Turning Time, Part 2

Counterculture Values
Clogged Plumbing
Larger Cause
What Can We Do Now?
Dallas, Europe, and Paris

My friend Neil Howe titled his latest book The Fourth Turning Is Here because, well, the Fourth Turning is here. It is no longer the decades-away crisis he and the late William Strauss described in their 1990s books. As noted last week, each “turning” is generally 20 to 25 years. We are in the last half of what is the most disruptive and violent of the generational periods.

In conversations with readers (I would say ordinary but none of my readers are ordinary), I hear deep concern we are headed for a period of social and perhaps even kinetic conflict. The extreme partisanship, not just in the US but around the world, seems to be pointing to just such a crisis.

Historically these crises are followed by a period of progress and social cohesion, which is hard to imagine now. But getting to that halcyon time requires us to endure the problems which are creating the crisis. Perhaps this is naive, but I hope the worst we have to deal with is a resurrection of a lost species called bond vigilantes, and a resolution of the debt and economic crisis coming later this decade.

In last week’s letter I described the generational archetypes behind the cycle that brought us here. We are at the Fourth Turning because a “Prophet” generation—the Baby Boomers—is beginning to leave the stage. They established the conditions that brought us here and, to a great extent, will determine how the rest of us make this turn. Neil has some specific and perhaps surprising expectations for their final act. Today I’ll describe some of it for you.