According to two best-selling historians


History goes in cycles…


If so, how do we predict

what’s next?


First you have to learn a word you don’t know:




For more use the DOOR.



   According to William Strauss and Neil Howe, in The Fourth Turning¹ there are “patterns that recur over time” from which we can discover the “nature rhythms of social experience….Over the past five centuries, Anglo-American society has entered a new era–a new turning–every two decades or so. At the start of each turning, people change how they feel about themselves, the culture, the nation, and the future. These turnings come in cycles of four. Each cycle spans the length of a long human life, roughly eighty to one hundred years, a unit of time the ancients called a saeculum. Together, the four turnings of the saeculum comprise history’s seasonal rhythm of growth, maturation, entropy, and destruction.”

   Strauss and Howe go on to give a brief description of these:

   • The First Turning is a High, an upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism, when a new civic order implants and the old values regime decays.

   • The Second Turning is an Awakening, a passionate era of spiritual upheaval, when the civic order comes under attack from a new values regime.

   • The  Third Turning is an Unraveling, a downcast era of strengthening individualism and weakening institutions, when the old civic order decays and the new values regime implants.

   • The Fourth Turning is a Crisis, a decisive era of secular upheaval, when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one.


   Note:  (1) There are characteristic identifiable changes in mood. (2) New social values (in general) replace old. (3) These general mood shifts often catch people by surprise. (4) After the “4th Turning,” well, it’s back to #1

   Consequently, collective American social behavior is not just going forever forward endlessly on a totally unknown, unpredictable trip. Some things–though certainly not everything–can actually be predicted.

   We’ll look at the saeculum we’re now in, according to Strauss and Howe, in our next post.


   ¹William Strauss and Neil Howe, The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy (What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny. (Broadway Books, 1997). This riveting, though detailed, book (382pp.) thematically examines 7 cycles of generations and “turnings” in terms of the criteria given here: (1) Late Medieval (1435-1487; (2) Reformation (1487-1594); (3) New World (1594-1704); (4) Revolutionary (1704-1794); (5) Civil War (1794-1865); (6) Great Power (1865-1946; and (7) Millennial (1946-2026?). In our next post we’ll glance at the (7th) Millennial Cycle and apply our criteria. In the post after that we’ll look at “ways” to think and act to survive the upcoming “upheaval.”