“There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation has a rendezvous with destiny.”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
In 1997, William Struss and Neil Howe published the book THE FOURTH TURNING, under the subtitle: “Winter Comes Again”
“The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will be beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation, and empire. Yet this time of trouble will bring seeds of social rebirth. Americans will share a regret about recent mistakes – and A NEW CONSENSUS ABOUT WHAT TO DO. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II. The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack of geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, A TOTAL WAR.
Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it. In the Civil War, the two capital cities would surely have incinerated each other had the means been at hand. In World War II, America invented a new technology of annihilation, which the nation swiftly put to use. This time, America will enter a Fourth Turning with the means to inflict unimaginable horrors and, perhaps, will confront adversaries who possess the same. Yet America will also enter the Fourth Turning with a unique opportunity to achieve a new greatness as a people. We cannot stop seasons of history, but we can prepare for them. Yes, winter is coming, but our path through that winter is up to us.
History’s howling storms can bring out the worst and best in a society. The Next Fourth Turning could literally destroy us as a nation and people, leaving us cursed in the history of those who endure and remember. Alternatively, it could ennoble our lives, elevate us as a community, and inspire acts of consummate heroism – deeds that will grow into mythlike legends recited by our heirs far into the future.”
“Try to unlearn the linear need to judge change by one-dimensional standards of progress. The ancient understood some things better than we moderns do. They knew that a Fourth Turning is a natural season of life. They knew that, without periodic decay and death, nature cannot complete its full round of biological and social change. Without plant death, weeds would strangle the forest. Without human death, memories would never die, and unbroken habits and customs would strangle civilization. Social institutions require no less. Just as floods replenish soils and fires rejuvenate forests, a Fourth Turning clears out society’s exhausted elements and creates an opportunity for fresh growth.
A Fourth Turning lends people of all ages what is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to heal (or destroy) the very heart of the republic.”