A Fourth Turning

1. Things hidden in plain sight

2. A Fourth Turning

3. Limited Resources

4. It’s different this time

2. A Fourth Turning – Part 2 of Four

Vishnu “I am become Death – The destroyer of Worlds” – Quoted by Robert Oppenheimer 16 July 1945.

The Tao Te Ching : “the way of the Tao is returning.” The Abrahamic religions strive for perfection, while the way of the Tao accepts that the world moves in cycles knowing that nothing is perfect. The Strauss–Howe generational theory, sets out spring summer autumn and winter to reflect the changing personalities as each generation follows and builds upon the experience of the earlier generations. The Fourth Turning is due – “Winter is Coming”  –  the Crisis.

The current part of the cycle is supposedly ten years into the Crisis, with another ten years or so before the Crisis is resolved. The Authors suggest that the previous Fourth Turning Crisis period began with the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and lasted through to the beginning of the peace following the Second World War.

The Authors estimation may be a little premature. The dynamics surrounding the Crisis in Germany that briefly preceded the Wall Street Crash (the two are connected) led to a disillusionment with democratic government, and a desire for firm leadership in response to perceived and real inequalities. These circumstances call forth a Hero, echoing Aurelian, the Restorer of the World of Imperial Rome.

Would it be too much of a stretch to place a new Wall Street Crash in 2021, some 92 years after the prototype? Instead of 2008 some 79 years later? If inequality and oppression is the driver, 2021 is a far better candidate than 2008.

And if the Authors are a bit off in their timing, what else might be missed? In 1929 the world saw a climax in the age of new inventions, radio, electronics, commercial air traffic, a beginning of the end of the age of coal and new applications in the age of oil. The world of 1929 was not short of new ideas.

So, what comes next, once the immediacies of the Crisis are over? Will new Empires appear or the old ones merely fragment? One thing’s for sure, people of privilege will always risk complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. That outlook is perfectly compatible with a Hero emerging from the privileged class. No doubt one or more will, but today the trend is away from growth and toward shrinkage, toward national rather than global, away from the individual and toward the collective, a sharing of identity and aspiration.

Karl Marx said that history repeats, first as tragedy, then as farce. It is hard to imagine anything more farcical than the Covid guidance of today and the attempts by the assembled players to impose their will upon the populations. That they have succeeded to greater or lesser extents says much about our present circumstances and our need for a Hero.

It will take some time for the lessons of today’s Heroic generation to be learned, for freewill and for the Rights of Man to be lost and regained. Much of what is seen today is taken for granted. It will not be missed until it is swept away.

History and the Bible records slavery as an outcome of economic distress, defining as legal provisions what an owner could and could not do with his property. A law was passed in ancient Rome that said that slaves could not be fed to wild beasts as a form of entertainment for their owner’s guests. Presumably the owners had no more concern for the lives of their slaves than a modern day cook would have for a live lobster prior to cooking.

These are the sorts of concerns that do not trouble today’s Citizens, those persons subject to the statutes or proceedings of the Government to whom they owe allegiance. Most will deny that they are owned, arguing that such impositions are the hallmarks of Fascism and Communism and that they live in a democracy. That may change because, as stated earlier, capabilities once enacted will eventually be utilised. We already see in the progress of the current Lockdown, that “compliance”, not medical science, was and is the driver.

Now, today, slavery is alive and well in Libya, and human traffickers find profits in the trade of people into Europe. When Winter comes, and debts become due, and when famine is not far off, will slavery be considered as a lifestyle? The way of the Tao is returning.

There is one thing that may, in the end, prevail. Ancient Rome once considered passing laws that would have compelled slaves to wear armbands to publicise their status. On consideration, and aware that slaves comprised over one third of the City of Rome’s population, the Senate decided against passing the law. They had already enough problems managing the mob.

This time around, electronic tags may replace the slave’s armbands. With that in mind, getting your head around a situation where slavery seems to be the only option for survival, as in Rome circa 350AD, codifies the extremes of social inequality. That we today do not see the abolition of slavery as abnormal, is a testimony to a change that began perhaps with the aspirations driving the French Revolution, and was helped to progress by the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century.

The Age that follows a Fourth Turning necessarily promotes Liberty and Freewill, bringing with it innovation and artistry and peace. But at exactly that time, the seeds for the next Fourth Turning are sown, unless perhaps, just perhaps, in this Fourth Turning a different outcome can be discovered, and one that does not invoke Vishnu.


One Response to “A Fourth Turning”

  1. richarda says:

    Some additional information.
    re Imperial Rome circa 350AD, I’ll add some clarification to set out why a free farmer in what is now Italy, faced bad choices:
    The farmer might be an ex-Legionary who had bought the farm with his pension, or one of his soms who had inherited.
    Typically there would be a large estate using slave labour to manage crops, and using a contingent of slave guards to control the estate and to protect it from tax collectors. The estate owner also had political connections that limited the Stae’s ability to collect taxes.
    Hence the free farmer was in competion with the Estate at the local markets, and at the mercy of the corrupt tax collectors.
    His surplus was taken as tax in kind, hence land often lay fallow as there was no profit from labour expended there.
    One or two years of poor harvests or local unrest inevitably left the free farmer with debts he could not repay.
    Hence Slavery by choice may have seemed the lesser of the evils faced.

    A treatise on slavery in more recent times is here:

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