Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Total Eclipse of the American Deep State?


stockboardasset  |  Since President Donald Trump’s stunning victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, much of the press have made note of Steve Bannon’s interest in an influential book published in 1997 called, “The Fourth Turning: What Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous With Destiny.”

In this book, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe make the argument that our ideas about the nature of history, linear time, and progress are illusory, and that if we want a more accurate concept about the way that history unfolds, we would do well to study the ancient Greek concept of cyclical time. This concept views national and global historical phenomenon not as randomly occurring events, or the linear march of historical “progress,” but instead sees them as recurring archetypes placed into a larger tapestry of a greater repeating historical cycle.

According to Strauss and Howe, the relative geographic and historical isolation of the United States provides a unique opportunity to view this cycle unfolding regularly and predictably every 80 years.
This 80-year cycle can be divided into four stages or seasons, each lasting approximately twenty years:
  1. High– This initial stage occurs immediately following a period of crisis. The High is characterized by strong institutions, a sense of collective destiny, and a weakness of individuality. The most recent example of this would be the period of prosperity and conformity in the U.S. immediately following the conclusion of World War II.
  2. Awakening- The second stage, or turning, is a period of questioning established values and asserting one’s independence from established norms and morals, be they spiritual or political. This stage may be seen as a rebellion of the previous era’s emphasis on material wealth and conformity. The 1960’s, with the psychedelic revolution, anti-war protests, Civil Rights marches, and New Age spiritual movements can be seen as recent characteristics of this second stage, as well as Reaganomics and the mid-1980s Wall Street ethos.
  3. Unraveling- The emphasis on autonomy and the questioning of spiritual, political, and individual authority in the Awakening stage eventually destabilizes society, leading to the Third Turning, in which institutions are weak and untrusted while the subjective experience of the individual is emphasized. This stage can be thought of as the inverse of the initial High stage, where collective destiny is replaced by atomization. Recent symptom of this stage would be the culture wars, corporate malfeasance, a lack of faith in government, social justice movements, and political correctness.
  4. Crisis- In the Fourth Turning, a destabilizing event, usually involving warfare, leads to the destruction and reconstruction of institutions of power. In the face of destruction, Americans are forced to unite and forge a vision to restructure a disrupted society. This fourth stage can be seen as the inverse of the Awakening stage, and the authors cite World War II as the defining event of the most recent period of Crisis.
Strauss and Howe predicted that the next Crisis period that the U.S. would face would happen sometime around 2005 and end around 2025. Anyone who has been paying attention over the last decade would have a difficult time refuting this. The financial crisis of 2008 threw the planet into discord, and we are now just beginning to see some of the political ramifications of this. We may be reaching the apex of this crisis this summer, or at least we will witness a significant acceleration of it.
The institutions that once defined American stability are rapidly crumbling. Mounting debt, unsustainable consumerism, and illegal immigration are chipping away at once sturdy foundation of America.

And the robust civil discourse needed to solve these problems has been interrupted by advocates of social justice, sometimes violently. Recent small skirmishes between the two sides may be headed toward larger eruptions.