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Aug 01, 2006


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Dana Ames

Did you mention this before in the blog? I've seen it but don't remember where.

Do the authors describe it as a typically American/post-industrial revolution thing, or is it different?


Michael Kruse

Dana, if you go to the "Generations (Series)" link under categories in the right column you can find a handful of posts I did about Generations and the fourth turning stuff is woven in.

Strauss and Howe believe that see the pattern in Anlgo-American culutre extending back into the 1400s, so they don't see it as American/post-industrial. I haven't seen them write about what they think this means outside Anglo-American circles but I have the impression that as cultures become more integrated there is a tendency for the culures to "sync-up" in this dynamic.

I would love for them to write on what they think the implications of Globalization will be.

Ted Gossard

Interesting. I would like to see if this plays out in some way across the board of societies and eras. Also is this really inevitable? Like a kind of necessary going through the grieving process? Thanks.

Michael Kruse

One of the things I like about Strauss and Howe's analysis is that things are not inevitable. Although they argue that there has only been one deviation from this cycle in the past 500 years. That was the American Civil War.

Here are the four primary Genreations alive today and their archtypes.

Silent (Artist) 1925-1942
Boomers (Prophet) 1943-1960
Gen X (Nomad) 1961-1981
Millenial (Hero) 1982-200?

Here is the same configuration in 1860 at the beginning of that fourth turning.

Compromise (Artist) 1767-1791
Transcendental (Prophet) 1792-1821
Gilded (Nomad) 1822-1842
Progressive (Hero morphed to Artist) 1843-1859

Prophet Generations are a big wild card in this setting. The are raised to believe they can change the world with high idealism and self direction. From the beginning, they tend to be both polarized and be polarizing. They tend to be the most moralistic and have a take no prisoners outlook. (Patrick "Give me Liberty, or give me death" Henry was from yet an earlier Prophet generation.) In mid-life, they turn their idealism inward toward their families.

The fourth turning coincides as the Prophets begin to move into elderhood. They begin to sense their own mortality and realize the idealistic visions they had for the world have not been realized. A sense of urgency begins to emerge to make their vision a reality. And, of course, with a polarized nature that means two competing realities.

Meanwhile, the Artist generation ahead of them tends to be about peacemaking, inclusion, and just wanting people to get along and be civil. The Nomad generation behind them, having grown up wild and unprotected, begins to become pragmatic, more risk averse, and intransegent against moralistic crusades of any kind.

These dyanamics of Prophet generations tend to drive the culture toward civil war while the Artists and the Nomads on either side of them tend to serve as a brake to prevent things from going that far. This has worked everytime except in the fourth turning that began in 1860.

What should have happened according to script was an increasing level conflict that reached a crescendo in the late 1870s. Instead the fourth turning hit in 1860 and BAM, the crescendo hit and it was over in five years instead of twenty or so.

Hero generations (like the G.I. genertaion 1901-1924) get their sense of identity from having grown up during growing crisis and then conquering the crisis as young adults. It is that confidence and sense of achievement that propels them through the rest of their days.

The Progressive generation should have been the next hero generation but the Civl War left no one feeling like they accomplished anything. The Progressive generation morphed into something more akin to the Artist archetype and thus a whole generational archeype was skipped.

It is also interesting to note that more the 90% of Congress during the Civil War were of the Prophet generation. S & H show that in the two elections after the Civil War, the number went to well below half. It is the only time in history where you can see the nation voting one generation out of office in such dramatic form.

S & H have also likened the turnings to seasons:

First = Spring
Second = Summer
Third = Fall
Fourth = Winter

Some seasons are more mild or more severe than others. But they all tend to have similar traits.

I don't think S & H would say that anything is inevitable but rather that the forces that drive these cycles are powerful forces that make deviation very difficult.

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