At one time the wind shakes the leaves to the ground
but then the flourishing woods
Gives birth, and the season of spring comes
So it is with the generations of men, which
alternately come forth and pass away.
– Homer, The Illiad, Book Six
As Vladimir Lenin wrote, “In some decades, nothing happens; in some weeks, decades happen.” Get ready for the creative destruction of public institutions, something every society periodically requires to clear out what is obsolete, ossified and dysfunctional — and to tilt the playing field of wealth and power away from the old and back to the young. Forests need periodic fires; rivers need periodic floods. Societies, too. That’s the price we must pay for a new golden age.
James Truslow Adams (wrote) of an ‘American Dream’ to refer to this civic faith in linear advancement. Time, they suggested, was the natural ally of each successive generation. Thus arose the dogma of an American exceptionalism, the belief that this nation and its people had somehow broken loose from any risk of cyclical regress …. Yet the great weakness of linear time is that it obliterates time’s recurrence and thus cuts people off from the eternal — whether in nature, in each other, or in ourselves.
Conform, or Else
In a Fourth Turning, the nation’s core will matter more than its diversity. Team, brand, and standard will be new catchwords. Anyone and anything not describable in those terms could be shunted aside — or worse. Do not isolate yourself from community affairs …. If you don’t want to be misjudged, don’t act in a way that might provoke Crisis-era authority to deem you guilty. If you belong to a racial or ethnic minority, brace for a nativist backlash from an assertive (and possibly authoritarian) majority.