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

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. 

Predicting the Climax

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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.”

The Centre Cannot Hold

Reading Time: 6 minutes

     –William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Republican Establishment fears the party is spinning apart.

You probably know that I believe in the cyclical history. So did Yeats.

Cycles of History

In The Second Coming Yeats sees the old order in Europe dying as the gyre (2000 years) that began with Christ ends. The beast is Europe’s ruling class moving slowly as scavenger birds wait for the beast to drop.

America has a ruling class–a cabal of political, business, and media elite. On the surface, their factions war and clash, but when the lights and cameras and microphones power down, they plot together to keep the rabble in its place.

The rabble are awakened.

The End of the Old Establishment

Maybe it was one too-many hot mic accidents. Maybe it was the hubris of power and the ascension of elites less skilled in masking their contempt of the rank and file.

In the end, the reason won’t matter much. The Establishment beast is old and weary. Its parasites look for new, healthier hosts.

The Democrat Establishment candidate has a socialist nipping at her cankles. The Republicans have no clear Establishment leading candidate, but a muddle of pretenders and wannabes sitting miles behind a populist and a conservative evangelist.

The centre is gone. Not only is there political center between the two major parties, there’s no firm center within the parties. The New York Times article linked above explains it all in two short paragraphs:

Rank-and-file conservatives, after decades of deferring to party elites, are trying to stage what is effectively a people’s coup by selecting a standard-bearer who is not the preferred candidate of wealthy donors and elected officials.

And many of those traditional power brokers, in turn, are deeply uncomfortable and even hostile to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz: Between them, the leading candidates do not have the backing of a single senator or governor.

Yet this isn’t just about electoral politics. Look what’s happening in the finance world.

Wall Street had its worst first week of a year in history. China’s competence narrative is falling apart, and taking the narrative of the omnipotent Central Banker with it.

[UPDATE: Asian markets continue free-fall on Monday]

Wall Street and Central Bankers were key to the old Establishment order. The Establishment of both parties gave Wall Street a veto on their candidates long ago. Right now, the financial world is too distracted with its own problems to pay more than scant attention to the election. Besides, they have ways of making eventual winners see things their way, and they count on their financial threats to keep any new president in line.

The Trough of the Crisis

The Fourth Turning, published in 1997, predicted that America would enter a Crisis period within the decade.

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. It could be a rapid succession of small events in which the ominous, the ordinary, and the trivial are commingled.

Recall that a Crisis catalyst involves scenarios distinctly imaginable eight or ten years in advance. Based on recent Unraveling-era trends, the following circa-2005 scenarios might seem plausible:

  • Beset by a fiscal crisis, a state lays claim to its residents’ federal tax monies. Declaring this an act of secession, the president obtains a federal injunction. The governor refuses to back down. Federal marshals enforce the court order. Similar tax rebellions spring up in other states. Treasury bill auctions are suspended. Militia violence breaks out. Cyberterrorists destroy IRS databases. U.S. special forces are put on alert. Demands issue for a new Constitutional Convention.
  • A global terrorist group blows up an aircraft and announces it possesses portable nuclear weapons. The United States and its allies launch a preemptive strike. The terrorists threaten to retaliate against an American city. Congress declares war and authorizes unlimited house-to-house searches. Opponents charge that the president concocted the emergency for political purposes. A nationwide strike is declared. Foreign capital flees the U.S.
  • An impasse over the federal budget reaches a stalemate. The president and Congress both refuse to back down, triggering a near-total government shutdown. The president declares emergency powers. Congress rescinds his authority. Dollar and bond prices plummet. The president threatens to stop Social Security checks. Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling. Default looms. Wall Street panics.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announce the spread of a new communicable virus. The disease reaches densely populated areas, killing some. Congress enacts mandatory quarantine measures. The president orders the National Guard to throw prophylactic cordons around unsafe neighborhoods. Mayors resist. Urban gangs battle suburban militias. Calls mount for the president to declare martial law.
  • Growing anarchy throughout the former Soviet republics prompts Russia to conduct training exercises around its borders. Lithuania erupts in civil war. Negotiations break down. U.S. diplomats are captured and publicly taunted. The president airlifts troops to rescue them and orders ships into the Black Sea. Iran declares its alliance with Russia. Gold and oil prices soar. Congress debates restoring the draft.

Howe, Neil; Strauss, William (2009-01-16). The Fourth Turning (Kindle Locations 5645-5647). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Am I the only one who sees that, not one but ALL of those possible scenarios has played out or nearly played out since the financial crisis struck in 2007?

That Crisis era, they predicted, will last about 15 to 20 years, after which a new social order will emerge in America. From The Fourth Turning:

Before long, America’s old civic order will seem ruined beyond repair. People will feel like a magnet has passed over society’s disk drive, blanking out the social contract, wiping out old deals, clearing the books of vast unpayable promises to which people had once felt entitled. The economy could reach a trough that may look to be the start of a depression. With American weaknesses newly exposed, foreign dangers could erupt.

But before we get to the High, we will go through a climax according to The Fourth Turning:

Eventually, all of America’s lesser problems will combine into one giant problem. The very survival of the society will feel at stake, as leaders lead and people follow. Public issues will be newly simple, fitting within the contours of crisp yes-no choices. People will leave niches to join interlocking teams, each team dependent on (and trusting of) work done by other teams. People will share similar hopes and sacrifices—and a new sense of social equality. The splinterings, complexities, and cynicisms of the Unraveling will be but distant memories. The first glimpses of a new golden age will appear beyond: if only this one big problem can be fixed.

It’s been nine years since the Crisis began with the fall of Bear-Stearn. Eight years if you believe the Crisis started with Lehman Brothers.

The Climax

Either way, we are inching closer to the climax. With Trump and Cruz running as much against the Republican Establishment as they are against the Democrats, the pieces are in place for the climax to emerge.

It’s very likely that the 2016 election will bring about the long term realignment of the social contract as Howe and Strauss predicted in The Fourth Turning:

Soon after the catalyst, a national election will produce a sweeping political realignment, as one faction or coalition capitalizes on a new public demand for decisive action. Republicans, Democrats, or perhaps a new party will decisively win the long partisan tug-of-war, ending the era of split government that had lasted through four decades of Awakening and Unraveling. The winners will now have the power to pursue the more potent, less incre-mentalist agenda about which they had long dreamed and against which their adversaries had darkly warned. This new regime will enthrone itself for the duration of the Crisis. Regardless of its ideology, that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Where leaders had once been inclined to alleviate societal pressures, they will now aggravate them to command the nation’s attention. The regeneracy will be solidly under way.

When I read theories that attempt to explain Trump and Cruz, I’m surprised no one else stumbled onto this one.

Like it or not, we’re in the trough of the Crisis. And the worst is yet to come. Be ready to influence the new social contract. With or without a convention of states, America’s social contract has been digitized and opened for editing by anyone.


Why Conservatives Should Get Involved—Part 4

Reading Time: 13 minutes

In part 1 of this series, we clarified some misconceptions and falsehoods about the Franklin Project.

In part 2, we examined the debate on the right from 1990 with William F. Buckley and Milton Friedman.

Part 3 was a critique of the Franklin Project’s Plan of Action.

Today, we will look at the consequences should conservatives turn their backs on the concept of developing a service ethos in America.

Generations: Saying “No” Won’t Work

  1. Do you remember when Roosevelt died?
  2. Do you remember, however vaguely, Kennedy’s assassination?

  3. How about the Challenger disaster?

  4. The fall of Lehman Brothers?


A. If you answered Yes to 1, you are a Silent or WWII generation, but not a Boomer.

B. If you answered No to 1 and Yes to 2, you are a Boomer.

C. No to 2 and Yes to 3, you are Generation X.

D. No 3 and Yes to 4, you are a Millennial.

Based on statistical analysis of readers of this blog, about 10 percent of my readers fall into A, about 50 percent B, about 30 percent C and about 10 percent D.

In terms of population, D is the largest group, B is second, C is third, and A is fifth. There are more people alive in the USA younger than Millennials than there are older than Boomers.

Now, think about this. Gen X is fairly conservative. Boomers are fairly conservative. The remaining Silents and WWIIers are mostly conservative. Millennials are not.

God and His nature are producing no new Silents, no new Boomers, no new Xers. But Millennials reach voting age every day, and will until 2020.

By the time the last cohort of Millennials turns 18, Silents (born before 1942) will be at least 78 years old–beyond the life expectancy of their generation. Most Boomers will be retired. Generation Xers will be planning their departure from the work force. And Millennials will be taking over the vital years of their careers.

Millennials are the largest generation in American history, outnumbering Boomers by several million.

If you find this news depressing, you should. Conservatives have done little to attract the next generation of voters and leaders. As our numbers dwindle, we panic at what follows.

Winter Has Come

We are somewhere in the Winter of a secular era that began with Victory in Japan day in 1945. From 1945 until Kennedy’s assassination was the High, an era marked by feelings of hope, community, and growth. The 1960s to about 1984 was the Awakening in which the culture grew contemptuous of conformity and sought spiritual independence and enlightenment. With Reagan’s re-election, we entered the Unraveling as institutions lost their power and individuals fragmented into parties of one. The Unraveling gave way to Winter, a crisis era, with the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Looking back on past Winters, generational historians Howe and Strauss explain the feeling that continues to emerge. From The Fourth Turning:

As the community instinct regenerates, people resolve to do more than just relieve the symptoms of pending traumas. Intent on addressing root causes, they rediscover the value of unity, teamwork, and social discipline. Far more than before, people comply with authority, accept the need for public sacrifice, and shed anything extraneous to the survival needs of their community. This is a critical threshold: People either coalesce as a nation and culture—or rip hopelessly and permanently apart.

Some people might take lightly this whole debate over national service. It seems to some like the least of our problems.

But it might be the most important, if not most urgent, problem we face today. Crisis eras resolve into a new High, like the 1940s and 1950s, but only if society remains in tact. Right now, American society could go either way. We have no reason to believe that the United States will remain one nation through the next climax.

I am the oldest of Generation X, the most individualistic, narcissistic, and nihilistic generation alive. The institutions built during and after the last Crisis, from 1929 to 1945, are crumbling because we let them. We attacked them. We dance on their graves, and we have since we were kids.

We have good reasons for letting institutions fail, because we have evidence that the institutions failed us. Social Security? Medicare? Expenses we can’t reasonably expect to withdraw.

We had to let them decay. Society needs to purge itself of waste from the last saeculum so it can grow into the new order. Again, from The Fourth Turning:

This Crisis morphology occurs over the span of one turning, which (except for the U.S. Civil War) means that around fifteen to twenty-five years elapse between the catalyst and the resolution. The regeneracy usually occurs one to five years after the era begins, the climax one to five years before it ends.

Once this new mood is fully catalyzed, a society begins a process of re-generacy, a drawing together into whatever definition of community is available at the time. Out of the debris of the Unraveling, a new civic ethos arises. One set of post-Awakening ideals prevails over the others. People stop tolerating the weakening of institutions, the splintering of the culture, and the individualizing of daily behavior. Spiritual curiosity abates, manners traditionalize, and the culture is harnessed as propaganda for the purpose of overtly reinforcing good conduct. History teaches that, roughly one to three years after the initial catalyst, people begin acknowledging this new synergy in community life and begin deputizing government to enforce it. Collective action is now seen as vital to solving the society’s most fundamental problems.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t want it to happen, regeneracy occurs all around us. Milliennials–the oldest now in their mid-30s–work in teams and have faith in institutions. They don’t hate prior generations. If anything, they pity us. They also hope to learn from us and want us to lead them. But they want us to lead them to a better future built on the best ideas from the past blended and strengthened with new ideas or dormant ideas that withered in the Awaken of the 60s and 70s and the Unraveling of the 80s and 90s.

National service, and a service ethic, is coming fast whether conservatives like it or not.

Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

That smug motto of the 90s comes back to bite us. And it exposes a major flaw in modern conservative behavior.

When we on the right see something that looks “hippy” or “liberal” or “do-gooder,” we tend to roll our eyes and turn away. Admit it. I do it, and so do you.

We’ve turned our backs on journalism, literature, music, photography, art, education, show business, conservation, and law. We believed we had some “moral authority” to look back at those abandoned fields and yell “knock it off!”

But they don’t listen.

Why do you think that is?

I don’t have time to fight those battles because a new battlefield just opened up: national service.

You might not like the Aspen Institute. There’s good reason to suspect what all those elites do out there in Colorado.

But we don’t have the moral authority to tell them to stop. Just as we think what they do is crazy, they think what we do is pointless. And they are ahead of us on money, time, and position.

They’re not watching us stomp our feet, and they’re not hearing our shouts of “no!” They don’t think what they’re doing is wrong, and our telling them they’re wrong wins no converts.

The Jewish Lawyer

A Jewish lawyer in New York ran into a Catholic church to get out of terrible storm. The church was empty. He sat in the last pew and caught up on paperwork until the storm passed.

Appreciating the silent peacefulness of the church, he began spending afternoons in that pew. No one would bother him there. The smell of candles and incense lent an air of peace and solemnity that bolstered his focus. People came in silently and prayed, but no one disturbed him.

He would notice, from time to time, a priest enter the sanctuary and open a safe. The priest would remove something with great reverence, bow, and close the safe. He would say a prayer and depart. Hours later, the priest would return and repeat the process in reverse.

Over the course of years, the lawyer became increasingly amazed at the priest’s reverence and care. The priest never looked to see if anyone was watching. Most times, the priest could not have seen the lawyer hunched in the dark last pew. With or without an audience, the priest performed the ritual identically every time.

The lawyer eventually converted to Catholicism. Though he embraced the entire catechism, his inspiration was the simple, humble consistency of that priest who treated the sacristy and the host with such remarkable reverence and dignity when no one was watching. No one but God and a Jewish lawyer in the last pew.

A church’s nave is not a workspace for lawyers seeking refuge from the bustle of an office. It’s a place of prayer and worship. The priest, and the parishioners who came into pray, would have been well within their rights to confront the man who used the church as an office.

If the priest had confronted the lawyer and told him to get out, would he have converted?

No One Cares If We’re Right

Some of the people who influenced the terrible Plan of Action adopted at Franklin Project’s conclave two years ago may want to transform America into a socialist experiment. I would bet some do.

Some (I’m looking at Cisco and Bank of America) want to use national service as a tool to protect their incumbency and bludgeon their competitors.

Many want to renew a national ethos of service and respect (gratitude) for the great privileges we enjoy as Americans.

And a handful might even be conservatives recognizing a need and responding to William F. Buckley’s call.

None of them will pay heed to angry conservatives stomping their feet and yelling “stop.”

A Quarter of a Century Has Passed

I turned 25-years-old on October 5, 1988. My boat, the USS Woodrow Wilson, was in Charleston Naval Shipyard for a refueling overhaul. I remember thinking, “I’m a quarter century old.”

I’m older now. A quarter century ago, I read Gratitude for the first time. It was a difficult book to read. Like Milton Friedman, I asked myself, “what’s gotten into you, Bill?” Why is Bill Buckley advocating for a big federal program?

It took a long time for me to come to grips with the idea. I still haven’t completely accepted the concept of a new federal agency. Perhaps Buckley was hoping to overshoot the need so we’d settle for a more federalist system that achieved the same end.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that Buckley was absolutely right in pointing out the need for a new national ethos of service.

As petty officer first class in the Navy, I’d been living service for four years. I’d matured a decade in that time. I’d learned to look around for jobs to be done, not for leisure to be enjoyed. I’d changed.

Buckley saw a generation change in World War II. Those who’ve taken time off from life to serve a higher calling never return to the world they left. They pass into a new world where the colors are brighter, the candy sweeter, and the air cleaner than the one they departed. They appreciate smaller things and lose patience with the trivial. They learn to make decisions and move on, dealing with the fallout of their actions. They learn the beauty and majesty of the shining city on a hill.

They grow up.

A Service Ethos Is Coming

Whether you like it or not, a new ethos of service is coming. Conservatives can huddle in our affinity bubbles and crack wise about the hippies and their service ethic, or we can get involved to influence the way the programs evolve.

If we choose to get involved, we wont’ be completely satisfied with the result. We will lose some battles.

If we stand back and complain, we will lose them all.

The Fourth Turning: Climax

Private life also transforms beyond prior recognition. Now less important than the team, individuals are expected to comply with new Fourth Turning standards of virtue. Family order strengthens, and personal violence and substance abuse decline. Those who persist in free-wheeling self-oriented behavior now face implacable public stigma, even punishment. Winner-take-all arrangements give way to enforceable new mechanisms of social sharing. Questions about who does what are settled on grounds of survival, not fairness. This leads to a renewed social division of labor by age and sex. In the realm of public activity, elders are expected to step aside for the young, women for men. When danger looms, children are expected to be protected before parents, mothers before fathers. All social arrangements are evaluated anew; pre-Crisis promises and expectations count for little. Where the Unraveling had been an era of fast-paced personal lives against a background of public gridlock, in the Crisis the pace of daily life will seem to slow down just as political and social change accelerates.

Howe and Strauss might not get the details exactly right. They’re painting a likely scenario, not predicting a specific event. But the feeling of the era is dead on. We are in the eye of the storm. And we have the chance to influence its direction.

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.

If you think the Franklin Project’s Plan of Action is bad now, imagine if there’d been NO conservatives (or emerging conservatives) on its panel?

And if you say, “they shouldn’t have done it,” what have we done to fill the need?

In 1990, Buckley found that 72.8 percent of Americans favored “national service,” though that that number fell to 44 percent if it required an increase of five percent in taxes to fund it.

A survey in 2013 found that recognition of a need for national service has increased since 1990.

  • Eighty percent support voluntary national service, including 88 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of Independents and 76 percent of Republicans
  • Seventy-one percent OPPOSE mandatory national service, including 52 percent who strongly oppose
  • Ninety-three support national service programs to assist veterans, the military, and their families
  • Ninety-one percent support tutoring programs for students
  • Ninety-one percent support volunteer disaster relief programs

The list goes on. Granted, people don’t want to pay taxes to fund the programs, but they might be willing to help fund private or charitable programs to fulfill these ends.

If conservatives don’t get involved, they won’t like what the programs become.

Buckley foresaw a tidal change in American attitudes toward service:

It is possible that the general public, apparently already on the way, will someday soon reach the point where they are resolutely behind the idea. If that were to happen, one might anticipate a day when, notwithstanding that national service continued to be voluntary, the sense of duty to volunteer would be felt by the typical citizen as keenly as, say, most young men felt a call to duty on December 7, 1941.

. . .

If we are engaged in promoting national service, we are engaged in the subtle business of trying to shape the national ethos. Somewhere along the line I have written that in my lifetime I have detected only two sea changes in national attitude, of them on a lesser scale, the second on a larger scale. The first has to do with the environment, the second with racial toleration.

Do you remember the episode of Mad Men when Don and Betty took the kids to a park for a picnic? After enjoying a meal and drinks, the family stood up and dumped their bottles, cans, plates, napkins, and chicken bones onto the ground and left.

The scene was shocking to today’s viewers. Being just younger than the Draper kids (almost exactly little Gene’s age), I remember those days well. I remember tossing trash out the windows of moving cars. It’s what everybody did.

Today, we’d consider such behavior boorish, if not evil.

When I was born in 1963, there were still segregated drinking fountains in America. And that’s just one symptom of racism that seems like fiction today.

I think Buckley’s recognition of national service as the third great sea change in America was dead on. And it’s happening now.

If conservatives refuse to get involved, they will hate the way it turns out.

I Could Be Wrong

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Millennials will decide to act more like us Gen Xers, mocking institutions and joking about their slackerness. If that’s the case, then there’s no need for conservatives to get involved in shaping a national service program.

If I’m right, if Americans are sick of the winner-take-all, don’t-get-caught attitude that’s grown since the early 90s, then conservatives better get involved or prepare to live with the consequences.

National service could save free markets. I don’t want the government capping executive compensation. But I also don’t want executives issuing bonds to buy back their own stock to boost their compensation at the expense of the firm’s future viability. A generation (or more) of MBAs believes hollowing out companies for immediate profit is good business.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Paul Lawrence of Harvard Business School. Professor Lawrence attended Harvard after World War II, using the GI Bill to earn a masters and doctorate. He remained at Harvard as a professor until he passed away on Thanksgiving a couple years ago.

Dr. Lawrence told me how Milton Friedman’s op-ed about the social purpose of business changed everything. I argued with him, politely, but he was there; I wasn’t.

At the time, Friedman’s doctrine–that the only purpose of a business is to maximize return to shareholders–seemed like a ray of sunlight into business. At the time (the early 1970s) companies were going with berserk with crazy ideas of social good. Friedman gave them permission to think about nothing but profits for shareholders. It made sense at the time.

Harvard Business School accepted the thinking and adopted “agency theory” of business. Executives were agents of shareholders and were responsible only to get as much profit out of the company as they could. As an incentive, executive compensation shifted from salary to stock incentives. The higher the stock goes, the more the executive makes.

“When did you change your mind about agency model?” I asked Dr. Lawrence.

“I’d been worried about excesses for a long time,” he told me. But the telling moment came just after he semi-retired in 2000. He was watching a news program on corporate scandals–Enron and the like–when the TV displayed a 3×3 grid of executives in jail, on trial, or under investigation for fraud.

“Six of the nine were my students,” he said. “I realized I’d been part of a corrupt system that created monsters.”

Dr. Lawrence believed strongly in free markets, and recognized that agency theory threatens to destroy capitalism, not grow it.

“I had to do something.”

Dr. Lawrence emerged from a short retirement and teamed up with Nitin Nohria, now Dean of Harvard Business School, to try to correct the wrongs of agency theory.

When GE uses its influence to ban 100-watt incandescent bulbs so you have no choice but to buy more expensive condensed fluorescent lamps, agency theory is winning over free market capitalism.

I believe–and I could be wrong–that a stronger national service ethos would upend agency theory. A service-oriented CEO would be ashamed to gut a great company for his own enrichment. A service-oriented CEO would quit before manipulating (bribing) Congress to protect his business from innovation and competition. A service-oriented manager would tell shareholders to be patient before laying off good, hardworking people just to meet a quarterly profit target.

Free markets and free nations rely on people with a strong moral compass. Either we govern ourselves, or others rule over us. The absence of a strong national service ethos, I believe, helped create the twisted, selfish, “take what you can get” attitude that defines much of modern life in America.

And the kids know it.

Millennials–the largest generation in American history–look at agency theory the way we look at the Drapers tossing garbage in a park. To them, it’s a sad reminder of history. Millennials have strong sense of service, even if without a national or state programs to answer the call.

Millennials will fill the void. The founders of Franklin Project are eager to help them, to guide them, and influence them.

Conservatives can jump into the parade and help lead it, or we can stand back and gripe about the consequences. But stomping our feet and yelling “no” won’t stop the sea change in national attitude Buckley warned of twenty-five years ago.

Rather than criticizing Eric Greitens for joining Franklin Project, I thank God at least one of us is in its ranks.

Tomorrow, I will propose a simple conservative alternative the Franklin Project here in Missouri.

Thanks for your time. I’ll leave with one last “prophecy” from The Fourth Turning:

With or without war, American society will be transformed into something different. The emergent society may be something better, a nation that sustains its Framers’ visions with a robust new pride. Or it may be something unspeakably worse. The Fourth Turning will be a time of glory or ruin.

Howe, Neil; Strauss, William (2009-01-16). The Fourth Turning (Kindle Locations 5781-5783). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Libertarian Is The New Mainstream

Reading Time: 6 minutes

You don’t hear the word “mainstream” in political spin like you used to.

Back in the late 1980s when Jack Kemp, Pat Robertson, Pete DuPont, Al Haig, and George H. W. Bush were battling to replace

1988 Republican Candidates

Ronald Reagan, “mainstream” was in. Candidates fought for the title of “mainstream Republican,” “mainstream Conservative,” “mainstream everything.”

I’m glad that word went away. But I’m bringing it back, if only for one blog post.

I was listening to my favorite podcast tonight driving home from work: James Altucher. Speaking of the former WWE wrestler Kane, Altucher said:

He knows a lot about economics and his politics lean towards libertarian, but he has a more mainstream side.

The date of that podcast is July 18, 2013.

I get it. Back in 2013, libertarian was still a fringe ideology. Back in 2013, there were only two “mainstream” ideologies operating in the USA: Democrat and Republican. One builds insurmountable mounds of debt to buy votes, the other builds insurmountable piles of debt to buy campaign donations from the Chamber of Commerce. And occasionally the two parties entertain us by yelling at each other in public.

That’s all changed, of course. Libertarian—the ideology, not the party—is the new mainstream in America. The two old parties? Well, they’re the fringe.

The Democrats and the Republicans represent coalitions of selfish interests: big government, big labor, big minorities, big old people, big banks, big espionage, big corporations. Both parties reflect the post-WWII era that fed them their power.

To see how the parties derived their immense power, look at the way generational historians Howe and Strauss describe the post-war era in their classic, The Fourth Turning, in 1997:

People now in their forties [sixties] or older widely remember this as an era when large institutions were regarded as effective, government as powerful, science as benign, schools as good, careers as reliable, families as strong, and crime as under control. Government could afford to do almost anything it wanted, while still balancing its budget. From year to year, the middle class grew, and the gap between rich and poor narrowed. Worker productivity and family incomes grew at the fastest pace ever measured, with no end in sight. John Kenneth Galbraith wrote of The Affluent Society in which poverty was no longer “a major problem” but “more nearly an afterthought.” “The frontiers of our economic system are formed by our mental attitude and our unity,” said Harold Stassen in 1946, “rather than by any limitation of science or of productivity.” Abroad, Americans saw themselves bearing a new imperial role, believing, with J. Robert Oppenheimer, that “the world alters as we walk in it.” They took pride in a nation described by British historian Robert Payne as “a Colossus” with “half the wealth of the world, more than half of the productivity, nearly two-thirds of the world’s machines.”

Howe, Neil; Strauss, William (2009-01-16). The Fourth Turning (Kindle Locations 2945-2950). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Remember, the people who dominated American politics for most of my 50 years reflect on that era as “normal.” From Eisenhower through George H. W. Bush, every American President was a product of WWII and the American High. Think about the messages of Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush (41). To all of these men, The Best Days of Our Lives served as the model for American normalcy. Their campaigns—even Jimmy Carter’s first campaign—promised a return to the simple, optimistic normalcy of 1950s American.

Heck, in his 2011 State of the Union address, even Barack Obama channeled Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob. Even those of us born after the American High—Gen X and Millennials and the unnamed generation beginning middle school next month—the simple happiness of the post-war years serves as the ideal for America. We learned about it in television reruns and old movies. As Strauss and Howe put it:

Thanks to vintage TV and nostalgia movies, deeply etched memories of the American High are continually recalled decades later.

When I think about that era and our collective desire to go back, I think of a Christmas song I hated as a kid. I hated it, because I didn’t want to grow up and leave the mystery and potential of childhood. It was Doris Day’s “Toyland.”

Toyland, toyland
Little girl and boy land
While you dwell within it
You are ever happy there

Childhood’s joy land
Mystic merry toyland
Once you pass its borders
You can ne’er return again

We should have listened to that sad, simple song when our national leaders promised to return to the American High.

That promise of innocence restored gave the two big parties big powers. From 1946 to about 1992, we trusted big institutions. Sure, the 1960s challenged the idea of government’s goodness, but that tantrum died down once Nixon resigned. By the late 1970s, we were burned out on bell-bottoms, beads, and beards. We looked forward to “normalcy,” and we elected just the man to restore it: Ronald Reagan.

Reagan tried. And he succeeded, in some sense. The 1980s were Morning in America. Remember this?

Ah, but Doris Day warned us:

When you’ve grown up, my dears
And are as old as I
You’ll laugh and ponder on the years
That roll so swiftly by, my dears
That roll so swiftly by

Those two big parties still think Pax Americana, and prosperity, are just around the corner. And they think that Americans see only two choices: the Democrat way or the Republican way.

But Americans are defining a third way.

Why do I think libertarianism is the new mainstream?

I’ve already said that the old mainstream, like childhood, has passed, and once passed its borders we never can return. But there’s something more. Again, I look toward Strauss and Howe for glimpses of how America will change in the next decade.

During the coming Fourth Turning, some of these climax ingredients will play little or no role at all; others will shoot along channels that swell, diverge, and reconnect in wholly unforeseeable ways. Eventually, all of America’s lesser problems will combine into one giant problem. The very survival of the society will feel at stake, as leaders lead and people follow. Public issues will be newly simple, fitting within the contours of crisp yes-no choices. People will leave niches to join interlocking teams, each team dependent on (and trusting of) work done by other teams. People will share similar hopes and sacrifices—and a new sense of social equality. The splinterings, complexities, and cynicisms of the Unraveling will be but distant memories. The first glimpses of a new golden age will appear beyond: if only this one big problem can be fixed.

Decisive events will occur—events so vast, powerful, and unique that they lie beyond today’s wildest hypotheses. These events will inspire great documents and speeches, visions of a new political order being framed. People will discover a hitherto unimagined capacity to fight and die, and to let their children fight and die, for a communal cause. The Spirit of America will return, because there will be no other choice.

Thus will Americans reenact the great ancient myth of the ekpyrosis. Thus will we achieve our next rendezvous with destiny.

While we have yet to reach the climax of our Crisis era (we’re still up to a decade away), the battle lines are already drawn.

Generations through the 4 turnings

For as long as anyone alive can remember, the battle lines were Democrat vs. Republican, left vs. right, collectivism vs. individualism, liberal vs. conservative. But those old lines have worn as thin and useless as Barack Obama’s red line in Syria. Young Gen Xers and Millennials no longer see the world in those post-war terms. They see another battle: institutions vs. people.

We see this in the recent cultural upheavals. Same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization, and government spying. Here are some highlights from Reason’s recent poll of young people.

Part of millennials’ apparent support for big government is tied to the generation’s larger disconnect with the political rhetoric that has shaped the national narrative since the end of World War II. This trend is probably a result of two things. First, that millennials simply don’t fully understand what some of these terms mean, and second, that the prevailing discourse has started to lose relevance for this new generation after the end of the Cold War. Rather than flocking to one party or another, millennials are identifying as independents more than their predecessors did and tend to view their party choice as the lesser of two evils.

. . .

On top of all of this, millennials are deeply distrustful of our government. As the generation that came of age post-9/11, this makes a lot of sense. Significant majorities feel thatgovernment regulators abuse their power instead of acting in the public interest. A majority also says that the government as a rule, rather than an exception is wasteful and inefficient. So we may not be in for as dark a future politically as some claim–particularly since a majority of millennials say they would vote for a fiscally conservative, socially liberal candidate[4]  

Millennials are the largest generation in American history, eclipsing the Boomers by several million people. When you add their numbers to Generation X, which is also distrustful of institutions, you get a massive, youngish population ready to shift responsibility for social good from Washington to city hall.

I admit that one of the two parties might seize on this libertarian shift, jump in front of the parade, and claim dominance toward the end of the Crisis era around 2025. Or a different party could emerge. One that represents the anti-federal government people against the aging and confused, but entrenched and powerful, political class.

However this plays out, don’t expect the old Democrat-Republican dichotomy to last much longer. Its days are numbered. When last of the Boomers enter elderhood in 2022, the world will look very different. The mainstream will look more libertarian. Activist government will recede, as will many of our sacred social norms.

And that’s a good thing, in my view. The powerful government in Washington is hostile to religion. If that government’s power grows much stronger, the religious right’s ability even to practice religion will face new threats. But as central control diminishes, so does government’s power to compress freedom. And that includes freedom to pray.

As I said, libertarian is the new mainstream. At least, we better hope so.

Did You See the Crisis Coming?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Can you guess the year?

  • Scottish scientists cloned a sheep named Dolly
  • President Clinton signed a bill barring federal funds for human cloning
  • Bank robbers in Kevlar suits staged an epic gun battle with Los Angeles police
  • The English Patient wins Best Picture Oscar
  • Tony Blair becomes Prime Minister of England
  • Timothy McVeigh convicted of pure evil
  • Titanic bounced off the iceberg and hit the box office

The year was 1997. Monica Lewinsky still enjoyed relative obscurity. Dot coms had not yet bubbled.

How old were you? How old were your kids?  What was your favorite song? How much money did you make that year, and what was your retirement account worth?

In 1997, did you think America would be teetering on the edge of another Great Depression in 2011?

The word “crisis” is overused.  Everything isn’t a crisis.  But there are crises. We’re in one right now.

You knew that. But you probably didn’t know how long it will last. Or that it’s happened before and will happen again, if we survive this one.

Read this brief passage from a very important book:

Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation, and empire.

Howe, Neil; Strauss, William (2009-01-16). The Fourth Turning (Kindle Locations 147-149). Three Rivers Press. Kindle Edition.

Howe and Strauss wrote those words in 1997—fourteen years ago.  They aren’t soothsayers or tea-leaf readers; they’re historians. Their prediction from 1997 came not from looking at the conditions of day, but at the pattern of history since the Etruscans.

Even more sobering:

Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.

That means we have about 15 years of turmoil before we overcome the great, final obstacle to a “new normal.”

It’s easy, of course, to dismiss predictions as speculation. It’s comforting to believe that Howe and Strauss sensationalized history to scare people into buying their books.

But something about The Fourth Turning simply feels true today.  Or, maybe, something about today makes  the book feel true.

If these historians were right, then we have a long, hard row to hoe.  We will need with us people we can trust.

We’ll also need a roadmap toward the better world, not a treasure map to a misremembered past.

St. Louis Tea Party Coalition is launching The After Party program to create this network of trust and to paint that roadmap toward the next iteration of our republic.

We’re inviting you to join us.  Each month will involve a short meeting that will introduce an action to be completed before the next month’s meeting.  Then we’ll have a long social hour.   We hope that everyone will stay, have a dinner or appetizers, and talk about the future.

The action plans will be very simple. They will leave time for other civic or political actions.  Those actions will be more effective as your network of trust grows larger and stronger.

We need to get to know each other better. We need to develop stronger bonds of trust than we’ve known in generations—since the 1930s and 1940s to be exact.

If you want to be fully prepared for the next 12 months and the next 15 years, read The Fourth Turning by Howe and Strauss.

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