I recently read William Strauss and Neil Howe’s excellent book: The Fourth Turning.
This is not a light read, but if you want to know what the heck is going on right now, I’d say it’s a must. Howe and Strauss explain how society repeatedly goes through 4 seasons or ‘turnings.’
History, in their opinion (and mine), is cyclical.
Every 80-100 years, it repeats the same pattern. There’s a rebirth, an ‘awakening,’ an ‘unravelling,’ then a crisis. The crisis ends with a great climax that tears down society and forces it into a new beginning.
Our current society began just after World War II, and entered the ‘Fourth Turning’ with the 2008 Recession. Howe expects the great climax to happen some time before 2030, when a new – hopefully better – world will be created.
Look around you, and you can see this climax on the way. Think of all the places where protests are now happening – many of them violent:
- Hong Kong
…I think there’s a bunch more I’ve missed.
And it’s happening in other places more quietly. I saw Ron Paul quote on his ‘Liberty Report’ – 70% of people in America are enraged at the establishment.
Look at what’s happening in Britain too.
The establishment is losing all of its legitimacy.
And I don’t mean to sound ‘doom and gloom’ here.
Weak institutions are all part of ‘The Fourth Turning’ – a normal part of the cycle which is completely predictable. If anything, it’s a positive message. Society is not doomed. It’s just being reborn.
What I find most amazing is Strauss and Howe wrote The Fourth Turning back in 1997. Their description of what ‘the fourth turning’ might look like is uncannily similar to what we’re seeing play out now.
And, if you believe what they tell you, it can help you get prepared.
First, with survival: don’t bet against a dramatic catastrophe. Since the 1500s, every Fourth Turning has resulted in total war. And the economic risks nowadays are staggering. Howe warns that if you’re overly invested in the current world, you could stand to lose the most. But also…
Don’t dwell on everything that’s frightening or unnerving right now.
Crisis and conflict have to happen for the new golden age to emerge.
Honestly, I don’t know why I’m writing a blog post on this. It’s just one of the biggest ‘ah-ha’ I’ve had from a book in years. I love sharing this with people, and talking my wife’s head off about it. So I wanted to share it with you.
What’s also fascinating is how each turning impacts different generations.
Here’s a video of Neil Howe explaining how this works – where we are, and what to expect next: