Howe and Strauss co-authored "The Fourth Turning: An American Prophesy" (Broadway Books) in 1997. In it, these two venerable historians predicted that between the election years of 2004 and 2012, our nation would enter into the fourth turning phase of history. This is the apex and reversal of the 3 phases which preceded it; within the context of their saeculum framework of historical perspective.
Such a perspective views the human historical process as a cyclical and natural one, such as the changing of the four seasons. The natural shifting of the generational constellations cause a re-examination of values and social, cultural and familial processes. This is usually - nay, always - a time of great upheaval: Economic and social, with chaos and crisis sparking the badly-needed change in cataclysmic fashion. This, the authors claim, is as inevitable as the change from summer to autumn and winter; from adolescence to middle age. As Hegel said in his famous Reason in History, the dialectical process of thesis/antithesis/synthesis is unstoppable: Those who fail to read the signs of the times, get swept away in the flood-tides of change.
I began to sense that we may have entered the crisis period - as did most fans of Howe and Strauss - with the events of 9/11. However, as the years passed, it became increasingly clear that we had "stalled". There was something "false" in the haste and urgency surrounding the invasion of Iraq; something was not "ringing true", but a hollowness pervaded all. I began to get the uncanny feeling - muted but persistent - that someone behind the scenes in the W Bush Administration had read The Fourth Turning , and were "trying to hard" to enact it. It was not until Barack Obama stepped onto the historical stage with his win in the Iowa primaries that the writings of Howe and Strauss once again began to feel "real". I recall some journalist writing an OpEd piece which ran something like, "Obama will make a good president, but not yet. He must accept the vice-presidency and wait his turn". This, to me, was a clear sign that the Boomer generation was digging their heels in, not wanting to see the changing of the guard. "Now I know he will be president", I remember thinking.
Now, as the town hall conflicts rage on, and the economy and healthcare and charges of socialism dominate the news, I believe we have our Fourth Turning president. With this in mind, I steel myself for the inevitable winter, which all must pass through, before new blossoms of cultural freedom and liberty will be seen, changed, but unchanging in the eternal flux of time.
Writer, editor, press agent, publicist. Employed by Metro Media Consulting Group, LLC, NYC, Detroit. Strong emphasis on philosophical interpretation of American cultural and political events. Webmaster of "Musing in Obama's America" blog. (more...