We are watching The Fourth Turning unfold before our eyes.
While you should read all of The Fourth Turning by generational historians William Strauss and Neil Howe, here’s one of their predictions for this point in time. The prediction was published in 1997:
The economy will in time recover from its early and vertiginous reversals. Late in the Crisis, with trust and hope and urgency growing fast, it may even achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency and production. But, by then, the economy will have changed fundamentally. Compared to today, it will be less globally dependent, with smaller cross-border trade and capital flows. Its businesses will be more cartelized and its workers more unionized, perhaps under the shadow of overt government direction. And it will devote a much larger share of its income to saving and investing. Fourth Turning America will begin to lay out the next saeculum’s infrastructure grid—some higher-tech facsimile of turnpikes, railroads, or highways. The economic role of government will shift toward far more spending on survival and future promises (defense, public works) and far less on amenities and past promises (elder care, debt service).
Howe, Neil; Strauss, William (2009-01-16). The Fourth Turning (Kindle Locations 5729-5735). Random House, Inc. Kindle Edition.
I have no idea whether Donald Trump ever read The Fourth Turning. But it doesn’t matter. Strauss and Howe never intended their books to be prescriptions for governance. Instead, The Fourth Turning was meant as a prophecy. It was a scenario of what was to come, not what the authors wished to come. They didn’t advocate for a less globally-dependent economy; they foresaw it.
Disturbingly, few business leaders see this coming. Executives continue these globalization investments despite mounting evidence that Strauss and Howe were mostly right. From the UK to the USA, from France to Italy and Greece, people are fed up with globalization and demanding their governments fix problems at home. Only those out-of-touch, self-absorbed globalist elites fail to see that times have changed.
As the USA approaches the climax of the Crisis, smart executives will focus on making America great again and worry less about creating markets in tiny, failed economies overseas. Smart executives will think about making America great, not just their stockholders.
Apple and Ford have already indicated they get it. Or, at least, they’re pretending to get it. Apple is exploring ways to build iPhones in the USA. Ford has decided to keep some car lines in the USA. Expect other companies to follow suit. Pretty soon, “made in America” will make companies rich.
Meanwhile, American consumers, especially those who voted for Trump, should seek out and demand American-made products. I realize you can’t do this for everything. And I realize you’ll have to pay a little more. But, wouldn’t it say a lot if Trump voters consumed fewer things so they could buy mostly American things? I’ll bet that you could find ten things in the room your in that you really didn’t need. If you’d skipped those unnecessary, wasteful purchases, you might have been able to afford the American-made versions of the stuff you really needed. It’s easy to make the switch once you get started. You might even find yourself looking at the country of manufacture the next time you’re in a store.
America gave itself a new lease on life this year. Let’s spend it well. If we do, in just four years we’ll be able to say “America is back.”
Also published on Medium.