First 13er President: A Gen X Independence Day

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“As they reach their turn for national leadership, 13ers will produce no-nonsense winners who will excel at cunning, flexibility, and deft timing.”

—Neil Howe and William Strauss, 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?

I’ve written before that 2016 was the first Gen X Election. And that Donald Trump would be the first Gen X president. Not because he’s an Xer, but because he personifies our coming-of-age view of the world.

Note:  I use 13ers and Gen Xers interchangeably. Historians Howe and Strauss called the generation born from 1961 to 1981 “13ers” before Douglas Coupland coined the term “Generation X.” Howe and Strauss were referring to the fact that we were the 13th generation born in America.

Donald J. Trump symbolizes the 80s and 90s. The 80s and 90s symbolize Gen X.

As I wrote last February in This Is the Gen X Election:

I’m not saying all Gen Xers will vote for Trump. I am saying the Gen X attitude that formed in the 1980s and 1990s has finally pervaded the generations on all sides. Just as the Boomer attitude, hatched in the 60s and 70s, didn’t really seize full power until the  Clinton administration.

Howe and Strauss had more to say about Gen X leadership in 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?:

If 13ers turn out like every earlier generation of their type—Lost, Gilded, Liberty, and Cavalier—they will ultimately become a stellar generation of get-it-done warriors, able to take charge of whatever raging conflicts are initiated by their elders and bring them to successful conclusions. In the tradition of George Washington, Ulysses Grant, and Dwight Eisenhower, the most memorable 13er Presidents may themselves be ex-generals. Military or not—and regardless of sex—13er leaders will be cagey, jockish, unpretentious, inelegant with words, more inclined to deal than to argue, and more admired for their personality than for their vision of learning. As they come to power around the year 2020, younger voters will view them as a welcome change from the ponderous, principles-first Boomer style. In public, they’ll come across a bit shallow. But, as any 13er already knows, low expectations can be a game you can use to your advantage—in a poker game or in the White House.

Trump is probably 4 years ahead of his time if Howe and Strauss’s calendar was correct. It’s possible that conflict between the Washington establishment and the Trump administration owes to Gen X’s early arrival in power.

But it’s also possible that whenever one of these generations of Nomads reaches power (“Nomads” is the Howe and Strauss name for Gen X’s archetype throughout history), conflict ensues. Nomad generations reach power at the end of Crisis eras, usually just before the climax. Previous climaxes were:

  • The Revolutionary War
  • The Civil War
  • World War II

Why should our Nomads get off any easier than those generations of Nomads?

It’s also worth noting that the national leaders of those eras were, like Trump, members of the Prophet generations that precede Nomads in birth order. Most of the presidents of the Continental Congress during the Revolution were, like Peyton Randolph, born before 1724, the start of the Liberty generation. Lincoln was born in 1809, 13 years before the first Gilded was born. FDR was born in 1882, but the first Lost was born in 1883. So, Trump’s timing is historically perfect.

The biggest difference between Gen X and Boomers: pragmatism over principles.

Boomers will blow up the world to prove a point. Gen Xers will find a way to survive.

Think about that. Think about the Boomers begging Trump to “do something” about Russia. The Boomers seem okay with nuclear war now. Ready to end civilization in a series of mushroom clouds. The generation that once donned bumper stickers reading “You can’t hug your kids with nuclear arms” is ready to push the red button and end it all. Maybe that name “Boomer” has gone to their heads.

Fighting for human survival is the generation of slackers. It’s not that we’re unprincipled. It’s that we think principles are evil if they require the destruction of our culture, our civilization, or our species. Or maybe we think principles apply to personal conduct, not to public policy. Either way, survival comes first.

And this gets us to the point of why we Trump supporters are so hell-bent on seeing our mission through. This is why we will tolerate, even applaud, our president’s most outlandish and most “modern day presidential” acts.

It is our mission. Howe and Strauss gave it to us in 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?, published when we were kids in 1993.

Yes, 13ers do have a mission. Theirs is the American generation that history has charged with the task of cleaning up after everybody else’s mess . . . So too is theirs the generation charged with showing others how, in this millennial era, Americans can still enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” without letting the world fly to pieces, without bankrupting the nation, and without squandering scarce global resources.

Do the dirty work, have a little fun, help the kids behind them. Not bad. Let other call 13ers “underachievers.” They can take it. We, their elders, will never live to see how their story turns out. They will. The rest of us can only imagine how, when their job’s done, they’ll look history in the eye, give a little smile, and move.

It’s pretty clear Donald Trump has adopted our generation’s mission as his own. I call on the “principled” Boomers and the other generations to shut up, get out of the way, and let us get on with the job of cleaning up your messes.

And we’re getting too damn old to argue about it. As I warned last February:

The Buchanan Brigades are running the show, now. While the establishment could still produce the next president, he or she will be unable to govern, I’m afraid. The divisions are too many, the chasms too wide, the trust too broken, the economy too leveraged.

We’ve been warning the establishment for decades that we’re not gonna take it. They didn’t listen.

But something tells me they’re listening now.

It’s Gen X Independence Day. Get out of our way. This isn’t about unity. It’s about survival. There’s a difference.

BONUS: A great primer on generational history.

 

People Want You Dead

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a riot? Even if you’ve only seen riots on television, you can probably imagine how it feels to be inside one.

Imagine yourself surrounded on all sides by angry faces dressed in shabby clothes, some faces covered with bandanas or ski masks. People are chanting something you can’t quite understand, like a private joke you’re not allowed to get. Or maybe they’re chanting at you. Maybe you’re what they’re so mad about.

You can smell acrid smoke and burning rubber from the fires set a block away. The cracked asphalt street is spotted with trash and debris. You’re jolted by shattering glass and turn to see the window of a coffee shop spider-webbing and collapsing onto the sidewalk with a crash. Angry, violent shouts. A woman shrieks in pain or fury, you can’t tell which.

Soon you realize you’re in grave danger. You might tell yourself the mob could turn on you any moment. Those rocks they hold in their hands could come flying at your head. From behind where you cannot see. So you turn around and see a police car smoldering then burst into flames as the mob roars in an angry, hate-filled celebration of their destruction and violence.

You really should get away, but you find yourself wondering, “will they follow me? Should I just blend in? Will they turn on me? Will they discover that I’m not one of them?”

The more you see and hear and smell, the more confused and terrified you become. You might even think about loved ones and whether you’ll ever see them again. And what will they think of you being in the midst of this riot? How will they explain it to themselves?

You might find yourself starting to cry, but you know your tears will give you away. They’ll know.

And how will you get away? How will you deal with the police when they show up. They might arrest you. If they ever show up. Maybe the police abandoned you? Maybe the police will just let the mob tire itself out.

The Left Has Declared War On You

There’s no need to worry about finding yourself in the center of a riot until a faction of society decides it’s okay to intimidate or kill people they don’t agree with you. So maybe it’s time to start worrying.

Meanwhile, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Time Magazine, and everything else you would consider “responsible” journalism openly condones violence against Trump supporters. Academics and Democrat leaders justify violence and encourage leftists to attack their political opponents.

Having lost at the ballot box, having lost in the court of public opinion, the left has decided to intimidate or kill its adversaries. Just like the Nazis. Just like the Leninists. Just like the Maoists.

Fighting Is Under Way

And leftist blood-lust is not limited to a fringe. A very intelligent and gentle acquaintance of mine, someone with whom I once enjoyed a cordial and friendly long-running debate, believes that Trump sent federal troops into Berkeley the other night to conduct mass arrests of protesters, trigging the riots. It’s completely untrue and she had no idea where she heard it, but she believes it as much as she believes in gravity. And her false belief, what psychologists would call a hallucination (h/t Scott Adams), allows her to justify anything the rioters did, up to and including murder.

Here’s the thing. You’ve probably heard the word “privilege” so much you could puke when you hear it. The idea of white privilege is central to the leftist hallucination. And the idea of a privileged race led Germany to the Final Solution.

Adolf Hitler wrote in 1919:

But an anti-Semitism based on reason must lead to a systematic legal elimination of the privileges of the Jews. The ultimate objective of such legislation must, however, be the irrevocable removal of the Jews from civil and cultural influence.

In fact, the Nazi propagandists worked overtime to defame Jews for their privilege. Hitler claimed Jews avoided physical labor of any kind, preferring work in finance, mercantile, and the arts. He lamented that Jews wrote and produced 90 percent of German movies despite being only one percent of the population. His propaganda depicted Jewish women as fat and lazy, yet wealthy, feeding off the labor of the German people.

Substitute “working class whites” for “Jews,” and Nazi propaganda sounds a lot like CNN commentators and UC Berkeley professors. Even so-called conservative Bill Kristol says it’s time to replace America’s white working class with immigrants.

It’s pretty clear that the left uses the same rhetoric and scapegoating against conservatives as the Nazi used against Jews. So we have to ask if these leftists use the propaganda techniques to the same end.

The Nazis wanted to vilify and dehumanize Jews so the German people would be conditioned for the Final Solution: extermination.

When you hear the speeches of campus protesters, you have to conclude that the left has a final solution in mind for people like you and me. You don’t have to take my word for it. Here are the words of a school teacher in Seattle protesting against Trump and his supporters:

And we need to start killing people. First off, we need to start killing the White House. The White House must die. The White House, your fucking White House, your fucking Presidents, they must go! Fuck the White House.

Pay the fuck up, pay the fuck up. It ain’t just your fucking time, it’s your fucking money, and now your fucking life is devoted to social change.

Democrats, establishment Republicans, and the supposedly “responsible” media ignored this story. They ignored it because they are afraid of attracting the mob’s attention. Like Germans in the 1930s, some people value their own survival too much to stop bloodshed and brutality.

You Are Not Alone

Since the election in November, I thought I was alone in seeing the life-threatening hatred in America’s leftists. But I’m learning I’m not alone. For example, Kurt Schlichter wrote recently on TownHall.com:

They hate you.

Leftists don’t merely disagree with you. They don’t merely feel you are misguided. They don’t think you are merely wrong. They hate you. They want you enslaved and obedient, if not dead. Once you get that, everything that is happening now will make sense. And you will understand what you need to be ready to do.

. . .

You wonder why the left is now justifying violence? Because they think that helps them right now. Today it’s suddenly OK to punch a “Nazi.” But the punchline is that anyone who opposes them is a “Nazi.”

Schlichter is absolutely right, of course. They hate you. You can feel it when you hear them speak and when you see them assaulting young women as the police stand around watching, encouraging the mayhem by their passivity. Yes, the Berkeley, California police are complicit in this woman’s serious injuries. They let it happen.

Look, the police will not protect you from leftist mobs. They’re too afraid. They have families and pensions to think about. And the left will not simply get jobs and go away. They want you dead. They want us all dead or enslaved.

And we’ve been warned.

The Prophesy 

In The Fourth Turning1, Howe and Strauss warned us that these Crisis eras end in a climax. That means the worst is yet to come.

The Crisis climax is human history’s equivalent to nature’s raging typhoon, the kind that sucks all surrounding matter into a single swirl of ferocious energy. Anything not lashed down goes flying; anything standing in the way gets flattened. Normally occurring late in the Fourth Turning, the climax gathers energy from an accumulation of unmet needs, unpaid bills, and unresolved problems. It then spends that energy on an upheaval whose direction and dimension were beyond comprehension during the prior Unraveling era. The climax shakes a society to its roots, transforms its institutions, redirects its purposes, and marks its people (and its generations) for life. The climax can end in triumph, or tragedy, or some combination of both. Whatever the event and whatever the outcome, a society passes through a great gate of history, fundamentally altering the course of civilization.

Yet one generation—Generation X2, aka, “13ers”—holds the key to surviving the climax:

The 13ers’ gravest Fourth Turning duty will be their society’s most important preseasonal task: to ensure that there can indeed be a new High, a new golden age of hope and prosperity. For the Crisis to end well, 13ers must keep Boomers from wreaking needless destruction and Millennials from marching too mindlessly under their elders’ banner. They will not find it easy to restrain an older generation that will consider itself far wiser than they, and a younger one that will consider itself more deserving. For this, 13ers will require a keen eye, a deft touch, and a rejection of the wild risk taking associated with their youth.

Warning us in 1997, Howe and Strauss said:

From now through the end of the Fourth Turning, 13ers will constantly rise in power. From 1998 until around the Crisis climax, they will be America’s largest potential generational voting bloc. As the years pass, their civic contributions will become increasingly essential to their nation’s survival. They will have to vote more and participate more, if they want to contain the Boomers’ zealotry. They will have that chance. Their own elected officials will surge into Congress as the Crisis catalyzes, eclipse Boomers around its climax, and totally dominate them by the time it resolves.

As they go one-on-one with history, 13ers should remember that history is counting on them to do whatever hard jobs may be necessary. If 13ers play their script weakly, old Boomers could wreak a horrible apocalypse, and 13er demagogues could impose a mind-numbing authoritarianism— or both. If 13ers play their script cleverly but safely, however, a new golden age will be their hard-won reward. As they age, 13ers should remember Hemingway’s words: “Old men do not grow wise. They grow careful.”

“Slackers” to the Rescue

Luckily, we Gen Xers have a role model in Missouri’s new governor, Eric Greitens. Greitens is the epitome of doing whatever hard jobs may be necessary, from Rwanda and Bosnia to Iraq as a Navy SEAL to charity and now to politics.

Even luckier, Generation X is already hardened. We grew up with hard rock and hard drugs and hard breakups and hard attitudes. We were eager fans who made Nirvana and Pearl Jam possible. And it’s an honor. History has handed us the keys to survival.

Those haters in Berkeley are largely Millennials. They’re following the bad examples of destructive, reckless Boomers. If America is to survive the coming climax, history will note that the Slackers, the McFlys, the generation nobody watched overcame our recklessness to rescue civilization itself.

But Generation X cannot win the battle for America’s survival alone. We need to attract soldiers from the Millennial generation. And we need to follow the lead of the Gray Champion, about whom more in future posts.

It’s Going to Be Okay

In the meantime, cut out carbs, eat more healthy fat, practice dry fire drills, stock up on ammo, and be ready for the inevitable climax. You, my friends, are the first and last line of defense in our battle for self-government. We won’t go down without the fight of the millennium.

And we will be #winning.



  1.  Strauss, William; Howe, Neil (2009-01-16). The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny, Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition. 
  2. In generational history, 13ers are the 13th generation since the American Revolution who were born between about 1961 and 1982. If you’re too young to remember JFK’s assassination, you’re a GenXer, not a Boomer. 

I Am a Right-Leaning Libertarian

Reading Time: 3 minutes

What political label do you give yourself?

Yesterday, I blogged about calling myself a Republican. I was a kid.

Then, from about 1996 on, I called myself a conservative.

Over the past year or so, I’ve taken on the label of libertarian. Now, a simple online test confirms that I’m a right-leaning conservative. [Take the test yourself]

That’s exciting, because I feel like I need a new label.

Labels Matter

I know there was a movement a couple of years ago to abolish political and ideological labels. But the brain likes labels, just as it likes other shortcuts. We want to know the time, not how to build a clock. But group labels are far more important than mere shortcuts. Labels change the way we treat others and increase our willingness to cooperate.

In short, a simple common name triggers assimilation into a preferred group.

Research by Henri Tajfel and others shows that this in-group/out-group dynamic happens for the lightest of causes. In one experiment, he divided a group of otherwise similar people by flipping a coin: heads go to one team, tails to another. Almost immediately and with no additional information, these subjects rated their “team mates” as more interesting and having better artistic taste than the other team’s members.

Someone who identifies as “Republican” favors other Republicans over any other label. Likewise for conservative, liberal, progressive, Democrat, centrist, and, of course, libertarian.

So simply saying “I am a libertarian” changes your view of yourself and of everyone else in the world. That’s powerful stuff.

Why Libertarian Might Be The Thing

I’ve pointed out before that the Millennial generation (born between about 1982 and 2002) is becoming increasingly libertarian over time. Ironically, Millennials are also joiners who favor group activities and work well with others. But they want to work in self-forming and self-directed groups, much like the GIs of World War II and very unlikely the radical individualists of Generation X (born about 1962 to 1982).

Also, the Millennials will be the largest generation in American history to date, surpassing the Boomers by several million. With Boomers now reaching elderhood and Generation X being uncentered and small in number, political influence will quickly shift from Boomers to Millennials by 2020, when even the youngest Millennials will have reached voting age.

And Ron Fournier, writing at the National Journal, speculates that Millennials might soon abandon both establishment parties.

In politics, Millennials rewarded President Obama in 2008 because they liked what he was selling. But he quickly damaged his post-partisan brand, and young voters drifted away in 2012. Going forward, Diggles says her beloved Democratic Party can’t take Millennials for granted. This is a choosy bunch, a generation of disruption.

After establishing a sociological profile, Diggles pulls together a variety of polling (including surveys I wrote about here and here) to show how young voter attitudes are already defying conventional politics.

  • Since Obama’s election, the number of self-identified independents among the Millennial Generation has increased by 11 points, nearly twice the pace of all other generations. “They aren’t satisfied with either side,” she says.
  • More than other generations, they believe government can play a positive role in people’s lives. That could be good news for Democrats, but think of the events that have shaken Millennials’ faith in government: Iraq, Katrina, the financial crisis, and the Affordable Care Act rollout. More than half of young voters think something run by the government is usually inefficient, up 9 points since 2009. The percentage of Millennials who “trust the government to do what’s right” all or most of the time fell from 44 percent in 2004 to 29 percent in 2013.
  • They’re skeptical of big institutions, including corporations and churches. In a warning to Democrats, Diggles writes, “Millennial voters are unlikely to align with a political party that expects blind faith in large institutions – either governmental or nongovernmental.”
  • They are socially tolerant, which raises severe problems for the GOP.

But Be Careful

Millennials might not adopt the libertarian label. They may go someplace else entirely. My guess is their preferences will remain what we call “libertarian.” They will want government to do fewer things but do them well. They will want government to greatly reduce or eliminate prohibition on behavior, but they will expect punishment for behavior that hurts others. They will expect charity to become a private matter, but ostracize the selfish and greedy who refuse to help out in a pinch.

Most of my life I felt like a libertarian but identified as a conservative or Republican. That was a cop out, really. There just weren’t enough libertarians to form a critical mass.

So call me an opportunist or a coward or a bandwagoneer. Just so long as you call me a libertarian.

UPDATE: Dave Leonhardt writes in the NYT that Millennials could morph into more traditional conservatives. H/T Ben Evans of Heritage Action.

What Scrooge Teaches Millennials

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This is the fourth in a series. If you haven’t, please read part 1, part 2, and part 3

Because so many school systems have driven great English literature out of students’ hands and minds, it’s possible that some kids never read Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.  If you’ve never read this classic, please do so now.  You need it.

Scrooge_Marley

Back?  Good. Fascinating stuff, isn’t it?  And so much more accessible than David Copperfield, which was my introduction to Dickens.

So now you know that Scrooge was a miser who treated the whole world and all of its inhabitants with a cruel contempt.  Scrooge loved money and nothing else.

But during the course of the story, a series of spirits massage Scrooge’s conscience. They begin with his own happy youth, when Scrooge still enjoyed the presence of other people.  They proceed through Scrooges present and into his future.

Somewhere along the way, Scrooge changes.  He has a conversion. He learns to love others as himself.

If I were a Millennial—those born between 1983 and about 2002—I’d ask myself, “why?”

The spirits didn’t argue politics or morality with Scrooge.  They didn’t tell him his taxes were too low, and they didn’t send bureaucrats to audit his books and extract fines.

Instead, they made it personal.  They showed him his real life—past, present, and future—in living color and 3D.  They simply held up a mirror and provided him clear evidence of what his future would be if remained on the path he’d taken.

Scrooge reformed because he knew a lonely, unhappy death awaited him. He knew that people would mock his memory.

Millennials should take a hard look at our national debt. Not just where it stands, but the direction it’s going.

Look at the amount of debt that Gen X, Boomers, and WWII have saddled you with.  It’s about $50,000 and going up every day.

What did you get for that money?  Not a damn thing, really.  Most of that debt went to pay for people who are already retired. In other words, your grandparents are borrowing money, spending it, and passing the bill onto you.

I know you’re a generous group. You want to help. You believe in this country, and you’re willing to sacrifice to make it stronger.

We all are.  That’s a common trait of Americans.

But how much can you bear?  How much of a debt burden can your generation really handle?

On top of Washington’s $15 trillion in debt and $60 trillion in unfunded liabilities, most states hold hundreds of billions or more in combined debt and future pension obligations.  Those aren’t your pensions, but the pensions of people in older generations.

Well, you weren’t asking for all that debt. Now you’re stuck with it.

Again, how much more can you and our society handle? And does it really help anyone for the government to make promises it can’t keep?

Scrooge looked at “Christmas Yet To Come” and saw his horrible death. Unless he changed.

When I look at America’s future, I see the same.

The spirits gave Scrooge the chance to reform, and he took it.

Will you?

Peering Into the Future from the Past

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Check this out:

As far as the market drop and the comeback of the market, I’d just like to pass along the following information. I stand in the Ten-Year Treasury-Note pit in the Chicago Board of Trade. The name of the room I trade in is the Financial Room. We trade the commodities that represent most of our national debt. When the gov., sells debt, the buyers of that debt have to hedge somewhere. They hedge with us.

This room is the center of the universe as far as our national debt is concerned and it will become increasingly more visible as the crisis approaches. (If you’ve ever seen CNBC during the day, they cut to the CBOT floor with a reporter named, Rick Santelli. Behind Rick, you can see a trading floor; that’s the Financial Floor of the CBOT.)

That’s from James Goulding’s blog from August 2003. (The blog has been reduced to a static web page. Scroll down to see this entry in its entirety.)

I love reading people’s predictions years later. Most prognosticators miss by a mile. A few land in the ball park.  A handful scare the begeezes out of me.

Do you find it peculiar that Mr. Goulding mentioned the significance of national debt and introduced Rick Santelli so long before the two converged to inspire the Tea Party? I do.

James Goulding is a big fan of two other prognosticators who freak me out: William Strauss and Neil Howe who wrote The Fourth Turning among other works.

Here’s a quote from that book:

A spark will ignite a new mood. Today, the same spark would flame briefly but then extinguish, its last flicker merely confirming and deepening the Unraveling-era mind-set. This time, though, it will catalyze a Crisis. In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party [bold mine].

The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny

Of course, Howe and Strauss did not predict the emergence of the Tea Party movement when they wrote in 1997. Did they?

It’s eerie, nonetheless. Why that term? Why in that syntax?

We can’t really predict the future, but we can arm ourselves with a lot of information about the possible courses history might take and the dangers and trade-offs we face.

Strauss and Howe believe that we live though a 20-year period of Crisis every 80 to 100 years.  The last such period ended in 1945 with the end of WWII. It had begun in 1929 with the stock market crash.  The next one was between about 2005 and 2013.

And here we are.

Back to Goulding:

The point is this; the market (the DOW) is behaving [in August 2003] like the market of the 20s. However, I noticed something recently. When I advance the chart of the twenties in time, by 14 months, the similarities of this latest rally we are having (August 2003) are startling. 9/11 may have escalated the pace of the impending Spark. (The Spark wasn’t expected until 2009) It may have advanced to 2007.

Or 2008.

In this crisis, I try to make myself useful.  I am guided by these words, again from The Fourth Turning:

“Now once more the belt is tight and we summon the proper expression of horror as we look back at our wasted youth,” F. Scott Fitzgerald said after the crash that hit his peers at the cusp of what should have been their highest-earning years. “A generation with no second acts,” he called his Lost peers—but they proved him wrong. They ended their frenzy and settled down, thus helping to unjangle the American mood. Where their Missionary predecessors had entered midlife believing in vast crusades, the post-Crash Lost skipped the moralisms and returned directly to the basics of life. “What is moral is what you feel good after,” declared Ernest Hemingway, “what is immoral is what you feel bad after.” “Everything depends on the use to which it is put,” explained Reinhold Niebuhr on behalf of a generation that did useful things regardless of faith—a role the Missionaries chose not to play.

Howe, Neil; Strauss, William (2009-01-16). The Fourth Turning (Kindle Locations 5978-5984). Three Rivers Press. Kindle Edition.

The modern day Lost we call Gen X, the Missionary, Boomers.  Next up were the GI whose modern version we call Millennial.

I hope I’ve learned well the lessons of history. We have a tough row to hoe. We can whine and complain, or we can shoulder the work.

Given a choice, I’d prefer more income, better markets, and a quiet life. But the cycles of history have decided otherwise.

What do you think?

Don’t Look for Quick Fixes

Reading Time: 3 minutes

According to a book by historians Neil Howe and William Strauss, history follows a fairly predictable pattern, rotating in cycles equal to a long human life. The book, The Fourth Turning, was written in 1997.

Read it.

If Howe and Strauss are right—and so far, they’re dead on—then we recently entered a Fourth Turning in the current saeculum which they named “millennium.”

What is a Fourth Turning?

The Fourth Turning is a Crisis, a decisive era of secular upheaval, when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one.

We’re not talking about an election cycle; we’re talking about an entirely reformulated society.

So far, America has experienced three significant turnings.  (Four, really, but the first was long before the Revolution.)

The Revolution, when the colonies declared independence from Great Britain and formed a democratic republic under the Constitution.

The Civil War, when we established the impossibility of secession and ended slavery.

The Depression-WWII, when we effectively abolished Constitutional government and re-ordered the entire world for increased security.

With the exception of the Civil War, each of these saecula lasted the length of a long human life—80 to 100 years.  That’s also about four generations.

Fourth Turnings—Crisis turnings—begin not because of chronology, but because of generational attitudes.  Fourth Turnings begin when the Boom children from the last Crisis reach Elderhood.

Think Bill  Clinton as elder statesman.

Behind that Boom generation is a generation of Nomads—the Gen Xers in this saecula.  My generation.  Reality Bites people.  Wild risk-takers. Generals George Patton and George Washington were the Generation Xers of their days.  So was Francis Marion.

Next, ready to do battle, is a Hero generation. These were the foot soldiers and Marines and sailors of WWII.  They’re also the kids fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq today. They’re the Millennials whom we too easily dismiss. But they’ll receive our ticker-tape parades someday. They’ll be the next Greatest Generation, if Howe and Strauss are correct.

Those born after about 2002?  They’re the next generation of artists.  The last generation of Artists were the Silent Generation who came of age just after WWII. They were too young to fight, but too old for Vietnam.  This generation is great at following orders.  It is the only American generation never to produce a President.  (We skipped from the GI generation of George H.W. Bush to the Boomers with Bill Clinton, George W., and Obama.)

So the stars—and the players—seemed aligned for a Fourth Turning: 20 to 25 years of total upheaval and, possibly,  total war. Those who think the worst is over, as I’ve said repeatedly, have another thought coming.  The debt problem that caused the 2008 crisis was not solved; it was papered over and compounded. February’s deficit was 40 percent bigger than the entire deficit for 2007.  The March deficit will be larger still.

I know some people believe that we can end the crisis with a single election—2010.  That’s beyond wishful thinking.  It’s irresponsible thinking.  Our troubles go deeper than an election cycle.  Or even two.

That doesn’t mean we don’t start now, though.  In fact, the Tea Party movement was really a recognition of the Crisis, though I didn’t know it at the time.  (Maybe some of you did.)

With spiraling debt, rising international tensions, Japan melting down, and public sector unions demanding the power to take even more away from the producers, we’re just beginning a long generation of turmoil.

Read The Fourth Turning this week.  Learn your role and the risks we face.  Then, we might as well get started.