Posted on 24th June 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues


Perfect timing.

Neil Howe: “The Fourth Turning Has Arrived”

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/23/2013 20:22 -0400

Submitted by Adam Taggart via Peak Prosperity blog,

In 1996, demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe published the book The Fourth Turning. This study of generational cycles (“turnings”) in America revealed predictable social trends that recur throughout history, and warned of a coming crisis (a “fourth turning”) based on this research.

Fourth turnings are defined by disorder and great changes brought on by a breakdown of the systems and operating principles that dominated the prior three turnings.

Our society has entered a fourth turning (consisting of the twenty-year periods leading up to and out of it immediately.)


It is a season you have to move through before you are born again — so to speak — as a society, and regain institutional confidence. You have to go through a crucible to get there.


I think the fourth turning started — probably, if I were to date it now — in 2008: the realigning election in that year of Barack Obama against John McCain. And, obviously, simultaneously with that, as we all recall, an epic, historic crash of the global economy from which we still have not recovered.


We are sort of hobbling along in kind of a low-earth orbit, with continued high unemployment and excess capacity — not just in the United States, but around the world. And, of course, all the rules of economic policy seem broken and lie in fragments on the floor. People are wondering what the heck do we do in this new era.

Each of the generational cohorts living within this turning (e.g. Boomers, Gen X, Millennials) have roles to play.

This is a period when, in each of these turnings, each generation is moving in their new phase of life. Boomers are beginning to retire, they are beginning to redefine the senior phase of life. X’s are beginning to assume mid-life roles as the dominant parent generation and leaders. These are people born in the ‘60s and ‘70s. And, Millennials are fully beginning to come of age and redefine young adulthood. And, meanwhile, a very small generation is just beginning to come on stream, which remembers nothing before 2008.


We can already see these generational divisions forming, and it is interesting how each generation is to some extent defined by the thing they have, they just have no memory of, they just barely have no memory of (e.g., Boomers are defined by the World War II that even the oldest of them cannot remember).

History gives us patterns that predict how these generational archetypes will collaborate, compete and collide with one another as we enter into crisis. Understanding these in advance will give us a big advantage on the types of policies and solutions most likely to yield success. And we sorely need these, as the problems we’re heading into have no easy answers:

There are patterns here which we recognize, and it is very important not to have historically amnesia. To look back and see where we have been, see where we are going, and more importantly, to understand the dynamics behind these social trends have familiar parallels. We just need to have the historical imagination to look far enough backwards and forward to see where else they have happened or to see where they possibly will happen again.


I am nervous. I am nervous about the future right now. I think we have a lot more deep issues, deep crises to save in the economy. I am also very nervous about what I see geopolitically.


We cannot possibly afford the government we have promised ourselves. And, that will be a painful process of deleveraging, and it is not just deleveraging the explicit debt that we have already actually formally borrowed, it is all the implicit debt. And, I think we will deal with it, because we have no other choice.


But, my point is this: No one simply solves a terrible problem on a sunny day when they can afford at least for the time being to look the other way. Problems like that are faced when people have no other choice, and it is a really grim day. And, it is white-knuckle time and horrible things are happening with markets around the world, or horrible things are happening, at least historically, we have seen that geopolitically around the world. And, that is when people are forced to act.

Strauss and Howe’s research provides another lens through which to view how the next twenty years will be remarkably different from life as we’ve been used to. It’s one worth looking through.

Click the image below to link to Chris Martenson’s site and listen to his interview with Neil Howe (60m:25s):

  1. Thinker says:

    Wow, first time I’ve seen Neil be anything but optimistic about what was going on and how it was all going to end. The fact that he’s now “nervous” and sees a lot of deep issues that have to be resolved by the Crisis, is telling. He normally talks about how a 4T ends up resolving issues and putting the country on a new, better track. I got the sense he’s not so sure of that, this time.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    24th June 2013 at 9:36 am

  2. Eddie says:

    I wonder what percentage of Americans could define the term Generational Theory….or how many have ever heard of Neil Howe? Not many, I’m guessing.

    I wonder how many Congressmen and Governors?

    24th June 2013 at 10:26 am

  3. Calamity says:

    Eddie- After Howe and Strauss published The Fourth Turning Al Gore bought it for every member in the congress and senate. Appears they never thumbed through it.

    24th June 2013 at 10:29 am

  4. Eddie says:

    They don’t even have time to read legislation, apparently. Just cast votes and campaign. We’re all lucky they have big donors who can tell them how to vote.

    24th June 2013 at 10:37 am

  5. Mark says:

    Gerneration Millenials =. Gernation Metro Sextual

    So, I’m supposed to believe a bunch of Kaki wearing, emancipated looking, Lilly white boys will pull their ear plugs out and put down ther I pads. And exchange them for Molotov cocktails?

    Ha Ha Ha

    24th June 2013 at 11:27 am

  6. Thinker says:

    No, Mark. You’re supposed to believe they will be a lot like their previous generational cohort, the G.I. Generation, who only wanted to chase girls and dance to Big Band music and early Rock & Roll, but still had the fortitude to storm the beaches of Normandy when they were called to do so.

    24th June 2013 at 2:28 pm

  7. fleetpete says:

    I listened to the podcast and it’s worth the time. it was recorded prior to all this nsa spying stuff going public, would be interested in howe’s pov, snowden is a millennial. I get the sense that cold war II is officially on and likewise would be interested in howe’s view.

    24th June 2013 at 3:05 pm

  8. marissa says:

    I listened to this yesterday, and much as I’d rather not say it, I wasn’t impressed.

    I was especially disturbed by his glossing over WW2 as just the end result of a Turning which led to new institutions and unity.

    65 or 70 million people died in that transition. I don’t think we want to do that again but he left that point undiscussed. I thought it was a thundering silence on his part to just skip over the carnage and ruin suffered by tens of millions of people.

    24th June 2013 at 4:05 pm

  9. Sensetti says:

    Howe forecasts a deflationary crash and I agree with him. When this monstrosity of a debt bubble explodes everything will come crashing down.

    24th June 2013 at 9:44 pm

  10. Thinker says:

    Agree, Sensetti. I’ve been thinking all day about his commentary regarding the Keynesians who want to make the dollar more competitive, but are hurting our trading partners in the process — Howe mentions China specifically. He goes on to talk about how it’s breeding resentment.

    Given the “prophecies” S&H outlined in the 4T, I think that’s a pretty prescient statement. It may be the very thing that drives us into the 4T ‘total war’ that we know we can expect.

    24th June 2013 at 11:08 pm

  11. Novista says:

    That’s right, Mark. We rely on you and your cohort to save the day. Good night and good luck.

    Meanwhile, the Snowden story just gets funnier, with the U.S. shooting itself in the foot repeatedly. Do these cunts ever think beyond the knee-jerk reaction or think no one notices the flaw in their plans?

    Yeah, the U.S. cancelled his passport, therefore, without a passport etc. he could not enter Russia. As their foreign minister carefully explained for the fools in D.C. Unintended consequences? This followed the U.S. castigation of Hong Kong and Russia for not doing their bidding.

    “We don’ need no steenkin’ evidence for anyone else, our word is good enough.” Really?

    And the hilarity of the U.S. blessing the opening of the Taliban office in Doha, only … “we will talk but there are conditions we will impose … ” soon followed by the attack in Kabul. If Yamamoto were alive today, he’d say, “Damn, we awakened a sleeping giant and it appears he is asleep again, only blundering around the world like a juggernaut.

    25th June 2013 at 7:09 am

  12. Happy Camper says:

    Martenson: “We were racking up debts at a far faster rate than income…. This was basically the idea that we could just borrow and borrow more faster than we were earning and it sort of got institutionalized, culturally and actually in instututions and maybe politically. And now when we get into the fourth turning, here we are in crisis, how is it a generation either sheds or deals with what I call an entrenched fallacy that maybe a prior generation is preserving at potentially any cost.”

    Violence, chaos, social upheaval, total war.

    Prepare yourselves accordingly.

    25th June 2013 at 9:38 am

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