Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 26-Jan-08
Egypt's failure to close the Gaza border further destabilizes the region.

Web Log - January, 2008

Egypt's failure to close the Gaza border further destabilizes the region.

Changing events brings Israelis, Palestinians and Egyptians into further confrontation and conflict.

I'll begin with a concept that I haven't discussed in a while -- the concept of "chaotic attractors" in Chaos Theory. I used to refer to this all the time, but haven't recently. But now, the concept really fits the situation in Gaza.

Imagine that you're in the ocean, watching all the individual molecules of water swirl around you. Those molecules are going in random directions, and even if you could identify the individual molecules, you'd have no way of predicting where any individual molecule was going to go next. The movement of any particular molecule cannot be predicted at all, and yet those molecules form waves in a reasonably predictable pattern. You could, if you wanted, make reasonable predictions about the size of those waves, and how frequently new waves would reach the shore.

The waves are an example of a "cyclic attractor" in a chaotic system. The motion of the individual molecules appears almost completely random, and yet the entire collection of molecules is "attracted" to the cyclic wave patterns.

As another example, imagine you're in a blizzard, surrounded by falling snowflakes. Although the motion of each individual snowflake cannot be predicted, the mass of snowflakes are "attracted" to certain snowdrift patterns. If you recorded those snowdrift patterns historically, then you could make make a reasonable prediction about where snowdrifts would form in the next blizzard.

Generational Dynamics uses this concept of "chaotic attractor" as one of the many tools in its toolchest for making predictions and forecasts. In this forecasting methodology, the individual "snowflakes" are the millions of individual political acts that occur around the world every day. The chaotic attractors are the cyclic trends determined by generational flow over a period of decades or centuries.

An important part of the methodology is being able to distinguish the snowflakes from the snowdrifts, or the chaotic events from the trends. This is where everybody else goes wrong, and it's a major part of the Generational Dynamics forecasting methodology. Things like elections cannot be predicted. (The only time I tried was in "Does history favor George Bush or John Kerry?" during the 2004 election, which really was quite unsatisfactory.) You also can't predict the results of particular battles or campaigns.

There are many attitudes and behaviors that are cyclic as generations change, many of them identified in the 1980s by Neil Howe and William A. Strauss, the founding fathers of generational theory. These are the kinds of things that can be predicted by Generational Dynamics forecasting, as applied to large masses of people or entire generations: attitudes toward gender roles, family, parents, and protection of children; willingness to negotiate with, confront, fight or slaughter enemy groups; risk-seeking vs risk-averse vs panicky behavior; political compromise vs political confrontation; tendency to commit crimes or abuse drugs.

I use this concept all the time (usually without mentioning it) on this web site. In analyzing a particular country, I determine what the long-term generational trends are, in order to determine what the chaotic attractors are. In the six years I've been doing this, having analyzed literally hundreds of places and times in history, I've gotten a pretty good intuitive feel for what they are, and can usually explain the reasoning behind the intuition.

Furthermore, one thing I didn't fully realize when I developed this methodology in 2003 is that these chaotic attractors are VERY POWERFUL, much more powerful than I would have guessed at the time. That's why I've been able to claim that every one of the hundreds of Generational Dynamics predictions on this web site has turned out to be right or is trending right, and that not a single one has turned out wrong. Time has proven that predictions made along the lines of chaotic attractors invariably turn out right. This never ceases to amaze me, and ten years ago I would have thought that what I'm doing today was mathematically impossible.

So, to summarize previous examples of this:

So now let's turn to what is supposed to be the main subject of this article: The situation in Gaza.

And remember that this region is in a generational Crisis era, so the people are "attracted" to confrontation and war to solve problems.

The opening up of the border between Gaza and Egypt is a critical turning point in the in the attitudes and behaviors of the Gazans -- as indicated by the fact that hundreds of thousands of Gazans rushed through the open border, and many have no intention of returning. According to one UN estimate, half of the entire population of Gaza has been to the opening.

We can argue about what caused what -- did the opening of the border change the attitudes of the Gazans, or did the changing attitudes of the Gazans cause Hamas to put into effect their plan to blast through the border? We can't be sure, but at the very least, the opening of the border triggered changes in attitude and behavior that were building in the Gazan people anyway.

Since the Gazans are entering or in a Crisis era, as we try to examine the various future scenarios, we should expect the Gazans to be "attracted to" the more confrontational scenarios to be selected by the Gazans. The Gazans are headed for genocidal war, but they're not there yet. On a scale of 1 to 10 of completely compromising mood to a completely genocidal mood, they're probably at 7 or 8. So it's not surprising that they prevented Egypt from closing the border again on Friday, but it's also not surprising that there were no bloody, violent confrontations.

Bulldozer defeats Egyptians <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source:</font>
Bulldozer defeats Egyptians (Source:

The scene on Friday was very dramatic. The Egyptians announced to the Palestinians in Egypt that it was time to go home. Egyptian soldiers moved to close the border. They were stopped by huge mobs of Gazans blocking the way, and then a yellow bulldozer, operated by Hamas militants, came and smashed several more holes through the barrier. The Egyptian soldiers finally retreated.

You can watch the dramatic BBC report as it appeared live. Watch for the sudden appearance of the bulldozer:

(Once the above video finishes, a menu appears allowing you to select subsequent reports.)

As we said, this event marks a critical turning point in the attitudes and behaviors of Gazans. But it might also mark a major change in attitudes among numerous other actors in the region:

It's worth remembering that, since the 1970s, Egypt and America have kept their troops out of the Palestine region, so that they wouldn't be drawn into a war between Jews and Arabs. Now that safeguard is ending.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we have several large masses of people (Gazans, Egyptians, West Bank Palestinians, Israelis), all in a generational Crisis era, almost all not explicitly wanting war but not willing to compromise on basic intentions and objectives. Ten years ago, these groups would have been "attracted to" negotiation and compromise over war. But today, with populations consisting of younger generations, these groups are "attracted to" confrontation and conflict over negotiation and compromise. That's the assumption you should make, if you're trying to predict what each of these groups will do.

As I've predicted since 2003, the Palestine region is headed, with absolutely certainty, to a new war between Arabs and Jews, refighting the bloody, violent 1949 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. As I wrote in my analysis a couple of weeks ago, there has hardly been a day since Yasser Arafat's death when Gaza hasn't descended even further into chaos than the day before, The events of the last week are certain to mean that this trend will continue. (26-Jan-08) Permanent Link
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