Topic-icon The Fourth Turning : The End of the Age?

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2 weeks 6 days ago - 2 weeks 6 days ago #61176 by gnomon



Jesus, referring to the role of Messiah : Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Paul, referring to Israel's past divine punishments : Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
1 Corinthians 10:11


___Theories of historical cycles are nothing new. In 1812, the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel inferred, from his studies of human history, a zig-zag (Dialectic) pattern of progression from one dominant worldview (-ism) to another, via conflict & resolution. His concern was mostly with changing of academic attitudes & ideas, so the classical Greek terms “Thesis, Antithesis, & Synthesis” were used by his interpreters to describe the seemingly erratic evolution of human political & religious dogmas. For example, over time influential academic & popular opinions seem to vacillate between liberal and conservative positions, but they oscillate around some moderate point between the extremes. When moderation rules, we have peace & prosperity, but when extremism comes to the fore, we experience violence & privation. In a close-up view, those back & forth movements seem random, like Brownian motion in quantum physics, but taken as a whole, they form a distinct progression toward some unknown ultimate end. /see Brownian below/
___ Then, in 1847, Karl Marx adapted Hegel's basic concept to postulate his own theory of historical political change. Yet, Marx was not content with passive academic knowledge of historical patterns. Instead, he thought the point of such theoretical insight was to take action to divert the course of history into a preferred direction. Consequently, from that hypothesis of an inherent destiny in history, with a predictable up & down pattern, he concluded that the oppressed lower classes of society were due to rise up and throw-off their upper-class oppressors in a violent cataclysm. /see Destiny below/ The Russian revolution, and the institution of Communism to replace the old Monarchy, was one direct result of Marx's notion of inevitable historical forces --- not directed by divine hand, but by the sum of human choices, with a little push by enlightened leaders. Ironically, that sudden course change in history, seems to have come full circle within the space of a century, from the bottom-up Marxist Communism (dictatorship of the commoners) to the top-down strong-man Fascism of Putin. /see Fascism below/ .
___Now, American politics is being influenced by a new “generational” theory of historical destiny, as expressed in the 1997 book, by Strauss & Howe, The Fourth Turning. It describes << a fourfold cycle of generational types and recurring mood eras in American history.>> The theory postulates that every human generation of 80 to 100 years (labeled a Saeculum) reaches a historical turning point, which makes a more-or-less radical departure from the previous era. /see Saeculum below/ Within each cycle, <<History moves in a progression of ebbs and flows whose schedule is regular yet not precisely fixed. . . . think of turnings as you think of the seasons. Even when winter arrives a bit early or late, it is still possible to anticipate in what order the leaves will fall, the birds will migrate, and the streams will freeze. By correctly foretelling these things, you can prepare for the coming of a harsh season. >> So, the Fourth Turning theory implies that a proper understanding of historical cycles can be used to predict the near future in a manner similar to weather forecasting. /see Fourth Turning chart at bottom/ Throughout history, politicians & military strategists have always consulted similar prophets & oracles to give them an advantage over the competition. www.lifecourse.com/about/method/timing-o...ns-and-turnings.html
___Since President Donald Trump is a political novice, his administration is being advised on political matters by Steve Bannon, former CEO of the far-right-wing media organization, Breitbart : "the platform for the alt-right" . Apparently, Bannon, the intellectual, hopes to influence, Trump --- the anti-intellectual --- so as to push current events toward an existential crisis, from the rubble of which a “New World Order” will arise to herald another Golden Age, such as followed the Great Depression and World War Two. The Great Recession of 2008 is taken as an indication that the end of the current era is nigh, and the present political polarization will culminate in some kind of civil war, or even WW3. Despite the prospects for gruesome human suffering, he seems to view these inevitable recurring conflagrations as positive & necessary, like the indiscriminate wildfires that savagely destroy forests, yet also burn away the clogging underbrush and pop seed cases, in order to begin a cycle of renewed growth & vigor. Contrasting with Bannon's optimism though, Left-wingers are more likely to view Bannon's oracular vision as a “dark theory of history” similar to Hitler's glorious-but-ominous "Third Reich" myth. /see Bannon below/ + /see Third Reich below/
Golden Age : 1. A period of great peace, prosperity, and happiness.
New World Order : www.independent.ie/world-news/north-amer...policy-35417093.html

___Other secular and religious cultures have their own theories of portentous historical cycles. For example, the Islamic State is using ruthless military force and psychological terrorism to implement its own dream of a golden age; ideally the coming of the final prophet, the Mahdi; but more pragmatically, a military campaign to recapture the former glory of the Ottoman Empire under strict Sharia law. That combination of religious & secular law was originally intended to be freely interpreted by independent muftis, but in practice they became bureaucrats under the rule of an authoritarian monarch. Meanwhile, some fundamentalist Christians & Jews are also making plans to light the fuse of Armageddon, in order to trigger the return of the Messiah, who will rebuild the kingdom of God on the ashes of a scorched (purified) Earth. Another historian, Oswald Spengler, in his 1922 tome, Decline of the West, introduced the notion of an imminent "Copernican overturning", or a historical “paradigm shift”, which signals the end of a thousand year lifespan of a dominant culture --- in this case, the decline & fall of western civilization. Even some secular scientists have prophesied an imminent paradigm shift, as the world gets tired of the modern materialistic mechanical worldview, and turns to a more spiritual ethos of “Gaia, Mother Earth Syndrome, feminism and quantum mechanics”. That was the optimistic view of physicist & systems theorist Fritjof Capra in his 1984 book, The Turning Point. So the general consensus seems to be that we are in the final years of the Modern Era, inspired by the liberal views and scientific methods of the Enlightenment. However, as indicated by the contradictory projections above, what comes next is impossible to predict, but easy to speculate, depending on your own personal worldview, and the timing of your hypothetical cycle.
___According to all theories of historical cycles though, there is nothing that the individual can do to change the general direction of destiny. But Steve Bannon is holding the hand that holds the reins of a world superpower. And we can assume that he will do everything in his power to ensure that the New World Order /see Bannon below/ is a right-wing dream instead of a decadent Liberal pigsty, or a conspiracy of “Freemasons, Illuminati, and Jews”. The question here is whose vision of the next Golden Age will prevail? Hitler's fascist utopia, ruled by a single supreme leader (fuhrer, dictator) was directly opposed to Marx's 'dictatorship of the proletariat' (working class). Hitler despised the disorder of democracy, and showed “contempt for parliamentary institutions”. In Russia and China, Marx's idealistic notion of rule by the common people eventually devolved into more traditional forms of rule from the top by charismatic dictators or a clique of oligarchs. So, it seems that previous attempts to control the unfolding of history have had only temporary effects, small zigs & zags that don't significantly change the overall direction of historical evolution. /see Brownian below/
___The Fourth Turning predicts that the next few years will bring a climactic end to the current cycle. And Bannon, among others, seems to expect those events to be equivalent to the dramatic biblical End Times prophecies, rather than just another time of ordinary social turmoil. So is this the end of an Age, to be marked by Armageddon and the emergence, Phoenix-like, of a New World? Although a violent worldwide clash of ideologies seems to be already underway, I don't see a third (and final) world war as inevitable. We could instead continue the Cold War of state-sponsored hacking of opponents secrets, and/or the lukewarm war of local terrorist hotspots. One of the authors of the book, Neil Howe, says << While this cycle does include a time of civic and political crisis — a Fourth Turning, in our parlance — the reporting on the book has been absurdly apocalyptic. >> Then speaking of Bannon specifically, he adds << But we did perhaps provide him with an insight — that populism, nationalism and state-run authoritarianism would soon be on the rise, not just in America but around the world. >> Sure enough, in the Trump presidential campaign, we did get a glimpse his pandering to populist sympathies, and to an isolationist nationalist retreat from globalism. So, if he runs his presidency, as he did his business, we can expect to see democratic principles gradually brushed aside in favor of autocratic decisions by the man at the top. In which case, the Executive branch would usurp the role of the Lawmakers, as in traditional monarchies and dictatorships. Can it be done by the “leader of the free world”? Vladimir Putin, elected leader of Russia, may show Trump the way : “talk like a democrat, but walk like an autocrat.” www.theburningplatform.com/2017/02/25/wh...my-book/#more-144082 www.brookings.edu/articles/putin-talk-li...lk-like-an-autocrat/
___Although, the autocrats & plutocrats of the world may try their best to bring about a Brave New World in their own image, there will always be democrats & non-conformists to oppose the Thesis of Capitalist Utopia with their own Antithesis of Socialist Paradise. As we have learned in the physics of Brownian Motion though, the path from start to end is inherently unpredictable, except in hindsight. And as we see in Hegelian history, current trends will eventually be impacted by counter-trends, which send the trajectory of history off an a new vector. So, I'm skeptical that the prophets of historical science have found a perfect algorithm for accurately predicting the future beyond the next few years. For example, which pundits predicted the world-wide recession that has caused so much unemployment and unrest --- except for those who reinterpreted vague warnings with 20/20 vision in retrospect? Who predicted Brexit and Trump? Anyway, I find these historical patterns interesting philosophically, but I'm not ready to depend on their accuracy to the point of building myself a bunker to hunker down in until the nukes are finished with their purifying work. I offer these comments & links, like Astrological charts, “for entertainment purposes only”. I certainly don't recommend altering your life plan in anticipation of the end of the world --- that was predicted to occur in 2000, and again in 2012, not to mention hundreds of apocalyptic prophesies before that. Although physical & historical evolution reveal interesting patterns of progressions, the inherent randomness of the process makes accurate predictions of Turning Points feasible only in the rear view mirror. :peace:


Continued in next post . . . . . .
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2 weeks 6 days ago - 2 weeks 6 days ago #61177 by gnomon
. . . . . . Continued from previous post.

Brownian & Hegelian image won't post. See next reply.



Return to Fascism?
A growing number of Russian analysts, in Russia and abroad, have taken to calling Vladimir Putin's regime "fascist." And they don't use the term casually or as a form of opprobrium. They mean that Putin's Russia genuinely resembles Mussolini's Italy or Hitler's Germany.
www.newsweek.com/vladimir-putin-fascist-325534


Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to Donal Trump, is a prominent proponent of the theory. As a documentary filmmaker Bannon discussed the details of Strauss-Howe generational theory in Generation Zero. According to historian David Kaiser, who was consulted for the film, Generation Zero “focused on the key aspect of their theory, the idea that every 80 years American history has been marked by a crisis, or 'fourth turning', that destroyed an old order and created a new one”. Kaiser said Bannon is "very familiar with Strauss and Howe’s theory of crisis, and has been thinking about how to use it to achieve particular goals for quite a while." A February 2017 article from Business Insider titled: Steve Bannon's obsession with a dark theory of history should be worrisome, commented: "Bannon seems to be trying to bring about the 'Fourth Turning'."
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory

In 2016, the demoralized & polarized US turned to Donald Trump and National Capitalism :
<< The power of Strauss and Howe’s theory of crises comes from its lack of a specific ideology. My own interpretation of it is that the death of an old political, economic and social order creates an opportunity for any determined movement or leader to put a new vision in place. To use the most striking example, both the United States and Germany were in the midst of a terrible economic and political crisis in 1933. The United States turned to Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal; Germany turned to Adolf Hitler and National Socialism. >>
time.com/4575780/stephen-bannon-fourth-turning/
www.businessinsider.com/book-steve-banno...he-fourth-turning-20 ...

New World Order :
As a conspiracy theory, the term New World Order or NWO refers to the emergence of a totalitarian world government. . . . The common theme in conspiracy theories about a New World Order is that a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government—which will replace sovereign nation-states—and an all-encompassing whose ideology hails the establishment of the New World Order as the culmination of history's progress.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_World_Order_(conspiracy_theory)

Third Reich : The Nazi regime was referred to as the "Third Reich," which the Nazis perceived as the third glorious age of Germany, following Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire, known as the "First Reich" and Otto von Bismarck's Hohenzollern Dynasty or the "Second Reich." Adolf Hitler's rise to power was construed as the beginning of the thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth. The word "Reich" means "kingdom," and it has Christian connotations; the Nazi government itself was steeped in religious imagery and symbolism. . . .
The term "Third Reich" was first used in 1922 by the German Arthur Moeller van den Bruck in his book, "Das Dritte Reich." The author proposed that a strong and compelling leader, called the "Fuhrer," would unify Germany into an anti-communist realm. His prediction was realized when Hitler took the helm and ruled Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. www.reference.com/history/nazi-governmen...ich-6e0a38209da206be

Historical Destiny :
“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. ”
_______Karl Marx

Historical Cycles :
Spengler's book The Decline of the West (1918) written during the final months of World War I, addressed the claim of decadence of modern European civilisation, which he claimed was caused by atomising and irreligious individualisation and cosmopolitanism. Spengler's major thesis was that a law of historical development of cultures existed involving a cycle of birth, maturity, ageing, and death when it reaches its final form of civilisation.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazism

Psychohistory is a fictional science in Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe which combines history, sociology, and mathematical statistics to make general predictions about the future behavior of very large groups of people, . . . Psychohistory depends on the idea that, while one cannot foresee the actions of a particular individual, the laws of statistics as applied to large groups of people could predict the general flow of future events. Asimov used the analogy of a gas: an observer has great difficulty in predicting the motion of a single molecule in a gas, but can predict the mass action of the gas to a high level of accuracy. (Physicists know this as the Kinetic theory). Asimov applied this concept to the population of his fictional Galactic Empire, which numbered a quintillion.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory_(fictional)

Note : the analogy with predicting the future positions of gas molecules refers to Brownian Motion.


Fourth Turning chart won't post. See next reply.
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2 weeks 6 days ago #61178 by gnomon
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2 weeks 6 days ago #61179 by Dave.Gaddis
This is quite an interesting post. I am not entirely sure how I feel about it. I do think America is undergoing a transformation, but I think it is slowly edging more left. The Trump presidency is blow back from the process moving too quickly, but it will not derail the inevitable move toward a more socialistic society. The goodness of the Trump presidency and Brexit is that they will provide balance in a future socialistic society. Perhaps it might be something akin to Bush's Compassionate Conservatism. I suppose time will tell.

Transit Umbra, Lux Permanet

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2 weeks 5 days ago - 2 weeks 4 days ago #61180 by gnomon

Dave.Gaddis wrote: This is quite an interesting post. I am not entirely sure how I feel about it. I do think America is undergoing a transformation, but I think it is slowly edging more left. The Trump presidency is blow back from the process moving too quickly, but it will not derail the inevitable move toward a more socialistic society. The goodness of the Trump presidency and Brexit is that they will provide balance in a future socialistic society. Perhaps it might be something akin to Bush's Compassionate Conservatism. I suppose time will tell.

___Yes. When I started writing some ideas on the topic of historical cycles, I wasn't sure how I felt about this latest theory. However, I was already convinced that human history does indeed follow fairly consistent wave patterns of alternating (up & down, Yin versus Yang) progression toward some distant destiny. But I'm also pretty sure that historians & futurists are not able to accurately predict the future beyond next week. Even Isaac Asimov's history-controlling Foundation had to make frequent adjustments to their super-duper computer algorithms, in order to accommodate the inherent uncertainty of all real world processes. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_series
___Trump's presidency is indeed intended to be an antithetical "course correction" mandated by almost half of American citizens, who felt that Obama's policies veered too close to full Socialism (or Communism) for their comfort. Unfortunately, they have elected the one candidate who has the power & personality to bring about a Fascist (or Monarchist) form of government. And, in my humble opinion, that would not be merely a course correction, but a case of running off the road. Apparently, Bannon's intentions are not to restore balance, but to tip the scales toward tightly-organized authoritarian rule, in which the "trains run on time". Fascism is great for those who kiss the fuhrer's *ss, but not so much for those on the fringes of society, or those with an independent streak. Beware of unintended consequences. www.citylab.com/commute/2016/11/the-prob...d-his-trains/507764/
___Normally, the erratic swings of two-party politics tend to average to a sort of Goldilocks government : not too liberal, not too conservative, but merely lukewarm. However, Trump and Brexit seem to be setting a course for us-versus-them competitive Isolationist policies, as opposed to all-of-us cooperative Globalist tendencies. In that case, the Fourth Turning thesis may be correct that a violent clash of worldviews may climax in some kind bloody conflict, as intrinsic historical "forces" act to turn the historical vector back onto a more "natural" middle-of-the-road course : the Golden Mean. Those moderating forces are equivalent to homeostasis in physical systems. So, unless we want to fight Nature, I think some form of democratic Globalism (united world) is far preferable to the current chaotic street-gang politics, and of course preferable to rule by a clique of Illuminati, as in New World Order conspiracy theories. en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Moderation
___I'd prefer not to endure another world war or civil war. But humanity has a long history of such bloody course corrections. Yet I don't see these painful episodes as divine interventions to collectively punish whole groups for the sins of a few. Instead, they are more like the occasional Ice Ages or Asteroid impacts that change the path of evolution. Such periodic upheavals may be necessary to spark a jump to the next level of development --- for example from Dinosaurs to Mammals --- perhaps to a new Golden Age of political & economic stability in the aftermath. Anyway, the rules of history are like the laws of physics, in that they were set by initial conditions (and the original program), instead of being adjusted on the fly by a less-than-omniscient deity.
___So, there's no need for us to panic, or to pray for deliverance. Like the tiny mammals pursued by dinosaurs, all we have to do, as a species, is to survive and adapt. :peace:


Homeostasis : 1. the tendency of a system, esp. the physiological system of higher animals, to maintain internal stability, owing to the coordinated response of its parts to any situation or stimulus tending to disturb its normal condition or function.

20th century turnings :
Germany 1932 : At the time, the German working class was the most organized in Europe. I was struck by their blind faith in Nazism. A violent hatred toward the establishment attracted them to it, without them realizing that National Socialism was strong exactly because it belonged to the class that oppressed them. . . . And whenever oppressed people have gathered to exert some kind of influence --- I mean to form trade unions or political parties ---they've reproduced within themselves all the faults of the regime they wanted to modify or destroy.
Russian Revolution : . . . . while the real powers --- I mean the great industry, the police, the army, the bureaucracy --- not only were not destroyed by the revolution, but thanks to the revolution, they became even more powerful.
______Simone Weil, French/Jewish/Christian/Agnostic philosopher
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4 days 22 hours ago - 3 days 6 hours ago #61185 by gnomon

Political Faith & Hope : Preaching to the Choir

___Aside from the apocalyptic implications of the Fourth Turning thesis, another pertinent question raised by the recent historical trend toward Nationalism & Fascism is this : why is rule by a strong-man so appealing to the very people who will be ignored or oppressed by such a top-down tyrant. Why do people want to be told what to do and think? Why do people love their kings and dictators, at least in the early years of their reign? For example, Hitler and Mussolini were extremely popular with the common people, as illustrated by pictures of them preaching to adoring crowds. Their message of faith in the Fuhrer, and hope for a glorious tomorrow, resonated with the powerless populace. Moreover, they were opposed, at first, mainly by a few far-sighted pedantic intellectuals, who were quickly silenced, either by popular rejection, or by the boss's goons.
___In the popular culture of the United States, supposedly a democracy, the ideal of rule by god-ordained royalty or self-made supermen is a staple of romantic fiction. Although the nation fought a revolutionary war against its king to escape the injustices & inequities of an autocratic ruler unbound by parliamentary formalities, the masses of Americans are still fond of the notion of hereditary monarchy. The romance of royalty is found in ever-popular fairy tales like Cinderella and her dashing Prince, and in modern myths like Star Wars in which the leader of the opposition to a Fascist dictatorship is a hereditary Princess, not a democratically-elected politician. In fact, democracy and its politicians are generally despised, even in modern parliamentary societies. After World War 2, Winston Churchill attempted to justify the inherent weaknesses of Democracy, compared with Fascism, to the House of Commons : << Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…>> Years later, William F. Buckley referred to that statement of resignation to imperfection with this question : << “We are made to ask what it is that political democracy gives us. The system is utilitarian. But is it a fit object of faith and hope?” >>
___On the Quora forum --- a sort of philosophical Wiki website --- this question was asked : What is the appeal of Authoritarianism? G.M. Williams offered this insight : << Mostly the experience of weak bad governments. I can't think of a single instance where an authoritarian leader came to power replacing a government that had been meeting people's basic needs. . . . Where moderate governments do their proper job there is no risk of authoritarianism. Roosevelt managed to get the USA going again with the New Deal.>> So, it seems that when a democratic system is perceived as failing to meet the physical & psychological needs of its constituents, the voters will look to a strong-willed captain to get the ship of state back on course. They are willing to abandon drab utilitarian democratic leaders --- their power limited by checks & balances --- in favor of uninhibited inspiring individuals preaching the gospel of faith and hope. This, despite the history of charismatic leaders treating the masses as dispensable pawns in their rise to glory. As political theorist Edmund Burke quipped : “Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” www.quora.com/What-is-the-appeal-of-auth...r-oppressive-tyrants
___Military organizations are designed to function under conditions of fear & confusion, so they are necessarily authoritarian in structure. But political institutions are ideally intended to operate in times of peace & prosperity. Yet it seems that the common people, in times of political terrorism & economic stress & social invasions, tend to lose hope & faith in law-restricted democratic institutions, and all too often turn to willful autocrats to restore order. Yet anyone with some knowledge of history should know that the benefits of single-minded authority in government /see Advantages below/ are usually outweighed by the suppression of freedom & individualism among subordinates. So there must be some strong emotional urge that causes humans to bow before absolute authority, both religious and political. In the 1930's, as Hitler came to power, Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich concluded that some fascist feelings must be inherent in the human psyche. << But before his theory linked fascism to stifled orgasms, Reich posited his idea on right-wing nationalism in his 1933 text The Mass Psychology of Fascism. "My medical experience with individuals from all kinds of social strata, races, nationalities and religions showed me that 'fascism' is only the politically organised expression of the average human character structure," he wrote, "a character structure which has nothing to do with this or that race, nation or party but which is general and international. In this characterological sense, 'fascism' is the basic emotional attitude of man in authoritarian society." Meaning the way we defer to authorities – first our parents, then our teachers, then our bosses and so on – bakes a potential predilection for fascism into every society. >> www.vice.com/en_uk/article/what-it-is-ab...wn-so-many-people-in
___Religions & governments tend to fall into a range of categories, from Liberal to Conservative to Authoritarian to Totalitarian. And it seems that free-thinking Deists are by nature wary of the far-right-wing factions, primarily because of their repression of free-thought and free-speech. So we can expect that, regardless of social or economic status, we will be among the first to suffer under top-down rule without bottom-up representation. If so, can we put our faith & hope in all-powerful God to save us from the clutches of autocratic strong-men? Or must we rely on the wimpy ways of egalitarian democratic committees? Is it better to fight fire with fire, or with water? Just asking. :peace:


Right Wing : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-wing_politics

Advantages of Authoritarian Government :
connectusfund.org/8-advantages-and-disad...oritarian-government
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