this next election. Still closer attention is needed in the area of generational archetypes which play a significant role in the formation and handling of crises.

This is a lot to digest, so I will simply recommend the Fourth Turning by Howe and Staruss as a must read!!!

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