“History offers even more sobering warnings: Armed confrontation usually occurs around the climax of Crisis. If there is confrontation, it is likely to lead to war. This could be any kind of war – class war, sectional war, war against global anarchists or terrorists, or superpower war. If there is war, it is likely to culminate in total war, fought until the losing side has been rendered nil – its will broken, territory taken, and leaders captured.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe -1997
As we enter the final stretch of this vitriolic, deplorable, venomous, propaganda saturated, deceitful, rigged presidential election spectacle, it becomes painfully obvious this Fourth Turning is careening toward bloodshed, bedlam, confrontation, and civil war. The linear fixated establishment, who fancy themselves intellectually superior to the irredemables, are too blinded by their sociopathic, increasingly audacious subversion of the Constitution, to grasp the level of rage and disillusionment of a white working class that has been screwed over for decades.
As the Wall Street shysters frantically accelerate their embezzlement of what remains of middle class wealth, with the Fed and the corporate media propagandists as their wing-men, the country devolves into a corporate fascist state. The disposition of the nation grows dark like the sky before an approaching deadly blizzard. As passions boil over and violence portends, this Fourth Turning hastens towards a bloody decade ahead with an uncertain climax.
If you think this is just hyperbole, you either haven’t studied history or your cognitive dissonance and normalcy bias prevent you from seeing the unavoidable societal altering clashes, which occur like clockwork on an eighty year cycle, when the portents are right in front of your eyes. Historian Arnold Toynbee’s great war cycle that arise every 80 years or so, aligns perfectly with the Fourth Turning generational theory. Great wars occur when the generation that doesn’t remember the last catastrophic war ascends to leadership of the country.
We are eight years into a Crisis period which won’t end until the mid-2020s. As this bitterly vicious presidential campaign accelerates towards a finale which will leave the country divided and irate, the hostile opposing forces will be seeking revenge, retribution, and retaliation no matter the outcome. There is no doubt the regeneracy is well under way.
“The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation and empire. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
It was five years ago I spent a couple fascinating hours with Neil Howe, co-author of the Fourth Turning, during the Occupy Wall Street protests. He thought the protests were all passion and no depth, engineered by anarchist Boomers. He was right. I thought OWS might be the start of the regeneracy, but it flamed out quickly. It was only a foreshadowing of what was to come. Whatever event or movement created the regeneracy, it would be driven by the toxic combination of debt, civic decay, and global disorder.
Neil was particularly worried about the Federal Reserve zero interest rate policy and how it was ruining our economic system, creating disincentives to saving and encouraging warped, debt driven speculation. And that was in 2011. The Fed keeping interest rates near zero on behalf of a corrupt establishment for the last eight years has been the primary factor in creating the anger, disillusionment and revolutionary spirit driving the regeneracy.
No critical thinking human being can deny this tumultuous presidential election and its equally turbulent primaries have been fueled by the dreadful self-serving response of the establishment to the 2008 Wall Street created financial collapse; the geopolitical anarchy created by U.S. interventionism in the Middle East; the civic decay created by a failing government educational system; rampant debt financed materialism enabled and encouraged by the financial/media complex; and racial division facilitated by the president and his social justice warrior brethren.
The rescue of Wall Street and destruction of Main Street by the Fed, Wall Street and the captured politicians of both parties in Washington D.C. has created the angry, acrimonious, throw the bums out mood boiling over in flyover America. The widening Grand Canyon gap in wealth between the haves and the have nots, produced by solutions from sociopaths in suits has reached the pitchfork and torch level.
The linear thinking ruling class has been in denial since this Crisis catalyzed in September 2008. Their looting, pillaging and ransacking campaign, designed to enrich and empower a small cadre of shadowy, powerful, wealthy men, had been successful for decades. When you control the currency and interest rates; rig the financial markets; buy the politicians; write the laws and regulations; own the corporate propaganda machines known as the mainstream media; operate a high tech surveillance state; create a dumbed down populace through government school indoctrination; and distract the masses with iGadgets, reality TV, hero worship, professional sports, social media, irrelevant cultural issues, and literally thousands of other modern day bread and circuses; you become arrogant and careless.
These sociopaths are so consumed with their ravenous fleecing of the middle class, waging wars for profit, and shredding the Constitution, they failed to recognize 2008 for the seismic earth shattering event that will change everything. The mood of the country shifted like tectonic plates beneath the nation. The mood continues to grow dimmer, as the peasants grow poorer and the modern day aristocracy (Wall Street bankers, corporate executives, corrupt politicians, shadowy billionaires) accumulate obscene ill-gotten wealth through their complete capture of the system. This perverted, degenerative, criminal degradation of our society is powerfully summed up by Jesse from Jesse’s Café Americain:
“Not all sociopaths wield knives and knotted cords. Some wear suits, and are exceptionally intelligent and articulate, obsessively driven, and are able to use and undermine the law and the rules for their advantage, like weapons. It is never about the win, never about the money. It is about the kill, the expression of their hatred, about elevating themselves with the suffering of others. Bind, torture, kill. Not only with ropes and knives, but also with power and money, and the subversion of law. Lawlessness is their addiction, their will to power.
When societies become lax and complacent, these sociopaths can possess great political power through great amounts of unprincipled money. And over time they become almost anti-human, destroyers of all that is good, all that is life, all that offends their insatiable sickness with its goodness. They twist the public against itself, and turn a broad sweep of society into their killing grounds. This is the undeniable lesson of the last century. There are monsters, and they walk among us.”
Neil Howe has noted in previous articles the catalyst, climax and resolution of Fourth Turnings can be specifically dated. But the regeneracy is more of an era than a date. With only three previous American Fourth Turnings, I imagined the regeneracy to be a specific event where the American people, faced with growing peril and danger, put aside their differences and rallied around a strong leader to build something new. Boy was I wrong.
In retrospect, the American people were numbed by the Great Depression and the bloody initial battles of the Civil War. They just let FDR and Lincoln do whatever they needed to do. The regeneracy marks a growth in centralized authority and resolute governance at a time of great risk and urgency. I believe this era of regeneracy began at the outset of the presidential primaries early in 2016.
Based upon the reaction of the citizens in the last ten months, the dire problem facing the nation, perceived as the largest threat to our future, happens to be the Deep State establishment currently ruling the country. The captured mainstream media and grey beards running both political parties were completely stunned, horrified, and irate at the unprecedented success achieved by the two anti-establishment candidates, Trump and Sanders.
This election was supposed to follow the script as planned and coordinated by the establishment, with Hillary Clinton defeating Jeb Bush and continuing the corrupt status quo policies agreed to by the bought off leaders of both parties. They badly miscalculated the mood of the country and the whirlwind of change seeking to sweep away the stubborn remnants of a crooked, decrepit, putrid, existing social order. This collective middle finger to the establishment could only happen during a Fourth Turning.
This regeneracy is well under way and is poised to transform and replace the very foundation of this crumbling empire of debt, delusions, and denial. The unanswered question is what happens next. I posed that question to Neil Howe five years ago and he said the specific events of a Fourth Turning are unknowable, but the reaction to those events by the generational cohorts is consistent over time.
We are seeing the reaction of critical thinking Americans as they come to the realization the system is rigged against them. A revolutionary spirit is once again rising among the deplorables. I also asked Neil about the theory Fourth Turnings alternate between external conflicts and internal conflicts. He found the subject fascinating, but didn’t think there were enough data points to make a determination.
Based on the current path of this Fourth Turning, I’m now convinced of this alternating sequence between advancement cycles and atonement cycles. The advancement cycles can be seen as establishing, whereas atonement cycles are disestablishing. It is apparent each Fourth Turning alternates between an external struggle and an internal struggle. The American Revolution was a struggle against an external oppressor – Great Britain.
The Civil War was an internal struggle between the industrial North and the agrarian South. The Depression/World War II struggle was mainly against an external threat – Germany, Japan, and Italy. The American Revolution established our country. There was optimism and elation as a new republic, forged under an enlightened Constitution and led by judicious intelligent men, was born. It was clearly an advancement cycle.
The Civil War disestablished states’ rights, slavery, agrarian society and Constitutional rights. It was an atonement cycle for our actual and implicit sins. There was no glorious high. The resolution felt more like defeat, with the country exhausted, bitter and angry. The country had exhausted itself, spilling the blood of over one million men. The new High after an atonement cycle is like a cold miserable rainy dark Spring.
The Great Depression/World War II Fourth Turning established a new world order led by the United States. As the only major country left unscathed by the ravages of global war, the U.S. became the producer for the world, whose dollar was unquestioned as the currency of global trade. The new High was unleashed with fanfare and adulation. It was like a delightfully warm Spring, with flowers blooming and children frolicking.
All signs point toward this Fourth Turning being a life or death struggle between the ruling class of sociopathic bankers, corporate elites, and sleazy politicians versus the oppressed and infuriated middle class. The lying, deceit, rigging, deception, theft and other crimes perpetrated by the ruling elites will be atoned for. The heroic patriotic revelations from Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Bradley (Chelsea) Manning proving the government and politicians to be lying, corrupt, immoral, sociopathic traitors to the Constitution have undermined the last vestiges of trust in the system and the establishment. The alignment of generational dynamics will provoke the responses to events moving forward. We have been badly led. A silent coup by Deep State perpetrators has led to the complete capture of our economic, financial, judicial and political systems.
A vast swath of the populace has been lured into living beyond their means. The existing system is unsustainable. The Boomer generation does not want to yield on their perceived entitlements. The Millennial generation is saddled with un-payable debts, living in their parents’ basements, working the night shift at Ruby Tuesday. Generation X is trapped in the middle of this generational struggle. The huge economic imbalances, created by politicians buying votes and engineering wealth inequality to benefit the few, have built up over decades like flood waters behind a weakening levee. When the levee breaks the morally bankrupt criminal social order will be swept away in the raging torrent to follow.
Winter will eventually turn into Spring, but it might be a bitter, gloomy, austere Spring. Every Fourth Turning brings on forecasts of imminent doom, but that is also a trait of Prophet (Trump, Clinton) Generations. It’s how they feel about the prospects of their imminent die off; they expect the entire world to go with them. The 2008 financial crisis was horrific, scary and an eye opener for those who blindly believed what they were told by their establishment zoo keepers. The regeneracy has begun; trust in the system has further disintegrated; this presidential election has further deepened this distrust of the entrenched establishment; and the coming bust for stocks, bonds, and real estate will knock out the supports for the dwindling remaining trust in this crooked system.
“This might result in a Great Devaluation, a severe drop in the market price of most financial and real assets. This devaluation could be a short but horrific panic, a free-falling price in a market with no buyers. Or it could be a series of downward ratchets linked to political events that sequentially knock the supports out from under the residual popular trust in the system. As assets devalue, trust will further disintegrate, which will cause assets to devalue further, and so on.”
Eventually, all of America’s lesser problems will combine into one giant problem. The very survival of the society will feel at stake, as leaders lead and people follow. The emergent society may be something better, a nation that sustains its Framers’ visions with a robust new pride. Or it may be something unspeakably worse. The Fourth Turning will be a time of glory or ruin.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
The next ten or so years will be atonement for decades of bad choices, corrupt leadership, living beyond our means, waging wars of choice across the globe, believing blatant falsehoods, exhibiting willful ignorance, ignoring facts, and failing to uphold the Constitution. Don’t think you can escape the consequences of this Fourth Turning. It doesn’t matter whether you lived according to a moral code, avoided debt, worked hard, paid taxes, and generally lived an upstanding honorable life.
The death and destruction headed our way will engulf the innocent as well as the guilty. I’m reminded of the penultimate scene in Clint Eastwood’s dark, brooding, vengeful western Unforgiven when Little Bill Daggett laments to “killer of women and children” William Munny that he doesn’t deserve to die this way. Munny responds, “deserves got nothin’ to do with it.” Then he pulls the trigger. This is the kind of future we will be dealing with, whether we like it or not.
In Part Two of this article I will use recent polling data to assess where the most likely sparks will arise to start the civil war conflagration which will accelerate the crumbling of the American Empire. To reinforce the obvious, Fourth Turnings NEVER de-intensify. They end after the spilling of much blood, incomprehensible destruction and the total defeat of the vanquished.
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