The Fourth Turning
Apparently this book was a big influence on former Breitbart editor and Trump advisor Steve Bannon, so I thought I’d give it a try.
In a nutshell, the book advances the view that history roughly repeats itself every 80 years. Further, every 80 year period is characterized by four “turnings.” A High, an Awakening, an Unraveling, and a Crisis.
In our current cycle, the High was the 1950’s and early 60’s, a period of prosperity, optimism, and harmony, perhaps best characterized by the TV show “Happy Days.”
The “Awakening” was the 1960s and 70s, when the culture began to question itself and cast doubt on the way things were. As Hippy culture put it, “Never trust the man.”
The “Unraveling” came through the 80’s, 90’s, and beginning of the 00’s. Society fractured into tribal alliances with pessimism and self-doubt taking root. Punk rock, grunge and gangster rap.
The “Crisis” began with the financial collapse in 2008 and continues to the present. Society is in flux, what the future will be is unclear. We see this expressed in the election of Trump, the popularity of Socialism, mass immigration and the backlash to it, as well as Brexit and the rise of China.
Another high-point is coming, but exactly what form it will take remains to be seen.
One of the most interesting things about the book’s thesis, is that each generation plays a different role during each “turning.”
the arrival of Artists (silent generation in this cycle), Prophets (boomers), Nomads (Gen Xers) and Heroes (millennials).
The high is led by an Artist generation. The awakening by a prophet generation (Boomers). The unraveling by a nomad generation. (Gen X) And last, the crisis by a hero generation (Millenials).
The artists of the high are coming to adulthood after a crisis has ended and enjoy their adult years in the best times. As the prophets enter adulthood, they begin to see a more realistic world with problems to come. The nomads enter adulthood in a time when attitudes are beginning to change for the worst and optimism is fading. And then a major crisis occurs, which the hero generation must solve and the cycle is ended.
Perhaps the scariest thing about this prediction is that the current generation of Millennials are supposed to be the “heroes” who save the day. I won’t hold my breath.