I spend a lot of my time following economic, political and social topics in both the mainstream press and alternative media. And for the past three years I have been paying a lot of attention to what I perceive to be the cyclical nature of the situations (economic, political and societal) that we as a country find ourselves in.
Perhaps some of this focus is the result of Ruthie Roberts, an economics and accounting teacher I had in the early 1980’s. She taught us the Kondratiev Cycle (or wave as it is sometimes referred to). It was an economic theory proffered by Nicolai Kondratiev in which economic cycles of expansion, stagnation, and recession were based on demographics and were all part of a super cycle.
In more recent years, maverick economists such as Harry Dent make predictions and give investment advice based solely on demographics and spending habits of cohorts of people as they pass through life. I’ve read several of Harry’s books including The Roaring 2000’s and attribute his advice/warnings with saving my investment “cookies” in the last economic downturn.
The team of Neil Howe and William Strauss building on the work of several other scholars have pushed the envelope of demographic theory to speculate on societal and political outcomes. I read their book the Fourth Turning in the late 1990’s. But it didn’t make a big impact on me, at least not as big as those that were focused solely on economics.
However, I am now taking their views more seriously. Howe and Strauss, like Kondratiev believe in a super cycle. Their super cycle is roughly 81 years (essentially the life of a human). With in that cycle are four cycles or rather “turnings.” Generally speaking, there are characteristics and outcomes that can be expected with each “turning.”
Roughly 80 years ago the world was entering a “Fourth Turning.” As I look back through stacks of old periodicals like the Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look, Time, etc., I am struck with how similar our situations are to theirs with regard to politics, economics and society. The world was in the midst of economic stagnation, rushing headlong into total war, and all the while the political establishment seemingly oblivious to the warning indicators flashing in front of their faces.
Sooooo, what does this mean for the Center For Progressive Urban Politics and our audience??? Well, for starters, beginning next Friday, August 14th, it’s the 80 year anniversary of Social Security, we will launch a blog entitled “Our Then and Now” (OT&N). OT&N will comb through headlines, articles even advertisements from roughly 80 years ago and use the information gleaned from them to better understand our current situation and perhaps generate conversations that can help prevent some of the worst potential outcomes that tend to accompany Fourth Turnings. So stay tuned . . . .