Fourth Turning - The Shadow of Crisis Has Not Passed: Part Three
In Part One of this article I attempted to illuminate the concept of generational theory as articulated by Strauss and Howe in The Fourth Turning. In Part Two I provided proof this Crisis is far from over, with ever increasing debt, civic decay and global disorder propelling the world towards war.
Seeds of Crisis & War
"The seasons of time offer no guarantees. For modern societies, no less than for all forms of life, transformative change is discontinuous. For what seems an eternity, history goes nowhere - and then it suddenly flings us forward across some vast chaos that defies any mortal effort to plan our way there. The Fourth Turning will try our souls - and the saecular rhythm tells us that much will depend on how we face up to that trial. The saeculum does not reveal whether the story will have a happy ending, but it does tell us how and when our choices will make a difference." - Strauss & Howe - The Fourth Turning
When you accept the fact history is cyclical and continuous linear progress is not what transpires in the real world, you free yourself from the mental debilitation of normalcy bias and cognitive dissonance. Things do get worse. There are dark periods of history and they recur on a regular cycle. And we are in the midst of one of those dark periods. This Crisis will not be resolved without much pain, sacrifice, bloodshed, and ultimately war. Catastrophe is a strong possibility. The core elements of this Crisis - debt, civic decay, global disorder - are coalescing into a perfect storm which will rage for the next ten to fifteen years. The rhythms of history only provide a guidepost of timing, while the specific events and outcomes are unknowable in advance. The regeneracy of society into a cohesive, unified community, supporting the government in a collective effort to solve society's most fundamental problems seems to have been delayed. Or has it?
Maybe the answer can be found in the resolution of the last Fourth Turning. The seeds of the next crisis are always planted during the climax of the previous crisis, when the new social order is established. The American Revolution Crisis created a new nation, but left unresolved the issue of slavery. This seed grew to become the catalyst for the Civil War Crisis. The resolution of the Civil War Crisis greatly enhanced the power of the central government, while reducing the influence of the States. The rise of central authority led to the creation of the Federal Reserve, the implementation of income taxes to fund a vastly larger Federal government and the belief among the political class that America should intervene militarily in the affairs of other countries. The Great Depression was created by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve; the New Deal programs were a further expansion of Federal government; FDR outlawed the ownership of gold; and America's subsequent involvement in World War II created a military and economic superpower.
After sixty-two years of ever increasing debt; ever increasing taxes to support an ever growing governmental bureaucracy; ever expanding laws, regulations, and rules; currency debasement by the Federal Reserve; complete abandonment of the gold standard; and never ending wars of choice around the world, the next Crisis grew and blossomed from the seeds planted during the previous Crisis. The New Deal social programs, along with the extension of the welfare state by LBJ and subsequent administrations, have swelled to unprecedented unsustainable levels with unfunded liabilities exceeding $200 trillion. The promises cannot be fulfilled. The $18 trillion national debt increases by $2.3 billion per day; $96 million per hour; $1.6 million per minute; $27,000 per second. Does that sound sustainable? The legacy media sycophants cheer when consumer debt outstanding surges past $3.3 trillion, as their warped worldview applauds spending versus saving, consuming versus investing, and living for today rather than striving for a sustainable future.
The American people have lost their ability to think, reason, question, do math, control their urges, defer gratification, or realize when they are being lied to by the people they elected to public office. A culture of ignorance, celebration of the absurd, salutation of stupidity, honoring of the inane, being mesmerized by electronic gadgets, and satiating their egocentric shallow impulses on social media, is a sure recipe for societal collapse. Victory in World War II and becoming a modern day empire created the dynamic Eisenhower warned about. An immense military industrial complex has created enemies around the globe in order to keep the profits flowing in this welfare/warfare empire of debt. War is a racket for the rich. The peasants who buy into the incessant patriotic propaganda and volunteer are nothing but cannon fodder for the .1%. Keeping the masses fearful of phantom enemies and portraying foreign leaders as evil, is essential for the oligarchs to retain their wealth, power and control. Truth, facts, and long-term consequences are of no interest to the sociopaths running the show and pulling the levers. The dissent into darkness has been gradual and unnoticed by a purposefully distracted populace.
"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." - Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
What I've begun to realize about Fourth Turnings is how slow and methodical they are in reality. They will play out over twenty years at a pace dictated by events and the actions of the major players. I had been looking for a regeneracy event that would unify the country behind one leader. It is not to be. Since Fourth Turnings are driven by mood changes amongst the generational cohorts, the changes are subtle, incremental and not visible as identifiable events. Looking back in history, the election of FDR and the rollout of his New Deal policies began the regeneracy of the nation, but did not create unity or solve the economic problems of the country. There was an actual plot by prominent businessmen to conduct a coup and overthrow the government. A large contingent of the population did not support the New Deal or our entry into World War II.
The first battle of Bull Run and the subsequent mobilization of a half million more men by Lincoln marked the beginning of the regeneracy during the Civil War Crisis. It certainly did not unify the nation or even the North. It just marked the point where there would be no turning back or compromise. There were draft riots in New York City in 1863 and Lincoln thought he would lose the 1864 election. The Declaration of Independence and mobilization of an army in 1776 marked the regeneracy during the Revolutionary Crisis period, but did not unify the colonies or colonists into a cohesive unit. The Revolution was piloted by a minority of freedom minded colonists, while the majority remained neutral or obedient to the Crown.
I now believe the focus of this Fourth Turning will be the conflict between the government and its supporters, and those who oppose the welfare/warfare surveillance state controlled by Wall Street vested interests. The overbearing, militarized, captured Federal government has treated citizens like suspects since 2001. Those in the highest echelons of wealth and power have captured the three branches of government (executive, legislative, judicial) and are ruthlessly ransacking the remaining wealth of the nation. Their unquenchable desire for more wealth and power has never been more blatantly obvious than in the aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse created by their derivative orgy of debt which blew up in their faces.
All the "solutions" implemented since 2008 (TARP, ZIRP, QE1, QE2, QE3, $800 billion stimulus plan, government takeover of student loans, subprime auto loan bonanza, waging wars of choice, doubling of food stamp households, and the Wall Street foreclosure/buy/rent scheme) have been designed to benefit the vested interests in this corporate fascist authoritarian regime. The average person has been left nearly destitute, unemployed or underemployed, bereft of savings, stuck with declining real household income, and left with political candidates hand-picked and bought off by the men running the show behind the curtain. The mood of the country has darkened significantly since 2008 and will darken further when the bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate, created by the "solutions", pop simultaneous in the near future.
The wave of dismay, disillusionment and blinding rage that will sweep across the land will mark the next phase of this Fourth Turning. The mistrust and cynicism toward government and politicians has already reached historic highs. Congressional approval levels reached 56% in 2001 and have been in a downward spiral since, with a plunge to single digits since the 2008 Crisis began. The number of people classifying themselves as independents reached an all-time high of 47% in 2014, up from 27% in 2006. An awakening minority now realize Democrats and Republicans are nothing but brands appealing to liberals or conservatives, but representing the ruling Party and beholden to Wall Street, the military industrial complex, mega-corporations, and not the American people.
As trust in the political, economic and financial systems implodes, the existing social order will crumble and be swept away in a torrent of chaos and upheaval. Severe misery will settle on our land and tear the fabric of our society. Internal strife will be compounded by external threats, with citizens fighting each other and nations going to war on a large scale. It has happened before and it will happen again. The realization this Crisis would be driven by the conflict between government and the people occurred to me in 2013 when Edward Snowden revealed the depth and depravity of a government which believes it to not be bound by the constraints of the Constitution, laws, regulations, or human decency.
The political class, along with the government apparatchiks, protected by their propaganda mouthpieces in the media, used the 9/11 attack as the basis to implement command, control and surveillance measures which make Orwell's Big Brother seem like amateur hour. The hyperbolic level of propaganda in support of the vested interests is actually a sign of weakness, as their grip on the masses is weakening rapidly. Chris Hedges explains Washington as it functions today:
"Washington has become our Versailles. We are ruled, entertained, and informed by courtiers -- and the media has evolved into a class of courtiers. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are mostly courtiers. Our pundits and experts, at least those with prominent public platforms, are courtiers. We are captivated by the hollow stagecraft of political theater as we are ruthlessly stripped of power. It is smoke and mirrors, tricks and con games, and the purpose behind it is deception.
The mass media blindly support the ideology of corporate capitalism. They laud and promote the myth of American democracy -- even as we are stripped of civil liberties and money replaces the vote. They pay deference to the leaders on Wall Street and in Washington, no matter how perfidious their crimes. They slavishly venerate the military and law enforcement in the name of patriotism.
They select the specialists and experts, almost always drawn from the centers of power, to interpret reality and explain policy. They usually rely on press releases, written by corporations, for their news. And they fill most of their news holes with celebrity gossip, lifestyle stories, sports and trivia. The role of the mass media is to entertain or to parrot official propaganda to the masses.
It plays an essential role in the dissemination of official propaganda. But to effectively disseminate state propaganda the press must maintain the fiction of independence and integrity. It must hide its true intentions."
It isn't hard to connect the dots if you choose to open your eyes and not be blinded by normalcy bias or the nationalist propaganda spewed by the mass media. Snowden's revelations of an NSA global surveillance network spying on U.S. and foreign citizens and approved by the highest levels of government should have caused outrage and mass protests. Instead, the media propaganda arm portrayed Snowden as a traitor and spy. Snowden revealed that the NSA was harvesting millions of email and instant messaging contact lists, searching email content, tracking and mapping the location of cell phones, undermining attempts at encryption via Bullrun, and the agency was using cookies to "piggyback" on the same tools used by internet advertisers to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.
The NSA was shown to be "secretly" tapping into Yahoo and Google data centers to collect information from hundreds of millions of account holders worldwide by tapping undersea cables using the MUSCULAR surveillance program. The NSA's top-secret "black budget," obtained from Snowden by The Washington Post, exposed the "successes and failures" of the 16 spy agencies comprising the U.S. intelligence community, and revealed that the NSA was paying U.S. tech companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, and AT&T for "clandestine access" to their communications networks. Every electronic communication of every American is being collected by the government to be used at their discretion. It will be used against you when the time is right.
What kind of government clandestinely spies on its citizens; militarizes local police forces; conducts military training operations in major cities; wires its streets and highways with surveillance cameras; disperses peaceful protestors with water cannons, tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets; and treats the U.S. Constitution like toilet paper? An authoritarian regime treats its people like this. Authoritarian regimes treat everyone like a potential enemy. They trust no one. Those in power care only for themselves and their lackeys.
The extreme wealth inequality created by dishonest means is leading towards strife and a systematic breakdown. Our entire system is built on lies, monetary machinations, propaganda and strict obedience to a vast array of laws, regulations and mandates. The ruling elite are desperate to keep their despotic bacchanal empire of debt from disintegrating in a catastrophic apocalypse of derivative time bombs, bank failures, corporate bankruptcies, and denial of their guilt. They recognize the consequences they face when the music stops. When people realize their money system is a fraud they'll lose faith in all the institutions that make up a civilized society. Trust in politicians, corporate leaders, bankers, institutions, the media, parents, neighbors, and ourselves will evaporate in an instant. The anger and pursuit of those responsible will result in governmental collapse and domestic anarchy. The guilty and innocent alike will die.
Those in power are preparing for war - against you. Executive orders already in place, when executed, give the executive branch the ability to lockdown the country the same way they locked down Boston while bumbling about trying to capture two teenage kitchen utensil bombers. There are two things the ruling class fear the most - the internet and the approximately 300 million guns owned by citizens in 50 million households. The State, through the FCC, wants to "regulate" the internet to "protect" people from being told something other than what the State wants them to hear.
That First Amendment, with its free speech and freedom of assembly, is dreadfully inconvenient for the oligarchs. Truth and dissent will not be tolerated. Every mass shooting incident, caused by the shooters being pumped full of anti-psychotic prescription drugs, is used as an excuse to disarm the public. The Second Amendment right to bear arms makes it more difficult for government thugs to ignore the Fourth Amendment when they kick your door down during an illegal search and seizure operation. An armed populace is our only defense against the tyranny of a draconian government bent on retaining its stranglehold on the country.
After the 2008 financial collapse the guilty were not punished, prosecuted nor reproached for their criminally destructive schemes to loot the American people and the world. Instead they were bailed out, allowed to retain their wealth and power, and rewarded for their misdeeds with further riches provided by their politician puppets in Washington D.C. Evil won. The masses were frightened into keeping silent and believing bankers, politicians, and government bureaucrats had saved their world of bread (debt based consumption) and circuses (iGadgets & HDTVs). Ultimately, this Fourth Turning Crisis will come down to a battle between good and evil. It would be easy if the evil people revealed themselves and the good people could destroy them, but evil and good exist within all human beings.
As witnessed in previous Fourth Turnings, the majority will sit idly by paralyzed by fear or apathy. Most people wait to be led. But, as Samuel Adams profoundly noted:
"It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."
The Federal and State government directly employs over 20 million Americans and millions more indirectly through their largess to arms dealers and other crony capitalist corporate entities. Over 145 million Americans receive a check of some sort from the Federal government every month, with over 100 million enrolled in a government welfare program. It is unlikely that many of these people will rise up against the government, unless their checks stop flowing (a distinct possibility). Every instance of governmental overreach, corruption, malfeasance, un-Constitutional act or ineptitude tips the scale further towards more people waking up and resisting. I believe the good in most people's hearts outweighs the evil. Once a tipping point is reached and enough people defy the government, an avalanche of consequences will sweep away the existing social order. Justice for unborn generations will be sought. Keeping silent only allows the evil to grow ever more formidable and entrenched.
"In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations." - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956
In Part Four of this article I will focus on the drumbeats of war getting louder on a daily basis. Fourth Turnings always climax with war on a grand scale. There will be no escape.