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When President Bush talked about the "Second Awakening" in American history, he was talking about the same "Awakenings" that are part of the foundation of Generational Dynamics.
Bush's remarks were to a group of conservative journalists. They weren't published publicly, but they're summarized on the National Review blog, in an entry by Rich Lowry and Kate O'Beirne:
About the current situation, he added, “A lot of people in America see this as a confrontation between good and evil, including me.” He kept coming back to how cultures change, both in America and overseas. “Cultures do change and ideological struggles are won.” “There was a stark change between the culture of the ‘50’s and the 60’s—boom—and I think there’s change happening here.” “It seems to me that there’s a Third Awakening.”
Now, those of you who read this web site regularly know that America was in a generational awakening era in the 1960s and 1970s, and is in a generational crisis period today. There is absolutely no chance whatsoever of entering an awakening period now. As I've also said repeatedly, Iraq is currently in a generational awakening era, one generation past the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, and that's why a civil war in Iraq is impossible today, just as a civil war couldn't have occurred in the America in the 1960s.
However, Bush's reference is to exactly the same "Second Awakening" that forms one of the pillars of Generational Dynamics.
Historians have long recognized three Great Awakenings in American history, in the 1730s-40s, 1820s-30s, and 1890s-1900s, respectively. These have been periods of tremendous social turmoil, as well as religious revival among the public.
Many people believe that the social turmoil of the 1960s and 70s, with the antiwar movement, the environmental movement, the women's lib movement, and so forth, was unique in American history. But nothing could be further from the truth. It was actually America's fourth Awakening era.
The social turmoil that occurred in the 1730s and 40s was so great, history has given it a name, "The Great Awakening in American history."
The First Great Awakening (1730s-1740s) occurred at a time when the American colonies were beginning to strongly condemn British control of the colonies. Part of that was the official church, the Church of England, called the Anglican Church in the colonies.
The Revolutionary War came in 1776, but the cultural revolution against England occurred with the Great Awakening.
Starting in the 1730s, something brand new came about -- something we recognize today in the form of "televangelists." Various preachers went from city to city, telling thousands of rapt listeners that they would be punished for their sinfulness, but could be saved by the mercy of an all-powerful God. To take one example, John Wesley, born in 1703, created the Methodist religion, and traveled on horseback throughout the country for years, stopping along the way to preach three or four sermons each day.
The Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s was not just a religious revival; it was also an act of rebellion against the older generation that favored control by the British in return for protection. By rejecting the Anglican Church, the colonists were symbolically rejecting British control.
The Second Great Awakening was so named because of the social turmoil of the 1820s and 1830s.
Women's rights began to be seriously addressed at this time. And, as with the previous awakening, there were heavy religious overtones, with many evangelists holding "revivals," telling people how to revive their sinful souls from damnation.
However, the greatest turmoil arose out of the slavery issue. Slave rebellions began to develop, especially in those parts of the South where blacks outnumbered whites. The fiercest was the 1831 revolt led by black slave Nat Turner, who had been born in 1800. Turner's rebellion resulted in the deaths or massacres of dozens of whites and blacks, until Turner himself was hanged several weeks later.
This is the period that George Bush was talking about in his remarks. The Civil War began in 1861, and many of the ideas about the evil nature of slavery were born in during the Second Great Awakening, 30-40 years earlier.
Awakenings are crucial to Generational Dynamics. Awakening eras occur in every society and nation, and they always occur midway between two crisis wars. It often happens that great ideas (like new religions) are born during Awakening eras, and are either actualized or killed off during the next crisis era.
In his 1978 book, Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform, senior history professor William G. McLoughlin identifies five awakenings in Anglo-American history. He started with England's Puritan Awakening (1610-40), that began midway between the Spanish Armada crisis war and the English civil war. He then describes America's First, Second and Third Great Awakenings, and also includes a Fourth Awakening -- beginning in the 1960s.
In the 1980s, when historians William Strauss and Neil Howe did their research on Anglo-American generational patterns for their books Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 and The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy, they drew heavily on McLoughlin's work and filled in the detailed generational changes that lead from an awakening to a crisis war to another awakening to another crisis war.
Generational Dynamics in turn draws on Strauss and Howe's work, and extends the concepts of crisis wars and awakenings to all nations, societies and tribes at all times in history.
McLoughlin summarized America's Awakenings as follows:
Our Revolution came after the First Great Awakening on American soil had made the thirteen colonies into a cohesive unit (e pluribus unum), had given them a sense of unique nationality, and had inspired them with the belief that they were, "and of right ought to be," a free and independent people.
Shortly after the Constitution had launched the American republic, a second era of religious revivals created the definitions of what it meant to be "an American" and what the manifest destiny of the new nation was. After the Civil War had cemented our sense of the Union ("One nation, indivisible under God, with liberty and justice for all"), the Third Great Awakening helped us to understand the meaning of evolutionary science and industrial progress and led us into the crusades "to make the world safe for democracy" in 1917 and 1941.
Since 1960, Americans have been in the midst of their Fourth Great Awakening (or their fifth, if we include the Puritan Awakening). Once again we are in a difficult period of reorientation, seeking an understanding of who we are, how we relate to the rest of the universe, and what the meaning is of the manifold crises that threaten our sense of order at home and our commitments as a world power abroad. [This was published in 1978. - JX]
Great awakenings (and the revivals that are part of them) are the results, not of depressions, wars, or epidemics, but of critical disjunctions in our self-understanding. They are not brief outbursts of mass emotionalism by one group or another but profound cultural transformations affecting all Americans and extending over a generation or more. Awakenings begin in periods of cultural distortion and grave personal stress, when we lose faith in the legitimacy of our norms, the viability of our institutions, and the authority of our leaders in church and state. They eventuate in basic restructurings of our institutions and redefinitions of our social goals.
Great awakenings are not periods of social neurosis (though they begin in times of cultural confusion). They are times of revitalization. They are therapeutic and cathartic, not pathological. They restore our cultural verve and our self-confidence, helping us to maintain faith in ourselves, our ideals, and our "covenant with God" even while they compel us to reinterpret that covenant in the light of new experience. Through awakenings a nation grows in wisdom, in respect for itself, and into more harmonious rdations with other peoples and the physical universe. Without them our social order would cease to be dynamic; our culture would wither, fragment, and dissolve in confusion, as many civilizations have done before." [pp. 1-2]
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Awakening eras occur in every nation and society throughout history.
In 1956, Anthony F. C. Wallace published a paper called "Revitalization Movements" to describe how cultures change themselves. A revitalization movement is a "deliberate, organized, conscious effort by members of a group to create a new culture," and Wallace describes at length the processes by which a revitalization movement takes place.
Wallace derived his theory from studies of so-called primitive peoples (preliterate and homogeneous), with particular attention to the Iroquois revitalization movement led by Seneca religious leader and "prophet" whose name was Handsome Lake (1735-1815). Wallace believed that his revitalization model applies to movements as broad and complex as the rise of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or Wesleyan Methodism.
In his 1978 book, McLoughlin took Wallace's work on Revitalization Movements and extended it to "the complex, pluralistic, and highly literate people of the United States."
In doing so, McLoughlin provided the roadmap for extending the concept of Revitalization / Awakening eras so that they apply to any nation or society in history:
McLoughlin thus laid the groundwork for understanding that Awakening eras are essential to any society, for they redefine the cultural norms that will carry the society into and through the next crisis war.
The late 1940s were a time of great dread and austerity for Americans. True, Americans were in a kind of emotional "high," having just beaten the Depression and beaten the Nazis. But after two world wars, and a new world war against Communism apparently on the horizon, it was felt that SOMETHING must be done to try to prevent that. This gave rise to the Truman Doctrine.
Before proceeding to that, however, let's quote from the Preface to Hannah Arendt's 1950 book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, to show the mood of the time:
Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest -- forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries. It is as though mankind had divided itself between those who believe in human omnipotence (who think that everything is possible if one knows how to organize masses for it) and those for whom powerlessness has become the major experience of their lives.
On the level of historical insight and political thought there prevails an ill-defined, general agreement that the essential structure of all civilizations is at the breaking point. Although it may seem better preserved in some parts of the world than in others, it can nowhere provide the guidance to the possibilities of the century, or an adequate response to its horrors. Desperate hope and desperate fear often seem closer to the center of such events than balanced judgment and measured insight. The central events of our time are not less effectively forgotten by those committed to a belief in an unavoidable doom, than by those who have given themselves up to reckless optimism.
This book has been written against a background of both reckless optimism and reckless despair. It holds that Progress and Doom are two sides of the same medal; that both are articles of superstitition, not of faith." [[pp. vii-viii]]
Arendt's book proceeds to deconstruct the elements of Naziism and Communism, with the purpose of trying to find ways to keep them from happening again.
For President Harry Truman, this was more than just a philosophical discussion. America had historically had an "isolationist" policy of remaining aloof from foreign affairs, and hadn't even joined the League of Nations when it was formed after World War I.
However, many people believed that this isolationist policy was one of the causes of World War II, that the United State could (somehow) have prevented WW II, perhaps by assassinating Hitler in 1935. (From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, WW II would have occurred with or without Hitler; furthermore, a proposal to assassinate Hitler in 1935 would have met the same political and public fury that a proposal to assassinate Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be met with today. Nonetheless, the erroneous belief that Hitler caused WW II was widespread in the late 1940s.)
In 1947, a crisis between Turkey and Greece led President Truman the formulate the "Truman Doctrine," which essentially made America the Policemen of the World. Here's an excerpt from President Truman's speech to a joint session of Congress:
The peoples of a number of countries of the world have recently had totalitarian regimes forced upon them against their will. The Government of the United States has made frequent protests against coercion and intimidation in violation of the Yalta agreement in Poland, Rumania, and Bulgaria. I must also state that in a number of other countries there have been similar developments.
At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one. One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression. The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.
I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.
I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.
I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.
The world is not static, and the status quo is not sacred. But we cannot allow changes in the status quo in violation of the Charter of the United Nations by such methods as coercion, or by such subterfuges as political infiltration. In helping free and independent nations to maintain their freedom, the United States will be giving effect to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations."
President Truman made the additional point that, no matter how much it cost the United States to provide this help, the cost would be far less than the cost of World War II.
The Truman Doctrine led us into a series of difficult situations that quickly went far beyond just financial help. When Russia began to occupy North Korea, we fought the Korean War to a stalemate. When China's allies in North Vietnam made it a goal to convert Southeast Asia to Communism, we began sending troops into Vietnam. When Cuba became a Communist country in 1960, we tried a pre-emptive invasion to overthrow the government; the invasion failed, as it was based on faulty CIA data, and became known as the "Bay of Pigs disaster."
The social turmoil began in earnest in the 1960s, as we tried to answer the question: Exactly what IS our duty as "Policemen of the World"?
Let's return to George Bush's remarks, referring to Abraham Lincoln's strongest supporters in the Civil war as religious people from the Second Awakening “who saw life in terms of good and evil” and who agreed [with] Lincoln that slavery was evil, and the Union soldiers who Lincoln had “great affection and admiration for.”
The question that this article is addressing is this: How did the 1960s Awakening resolve the social turmoil of the 1960s, and what people from this era are going to be George Bush's strongest supporters today in the war against terror?
McLoughlin's book, published almost 30 years ago, provides guidance. McLoughlin identifies two major cultural issues in America in the 1950s: the fear of Communism, which we've just discussed; and the long-held feeling that America was not just a religious nation, but was in fact a Protestant nation. In particular, Fundamentalist Protestants believed that, as the millennium approached, God would work through America to redeem mankind.
In the first half of the century, this created a cultural contradiction with the ideal of religious equality because "many of the poor, and many members of the working class, were recent immigrants," and were Catholic or Jewish, according to McLoughlin. Many native-born Americans supported restrictions on immigration because "Catholic and Jewish immigrants needed to be 'uplifted' from their 'backward' and 'superstitious' ignorance."
The Bolshevik (Communist) Revolution in 1917 caused these three groups -- conservative Fundamentalists, Catholics and Jews -- to begin to unite against a common enemy. McLoughlin adds:
At this point Americans at last accepted the concept of a pluralistic nation, at least to the extent, as Will Herberg put it in 1955, of agreeing that "to be a Protestant, a Catholic, or a Jew are today the alternative ways of being an American." [pp. 5-6]
This, from McLoughlin's 1978 book, is the central spiritual concept that America's most recent Awakening era has brought us: Protestants are united with Catholics and Jews, and the country is committed to religious equality, and to the defense of religious liberty around the world.
As I said before, it's a principle of Generational Dynamics that great ideas are born during Awakening eras and then actualized (or killed) during Crisis eras.
We're now entering a generational Crisis era, and it's fair to ask this question: What form will this new spiritual concept take in its actualization?
There are many ways to approach this question, but none is more important than the defense of Israel.
Religious equality is the norm in Western nations, but is NOT the norm in Muslim nations. America's defense of democracy around the world, a commitment adopted by President Truman after World War II, also now implies defense of religious liberty around the world. By contrast, Muslim nations may tolerate religious liberty, but their commitment is to a Muslim world.
Muslim nations have also had their Awakening eras. For most of them, this was in the 1930s-1940s, following the destruction of the (Muslim) Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. The destruction of the of the Ottoman Empire also meant the destruction of the Sunni Muslim Caliphate in Istanbul, Turkey. Thus, during the Awakening era, a primary cultural goal became a resurgence of Sunni Islam and the restoration of the Caliphate.
(This is a subject for another time, but an apparent element of the objective of Sunni resurgence has been a substantial increase in the birth rate. This is evident by the fact that, in the last few decades, the birth in Sunni Muslim countries has been roughly twice as great as other countries. However, although I've asked a number of Muslims to confirm that a high birth rate has been a Muslim objective related to the restoration of the Caliphate, none have been able to do so.)
During the 1930s-1940s, right in the Sunni Muslim awakening eras, the European Jews flocked to the Palestine region, and were in conflict with the Palestinians. When the size of the Jewish Holocaust in Germany became known, a horrified world agreed to partition Palestine and create the state of Israel on May 15, 1948. Since then, Palestinians call this day Al Naqba - Catastrophe Day.
Even though George Bush didn't get his history exactly right, he is right to emphasize the importance of Awakenings. It's during Awakenings that powerful attitudes and goals are adopted by large masses of people. The Awakening era is like the societal earthquake that launches the tsunami that arrives 30-40 years later in the form of a crisis war. That tsunami is almost at our shores today, and can't be stopped.
|Conflict risk level for next 6-12 months as of: 9-Feb-2006|
|W. Europe||1||Arab Israeli||3|
Generational Dynamics predicts that there'll be a "clash of civilizations" world war, pitting the Muslim world (with China as an ally) against the Western World (with Russia and India as allies). This war was launched by events and social changes that occurred decades ago (and, some would say, centuries ago). Nothing can be done to prevent it today.
Although we can't predict the scenario leading up to that war, current events make it clear that Palestine and Israel will be the epicenter (or at least AN epicenter) of that war. This really shouldn't be surprising, since Palestine and Jerusalem have been the epicenter of many "world wars" for millennia.
However, it would be a mistake to assume that Israel is the only issue leading to a world war. America actually has signed a large number of mutual defense treaties with other countries as well. These include agreements with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the ANZUS agreement with Australia and New Zealand, and the NATO agreement with all of Europe, as well as with Israel.
More and more, I've been telling people lately the following: Treasure the time you have left, and use it to prepare yourself, your family, your community and your nation.
We can't predict the time frame for this war, but with the aggressiveness of Iran in its intent to eliminate Israel, with China's increasing economic instability, with Russia's increasing social instability, and with the the world population's increasing anxiety and fear over violence and terrorism, the time cannot be too far off.