The Fourth Turning, Part ll

This is going to be an effortpoast for sure. I don’t like to write much about this sort of thing. Others, nearly everyone on my blogroll, does a better job. Peter at Bayou Renaissance had a great post about this last week. Michael Yon has a bunch of material as well. The dots are connecting. Fertilizer is in short supply, and what’s there is expensive. Farmers are already signalling the harvests will be smaller. Diesel – the base input in everything first world is $6/Gal and climbing. Without it food doesn’t get planted, harvested, processed, or brought to market. Everthing travels on it – Trucks, Busses, Trains, Ships, Planes. Yes Planes. Jet fuel is about the same stuff, as is heating oil. Every dot you see is mearly a symptom of a fourth turning. You need to build a pantry system. You need to get involved in your community. You need to buy guns and ammo while you still can. – Himself.

I bulldozed through my review of the second half of the fourth turning. Remember I’ve already read this once and am merely going back over to review it, now we have the benefit of doing this in hindsight because this book was written in 1996.

He starts off with a couple plausible scenarios of how the fourth turning, the crisis turning, will start. my thoughts in Bold.

They were:

Economic distress, with public debt in default… Mounting poverty and unemployment, trade wars, collapsing financial markets, and hyperinflation or deflation – check got that one

Social distress, with violence fueled by class race nativism or religion and abetted by armed gangs, underground militias… Check got that one too

Cultural distress, with the media plunging into a dizzying decay, and a decent see backlash in favor of state censorship… Yeah we got that one. The cultures appetite for degeneracy knows no bounds.

Technological distress, with crypto anarchy, high-tech oligarchy, and biogenetic chaos.. Yeah we got some of that.

Ecological distress, with atmospheric damage energy or water shortages and new diseases. Check got that one too.

Political distress, with institutional collapse, open tax revolts, one-party hegemony… Authoritarianism, and altered national borders. Check.

Military distress with war against terrorists or foreign regimes equipped with weapons of mass destruction. Check but not like that. I call it endless wars. I think pulling the bail chain in Afghanistan sorta hits that point.

None of that happened around that time, actually. Or rather none of it launched the turning which, he pegged sometime around the year 2005 perhaps a few years before or after. We now know that what lit this off was the 2008 financial crisis. Although it is funny that we did get our pandemic and complete mismanagement of it, but that’s as were entering the peak crisis phase believe it or not. We’ve had all the other ones but they fumbled around them.

He goes on to explain how fourth turnings go down. One of the salient paragraphs is this:

Soon after the catalyst a national election will produce sweeping political realignment as one faction or coalition capitalizes on public demand for decisive action. Republicans, Democrats, or perhaps a new party will decisively win the long partisan tug-of-war ending an era of split government that is lasted 4 decades of the awakening and unraveling. The winners will now have the power to pursue the more potent less incrementalist agenda about which they had long dreamed and against which their adversaries had darkly warned. This new regime will enthrone itself for the duration of the crisis. Regardless of its ideology that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Where leaders had once been inclined to alleviate societal pressures, They will now aggravate them to command the nation’s attention. The regeneracy will be solidly underway.

The Fourth Turning

Holy crap, did he call it. And it’s not one party, it’s what we would call the uniparty. They are all in it together. Who’da thunk it? That said, the democrats stole an election and now “have the power to pursue the more potent less incrementalist agenda about which they had long dreamed and against which their adversaries had darkly warned”. The demand for public action is building to a boil now. So he got that sort of backwards. But we’ll see.

A little further on he goes into what will trigger the crisis point in the fourth turning, and lists out items that some can play little or no role at all but could include:

  • “Beset by fiscal crisis the state lays claim to his residence federal tax monies. Declaring this inactive secession the president obtains a federal injunction….”
  • A global terrorist group blows up an aircraft and announces it possesses portable nuclear weapons. The United States and its allies launch a preemptive strike…”
  • An impasse over the federal budget reaches a stalemate. The president and Congress both refused to back down triggering a near-total government shutdown…”
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the spread of a new communicable virus. The disease reaches densely populated areas killing some…”
  • “Growing anarchy throughout the Soviet former republics prompts pressure to conduct training exercises around its borders. Lithuania reps in the Civil War. Negotiations break down…”

So yes we got us a cornucopia of misery leading up to something right now that we don’t know what.

He then goes into each one of the generations in play and their archetypes.

Now before we get started on this, there are some things that he didn’t foresee, which looking throughout history, are nonsensical. First is; think of the worst of the gerentocracy running us; your Nancy Pelosis, your Mitch McConnells, your Bernie Sanders, and of course Biden himself. These are actually not Boomers but late Silents. I don’t think his model took into account the greedy, grabbling, power-hungry generation that is the end Silents. In his model they would’ve headed into the sunset quite some time ago. Because his assumption was the Boomers would be ambling off into the sunset by this time. Neither are doing that really. They are clinging to power.

He also calls the generation after the Boomers the “13ers”. This generation is actually known as Gen-X, and I’m pretty sure they were known as such when he wrote the book, or just being called that. He tags them as beginning in 1960, which used to be the commonly understood start of Gen-X as opoosed to 1964. In this, I think he’s right.

So then he lists out the generations, their archetypes, and how these archetypes generally behave in a fourth turning.

The first being “Boomers entering elder hood, Gray Champions

I got a problem with the gray champion moniker. I can’t see it with this generation unless it possibly was Trump. He gets a lot right about this generation, but I’m not sure they’re going where he thinks they’re going to go. He also calls these the “prophet” archetype and lists out a few names of the prophet archetype from previous fourth turnings.

“The bulk of today’s gerontologists and demographers do not yet grasp what’s coming. Ken Dychtwalds “age wave”, and Cheryl Russells “master trend” create the impression that the Boomers will be much like today’s busy senior citizens except better educated, more selfish, and (an easy prediction) much more numerous. This kind of forecast leads to the conclusion that early next century, younger generations will be overwhelmed by extravagantly doctored, expansively lobbying, age denying old people. To support the consumptive Sharper Image lifestyle through old age, Boomers would have to impose confiscatory taxes on younger people. This would be an enormous deadweight if it ever happens. It won’t.”

The Fourth Turning

It didn’t. Except for the selfish part. They just simply borrowed more money, that’s all. We haven’t gotten to the fat taxation part and will likely never get there. In that he’s right, because it’s all going to collapse long before that happens.

“Boomer gerontologist Harry Moody sees a 21st-century shift to a “contemplative old age” that eliminates today’s focus on activity and instead “transcends doing in favor of being.” Elders will be defined as spiritually gifted over the juniors who ‘are too busy to cultivate the quietness and the inwardness from which mystical experiences possible.’ Pain and bodily decline will be accepted, even honored, as the necessary burning off of worldly dross for the purpose of acquiring higher insights. In sharp contrast to the youth emulating “uninhibited octogenarians” of Gail, she’s silent generation, these new earth sages will want to be authentically old people, critical links in human civilization, without whose guidance the young might sink in the Philistinism- but with whom the young can craft what gerontologist David Goodman terms “the new myths on which we reculturation can be based”

The Fourth Turning

Yeah. Ha ha that’s a good one. I don’t see it.

“Following the great devaluation, Boomers will find new ethical purpose in low consumption, And with the American crisis, they will have no other choice. If the crisis is not catalyzed before, it will now.”

The Fourth Turning

That I get. They will probably have no choice.

“Old boomers will construct a new social ethic of decline and death, much like they did in youth with sex and procreation. Where useful ethos hinged on self-indulgence, their elder ethos will hinge on self-denial. As they experience our own bodies coping naturally with decline and death, they will expect government to do the same. Old age will be seen as a time of transition and preparation for dying.”

The Fourth Turning

I don’t see this in the older, already retired, Boomers. I see them pitching a fit when the gravy train crashes in the yard. They’ve never exhibited frugality in any way, now they are going to be your grandma that saves her bacon grease and washes her foil?

“Elder contempt for this world will strike younger people is dangerous. Yet regardless what the youth think of these old messengers, they will respect the message and march to their banner”

The Fourth Turning

Okay. This is going to be a late era Boomer. One that is in there very early 60s right now. I know a lot of these guys that have yet to retire, don’t really have a pot to piss in, and have no idea how they’re going to retire, if at all. A lot of them were well on their way but in the last decade or so got hammered by being laid off in their 50s and never recovered. The gray champion type hero of this generation isn’t going to be your 70s fools like Chuck Schumer. It’ll be an early 60s dude like Phil from BustedKnuckles. I know a lot of these guys, and have worked with them my whole life.

Later on he will qualify this, and not in a good way. I’ll give you a hint. He ends the section on Boomers with this quote:

“As the crisis resolves, elder boomers will not have the last word, but the deep word. If they triumph, they will collectively deserve the eulogy Winston Churchill offered to Franklin Roosevelt: ‘to die an enviable death’. If they fail, their misdeeds will cast a dark shadow over the entire 21st century, perhaps beyond. Whatever the outcome, posterity will remember the Boomers great champion persona long after the hippie and yuppie images have been forgotten to all but historians”

The Fourth Turning

Second generation in play is the Millenials entering mid-life: Doom Players.

He also calls this generation ‘Nomads’.

“In the economy, Gen X will fare significantly worse than Boomers did at a like age back in the mid-1980s. They will fan out across an unusually wide range of money and career outcomes. A few will be wildly successful, a larger number will be destitute, while most will be losing ground but doing tolerably. The crisis era’s image of a middle-aged worker will be a modest wage job hopper who retains the flexibility to change life directions and a snap. The prototype midlife success story will be the entrepreneur that excels at cunning, flexibility, and high-tech ingenuity. The prototype failure will be the ruined gambler, broke but still trying… As they confront their money problems amid a mood of deepening crisis, Gen X will take pride in their ability to have a life and wall off their families from financial woes. Their divorce rate will be well below that of the midlife Silent and Boomers. They will clampdown on children. In exchange for financial help, many will invite their better off parents to live with them.”

The Fourth Turning

I’m not too sure about that last sentence, but he has a point.

The “We are not worthy” Gen X streak of weak collective esteem will define and enhance their new civic role. Where Boomers unraveling era narcissism interfered with America’s ability to exact even minor sacrifice for the public good, the Gen X ironic self-deprecation will render their claims unusually selfless. ‘We may not get what we want. We may not get what we need,’ chanted the young adults in true colors ‘just so we don’t get what we deserve’ they will vote against their own short-term interests if persuaded that the community’s long-term survival requires it… Where Boomers had huge arguments over gesture and symbolism, Gen X voters disregard motive and ideology, and simply ask the public programs get results that are worth the money”

The Fourth Turning

I’d be happy with that. But I’m not sure I see it. But it is something that’s been on my mind quite a bit especially when it comes to welfare programs and policing.

“Middle-aged Gen X will be the only ones capable of deflecting the more dangerous Boomer tendencies. The Boomers will not check themselves, nor will millennials, so the task will fall to Gen-X to force the Boomer priest warriors give it a rest when the fervor gets too deep, to get real when the sacrifices outweigh future reward. A Gen-X may indeed be the intrepid statesman, general, presidential advisor who prevents some righteous old Aquarian from loosing the fateful lightning and turning out the world’s lights.”

The Fourth Turning

That’s pretty much it. Gen-X has been the generation that gets things done and will have to get things done this time as well. We see this in some of our Gen-X governors.

“As the crisis resolves, the society will be fully in Gen-X hands. If all ends well, their security minded leadership will usher the society away from urgent crusades and into the next high. If not, Gen-X will be left with no choice but to yank younger generations by the collar, appraise what’s left of their society, and start anew”

The Fourth Turning

Pretty much we’ll have to clean up the mess one way or another is what he is saying.

Millenials entering young adulthood:– Power Rangers

He gets a lot about the Millennials wrong.

“In the next crisis, Millennial’s will prove false the supposition, born of the recent awakening and unraveling errors, that youth is ever the age for rebellion, alienation, or cynicism. As they break into their 20s millennial’s will already be accustomed to meeting and beating adult expectations. Basking in praise, they will revive the ideal of the common man, whose virtue is defined less by self then from a collegial center of gravity. Rather than argue with elders, millennial’s will seek out their advice about the ought to dos from the old Boomers and the want to dos from Gen-X.”

The Fourth Turning

Yeah. Ha ha. They’re not known for that.

Maybe they will be. As of now earliest of these guys are in their late 20s. They have a reputation for being self-centered, preachy, and have an expectation of a lifestyle that their skill set does not support. This is the generation of chronic malcontents. I’ll qualify that a bit later though.

“Every youth domain will become more mannerly, civic spirited, and emotionally placid. In college, millennial’s lead a renaissance in student decorum in appearance, making profanity is out of date as the backward cap. On urban streets, young adults will begin sensing that their best path to prosperity is to follow their peers, not their families… In social movements, they will {initially} seem pacifist, hard to ruffle, their civic power as yet untapped. The media will miss no opportunity to celebrate the good deeds they do.”

The Fourth Turning

Yeah. Ha ha (wipes laugh tear). NOT. That is the exact opposite of how they have behaved. They’re known for screeching in nonsensical outbursts and violence, as well as being utterly intolerant of anybody’s opinion but their own, which they arrived at through groupthink.

Here’s where he takes a turn to reality:

“This youthful hunger for social discipline and centralized authority could lead millennial youth brigades to lend mass to dangerous demagogues. The risk of class warfare will be especially grave if the 20% of millennial’s who are poor as children (50% in inner cities) come of age seeing their peer bonded paths to generational progress blocked by elder inertia. Unraveling era adults who are today chilled by school uniforms will be truly frightened by the millennial’s crisis era collectivism. As Sinclair Lewis warned of the GIs in the 1930s, older Americans will look abroad at rigidly ordered societies and wonder whether among youth with so much power and so little doubt it can’t happen here.”

The Fourth Turning

Whoa… Called that one he did. Most of us stare gape-jawed at the millennial’s love of socialism

“This generation of young heroes will follow wherever the gray champion leads, whether to triumph or disaster”

The Fourth Turning

Well. They’re most certainly going to follow but whether it’s going to be any kind a gray champion that’s up to any good is not likely.

Now, let me unload a caveat. Nearly every Millennial I know personally, my kids and their friends, our hard-working, focused, frugal, and smart. They’ve mostly done really well for themselves for their stage in life, and are anchored whole lot better morally than the previous two generations. Maybe it’s just my family, but I also see it in my neighborhood. I see a lot of Millennial couples with two, three, five children and the wife working not at all or part time. They do what they must to raise their kids. At least from what I see. Then again, I live in a nice area and don’t hang around the screechy weirdos.

New silent entering childhood: Sweet Innocence.

It’s got a lot of stuff wrong here that I can’t confirm or deny. All I can say is that these would be my grandkids who are being brought up well. And unfortunately their generation is going to suffer a bit and have to live with the outcomes of what other three generations did, if they screw things up.

In the next parts they go over what each generation’s script should be. What’s the best way for them to get through the crisis in a positive fashion. There’s only two quotes here there really good. And these two quotes are the qualifiers that lend accuracy to what is going on today:

“Boomers must also display a forbearance others have never associated with them. By nature, they will always tend toward self-indulgence in their personal lives – but if they allow this to overflow into public life and demand generous public benefits, they will bankrupt their children financially, themselves morally. Unlike the Silent, sneaking through unnoticed will not be an option. Worse, if Boomers become pointlessly argumentative and let their values back them into a corner, their current talkshow hyperbole about annihilating enemies could translate into orders to use real doomsday machines”

The Fourth Turning

Well they haven’t displayed much forbearance so far. And they pretty much bankrupted their children and their children’s children. So we have that going for us all, which is nice.

This is the money quote:

“As they go one-on-one with history, Gen-X should remember that history is counting on them to do whatever hard jobs may be necessary. If Gen-X play the script weakly, old Boomers could wreak a horrible apocalypse, and Gen-X demagogues could impose a mindnumbing authoritarianism – or both. If Gen-X play their script cleverly but safely, however, the new Golden age will be at their hard-won reward. As they age, Gen-X should remember Hemingway’s words: “Old men do not grow wise. They grow careful”

The Fourth Turning

Wow. Right.on.the.money and where were at.

He doesn’t really go into any scenarios of how things will turn out. He did that in the earlier parts of the book. And we all know that after last three crisis’, at least, were followed by periods of peace and prosperity.

That said, in my earlier post I said I’d found where Neil Howe had an interview and put forth four possible end results of the fourth turning.

They were:

  1. This Fourth Turning could mark the end of man. It could be an omnicidal Armageddon, destroying everything, leaving nothing. If mankind ever extinguishes itself, this will probably happen when its dominant civilization triggers a Fourth Turning that ends horribly. For this Fourth Turning to put an end to all this would require an extremely unlikely blend of social disaster, human malevolence, technological perfection, and bad luck.
  2. The Fourth Turning could mark the end of modernity. The Western saecular rhythm – which began in the mid-fifteenth century with the Renaissance – could come to an abrupt terminus. The seventh modern saeculum would be the last. This too could come from total war, terrible but not final. There could be a complete collapse of science, culture, politics, and society. Such a dire result would probably happen only when a dominant nation (like today’s America) lets a Fourth Turning ekpyrosis engulf the planet. But this outcome is well within the reach of foreseeable technology and malevolence.
  3. The Fourth Turning could spare modernity but mark the end of our nation. It could close the book on the political constitution, popular culture, and moral standing that the word America has come to signify. The nation has endured for three saecula; Rome lasted twelve, the Soviet Union only one. Fourth Turnings are critical thresholds for national survival. Each of the last three American Crises produced moments of extreme danger: In the Revolution, the very birth of the republic hung by a thread in more than one battle. In the Civil War, the union barely survived a four-year slaughter that in its own time was regarded as the most lethal war in history. In World War II, the nation destroyed an enemy of democracy that for a time was winning; had the enemy won, America might have itself been destroyed. In all likelihood, the next Crisis will present the nation with a threat and a consequence on a similar scale.
  4. Or the Fourth Turning could simply mark the end of the Millennial Saeculum. Mankind, modernity, and America would all persevere. Afterward, there would be a new mood, a new High, and a new saeculum. America would be reborn. But, reborn, it would not be the same.

I remain hopeful #1 won’t happen. But I also realize that #4 probably won’t either. #3 is about the best we can hope for, I’m afraid.

If the Boomers/GenX/Millennials follow the scripts he sees possible, #4 could be a thing. But back when they wrote this, we had a third, if that, of the national debt we have now and I don’t think anyone in their right mind back in 1996 could’ve conceived the depravity of our ruling class, with late era silents running things around a dementia addled president.

Who could’ve conceived of a tech and financial oligarchy spanning the world, in cahoots, up to no good. We have an economy that detonated, the Fed having a tiger by the tail, not smart enough to understand that a tiger can bend 180 derees and decapitate them. We have a war in Ukraine that should’ve been simple to avoid, yet we have leaders here with a boner to get in the game.

That won’t end well.

Later on in the book, he gives suggestions that are eerily similar to what those actively preparing now for misery suggest – Build networks and communities. Be frugal. That’s how you get through this. Indeed. Look at my note a the start.

It’s an interesting, yet chewy, read. And so far, It’s been eerily accurate, at least then it comes down to how each turning happens, and how they end up.

Pray we’re lucky this time