MiscellaneousPrivate Property Rights

The Cycles of American History

Noah Webster

Because our lives are short, we tend to see history as a linear progression of events, evolving from what we personally know from our own past, that we then project into the future.

Historians and students of history, however, understand that history is cyclical. The linear progression we see for ourselves is only a small section of greater repetitive cycles that last for generations.

The people of our nation have now been purposefully pitted against each other along racial, financial, and political lines, a division that will, likely, never heal. These divisions are, for the most part, real and have a basis in history and fact. They are part of the normal human condition. In any population, people have different abilities, aptitudes, skin colors, sizes, strengths, etc. Our founders, recognizing this, gave us a system of government that created equal opportunity based on individual effort and responsibility . . . not a guarantee of equal outcomes.

What has changed is the deliberate creation of hostility and animosity.

John AdamsRecently, I read a book by William Strauss and Neil Howe titled The Fourth Turning in which the authors, by studying the cycles in our nation’s history, postulate that the next major upheaval will occur soon after the year 2029. For Strauss and Howe, each historical “cycle” spans the length of a long human life, roughly eighty to one hundred years. A “cycle” consists of four “turnings” each of which lasts approximately two decades. The sequence of “turnings” in each cycle is compared to the four seasons, starting with spring, and mirrors a “seasonal rhythm of growth, maturation, entropy and destruction.”

The First Turning is characterized by an emotional high, an upbeat time of national optimism, strengthening of institutions, and financial gain.

The Second Turning is an “awakening, a passionate era of spiritual upheaval.”

The Third Turning is a period of angst in which the national mood swings toward anxiousness and depression. The old civic order decays, and the people can no longer depend on the continuation of the institutions and freedoms to which they were accustomed.

The Fourth Turning is a “bone-jarring crisis” which begins suddenly as if ignited by a spark. Social disorder and chaos lead to cataclysmic change.

The authors list the three previous “Fourth Turnings” as:

      1. December, 1773 – the Boston Tea Party leading to the American Revolution
      2. November, 1859 – John Brown’s raid and execution leading to the War of Northern Aggression
      3. October 29, 1929 – the stock market crash known as Black Tuesday leading to the Great Depression and World War II

In each case “Americans felt as if they were drifting toward a cataclysm, and, as it turned out, they were.”

Few would doubt that America is now in the “Third Turning” of the current history cycle. Citizens who lived through the financial growth and emotional ecstasy following World War II are aware of the current decline in prosperity, morality, and individual freedom. They see and feel this decline in our national fortunes and values, and fear for their children’s and grandchildren’s futures.

As described by Strauss and Howe, “America feels like it’s unraveling.” “Not long ago, America was more than the sum of its parts. Now it is less.” “Popular trust in virtually every American institution – from businesses and government to churches and newspapers – keep falling to new lows. Public debts soar, the middle class shrinks, welfare dependencies deepen, and cultural arguments worsen by the year.”

To continue the analogy of the four seasons, we are now in America’s “autumn” and, inevitably, “winter” will soon be upon us.

If we accept this historical prediction of Strauss and Howe, the “Fourth Turning” of our current cycle will occur before, during, or soon after 2029. It becomes evident, therefore, that it will be today’s young men and women, those now in college or of college age, who are predicted to be the participants in our nation’s next revolution. Whether they realize it or not, they are standing on the “X” of this cycle of American history.

The Cycle of History

John Quincy AdamsMembers of today’s patriot movement often lament the fact that meetings, activities, and demonstrations are rarely attended by anyone younger than retirement age. Today’s youth, in large part, have grown up in relatively safe and uneventful times on an historical scale. Many seem unaware that their individual freedom came at great cost and sacrifice, and they must be willing to protect and defend that basic human right in order to secure it for their own children and grandchildren.

Dr. Dan Eichenbaum and Hayden Duncan

Dr. Dan’s guest on Freedom Forum Radio beginning this weekend is Hayden Duncan, a student at Campbell University and the Chairman of the College Republicans. Hayden is a passionate young conservative who believes in the constitutional principles on which this great nation was founded.

Hayden DuncanJoin Dr. Dan and Hayden for this four part interview as they discuss the importance of the younger generation’s active participation in preserving liberty and prosperity for future generations. Part one airs this weekend, August 30-31, on WJRB 95.1FM and streamed live over the Internet. Part two airs September 5-6, part three airs September 13-14, and part four airs September 20-21. Show times are Saturday 8:00am and 9:30am and Sunday 2:30pm and 7:00pm. All programs are available by podcast following air time at DrDansFreedomForum.com.

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  1. At our NCGOP Convention, I was dismayed to learn that the College Republicans are not interested in students attending two year colleges such as our Tri County in Murphy. While I think that their organization is a good one, it is frustrating to hear them discount our local students. They need to embrace and try to reach ALL college students in my opinion.

  2. Very interesting, alarming but logical assessment of where we are & where we’re headed.
    This information is a must especially for the younger folks, who will be facing this problem.

  3. Linda, I agree that our local community colleges provide extremely valuable opportunities for our children, and republicans/conservatives must be reaching out to all youth. It would make sense for students to start a republican club at community colleges as well.

  4. I have read “The Fourth Turning”. I did not buy into it after first reading it but I do see now how they were right about a lot of things. The great unraveling is now in fast forward I think. You could fill a full page with events that could bring global humanity to it’s knees. I seem to remember each cycle being about 20 years. If you go from 1930 to 2010 that is a full 80 year cycle. I’m thinking that 2008 was the collapse. All we have done since is mask it at great expense to the entire world. No one is functioning properly today from an Austrian viewpoint. I think we are living on borrowed time created by Central Bank interventions. Governments and Ponzi currency schemes die hard. Our new reality when it arrives will look a lot like Ferguson, Missouri but for different reasons mainly. We have now seen how quickly mankind can deteriorate into rioting looting crowds. Once that mentality mushrooms I don’t know how you get it back into a bottle, especially if everyone realizes they are now broke with no monetary assets in a bank to sustain their lives. We are already in that 4th turning I think but just the first couple chapters. Hope we live to read about and see the end of this cycle. Keep up your great work.

  5. I totally agree with you on this as a historical perspective. However, now more than ever we are able to communicate unencumbered by one-way forms of media such as the TV and Radio. Did the author consider this? Not that I have much hope since human nature dictates what happens but at least we have improved our ability to communicate now.

  6. I agree but feel things are happening more rapidly than the 2029 date. Another good read showing history repeating itself is “The Pink Swastika” by Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams; a must read.

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