Jeremy Peters of the New York Times analyzes a generational theory book titled The Fourth Turning, which has played a significant role in shaping the worldview of White House strategist Steve Bannon.
In the book, amateur historians William Strauss and Neil Howe argue that American history can be charted in a cycle of four stages — growth, maturation, entropy, and destruction — with the concluding crisis period emerging every 80 years. According to this theory, the last crisis was nearly 80 years ago with World War II; and hence, the next crisis will soon be upon us. Peters provides excerpts from the book and then suggests what they might mean for our current political climate.
From the New York Times:
The ‘Deconstruction of the Administrative State,’ and Much More, Is Inevitable
“The Fourth Turning will trigger a political upheaval beyond anything Americans could today imagine. New civic authority will have to take root, quickly and firmly — which won’t be easy if the discredited rules and rituals of the old regime remain fully in place. We should shed and simplify the federal government in advance of the Crisis by cutting back sharply on its size and scope but without imperiling its core infrastructure.”
The rhythmic, seasonal nature of history that the authors identify foresees an inevitable period of decay and destruction that will tear down existing social and political institutions. Mr. Bannon has famously argued that the overreaching and ineffective federal government — “the administrative state,” as he calls it — needs to be dismantled. And Mr. Trump, he said, has just begun the process.
As Mr. Howe said in an interview with The Times: “There has to be a period in which we tear down everything that is no longer functional. And if we don’t do that, it’s hard to ever renew anything. Forests need fires, and rivers need floods. These happen for a reason.”
Read the rest here.