Boomers – Winter Is Coming
by James Quinn. July 13, 2009
Thus might the next Fourth Turning end in apocalypse – or glory. The nation could be ruined, its democracy destroyed, and millions of people scattered or killed. Or America could enter a new golden age, triumphantly applying shared values to improve the human condition. The rhythms of history do not reveal the outcome of the coming Crisis; all they suggest is the timing and dimension. - Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
Winter is coming. Are you prepared? Americans see time as their enemy. Most Americans have bought into a view of the past and future as linear. When you observe the world in linear way and things are going well, the population is happy and confident. If you view the world in a linear way and things are going badly, the population sees nothing but terrible times ahead. This linear outlook of history and the future is not rational or supported by facts. I’m convinced that world history is not on a linear path towards Armageddon and the Rapture. This belief is preached by many of the mainstream religions, but the truth is that we’ve seen this movie before and it doesn’t end in the 2nd Coming of Christ. The American belief in a destiny of never ending progress will undergo its 3rd major crisis period since its founding. The resolution of this crisis is 10 to 20 years in the future. The outcome will remain in doubt until the definitive resolution.
Our everyday lives clearly support a cyclical view of the world. There are 24 hours in day progressing from light to darkness and back again. There are 365 days in a year progressing from Spring to Summer to Fall to Winter, and then starting the cycle over again. A month is dictated by the four phases of the Moon. Our oceans rise and fall in a predictable pattern of high tides and low tides based on lunar phases. Even Christian religions that preach a linear view of the world, celebrate their beliefs in a predictable annual cycle encompassing the life of Christ from is birth, life, death and resurrection. The human life cycle extends 80 to 100 years going through the stages of childhood, young adulthood, midlife, and elderhood. This cycle has not changed over the whole history of earth. A long human life approximates a century of time. The rhythm of time has a regularity and cadence that is predictable on a generational level. The elites, most academics, religious zealots and social engineers scoff at the idea of predictable cycles of history. It throws a monkey wrench into their deceptive self aggrandizing agendas.
We perceive our civic challenge as some vast, insoluble Rubik’s Cube. Behind each problem lies yet another, and another, ad infinitum. To fix crime we have to fix the family, but before we do that we have to fix welfare, and that means fixing our budget, and that means fixing our civic spirit, but we can’t do that without fixing moral standards, and that means fixing schools and churches, and that means fixing the inner cities, and that’s impossible unless we fix crime. There’s no fulcrum on which to rest a policy lever. People of all ages sense that something huge will have to sweep across America before the gloom can be lifted – but that’s an awareness we suppress. As a nation, we’re in deep denial. - Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
Anyone who is being honest recognizes the country is on a path towards a major calamity. We have been living beyond our means for decades and the fiscal mismanagement of the country will come to a dramatic climax in the next decade. What many deny is that this crisis was pre-ordained based upon a predictable timeline of generational forces repeating over and over again throughout history. The elites are continuously stunned that every 20 to 25 years a fresh mood engulfs the country and new generations act differently than the generations who proceeded them. The privileged are astounded because they don’t want to accept the fact that progress is not linear and that society will undergo highs and lows over the course of a century.
Strauss and Howe have been able to trace consistent 80 to 100 year generational patterns throughout modern history. The 20 to 25 year quartiles are a High (1st Turning), an Awakening (2nd Turning), an Unraveling (3rd Turning), and a Crisis (4th Turning). They have also identified four archetypes that occupy their necessary position within the 80 to 100 year cycle. These archetypes are Prophets, Nomads, Heroes, and Artists. History forms the generations as the generations create history in a repetitive dance throughout the ages. The archetypes always follow the same path. As an example, the Prophet archetype is always born during a High, comes of age during an Awakening, enters midlife during an Unraveling, and spends their elderhood during a Crisis.
Below are charts detailing the archetypes and the 12 Turnings since the founding of the American Republic. There is a remarkable consistency of timing and scope regarding the previous Turnings in our history.
|FIRST TURNING (High)||SECOND TURNING (Awakening)||THIRD TURNING (Unraveling)||FOURTH TURNING (Crisis)|
|CIVIL WAR SAECULUM|
|Era of Good Feelings||Transcendental Awakening||Mexican War & Sectionalism||Civil War|
|GREAT POWER SAECULUM|
|Reconstruction & Gilded Age||Third Great Awakening||World War I & Prohibition||Great Depression & World War II|
|American High||Consciousness Revolution||Culture Wars||Millennial Crisis?|
The archetypes that comprise a human life cycle follow the same repetitive pattern throughout history and they show the same traits and attitudes as their preceding archetype. Strauss & Howe describe the archetypes as follows:
- A Prophet generation grows up as increasingly indulged post-Crisis children, comes of age as the narcissistic young crusaders of an Awakening, cultivates principle as moralistic mid-lifers, and emerges as wise elders guiding the next Crisis. (Boomers – indulged, narcissistic, moralistic, wise)
- A Nomad generation grows up as under-protected children during an Awakening, comes of age as alienated young adults of a post-Awakening world, mellows into pragmatic mid-life leaders during a Crisis, and ages into tough post-Crisis elders. (Generation X – abandoned, alienated, pragmatic, tough)
- A Hero generation grows up as increasingly protected post-Awakening children, comes of age as heroic young team workers of a Crisis, demonstrates hubris as energetic mid-lifers, and emerges as powerful elders attacked by the next Awakening. (Millennial – protected, heroic, hubristic, powerful)
- An Artist generation grows up as overprotected children during a Crisis, comes of age as the sensitive young adults of a post-Crisis world, breaks free as indecisive mid-life leaders during an Awakening, and ages into empathetic post-Awakening elders. (Homelanders – suffocated, sensitive, indecisive, empathetic)
The First Turning is referred to as a High. A High always follows a period of Crisis. The hallmark of a First Turning is a heightened sense of community and collective confidence, driven in part by the fact that the society has just come through a difficult and challenging period. Consequently, during First Turnings, societal institutions tend to be strong while individualism is weak. The post-World War II "High" of the mid-1940s through early '60s is the most recent example of a First Turning. The victory over Nazism and Fascism marked the beginning of this High. The United States was on top of the world. We exited World War II as an ascending superpower. The Marshall Plan rebuilt Europe and Japan. The middle class grew and flourished as former GI’s built the suburbs and the interstate highway system. During this period Old Prophets disappear, Nomads enter elderhood, Heroes enter midlife, Artists enter young adulthood—and a new generation of Prophets is born. These new Prophets were the Baby Boom Generation.
The Second Turning, called an Awakening, starts out feeling like the high tide of a High, with signs of advancement and prosperity everywhere. Just as everything seems to be going along swimmingly, large swaths of society begin to chaff under the social conformity of the High, beginning to gravitate to more individualistic pursuits and demanding that their personal interests come first. The "Consciousness Revolution" of the mid-1960s through early 1980s was our most recent Awakening. The trigger for this Turning was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. No one expected the turmoil that would occur over the next 10 years. Urban riots, campus riots, Civil rights protests, Kent State, Woodstock, Watergate, the feminist movement, counterculture, drugs, violent crime and family strife marked the next two decades. The New Age movement and Me Generation dominated the culture until the Reagan era. During this phase Old Nomads disappear, Heroes enter elderhood, Artists enter midlife, Prophets enter young adulthood—and a new generation of child Nomads is born. These Nomads are known as Generation X.
The Third Turning, called an Unraveling, is the opposite of a High. Individualism rules, while establishments such as government, religion and military are increasingly weak and discredited. Neil Howe describes a typical Unraveling:
"This is a time when social authority feels inconsequential, the culture feels exhausted, and people feel bewildered by the number of options available to them. It is a time of celebrity circuses and a tremendous amount of freedom and creativity in our personal lives, but very little sense of public purpose.”
The most recent Third Turning began in 1984 with Ronald Reagan’s optimistic Morning in America message led to the fall of communism and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The culture wars that have raged since the mid-1980’s have turned the initial optimism into an overwhelming sense of pessimism. There is no national consensus. The country’s leaders have ignored national problems such as unfunded Social Security and Medicare obligations, a coherent energy policy, and a deteriorating educational system. Popular culture centers around celebrity circuses like Michael Jackson’s death and Michelle Obama’s fashion choices. Americans reflect darkly on the future as growing financial and social inequality tears at the fabric of the country. The rich take advantage of the financial service economy and grow ever richer at the expense of the middle class. The poor pay no taxes and receive social transfer payments and take advantage of easy credit to live like the rich. The middle class is disillusioned and angry as manufacturing jobs leave the country. Previous periods of Unraveling in American history were also decades of cynicism and bad manners. The Roaring 20’s were the last Unraveling period that led to the stock market crash in 1929, the Great Depression and World War II. History teaches us that Third Turnings inevitably end in Fourth Turnings. During this phase, Old Heroes disappear, Artists enter elderhood, Prophets enter midlife, Nomads enter young adulthood—and a new generation of child Heroes is born. The latest Hero generation is the Millenials
Lastly, there is the Fourth Turning, called a Crisis. We are currently on the verge of a Fourth Turning. This is a time of great turmoil, when society's basic institutions are torn down and rebuilt, and seemingly intractable problems are addressed. The apparently unsolvable financial dilemma of the country along with comprehension that Peak Oil has occurred will trigger the Crisis. The ultimate resolution could be rational and well thought out or it could end in a fiery fight to the death between countries or generations. During Fourth Turnings, America engages in a struggle for its very survival and redefines its identity as a nation. Large wars are often a part of this process. The American Revolution, Civil War, Great Depression, and World War II were all facets of past Fourth Turnings. During this period Old Artists disappear, Prophets enter elderhood, Nomads enter midlife, Heroes enter young adulthood—and a new generation of child Artists is born.
According to Strauss & Howe past Fourth Turnings in U.S. history we have overcome intractable problems and forged a new beginning:
“In the 1790’s, they triumphantly created the modern world’s first democratic republic. In the late 1860’s, wounded but reunited, they forged a genuine nation extending new guarantees of liberty and equality. In the late 1940’s, they constructed the most Promethean superpower ever seen.”
Sometime between today and 2025, this nation will undergo a test of its very survival. The ultimate outcome will be in doubt. Strauss and Howe paint a dire picture of the coming decades:
“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.”
America feels like it is unraveling. Though we live in an era of relative peace and comfort, we have settled into a mood of pessimism about the long-term future, fearful that our superpower nation is somehow rotting from within. – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
Most of my adult life has been spent during the current Unraveling. In 1984 I was twenty-one years old and about to enter the workforce. The country was recovering from the worst recession in decades and the turmoil of the 1970’s was subsiding. Ronald Reagan (GI Generation) won re-election with a 49 state to 1 landslide victory over Walter Mondale using his Morning in America campaign slogan. Reagan’s tax cuts, interest rates starting a two decade decline and increased military spending combined to juice the economy. Reagan’s policies were the final dagger in the side of communism. The Soviet Union collapsed and the Berlin Wall fell. What many thought was the end of history, with democracy and capitalism victors, turned out to be a fleeting high. The initial signs of Unraveling were seen during Reagan administration. The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, leading to questions of competence at NASA. The Iran-Contra scandal derailed the Reagan agenda as he showed signs of mental decline. The American military retreated from Lebanon after 220 Marines were killed in a terrorist attack. The stock market crashed, losing 508 points in one day, a 23% decline. The movie Wall Street with its amoral cynical view of the world captured the darkening mood of the country.
The first George Bush administration was marked by the Gulf War, which planted the poisonous seeds for our future War on Terror, and the recession which cost George Bush a 2nd term. The unraveling could clearly be seen in the 1992 Presidential election, as Ross Perot won the most votes as a 3rd Party candidate since 1912. During the Clinton administration the country continued to fragment, became more divisive, and cynical. Politics became gridlocked, which resulted in reduced government spending. A laissez-faire attitude was promoted by Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin for the financial markets. This led to the Dot.com bubble and its eventual collapse. Trust in financial, government, and religious institutions continued to erode. The Oklahoma City bombing and the Columbine high school slaughter convinced many that something was very wrong with our culture. A distrustful alienation had solidified into an overwhelming gloom.
The Unraveling picked up speed during George W. Bush’s administration. The stock market continued to implode, the economy entered recession and half the country felt that George Bush was not a legitimate President. Then the country was shaken to its core by the 9/11 attack. For a brief time, the country rallied around the flag and fully supported the invasion of Afghanistan. This appeared to be the trigger for the next American Crisis. Instead, it resulted in an acceleration of the Unraveling. A true trigger for a Crisis period will rally the entire population (Fort Sumter, Pearl Harbor). The disastrous invasion of Iraq, horrific financial management of the economy by Alan Greenspan, individualistic greed and hubris of Wall Street, blatant corruption in Washington D.C., and complete lack of regulation by governmental agencies led to the collapse of the global economy in 2008. Decisive public action regarding $56 trillion of unfunded social liabilities, soaring public and private debt, and non-existent energy policy has been deferred for decades. Now there is no doubt that this paralysis and inaction will lead us into the next Crisis. The majority of Americans feel we are not on the right track, because we’re not. The coming catastrophe will truly test the mettle of our country.
Generation X – Assuming Command
We yearn for civic character but satisfy ourselves with symbolic gestures and celebrity circuses. We perceive no greatness in our leaders, a new meanness in ourselves. Small wonder that each new election brings a new jolt, its aftermath a new disappointment. Not long ago, America was more than the sum of its parts. Now, it is less. Around World War II, we were proud as a people but modest as individuals. Fewer than two people in ten said yes when asked, Are you a very important person? Today, more than six in ten say yes. Where we once thought ourselves collectively strong, we now regard ourselves as individually entitled. Yet even while we exalt our own personal growth, we realize that millions of self-actualized persons don’t add up to an actualized society. - Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
Barack Obama became the 1st Generation Xer to be elected President of the United States. His background is a classic Nomad story. He has lived the life of a wanderer, living all over the globe, a child of divorce, fatherless, raised by grandparents, and a free agent in his career. Generation X grew up as abandoned children and alienated young adults. Generation X leaders will be pragmatic, savvy and practical. Obama has proven thus far to be pragmatic and able to get his agenda initiated. Previous Nomad leaders who proved to be highly competent doers during a time of Crisis include Dwight D. Eisenhower, George Patton, and Harry Truman. You may not agree with Obama’s plans or policies, but it is clear to anyone that he is an intelligent, pragmatic man that will institute dramatic change in the policies of the United States.
It is very likely that Barack Obama will lead the country into the next Crisis. He will not lead us out of the Crisis, as it is unlikely to subside until 2025. As the Unraveling transitions into Crisis the apathy reflected in historic low voter turnout will reverse itself as Americans become mobilized by the Crisis. The economy always undergoes wrenching transformations during a Crisis. The U.S. economy will likely be racked by panic, depression, inflation and war. We have witnessed a preliminary financial panic, but the real panic will be much more traumatic. The separateness and blame witnessed during the Unraveling will transform into gathering and family togetherness. McMansions will become useful as three generations will more frequently live under one roof. Immigration will decline as the population will fear outsiders and place strict restrictions on foreigners entering the country. During the coming crisis, our culture will likely be cleansed, censored, and harnessed for the public good. The current ongoing financial debacle will ultimately contribute to the Crisis causing trigger of a worldwide oil shortage.
Peak Oil + Green Energy = Crisis
"But I guess it just reminds me that as a society, we don't have the ability to actually come to grips with a crisis until it hits us in the face. I am discouraged enough now to think that we're going to have to have a really nasty shock before we wake people up. The most optimistic estimate for the average depletion rate of the world's currently producing oilfields is between 4% and 5% annually, or about four million barrels per day at our current rate of production. That means that each year we must find enough new oil to first replace those four million barrels of lost daily production before we even add enough to meet new demand. This is all the more worrisome because world oil discovery of new reserves has been slowing since the mid-20th century.” - Mattthew Simmons
Matt Simmons has been a lone voice in the wilderness warning Americans about the impending crisis that will be caused by Peak Oil. His prediction of a worldwide peak in crude oil production at 73 million barrels per day in 2005 has proved correct. Worldwide total liquids production peaked at 86 million barrels in 2008. All of the easy oil and gas in the world has been found. Additional supplies will be found deep below the ocean, in challenging arctic regions, in tar sands, and shale. It will be dramatically more expensive to extract oil from these sources. Oil discoveries have been in a steady decline since the 1970’s.
The United States has been dependent on 600 million barrels of oil from Mexico every year. By 2012 Mexico will become a net importer of oil, so 600 million barrels of oil will need to be replaced. Iran’s oil production is in decline as capital investment has been ignored for years. Russia’s production has peaked. Saudi Arabia continues to lie about its ability to ramp up production. Their oil fields are 40 years old and in terminal decline. By 2012, the world will only be able to produce 80 million barrels per day. There is no doubt that demand in 2012 will be higher than today’s 85 million barrels per day as China, India and other developing countries continue to grow. Even a Wall Street economist could predict what will happen to prices.
Peak oil will have the most dramatic affect on America. We have 5% of the world’s population, but use 25% of the world’s energy. Practically 85% of the world barely uses energy. World population of 7 billion will likely grow to 10 billion by 2030. China and India both are selling more cars annually than the U.S. As people throughout the world enter the middle class, they want cars, TVs, and modern appliances. Energy demand cannot be turned back. Infrastructure constraints will exacerbate the coming energy crisis. The NIMBY crowd has managed to keep any refineries from being built in the U.S. since 1976. Our energy infrastructure is made of steel and is rusting away. It would take trillions to upgrade the energy system. These investments will not be made. The geologists and other experienced oil men are retiring, and no one is replacing them. Matt Simmons’ recommendation for the upcoming crisis is DOA:
"We should basically be going back to creating a village economy, so that we really reduce the energy intensity of how we live," he says. "We need big time conservation, not feel-good conservation. Make things where they're used. You'll end long-distance commuting, and we have the tools to do that now with webcams. Grow food locally. Grow food in your backyard. If they're not commuting, people will have time to do that."
The Green Agenda that is sweeping the country and is fully supported by the Obama administration will be the final nail in the coffin. The blueprint of success for the Green Agenda is ethanol. Government subsidized a fuel that required more energy to produce than it provides.
The mal-investment in ethanol plants led to a boom and the usual bust when government interferes in the free markets. The use of corn for fuel caused prices to rise for other food crops and meat. With the crash in oil prices, ethanol plants have been going bankrupt at an accelerating rate. Renewable energy and green jobs are the catch phrases being used by Obama and the Democrats pushing the Al Gore led agenda.
“I believe it is appropriate to have an 'over-representation' of the facts on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience." - Al Gore
I’d like to know the difference between over-representation and lying. The real inconvenient truth is that the United States depends on oil, natural gas, and coal to supply 87% of its energy, with nuclear power providing another 7%. The beloved solar, wind and geothermal sources supply 1.5% of our energy needs. Harry Reid and his green disciples believe coal and oil are ruining the world. They want to eliminate the fuels that power 87% of our economy. Maybe they should just keep implementing their economic policies and keep the country in a permanent recession, as carbon emissions have declined over the last three years. Their false science claims, scare tactics in grade schools, and use of green catch phrases will not generate the energy needed to run this country.
The green extremists want to eliminate coal as an energy source in the U.S. Even though nuclear energy emits no Carbon Dioxide, it is unacceptable to the green extremists. There is just one small problem. The chart below shows that coal and nuclear provide 72% of all the electric power in the United States. Renewable energy sounds good, but it cannot replace our existing sources. Inconvenient facts like no ability to distribute any energy created by wind and solar to the places that use the energy are completely ignored by green extremists. Our transportation system depends on oil to provide 96% of its energy. I don’t think anyone will be commuting to work in a solar car or wind powered car in the near future. A plug in car will require electric power that comes from coal and nuclear plants.
The Cap & Trade Energy bill will eventually be rammed through by the Democratic controlled Congress. It is being spun as a bill that will reduce greenhouse gases and create thousands of green jobs. What is a green job? Will we turn unemployed investment bankers and auto salesmen into solar panel and wind turbine manufacturers? The green agenda bill will penalize manufacturers, refineries, natural gas producers and electric utilities with increased taxes.
Sounds great. Let’s penalize the polluters. Every company that produces something will pass their costs along to their customers. This bill will increase the average family’s energy costs by $1,500 per year. It will convince many companies to move operations and jobs to China and India where these regulations don’t apply. Our agriculture industry will bear the brunt of this burden as they use tremendous amounts of energy in farming. Expect food costs to go up a lot. Since low income families spend a greater percentage of their income on energy, this bill will damage their finances the most. It will also trigger the coming Crisis.
20 Year Crisis - Financial Collapse, War, Rebirth
“Most of today’s adult Americans grew up in a society whose citizens dreamed of perpetually improving outcomes: better jobs, fatter wallets, stronger government, finer culture, nicer families, smarter kids, all the usual fruits of progress. Today, deep into a Third Turning, these goals often feel like they are slipping away. Many of us wish we could rewind time, but we know we can’t – and we fear for our children and grandchildren.” - Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
The skies are darkening and a cold wind is beginning to blow. Autumn began with bright skies and warm breezes, but the atmosphere has gotten bitter as swirling winds rip the remaining leaves from the trees. Winter is approaching rapidly and it gives all indications that it will be a bitter, dangerous, harsh time for all Americans. We wish we didn’t have to face the coming trial, but there is no avoiding it. Generational moods are transitioning, and a Crisis will envelop the country for the next twenty years. Courage and fortitude on a level not seen since World War II will be required. The celebrity circuses like the Michael Jackson funeral, Britney Spears comeback tour, and Brangelina’s latest adoption will seem so trite during the coming Crisis. Wearing a blue rubber wristband and putting a yellow ribbon on your Mercedes SUV will not cut it. Previous 4th Turnings in U.S. history have involved total war. Deaths during the American Revolutionary War were approximately 50,000. Total deaths during the Civil War were 600,000. Total deaths during World War II were 73,000,000. How many people will die during the coming Crisis? No one knows the answer in advance. An integrated global economy, combined with nuclear weapons, advanced military killing machines, terrorists, and peak oil appears to be a recipe for death on a colossal scale.
Anyone who doesn’t sense a turning in the mood of the country is just not paying attention. There is a foreboding feeling that something is dreadfully wrong with our country. For those addicted to cable television, we are about to leave the sheltered, superficial, coddled world of Housewives of Orange County and enter the frigid, dangerous world of The Deadliest Catch with 40 foot waves and the threat of a watery death at any moment. A dramatic event will soon shock the nation into action. The catalyst for the Crisis will likely be a sequence of events that will shift the mood of the country. The 1st event will be seen as the financial system meltdown in September 2008. The 2nd event will be viewed as the government’s reaction to the crisis. The remarkable sweeping steps taken by Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, and Barack Obama have further weakened the U.S. financial system and left it vulnerable to the next sudden shock.
The approaching Crisis will be sparked by known existing threats that have been ignored and discounted by our Baby Boom leaders. These known threats include titanic current deficits, colossal unfunded future liabilities, and unavoidable Peak Oil. As the economy continues to hemorrhage jobs, Congress will do what they do best and spend billions more on stimulus pork. As the National Debt approaches $15 trillion in 2012, a spectacular collapse of the U.S. dollar becomes more likely. By 2012 the world will realize that Peak Oil is a fact. As demand outstrips supply, prices will rise dramatically. This is when a catalytic event is likely to plunge us into a harsh Winter of darkness and death. As the U.S. economy begins to collapse under the weight of debt and oil shortages, a terrorist attack using nuclear or biological weapons on U.S. soil would plunge the country into chaos. Other possible triggers could be a natural disaster such as an earthquake that destroys significant portions of California or a hurricane that destroys oil rigs and refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Significant oil shortages will bring commerce to a halt. Food shortages would occur within a week of oil supply disruptions, as most of the food in our stores must be delivered by truck. As real unemployment reaches 25%, interest rates soar, and the dollar becomes worthless, civil unrest will breakout and the Department of Homeland Security will be called upon to fight and imprison its fellow citizens.
Past Crisis periods were marked by Prophets leading and Heroes sacrificing (Gandalf & Frodo) as the soldiers of the Crisis. In 2012 the country is likely to turn to a Baby Boom President with strong leadership skills such as Newt Gingrich or someone who will appear out of nowhere (Abraham Lincoln was an unknown two year Illinois Congressman). As the U.S. domestic crisis deepens, Russia and China will attempt to take advantage of U.S. weakness by expanding their influence and control in Eastern Europe and Asia. Countries with domestic problems always turn outwards for a real or created threat to rally the nation. With the oil crisis getting worse, the U.S. will go to war in order to secure the precious supplies needed to run our economy. With China also seeking oil supplies a military conflict with China and Russia is quite possible. If the conflict turns into a cyber war of destroying satellites and disrupting computer communications, world leaders could be fighting blindly. If one of these leaders panics and decides to launch some of their nuclear arsenal, the world could be changed beyond all recognition. This scenario seems impossible today. On October 24, 1929 when the Stock Market crashed, did anyone foresee a twelve year Depression with 25% unemployment, a World War that killed 73 million people, and the creation and use of an atomic bomb in the following sixteen years? The impossible becomes possible during a Crisis.
A Crisis can end positively or negatively. Our previous Crisis periods have resulted in new golden ages. If the leaders we choose are strong, wise, and judicious and the Millennial generation can rise to the occasion as their GI generation grandparents did during our last Crisis, we can rejuvenate our national destiny. Winter always turns into Spring. But, Strauss & Howe offer a chilling warning:
“History offers no guarantees. Obviously, things could go horribly wrong – the possibilities ranging from a nuclear exchange to incurable plagues, from terrorist anarchy to high-tech dictatorship. We should not assume that Providence will always exempt our nation from the irreversible tragedies that have overtaken so many others: not just temporary hardship, but debasement and total ruin. Losing in the next Fourth Turning could mean something incomparably worse. It could mean a lasting defeat from which our national innocence – perhaps even our nation – might never recover.”
© 2009 James Quinn
Bio: James Quinn is a senior director of strategic planning for a major university. These articles reflect the personal views of James Quinn. They do not necessarily represent the views of his employer and are not sponsored or endorsed by his employer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.