In Part One of this article I laid out the unsustainable economic conditions which will drive the next phase of this Fourth Turnings and detailed the economic factors which drove the previous three American Fourth Turnings.
Strauss and Howe, when writing The Fourth Turning in 1997, did not know the exact circumstances and events which would propel the next Turning. But their study of economic and demographic trends along with the attitudes of generations and historical precedents in prior Fourth Turnings, led them to conclude the driving factors of this Crisis would be debt, global disorder and civic decay.
As I watch what is currently happening in this country and around the world, it is evident to me they nailed it. The volcanic eruption in 2008 unleashed a torrent of molten lava, which continues to flow along channels of distress, but is currently threatening to burst free of these channels and wreak worldwide financial and physical devastation. A multitude of possibilities described by Strauss and Howe below are already happening or will happen in the next few years.
“Imagine some national (and probably global) volcanic eruption, initially flowing along channels of distress that were created during the Unraveling era and further widened by the catalyst. Trying to foresee where the eruption will go once it bursts free of the channels is like trying to predict the exact fault line of an earthquake. All you know in advance is something about the molten ingredients of the climax, which could include the following:
Economic distress, with public debt in default, entitlement trust funds in bankruptcy, mounting poverty and unemployment, trade wars, collapsing financial markets, and hyperinflation (or deflation)
Social distress, with violence fueled by class, race, nativism, or religion and abetted by armed gangs, underground militias, and mercenaries hired by walled communities
Political distress, with institutional collapse, open tax revolts, one-party hegemony, major constitutional change, secessionism, authoritarianism, and altered national borders
Military distress, with war against terrorists or foreign regimes equipped with weapons of mass destruction”
The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe
The economic, social, political, and military distress pervading the world should be terrifying the average American, but most are blissfully ignorant of the coming anguish when the best laid plans of central bankers and corrupt politicians blow up once again and plunge the world into global depression. The immense mountain of debt has been built on the backs of humanity by evil sociopaths rigging the system to benefit themselves and their billionaire benefactors.
The United States, along with virtually every “developed” country, are effectively bankrupt. The $200 trillion of unfunded Federal liabilities can never be paid. States have accumulated over $6 trillion of unfunded pension liabilities and billions more in health care related liabilities. With an economy supposedly booming, according to Trump, we are running deficits exceeding $1 trillion. When the imminent recession unfolds over the coming year, deficits will skyrocket towards $2 trillion.
This expansion of debt is unsustainable, but the Fed is trapped and pushing on a string. Ten years of easy money heroine injections into the arms of Wall Street bankers and mega-corporation executives have left the .1% enriched, while people living in the real world have been left cash poor and dependent upon their credit cards and seven-year auto loans to maintain their fake lifestyles.
Despite the bullshit propaganda unemployment rate propagated by government apparatchiks and obediently parroted by the corporate media, people in the real world know their wages haven’t kept up with the real inflation rate for the last twenty years. When 40% of the working age population doesn’t work and the propagandists report a 3.7% unemployment rate, it takes a supreme level of willful ignorance to swallow that big lie. The feeling of cognitive dissonance among the populace is creating a nation of angry, disillusioned, frustrated victims.
The fake news corporate media have successfully used their propaganda machine to convince the public a surging stock market means the economy is doing great. Despite corporate profits being flat for the last four years, corporate stock buybacks (using debt), Trump’s corporate tax cuts, and Federal Reserve easy money, have propelled the stock market to all-time highs. The Fed proved they are Wall Street’s bitch by cutting rates with the market at all-time highs and unemployment supposedly near all-time lows.
This is an acknowledgement the “great economy” is fake news. The economy is on the verge of recession. The most overvalued stock market in history has reached a tipping point. Global economies, propped up with negative interest rates, are already in recession. The global trade war is hurting all parties and is pushing those countries most impacted towards drastic measures.
The multitude of stresses impacting the nation and the world are building up along fault lines created over decades of bad decision making, deferred action, political corruption, Wall Street greed, corporate hegemony, media propaganda, and willful ignorance by a dumbed down technologically distracted populace. Once the economy falters and the stock market crashes for the third time in twenty years, an earthquake of epic proportions will devastate the minimal savings of the working class and give rise to tens of millions of angry desperate citizens.
If a deflationary wave sweeps across the globe, our debt saturated world will shatter and a global depression will create economic havoc and lead to a catastrophic outcome. This would lead countries to lash out militarily to either distract their suffering citizens or to seek retribution against countries they feel have wronged them.
The military build-up in countries across the globe in the last ten years has created a global powder-keg, with lunatic leaders lighting matches. Extreme economic distress always leads to war. And war during this Fourth Turning will include nuclear arms in the hands of many countries, rather than just one in the previous Fourth Turning. The implications are terrifying.
The social and political distress we are presently experiencing are already tearing the fabric of civil society. Politicians on the left are promising trillions more in freebies, with absolutely no plan to pay the bill. They have no intention of deterring anyone from crossing our southern border illegally. They see them as added votes in future elections. They use every mass shooting by mentally disturbed individuals as an opportunity to confiscate the guns of the law abiding “deplorables” in flyover country. They ignore the flood of mental illness created by a society promoting degeneracy, hate of traditional family values, and defamation of men. Public schools are nothing more than indoctrination centers for depravity and left-wing social policies.
The left-wing corporate media stokes the flames of societal distress by making every issue racial. Screaming racism or white supremacy at every opportunity creates anger on both sides and will lead to further violence. If a democrat wins the 2020 presidential election and tries to restrict the 2ndAmendment, all hell will break loose in this country. Trying to pry 300 million fire arms from “deplorables” will be a bridge too far. We are fifteen months from an election which will likely ignite civil chaos in this country of confrontation. It doesn’t matter who wins, the losers will not accept the result.
There is no possibility of compromise between the left and right on any issues, other than agreeing to spend more of your money. I have an overwhelming feeling of foreboding about the unrelenting forces pushing the world towards economic collapse and military confrontation. By the 12thyear of the last Fourth Turning, America was at war with foes on opposite sides of the world. Economic factors were the driving force. We are approaching the 11th anniversary of the onset of this current Crisis.
Based on history, we are likely to have five to ten more years before this Crisis is resolved and the existing social order swept away and replaced by something new. When this house of cards, built on a foundation of unpayable debt, gives way, the tragic consequences will propel the world towards a bloody climax. Strauss & Howe pondered four possible outcomes, with only one being relatively positive. The peaceful episode of this Crisis is winding down. We are exiting the eye of a category 5 hurricane. The apocalyptic chapter is about to unfold. I don’t think I’m prepared. Are you?
Strauss & Howe provide four possible outcomes to our current Crisis:
This Fourth Turning could mark the end of man. It could be an omnicidal Armageddon, destroying everything, leaving nothing. If mankind ever extinguishes itself, this will probably happen when its dominant civilization triggers a Fourth Turning that ends horribly. For this Fourth Turning to put an end to all this would require an extremely unlikely blend of social disaster, human malevolence, technological perfection and bad luck.
The Fourth Turning could mark the end of modernity. The Western saecular rythm – which began in the mid-fifteenth century with the Renaissance – could come to an abrupt terminus. The seventh modern saeculum would be the last. This too could come from total war, terrible but not final. There could be a complete collapse of science, culture, politics, and society. Such a dire result would probably happen only when a dominant nation (like today’s America) lets a Fourth Turning ekpyrosis engulf the planet. But this outcome is well within the reach of foreseeable technology and malevolence.
The Fourth Turning could spare modernity but mark the end of our nation. It could close the book on the political constitution, popular culture, and moral standing that the word America has come to signify. The nation has endured for three saecula; Rome lasted twelve, the Soviet Union only one. Fourth Turnings are critical thresholds for national survival. Each of the last three American Crises produced moments of extreme danger: In the Revolution, the very birth of the republic hung by a thread in more than one battle. In the Civil War, the union barely survived a four-year slaughter that in its own time was regarded as the most lethal war in history. In World War II, the nation destroyed an enemy of democracy that for a time was winning; had the enemy won, America might have itself been destroyed. In all likelihood, the next Crisis will present the nation with a threat and a consequence on a similar scale.
Or the Fourth Turning could simply mark the end of the Millennial Saeculum. Mankind, modernity, and America would all persevere. Afterward, there would be a new mood, a new High, and a new saeculum. America would be reborn. But, reborn, it would not be the same.
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