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These pages contain the complete rough draft manuscript of the new book
Generational Dynamics for Historians,
written by John J. Xenakis.
This text is fully copyrighted. You may copy or print out this
material for your own use, but not for distribution to others.
Comments are invited. Send them to mailto:email@example.com.
This chapter is directed at those who have studied the Fourth Turning generational model developed by William Strauss and Neil Howe. The chapter describes in detail how the Generational Dynamics model differs from the Fourth Turning model.
Generational Dynamics is based on work done by historians William Strauss and Neil Howe in the 1980s and early 1990s on generational changes in Anglo-American history.
Their work is documented in two books, Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 and The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy.
Strauss and Howe's work develops a generational theory that applies to what they call "the Anglo-American timeline," described in The Fourth Turning.
The generational theory developed by Strauss and Howe is brilliant, and forms the basis of Generational Dynamics. Although Generational Dynamics corrects some errors in the Fourth Turning theory, nonetheless Generational Dynamics still borrows heavily from the theories developed by Strauss and Howe in the Fourth Turning in many places. Furthermore, the two theories produce nearly identical results for the times and places that the Fourth Turning covers -- Anglo-Saxon periods since the War of the Roses. The phrase "fourth turning" refers to a crisis period, an approximately 20-year period in which a crisis war occurs. Thus, a "fourth turning" and "crisis war" can be considered to be roughly equivalent.
In order to expand The Fourth Turning so that it applies beyond the Anglo-American timeline restriction, it's been necessary to make some corrections and modify and expand it in a number of ways. The resulting Generational Dynamics theory applies to all nations at all times.
In the following sections, we'll summarize the Strauss and Howe theory, and we'll explain where Generational Dynamics differs.
I'll use these abbreviations:
"The GD theory," or just GD, refers to the Generational Dynamics theory.
"The TFT theory," or just TFT, refers to The Fourth Turning theory. (To anticipate a question, I'm going to do this even though I know the first T in TFT stands for "The.")
I wish to make it clear that although this chapter is lengthy, that doesn't mean that there many problems with the original TFT theory. All it really means is that I've taken advantage of a few issues as a launching pad for fairly lengthy discussions of generational theory. The work by Strauss and Howe is brilliant and seminal. Not only could I never have developed this theory without having first read their work, but in fact I still refer to their books today to gain their perspective on many issues.
The Fourth Turning (TFT) theory is based on work that William Strauss and Neil Howe began in the 1980s. In doing some marketing consulting in the 1980s, they noticed that people differed dramatically based on what generation they were in. They found that people who fought in World War II were quite different from people who were raised during World War II, and that those were quite different those who grew up after World War II.
They found that the similarities among people in the same generation outweighed the individual differences, and the differences between people in different generations were usually enormous compared to differences between individuals in the same generation.
They were not the first to notice that one generation differs from another, of course. The popular press regularly labels generations with such names a "Generation X," "Generation Y," "Baby Boomers," and so forth, and many articles are published discussing the characteristics of one generation versus another.
For example, the babies born in the 1930s and 1940s were originally called "depression babies," but in the 1950s, Time Magazine gave them a new name: the Silent Generation, because they valued conformity and loyalty above all else, and didn't complain about much.
The members of the Silent Generation were too young to fight in World War II, so they lived in the shadow of the G.I. Generation, their older brothers and sisters who became heroes who actually fought in the war, and are now called by Tom Brokaw and others "the greatest generation of the 20th century."
Meanwhile, the Silents had to deal with a new generation, the Baby Boomers who were born after the war. The Boomers were very sure of themselves, and led the antiwar riots and demonstrations during the 1960s and 1970s, rebelling against their parents in the G.I. Generation. The Silents were sandwiched between these two warring generations, and served as mediators and compromisers.
Strauss and Howe embarked on a project to read biographies, histories and diaries written throughout American history, passing through colonial times, going back to the original English settlers.
Reading these histories and diaries, they came to a startling conclusion: That generations following historical "fourth turnings" or "crisis wars" follow the same pattern as generations following World War II, and that the sequence of these generations leads to the next crisis war.
The TFT authors identified four distinct generational types that are repeated over and over, and are similar to the generations they had studied.
The four generations are as follows:
These generational archetypes were found by the authors when they read several centuries of histories and diaries. They were surprised to find that these types cycled.
Corresponding to the four generational archetypes are four eras or "turnings" through which a society cycles. These are as follows:
The authors describe this period as follows: "An Awakening is an era of cultural upheaval and spiritual renewal. It begins when the waxing social discipline of the High suddenly seems tiresome, unfulfilling, illegitimate, and unjust -- and when people begin to defy it in the name of spiritual authenticity. By now, memories of the last Crisis are buffered by the High's calm and comfort, and the core High virtues are regarded as outmoded, even unnecessary. The Awakening climaxes just after civilized progress reaches a saecular high tide -- and just before that progress is overwhelmed by the liberating passions of reform and protest. The Awakening ends when the new consciousness converts its enemies and the new values regime overwhelms its oppressors."
The authors describe the relationships of these eras as follows: "Like the four seasons of nature, the four turnings of history are equally necessary and important. Awakenings and Crises are the saecular solstices, summer and winter, each a solution to a challenge posed by the other. Highs and Unravelings are the saecular equinoxes, spring and autumn, each coursing a path directionally opposed to the other. When a society moves into an Awakening or Crisis, the new mood announces itself as a sudden turn in social direction. An Awakening begins when events trigger a revolution in the culture, a Crisis when events trigger an upheaval in public life. A High or Unraveling announces itself as a sudden consolidation of the new direction. A High begins when society perceives that the basic issues of the prior Crisis have been resolved, leaving a new civic regime firmly in place. An Unraveling begins with the perception that the Awakening has been resolved, leaving a new cultural mindset in place."
The Fourth Turning (TFT) defines four generation archetypes and four eras or "turnings." The personality of a person in each generation is determined by the era in which that person is born. (Actually, children born two to five years before the start of an era are considered part of that era.)
Thus, the generations determine the eras, and the eras determine the generations.
The relationships between the generational archetypes and the turnings is summarized by the following diagram:
This diagram summarizes the TFT generational model: History proceeds in a continuing flow of generational changes, cycling back to the beginning with a cycle length of 70-90 years, the approximate maximum length of a human lifespan.
TFT's Diagonal Diagram summarizes a complex model that purports to describe how the world works. Does the world really work that way? The TFT authors say that it does for Anglo-American history dating back to the 1400s.
The book The Fourth Turning provides detailed evidence, based on reading hundreds of contemporary diaries and histories, that the TFT model works for that period.
TFT describes each turning in detail, and each generation in detail, and how they conform to the TFT model. This information is provided in detail in their two books, and here we can do no more than provide the barest summary of the events covered.
The following are the six fourth turning crisis events described by TFT:
TFT shows how each of these crises leads to the next one. However, the Civil War represents an exception that doesn't satisfy the model, as we'll describe.
Just as important to The Fourth Turning (TFT) model as the fourth turning crises are the second turning spiritual awakenings that occur midway between two crises. The most recent American awakening period was the 1960s, which saw the racial equality movement, the antiwar movement, the women's lib movement and the environmental movement.
TFT describes both a crisis and an awakening period as "a social moment," which is "an era, typically lasting about a decade, when people perceive that historic events are radically altering their social environment." The difference between the two kinds of social moments are that crisis periods secular crisis and awakening periods are episodes of widespread and tumultuous spiritual fervor.
As described in the authors' book Generations, several social and religious historians since the 1970s have explored the importance of these episodes.
In his 1978 book, Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform, William McLoughlin identifies five American "awakenings" that conform to [the author's Anglo-American timeline]. McLoughlin defines awakenings as "periods of culture revitalization that begin in a general crisis of beliefs and values and extend over a period of a generation or so, during which time a profound reorientation in beliefs and values takes place." Building from anthropologist Anthony Wallace's theory of "revitalization movements," McLoughlin describes how, in a modern society, a spiritual awakening can "alter the world view of a whole people or culture." Over the intervening span of six to eleven decades, "times change; the world changes; people change; and therefore institutions, world views, and cultural systems must change." He also notes that each awakening episode was, in its own time, an update of the "individual, pietistic, perfectionist, millennarian ideology" which "has from time to time been variously defned and explained to meet changing experience and contingencies in our history."
The authors specify six awakenings, corresponding to the six crisis periods identified above, and following the crisis period by several decades. The last five of the six correspond to awakenings specified by the McLoughlin book referenced above.
Those are all the awakening periods covered by the TFT model.
The TFT model is powerful and fascinating as far as it goes, because it provides insight not only into the history of our country, but also into our own personalities, as it helps us understand how generations affect us all.
However, the TFT model has substantial restrictions. It applies only to the six Anglo-American cycles previously listed. The authors did not believe that the model would work for most societies, although they suggest that other modern societies should be tested by reading histories, biographies and diaries written by people in those nations.
According to the authors, the TFT generational paradigm is restricted to modern societies where, "as in America, generations are left free to develop and express their own personalities." We'll discuss this more below.
Another problem with the TFT model is that it's very hard to verify. The authors identified generations by reading histories, diaries and biographies, and looked for certain traits of the people in each generation. However, this process inherently has ambiguities and uncertainties. For example, how do we evaluate whether a particular generation is "Civic" or "Idealist"? The ambiguity arises from the fact that some people in any generation will be "civic," and some will be "idealist." The uncertainties arise because there's no way to determine any information of this sort for many periods in history, because of the lack of written records. There's no way to be certain that someone else reading the same written records would arrive at the same conclusions.
In developing The Fourth Turning (TFT) model, the authors William Strauss and Neil Howe read thousands of histories, diaries, magazines, and anything else available that would provide insight into Anglo-American generational changes, dating back to the 1400s. From this research, they discovered a pattern of a recurring cycle of four distinct types of peer personalities, arriving in the same repeating sequence. They used this to develop the TFT model, and showed that their Anglo-American timeline was true in this model.
When I first read The Fourth Turning, shortly after 9/11, it took me a number of readings to understand the complex TFT model, but at the same time I was impressed with its elegance and simplicity. Furthermore, I felt that it was significant for what it could tell us of our own future.
However, the authors themselves pointed out that the TFT had a number of very substantial restrictions, the most important one that they had only tested it against six Anglo-American crisis periods dating back to the 1400s, and that the TFT model actually failed in one of the six cases (no Hero generation was found for the Civil War). Furthermore, including the Great Depression in the World War II crisis period was inconsistent with the handling of the other ones.
For me, with a background in mathematical logic, these were intolerable restrictions. If the TFT model didn't apply to the Civil War, and applied inconsistently in the World War II crisis period, then how could we possibly be certain that it applies to the current time?
Nonetheless, The Fourth Turning model was so compelling that I became increasingly interested in it, and pursued a decision to do my own research to either validate or refute the TFT model.
My feeling was that the TFT model would have to be shown to be valid in all places and all times if it was to be credible. If that standard couldn't be met, it would have to at least be valid in an overwhelming majority of cases throughout history in order to be worthy of any consideration at all.
This resulted in the development of the Generational Dynamics (GD) model, a modified version of the TFT model which is expanded in some ways and simplified in others. I've tested the GD model in hundreds of situations throughout history, and it's been valid in 100% of those cases. This is a truly remarkable result.
The following sections will describe how the GD model differs from the TFT model previously described, and how it overcomes the restrictions in the TFT model.
As developed, The Fourth Turning (TFT) model contains a number of fairly substantial restrictions and limitations. In going from the TFT model to the Generational Dynamics (GD) model, a number of changes had to be made. These changes are summarized here:
The above are the modifications to the TFT model to arrive at the GD model. The GD model has been found to apply to all places and times throughout history.
The above modifications are explained in more detail in the following sections.
While The Fourth Turning (TFT) model starts by identifying generational boundaries, the GD model starts by identifying crisis wars.
The GD model begins with a set of detailed criteria that can be applied to any war to determine whether the war is a crisis or non-crisis war. These criteria are "cycle-independent," meaning that the war is evaluated independently of wars that came before it or after it. This circumvents the tendency to "cherry-pick" crisis wars in order to make the cycles come out right.
The crisis war criteria are given in detail in another chapter (where?), on the Crisis War Evaluation Algorithm.
But it's more complicated than that. The TFT theory applies essentially to only one country - the United States. The GD theory had to apply to every country in every time. This required extending the TFT theory in new ways.
The salient observation is that a crisis war is a very "personal" thing. That is, a crisis war in one place doesn't make a crisis war in another place. The TFT authors define the climax of a fourth turning crisis as a "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."
The problem is scope. Just because a "raging typhoon" occurs in one place, that doesn't mean that a raging typhoon is happening elsewhere. Each nation has its own raging typhoons, and it was clear that it was necessary to show that raging typhoons occur at regular intervals in each country.
The Vietnam War is an example. This war was highly politicized in the United States, and created a wrenching division among the American people which forced two Presidents' terms to end badly: Lyndon Johnson was kept from running for a second term, and Richard Nixon was forced to resign. This was a non-crisis war for America.
But the war was quite different for the North Vietnamese. The "Tet offensive" of 1968 was an explosive genocidal life-or-death battle that signaled their determination to win. There were no political divisions in North Vietnam. It was a crisis war for them, as was the massive Cambodian civil war of the 1970s.
Another example is the American Revolutionary War. This was a life-or-death crisis war struggle for the colonists, but it was a non-crisis war for the British, who fought indecisively against a backdrop of intense political debate at home, with an antiwar movement that wanted to let the colonies go their way without bloodshed.
Incidentally, there's an interesting question begging to be asked: Does a belligerent fighting a crisis war always win over another belligerent fighting the same war as a non-crisis war? The answer is no. For example, there were three European crisis war invasions of Russia, a mid-cycle war for Russia in each case: Sweden during the War of the Spanish Succession (Great Northern War for Russia), France during the Napoleonic Wars, and Germany during World War II (Great Patriotic War for Russia). In each case, Russia won, as their enemies were swallowed up by the harsh Russian winter.
So a particular war is, in a sense, many different wars, one war for each belligerent fighting in the war.
The Principle of Localization says that each society or nation has its own separate generational timeline along which crisis wars occur.
Therefore, the crisis war criteria that we just described are applied not just to any war, but rather to each belligerent in the war.
Once the wars for a given society or nation have been evaluated, it's possible then to determine whether the crisis wars follow a cycle of approximately 80-years in length. This test can be used to test the validity of Generational Dynamics.
I feel it's important to give credit for this to the TFT authors.
Crisis wars are less important to the TFT model than individual generational changes are. Nonetheless, the book contains numerous informal descriptions of crisis periods scattered throughout.
The book contains lengthy, detailed descriptions of what a crisis period or a fourth turning period was, and how to distinguish between a crisis period war and a non-crisis period war, or mid-cycle war. They developed this material from their studies of histories and diaries of the Anglo-American timeline, based on written descriptions of crisis and non-crisis wars.
Fortunately, of all the things that history gives us, the thing that it gives us most clearly and abundantly is details of wars. Different historical works will describe the development of agriculture or different kinds of governments, or periods of artistic creation, but those descriptions are all limited. The one thing that they all give us is wars.
So I was able to take the TFT theoretical material on crisis and non-crisis wars and use it to develop the crisis war criteria used in Generational Dynamics. The TFT material has been modified slightly and sharpened, but the basic concepts of a crisis war are derived from TFT.
Eventually, the crisis war criteria were transformed into an evaluation algorithm, which is given in another chapter (page [algorithm#1755]).
The crisis war criteria in the Generational Dynamics (GD) model can be applied to any belligerent in any war to determine whether that war is a crisis or non-crisis war.
The following sub-sections contain general descriptions of the criteria. In a separate chapter (where?), the criteria are given with much greater precision.
A crisis war is like a ball rolling downhill, usually over a period 5-10 years long. It may (or may not) need a push to start, and it may be temporary stopped by obstacles on the way down. But eventually it starts gathering an enormous amount of energy, and at some point its momentum becomes so great that it's unstoppable, until it reaches the bottom of the hill in an explosive climax that forever changes the landscape.
The rolling ball analogy can be used only so far, but it represents something real: A steadily increasing anxiety on the part of the people fighting the war, an increasing hatred of the enemy, an increasing desire for genocidal vengeance, and a willingness to risk everything for total victory.
To understand the emotion behind a crisis war, you have to think about wars where this kind of energy was displayed: Think of the early 1990s Balkans, where the Serbs pursued massive ethnic cleansing (mass murdering the men, mass raping the women) of the Croats and the Bosnians; think of the 1994 Rwanda war, where Hutus murdered and dismembered a million Tutsis in a three month period; think of President Truman's vengeful statement after a nuclear weapon had destroyed a Japanese city; think of the mass murder and mass destruction of an entire region when General Sherman marched his troops through Georgia near the end of the Civil War.
A crisis war may start out small, but it builds in strength and energy until it becomes as unstoppable a force of nature as a raging typhoon.
In another chapter (where?) we quoted at length Leo Tolstoy's discussion, in War and Peace of the Battle of Borodino, and in particular the fact that Napoleon could not have stopped the battle: "Had Napoleon then forbidden them to fight the Russians, they would have killed him and have proceeded to fight the Russians because it was inevitable."
This is the essence of a crisis war. A huge mass of people who are willing to kill or be killed. An unstoppable "ball of invasion," in Tolstoy's words.
So to understand a crisis war, we really need to understand people's feelings and intentions. This is something that the TFT authors were able to measure by reading contemporary diaries and histories.
We required a set of criteria that can evaluate a war based on commonly available facts about the war in ordinary history books, and the criteria should be as free of subjectivity as possible.
Unfortunately, there are no simple numeric measures that can be applied. In particular, the number of battle deaths does not seem to be an appropriate measure. World War I (in Western Europe) showed that it's possible to have a static non-crisis war and still have quite a few war deaths. The American Civil War, the worst war in United States history, killed 0.8% of the population. On the other hand, China's Taiping Rebellion civil war killed almost 15% of the population.
So we need to be able to measure the feelings and intentions of large masses of people, but without using simple numeric measures.
Since we can't measure public attitudes during historical wars, we look for "clues" in the historical descriptions of the wars to see if the criteria for a crisis war are met. If the clues are ambiguous, then it's necessary to refer to additional sources to get more information. In my experience, it's rare that an ambiguous situation remains ambiguous for long. Whether a war is a crisis war becomes abundantly clear very quickly.
There are two primary criteria that identify crisis wars, and several secondary criteria. The secondary criteria do not by themselves necessarily indicate a crisis war, but they often point to way to seeing how the major criteria should be evaluated.
The two primary criteria that identify crisis wars are:
The following are secondary criteria that identify crisis wars:
The secondary criteria alone do not indicate a crisis war. For example, some non-crisis wars are surprise attacks.
A non-crisis (mid-cycle) war is like pushing a ball uphill. It has to be constantly pushed, and if you stop pushing, then the ball stops. Depending on the hill, the ball might roll by itself for a little while, but it always comes to a stop without more pushing. Finally, you get tired of pushing, and the war stops.
The main criterion for a non-crisis war are that it doesn't satisfy the major criteria for a crisis war.
The following are secondary criteria that identify non-crisis wars:
Another significant theoretical development is the concept of merging timelines.
Imagine two countries having crisis civil wars every 80 years for centuries. Then their timelines might look like this:
But then suppose that they finally have a major war with each other. Then their timelines can merge, and look like this:
For example, it turns out that this is exactly what happened with France and Germany. The countries had separate crisis "religious wars" during the 1500s; the crisis periods partially merged during the Thirty Years War of the 1600s, and then merged completely with the War of the Spanish Succession in the early 1700s.
As these examples show, merging timelines is a significant feature of the Generational Dynamics theory.
Incidentally, this is only one of many possibilities that occur when two nations on different timelines have crisis wars with each other. In many cases, both countries remain on their separate timelines. This is what happened in the Vietnam War, for example, which was a crisis war for the Vietnamese but a mid-cycle war for America.
The Fourth Turning (TFT) methodology treats crisis events and awakening events in parallel, in the sense that a crisis leads to an awakening and an awakening leads to crisis.
Specifically, the TFT methodology defines a "social moment" as "an era, typically lasting about a decade, when people perceive that historic events are radically altering their social environment." There are two kinds of social moments, secular crises and spiritual awakenings. The authors treat these two kinds of social moments in parallel, as alternating events that arrive out of the exquisite synchronization of generational changes that this diagram portrays:
In fact, it's this very definition of an awakening that gives rise to the TFT authors' restriction on TFT to modern times.
According to the authors, the TFT generational paradigm is restricted to modern societies where, "as in America, generations are left free to develop and express their own personalities." According to the authors, premodern societies are unlikely to be sufficiently free for spiritual awakenings to occur. Since spiritual awakenings cannot occur, and since awakenings are crucial to the cycle that brings on the next crisis in the TFT model, the authors conclude that the TFT model cannot apply to premodern times.
This reasoning has always puzzled me. For example, China was very heavily controlled following 1949 when the crisis civil war (between factions led by Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek), and there was very little personal freedom permitted. And yet, the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstration was clearly an awakening-type event and, after it was brutally suppressed, led to the spiritual group known as the "followers of Falun Gong." It would seem likely that even in heavily controlled societies, the people find a way to express their awakening, even if the leaders aren't pleased. (In fact, we've found that when awakening events are brutally surpressed, the awakening metastasizes into a full-scale crisis rebellion during the next crisis period.)
The secular/spiritual distinction appears to be appropriate for the Anglo-American timeline covered by the TFT methodology, since colonial and American history include a series of spiritual awakenings -- the Puritan Awakening, and the two Great Awakenings of American history. However, once you go beyond those obvious examples, things get very fuzzy.
The secular versus spiritual distinction is not always so obvious. For example, you might argue that World War II was a spiritual awakening, since it was a clash between Jews and Christians in Europe, and that in the end nothing was accomplished, since the concentration camps were taken down.
The fact is that practically every war has some spiritual aspects ("Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on" in the Civil War), and every awakening has some secular aspects (redefining the FBI and CIA role in the 1970s), and so even within the Anglo-American timeline the distinction between secular and spiritual is vague.
And once you go outside the Anglo-American timeline the problems get even greater. How are we to judge the spread of Islam starting from Mohammed's life? Islam was spread by a series of wars, starting with the conquest of Mecca and continuing throughout the entire Mediterranean conquest. Since Islam was a part of every such war, they could all be called spiritual; and yet, because enemies were conquered, administrative services were set up and taxes were levied, they could all be called secular. The same could be said for the Catholic Crusades as well. And China's Taiping rebellion began as a growing religious sect, and ended up killing tens of millions of people.
So the secular/spiritual distinction may or may not work on the Anglo-American timeline, but it definitely doesn't work throughout history.
The Generational Dynamics (GD) theory has a totally different view of awakenings.
According to GD theory, a crisis period can occur at any time, but an awakening period can only occur at a particular time: One generation past the end of a crisis period. In GD theory, a crisis is the generator of an awakening.
In GD theory, an awakening does not lead to a crisis; instead a crisis leads to both an awakening and the next crisis.
In GD theory, the secular/spiritual distinction is completely abandoned. A crisis era is distinguished from an awakening era by whether it unifies society versus whether it divides or polarizes or disunites society.
The reason this can be is by noticing something that the TFT authors also noticed: That all the spiritual awakenings in Anglo-American history were rebellions by the younger generation (the Prophets) against "the establishment," the older generation (the Heroes). It's this kind of generational conflict that determines an awakening, irrespective of whether there's a spiritual overlay. The TFT authors noticed this as an incidental fact; to GD, it's central.
The difference is illustrated by this diagram:
The above diagram illustrates two identity groups during an awakening period some 20-40 years after fighting a crisis war with each other. The vertical line represents the "fault line" that separates the two identity groups, and the horizontal line represents the "generation gap," and separates the generations born before and after the war. The conflict is across the fault line during a crisis period, and across the generation gap during an awakening period.
The Generational Dynamics (GD) model adopts a very different view from The Fourth Turning (TFT) model of the generational flow that gives rise to crisis wars and awakenings. This view resolves the restrictions in TFT to the modern Anglo-American timeline.
As I'm writing this, in mid-2004, America is in the midst of a Presidential election, and partisans on both sides are arguing about some of the silliest things, as politicians often do.
Now suppose that things change next year (irrespective of who wins the election). Suppose that there are major terrorist attacks on American soil; that America suffers a calamitous defeat in a major battle overseas; that financial disaster strikes, throwing many Americans out of work; and that disease begins to spread through the large cities of America. Suppose further that this launches America into a worldwide war, with a universal draft, that the war lasts several years, and leaves much of the world, including America, in ruins, with tens of millions of Americans killed.
Events like these tend to focus the mind. Suddenly ancient political battles don't really matter much anymore. There'll be plenty of blame to go around -- politicians who didn't prepare the country properly, generals who made mistakes, ordinary people who didn't bother to save money or stock up on food.
Once the war is over, the survivors are going to be different people than they were when they started. Generational differences are going to be leveled as everyone in the nation works together just to survive. Once the war is over, everyone will have to continue to cooperate to rebuild the nation.
This example leads us to the following view, in distinction from the TFT theory: In the GD theory, we assume that the crisis war unites the generations so that, generally speaking, all major personality differences are muted or erased.
TFT hints at this anyway. TFT says that a crisis wars unites the country behind a common purpose, that children become underprotected (in other words, they're like everyone else), and that gender roles are emphasized (indicating less gender conflict). These all point to the idea that generational differences themselves are muted.
The generation flow diagonal diagram for GD becomes the following:
In this revised diagram, the "Crisis era" is moved to the left, to emphasize that its the crisis era that launches each cycle. The shaded areas indicate unified groups of generations whose differences are muted.
During the crisis era, all generations work together for a common goal. During the Austerity period, the three older generations continue to do so, but the new Prophet generation sees things differently. Note that TFT calls the elder Nomads "reclusive" and the young Artists "conformist" during the Austerity period, hinting that they go along with the Heroes plans, but with a bit of reluctance.
The Awakening era brings out the full generational conflict, as previously muted generational differences become prominent again. The Artists' reluctant conformity during the Austerity period turns to indecisiveness during the Awakening, with many of them forced to pick sides between the Hero and Prophet political positions.
The last generational transition, from Awakening to Unraveling, is the same in GD and TFT, but here is where timings can change.
TFT sees each of the four eras as equal, roughly 20 years each. GD sees some variations.
The crisis period takes as long as it takes. It might be a three month massacre (Rwanda, 1994) or a lengthy war with merging timelines (Thirty Years War). It might be something else, like the Puritan migration to the colonies. But however long it takes, the climax of the crisis period launches the cycle.
The Austerity period is fixed at about 15-20 years. That's because that's how long it takes for the new post-war Prophets to make themselves heard.
Awakening periods, like Crisis periods, take as long as they take, until the crisis is resolved by some "internal revolution" (Nixon resigns, China crushes the Tiananmen demonstrators).
Most of the variability in cycle lengths is packed into the Unraveling period, with some ambiguity as to when the new crisis period is entered. An unraveling period can be very long (e.g., in the colonies, prior to the Revolutionary War), but its length can't often be measured, since it's unclear when the crisis period begins.
The TFT theory designates the first period following a crisis as a "High" period. In America's High period starting in 1945, America's had conquered the Depression and had conquered the Nazis, and believed that they could conquer any enemy.
In all the crisis wars in TFT's Anglo-American timeline, "our" side seems to be the winner, and so the designation of "High" seems to fit.
Developing Generational Dynamics required extending the generational paradigm beyond the Anglo-American timeline, including to societies and nations that lost crisis wars and were humiliated by losing crisis wars. In such situations, the term "High" isn't appropriate.
GD looks at the period following a crisis war quite differently. Irrespective of whether a nation wins or loses, when a crisis war ends, new emotions take over in the public. There's a relief that the country survived, there's acceptance of the victory or defeat and the compromises that were required, there's guilt and controversy at the atrocities committed by them and fury at atrocities committed by others, and most of all there's a determination that no such war must ever happen again.
In a sense, the period following a crisis war is a kind of "high," even for the losing side, because this is often a period of great prosperity, since there's plenty of land and food for the smaller population that survived the war.
But what always characterizes this period is a willingness to impose austere societal rules to guarantee that the nation will be safe. The nation and its way of life survived, maybe just barely, but there's a determination that no such risk should be taken again. "I don't want my children to have to go through what I went through!" is a common sentiment. There is a willingness to impose austere rules to protect society, and so we use the word "Austerity" to describe this period.
The TFT authors found a major anomaly in the American civil war, namely that they found no Hero generation.
This can't happen in the GD theory, since we define the Hero generation to be the generation of young soldiers who fight during a crisis war. For GD, every Yank and Rebel who fought in the Civil War was a hero, at least while he was fighting in the war.
I've always been puzzled about why Strauss and Howe never found a Hero generation from the Civil War. After all, didn't they hold parades during the first decade of the 1900s for the "hero" Civil War veterans? I assume that the authors simply didn't find a generation of people who felt like heroes after the Civil War, especially because of the atrocities that their North and the South inflicted on each other, their brothers.
Similar feelings are likely to hold after any crisis civil war, or in any crisis war where the "heroes" ended up losing the war. They may not feel like heroes after the war, but they're still responsible for rebuilding a devastated nation, and devising the austere rules to protect their society from ever experiencing such a crisis war again. Thus continues the generational cycle.
In this sense, there certainly was a "hero generation" in the Civil War, and there's also a "hero generation" in any crisis war, even when they lose the war.
Some additional insight into this issue is provided by recent studies conducted by German researcher Harald Welzer, and published in his 2002 book, Opa war kein Nazi ("Gramps wasn't a Nazi").
In interviews of 40 German families, the researchers found that memories of the Holocaust do not exist in family memories. They refer to the Holocaust as "the bad time," but they describe their own family members as either victims or heroes. In two-thirds of the families interviewed, the grandchildren thought their grandparents resisted the Nazis or helped Jews, even though the opposite was true.
These stories make it clear that Nazis who committed war crimes lied to their families after the war, even though these were the same men who rebuilt Germany from the ruins of war.
It's clear that these men were not of the same celebratory mindset that, say, the American and English soldiers were. One might be tempted to think that the generational paradigm doesn't apply in this case, or at least that the timeline might be delayed until the "hero" soldiers of the war had some time to recover from their shame.
And yet, it's clear that nothing of the sort happened, and one way we know this is that the awakening-type events in Germany were clearly parallel to awakening-type events in America. This indicates that the post-war Austerity period in Germany began at the same time as in America, and that the Awakening period also began at the same time.
According to a BBC article summarizing the events of the 1960s, and in particular the riots by the "'68ers":
In the revolutionary late '60s and early 70's, many German universities were in effect taken over by radical students. They held stormy political debates, drew up manifestos against "western imperialism", and planned regular mass demonstrations. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1250944.stm
This is exactly the time frame when American colleges were being taken over. For example, see on my web site how Mark Rudd took over New York's Columbia University in 1968. http://www.generationaldynamics.com/cgi-bin/D.PL?d=ww2010.weblog.log0408#e040818
Another description of Germany in the 1960s says the following:
The next frontier is the tumultuous 1960s, which are usually considered a crucial turning point in postwar history. West German youth rebelled against a culture that many believed had become excessively materialistic; they criticized the politics of West German realignment with the West and looked critically at their own nation's past and present, pointing to the many continuities that persisted from the Nazi era. These included authoritarianism (not least in the institutions of higher education, in the police forces, and in the legal system), xenophobia, technocracy, and patriarchy. Purging society of these legacies became an urgent priority of the West German New Left. http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/TERMINE/2001/cdhiw4.htm
It's clear that the tumult in Germany was fought over similar, though not identical, issues as the issues in the American 1960s, but what also comes through is that the younger generation had a generational conflict with their elders, what we'd call the "hero generation," that had fought in WW II.
The point I'm making is that the generational flow specified by Generational Dynamics works even for the losing side, the humiliated side, in a crisis war. This is significant because it shows how the GD theory applies to all nations and societies. The generational paradigm is buried deep into the human condition, and it doesn't just apply a single Anglo-American timeline.
The Fourth Turning (TFT) authors don't explain how the TFT model gets started, but describe it along the Anglo-American timeline as a fait accompli, starting in the 1400s, and continuing to the present time. They suggest that the model is fairly fragile and can't be perturbed.
In fact, the generational model that the TFT authors developed is very robust and flexible, and with the changes we've described, it's capable of restarting at any time if it's perturbed.
The previous section shows that the GD model is self-correcting in the sense that if a crisis war occurs, then the model will be correct within two generations - by the time of the Awakening.
The GD approach removes TFT's restriction to modern times. You can start with any society, region or nation at any point in history and identify a crisis war. The GD Generational Diagonal diagram shows how the generations flow from that point on, leading to new crisis wars.
The TFT authors assume that saeculae (a saeculum is the period from the end of one crisis period to the end of the next) is always right around 80 years, and that each of the four periods (crisis, high, awakening, unraveling) is 20 years long.
We've found a great deal more variation in the lengths of the generational cycles. We've found that the most useful measurement is the length of time from the end of one crisis war to the beginning of the next. The data in chapter xxx yield the following results:
Fraction # years of total ------- -------- 0- 40 0% 41- 49 11% 50- 59 33% 60- 69 25% 70- 79 16% 80- 89 4% 90- 99 6% 100-117 5%
From the point of view of determining generational cycles in GD, the fact that there are shorter and longer cycles isn't of crucial importance. However, we believe that by more closely analyzing the reasons for short and long cycles, it would be possible to improve the GD Forecasting Methodology (see chapter xxx). This is a planned future project.
Related to this point, we make the following observations:
All of this requires further research, and we believe that such research will be extremely well rewarded by a much more accurate GD Forecasting Methodology.
There is the one place where the TFT timeline runs into a great deal of trouble, and that's England and America in the 1600s. The TFT authors believed that the behaviors and attitudes of the English and the colonists ran in parallel, and that this justifies treating the England and America from the 1400s to the 1900s on a single Anglo-American timeline.
We found that this belief is not true, as we'll describe below in the section entitled "The Puritan Flip."
However, the basic problem is that the GD Principle of Localization must be honored. Different societies, regions and nations have their own separate, personal timelines. As we've emphasized in several places elsewhere in this book, even when two countries fight in the same crisis war, from their individual perspectives it will usually look like two completely different wars.
By trying to squeeze England and colonial America into a single timeline, the authors had to make some compromises which don't make sense.
Here is the TFT list of crisis periods in the Anglo-American timeline:
The first part of this timeline is English, and works fine; the latter part of the timeline is American, and it also works fine. It's where they intersect in the middle that it runs into trouble.
Here are the individual periods within the 1600s portion of the TFT timeline:
An examination of this list reveals several problems:
These are the problems that arise from the TFT analysis of the 1600s Anglo-American timeline. These problems are all resolved by applying the Principle of Localization and separating the English and American timelines. The following sections describe the results.
Intuitively, one would expect the generational timeline for England and its colonies to be very close. In fact, that's the assumption that the TFT authors made in merging the English and American timelines, resulting in a date discrepancy.
According to Neil Howe in a private communication, "I don't think it would be possible to make a large distinction between generations in England and generations in the English colonies in America. In the case of the Puritan Generation, they were literally indistinguishable; they all grew up in the same society and (mostly) came of age in the same society. Even by the end of the 1600s, most colonists regarded themselves as 'English' and saw themselves shaped and driven by the same large events back 'home.'"
This is a very reasonable argument, but surprisingly, a close study of the period reveals that there were remarkable circumstances which caused the timeline periods to reverse in the colonies, which is why I call it the "Puritan flip."
The book that inspired Strauss and Howe to develop the TFT theory was the 1978 book, Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform by William McLoughlin. Based on McLoughlin's book, the TFT authors identified 1621-1649 to be the "Puritan awakening," even though this period in England included an extremely violent civil war which was quite obviously a crisis war in a crisis period, not an awakening period.
This is where the date discrepancy occurs. McLoughlin's book clearly indicates that the Puritan awakening began by 1610 and ended some time in the 1620s. Not only can McLoughlin's book not support the 1621-49 dates, in fact the book clearly contradicts them.
A study of McLoughlin's book reveals the solution to the dilemma, and shows that something quite different happened, a kind of "awakening inversion" that flipped the colonial turnings around from what they were in England.
The migration of Englishmen to colonies was not unlike a crisis period in the following sense: Petty political and personal differences had to be put aside, and all generations had to unite in order to survive in the new land. Thus, during the period 1610-30, while the Puritan awakening was going on in England, the Puritans who migrated to the colonies were actually going through a kind of Crisis period, before things settled down into an Austerity period.
During an Austerity period, everyone unites to impose a structure on society to protect it. The kids born during the Austerity period rebel against this structure, and that's what causes the Awakening period. In the case of the colonies, the structure was based on Puritan principles, and when the Awakening era arrived, it was to rebel against Puritanism.
That's how the remarkable "Puritan flip" occurred. The timeline for the colonies was flipped from England's timeline in two different ways:
Once the English and colonial timelines are separated, and this discrepancy is repaired, then the rest of the 1600s fall into place as well.
As I described earlier, the TFT authors give 1675-1704 as an Anglo-American crisis period, and they say that England's Glorious Revolution was a non-war crisis period. For the reasons I stated in an earlier section, this simply doesn't make sense.
But once you separate the English and colonial timelines, everything falls into place. The crisis period in the colonies climaxed with the extremely bloody and violent King Philip's war in New England, and the Glorious Revolution climaxed the awakening period in England.
As we move forward in time, the TFT authors identify the Revolutionary War as a crisis period, but what we've found is that this war was a crisis war for the colonies, but a non-crisis war for England. America and England next fought in the War of 1812. This was a non-crisis war for America, but it was the crisis Napoleonic wars for England.
America's and England's crisis periods didn't coincide again until World War II.
Just to tie up some loose ends, this section and the next section contain my analysis of the separate English and colonial timelines for the 1600s.
According to the Generational Dynamics "Principle of Localization," England and the colonies each has its own separate timeline. There's no reason to believe that the two timelines coincide until the countries fight in the same crisis war, which did finally happen in World War II.
The methodology for finding these dates is briefly as follows: Crisis periods are determined by the crisis wars; Awakening periods are determined by historical awakening-type events (riots, demonstrations, labor unrest, etc.), with the period ending with some sort of generational clash that establishes a victory for one side or the other; everything left over is either the Austerity period or the Unraveling period.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the exact dates of the mid-cycle periods are not important. As we've previously said, it's the climax of the crisis war that launches the mid-cycle period that leads to the next crisis war. Thus, these dates are approximate; any of these dates could be off by four or five years.
1560s-88: Armada war crisis period.
1589-1604: Austerity period.
1604-21: Awakening period. Began with ascendancy of James VI to throne, sparking the first widespread opposition to Anglican Church. By 1606, a separatist church had been formed by the Puritans, and they were so harassed that they were forced to flee to Holland. (This was the group of Pilgrims that landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620.) An awakening often ends with a bloodless "internal revolution" (Nixon resignation, Weimar Republic), and this one ended with The Great Protestation, "That the liberties, franchises, privileges, and jurisdictions of parliament are the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of the subjects of England, and that the arduous and urgent affairs concerning the king, state, and defense of the realm... are proper subjects and matter of council and debate in parliament." The king crushed the revolt by dissolving Parliament and imprisoning its leaders.
1622-40: Unraveling period. Charles I took over in 1625 amid further confrontations with Parliament. In 1629, Charles began the "Eleven Years' Tyranny," where he ruled as dictator, without Parliament, using the Star Chamber and imprisonment to control the opposition and hold off bankruptcy.
1640-60: Crisis period. Full-scale civil war between King and Parliament, ending in the beheading of Charles. This was a very violent war, ending with the beheading of the king, then ten years of military dictatorship under Oliver Cromwell. Then, when Cromwell died and England sank into anarchy, the desperate Nomads and Heroes pulled together and united behind a compromise: Bring back the son of Charles as King Charles II from his exile in Holland, but with vastly reduced powers. This was a vastly weakened King compared to his father: the Star Chamber was abolished; the King's power of taxation was abolished; the King's power to dissolve Parliament was abolished; forced loans, imprisonment without trial and martial law were also all abolished.
1661-79: Austerity period. The country was still a wreck, with an enormous level of hatred, bitterness and a desire for revenge, especially by the Cavaliers (noblemen) who had lost their land to the Roundheads. This led to the work of Edward Hyde, now Earl of Clarendon, who had been Charles' faithful servant during his long exile in Holland. Clarendon had the job of developing a series of laws to define the relationship between King and Parliament, and to settle their relationship forever so there wouldn't be another war between them. Following in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln, Clarendon and Charles were as conciliatory as possible, and steadily refused to permit a general revenge upon the Roundhead party. During this period there was a major political realignment, forming the Whig and Tory parties. Enormous bitterness from the Civil War continued throughout the Austerity period. Although the Star Chamber had been abolished, Clarendon had found other illegal means to imprison enemies and convey them to places outside of England. (Following in the footsteps of President Andrew Johnson, Clarendon was impeached for high treason, and had to flee to France.) Protestors tried repeatedly to pass a bill forbidding illegal imprisonment, but were defeated each time.
1679-89: Awakening period. A new era began with the passage, finally, of a most important landmark in the constitutional history of England: the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 which, among other things, required that a prisoner be brought before a court within three days to determine whether the imprisonment is legal. There was great public discontent with Charles' close relationship with King Louis XIV of France. The discontent changed to fury with the unpopular non-crisis war with France against Holland, especially when they learned that Charles had signed a secret agreement with Louis to split Europe between them and make England a Catholic Monarchy. Parliament clamped down on the King's budget, and Holland, led by William of Orange, drove back the French army by opening the dikes and flooding the meadows. The Parliament remained vexed with Charles' continuing closeness to Louis, and things became worse in 1685 when James II ascended to the throne and maintained that closness. A standing army in England horrified the public anyway because of the Civil War, but James not only built up an army, but also populated it with Catholic officers. The public was further infuriated when Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes, and forced the emigration of hundreds of thousands of Protestants (Huguenots). Many feared a new civil war in England, but we now know from Generational Dynamics that a major civil war during an awakening period is impossible. The crisis was resolved with in 1689 with another bloodless "internal revolution," when the Parliament offered the crown to William and Mary, the latter being James' daughter, married to William. Their ascendancy, together with the Bill of Rights, which asserted the "true, ancient, and indubitable rights of the people of this realm," marked the Glorious Revolution. (Compare this text to the text of the Great Protestation that ended the last awakening period in 1621.)
1690-1701: Unraveling period. Oliver Cromwell's harsh rule in the 1650s had put Scotland under English control, but in the 1660s there were already the first rumblings of Scottish discontent with the arrangement. Generational Dynamics shows that a crisis war always ends with compromises and settlements that often become unraveled during the following decades, leading to a new crisis war. This appeared to be the case with Scotland. The Glorious Revolution was the kind of unraveling compromise one normally sees: Scotland agreed to William and Mary as sovereigns; but the agreement made Scotland so independent again that for all practical purposes England and Scotland two separate countries again, and the Scottish Parliament was an independent force. (Ireland also presented serious problems which I won't recount here.) Things came to a head in 1702 when King William died. Queen Anne succeeded, but her last surviving child had died in 1700, so there was no line of succession, and Anne was in ill health. To settle any remaining questions on succession left open by the Glorious Revolution, England passed the Act of Settlement in 1701, guaranteeing that the sovereigns of Great Britain were to be Protestant and not leave the kingdom without consent of Parliament, and passing English Succession over to the Protestant House of Hanover. This brought the Scotland crisis to a head, as Scotland refused to accept the Act of Settlement.
1701-14: Crisis period. Suddenly the War of the Spanish Succession broke out - a major war of conquest by Louis of France. England and France had been fighting a non-crisis unraveling war (the War of the League of Augsburg) with France since the Revolution, with indecisive results, but now England was doing poorly, and Louis was allying with Scotland. England's entire empire was in danger and a new civil war would have occurred, when finally England miraculously defeated the French army in the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. Without France's support, Scotland acquiesced to the Act of Settlement and a civil war was averted. Nonetheless, the war in Europe continued because Europe was still in danger from French conquest. The August, 1709, battle of Malplaquet was the climax of the war, and the bloodiest war in Europe for the entire eighteenth century. France and England lost 25,000 and 20,000 men respectively. The war was technically a victory for England, but in fact, it ended England's active participation in the war. The war ended in 1714 with the Treaty at Utrecht, which the statesmen of the time signed because they wanted to avoid for as long as possible another violent conflict such as the one that had just ended. In fact, it defined the national boundaries and kept the peace in Europe until the French Revolution in 1789.
All of the following dates are fairly indefinite and require more research. These dates might also have to be modified because of events outside of New England. However, the precise specification of these dates is not a crucial issue to the theory presented in this book.
1600-20: Crisis period. Migration of first English settlers, including Puritans to the new world. Not a war, but a crisis period nonetheless because it forced the generations to put aside petty differences to survive in the new world. The crisis period ended when a peace treaty was signed with Wampanoag Indian chief Massasoit, and they shared Thanksgiving dinner.
1620-30: Austerity period. Migration of English Puritans to New England, establishing a society based on Puritan strictures.
1630-50: Awakening period. The generational protests were against Puritanism.
1650-61: Unraveling period. The colonists and the Indians were really butting up against one another, and the Indians were becoming increasingly anxious that the colonists would drive them off their land. However, the Indians were happy because they were making a lot of money selling furs and skins to Europe.
1661-78: Crisis period. Massasoit died in 1661 and was replaced by his militant son, nicknamed King Philip by the colonists. In addition, a change in fashion in Europe against furs and skins caused a financial crisis among the Indians. Full scale war broke out with King Philip's War in 1675. The war climaxed in 1676, with King Philip's head on a stick, and the crisis period ended with a peace treaty with the Indians in 1678.
1679-90: Austerity period. The War gave the crown an excuse to exert control over New England, and especially to rein in Massachusetts' independence. From 1679-89, the Crown sent a series of officials to the colonies, to reorganize and consolidate the region as a Dominion of New England. However, in 1689, the Glorious Revolution in England led to a Bill of Rights that ensured the traditional powers of Parliament, ended the divine right of kings to govern, and forced James II into exile. The people of Boston rose in revolt and imprisoned the English governor, and restored Charter government. Similar actions took place throughout New England.
1691-1713: Awakening period. A new era began with a new charter for Massachusetts and land to the north. Religious liberty was extended to all except Catholics. In 1692, a group of poor Puritans sought to avenge themselves against wealthier church members by charging witchcraft, resulting in the Salem witch trials. The revolt against England reached a peak in the 1700s decade, when Boston artisans and laborers staged bread riots to prevent the export of grain during Queen Anne's war (the War of the Spanish Succession). The end of the war gives new trading freedoms to the colonies.
1713-63: Unraveling period. Opposition to English rule grew steadily during these years, but the colonists had no choice but to submit, because they needed the protection of the English army against the French and Indians. Protests took many forms, the most interesting being the "Great Awakening of the 1730s-40s," which promoted spiritual opposition to the Anglican Church. (It may seem strange to call this an unraveling thing, but it makes sense when you compare it to the rise of the followers of the Falun Gong after Tiananmen Square.) The period ended with a peace treaty between England and France.
1763-83: Crisis period. Revolutionary war. This was a crisis war for the colonies, but an unraveling war for the English. The favor was returned with the War of 1812 which was a crisis war for England, but a non-crisis war for America.
Note the exceptionally lengthy unraveling period, 1713-1763. This has been a matter of considerable debate among Fourth Turning afficionados.
As we've previously described, mid-cycle periods can be as short as 42 years or as long as 110 years. In this case, King Philip's war ended in 1678 and the Revolutionary War began in 1775. This doesn't present any problem to the major findings of Generational Dynamics, but it is desirable to develop a hypothesis for the breakdown of the intermediate periods.
Based on my research, it seems to me that the Awakening period always begins 15-20 years after the end of the crisis period, and lasts 10-20 years. So if a mid-cycle period lasts more than 60 years, then the Unraveling period has to be longer than 20 years.
I believe that further research will show that long mid-cycle periods are caused by especially difficult non-crisis wars, including crisis wars in nearby regions, in this case the French and Indian wars. Although the Prophet generation disappears during a long mid-cycle period, I believe that they serve the same purpose in absentia: their visions will have been transferred to the Nomad generation through education. When the next crisis war finally comes, the Nomads (and early members of the next Hero generation) choose from the legacy Prophet visions in pursuing the next crisis war.