Friday, March 19, 2010

It was a wonderful life

It was a wonderful life – Jim Quinn, another devotee of the Strauss and Howe thesis that we’re entering “the fourth [generational] turning” into Secular Winter.  Quinn writes with passion and color, so I recommend his article.  It’s important to remember that as America enters into the Crisis, which is essentially inevitable, the Resolution is a matter of Choice, Collective Choice, if we can figure out a way to do it.

Last weekend I reread Strauss and Howe’s dispensations on how to conduct oneself in preparation for the Winter.  In summary, they counsel to their readers in the mid-Nineties:

  • Prepare values:  Forge the consensus and uplift the culture, but don’t expect near-term results.
  • Prepare institutions:  Clear the debris and find out what works, but don’t try building anything big.
  • Prepare politics:  Define challenges bluntly and stress duties over rights, but don’t attempt reforms that can’t now be accomplished.
  • Prepare society:  Require community teamwork to solve local problems, but don’t try this on a national scale.
  • Prepare youth:  Treat children as the nation’s highest priority, but don’t do their work for them.
  • Prepare elders:  Tell future elders they will need to be more self-sufficient, but don’t attempt deep cuts in benefits to current elders.
  • Prepare the economy:  Correct fundamentals, but don’t try to fine tune current performance.
  • Prepare the defense:  Expect the worst and prepare to mobilize, but don’t precommit to any one response.

On a personal level, they counsel:

  • Rectify:  Return to the classic virtues.
  • Converge:  Heed emerging community norms [and choose your community wisely].
  • Bond:  Build personal relationships of all kinds.
  • Gather:  Prepare yourself (and your children) for teamwork.
  • Root:  Look to your family for support.
  • Brace:  Gird for the weakening or collapse of public support mechanisms.
  • Hedge:  Diversify everything you do.

I suppose it’s par for the course the nation would have flunked all the “prepare” admonitions given a over a decade ago, otherwise we wouldn’t face the Crisis that we do.  Bill Clinton and his Republican Congress admirably got the budget into balance, but the money men exploited one of Bubba’s weaknesses and liberalized the credit markets, setting the stage for the current financial crisis, with the ever accommodating help of Alan Greenspan and his Mini-Me, Ben Bernanke.

My surmise is that we are entering an Age of Nonlinearity such as no one living (or who has ever lived) has ever experienced.  I believe personal intentionality will play a transcendent role in the dynamics of what comes, so I’d add one more prescription to those above:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Reputation effects are likely to matter in the Crisis.

Here are some links to previous articles on The Fourth Turning with embedded links to the book:

The Crisis at the End of the Saeculum

Onward to Ekpyrosis, Death and Rebirth of American...

Should be read in conjunction with that oldie-but goodie, “Finite-time singularity in the dynamics of the world population, economic and financial indices” found here.  The physicists predict the Singularity (not the Kurzweil one) at the End of the Growth Era within the lifetimes of the Baby Boomers….

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