The Fourth Turning Is Here: Our Great National Challenge | Neil Howe
In Episode 321 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with bestselling author, renowned historian, economist, and theorist of generational change, Neil Howe.
Twenty-five years ago, Neil and his late co-author William Strauss put forward a provocative new theory of American history. Looking back over the last 500 years, they’d uncovered a distinct pattern: modern history moves in cycles, each one lasting roughly 80 to 100 years, with each composed of four eras—or “turnings”—that always arrive in the same order and each last about 25 years.
The last of these eras is always the most perilous. It’s a period of civic upheaval and national mobilization as traumatic and transformative as the New Deal and World War II, the Civil War, or the American Revolution. The authors called it the Fourth Turning, and Neil joins us today to explain why he thinks that the fourth turning has finally arrived, what it means for those of us living during this period, and how his theory of generational change can help us navigate it with courage, competency, and a new-found sense of resiliency that may seem unimaginable to us today.
Howe and Kofinas spend the first hour of their conversation laying the foundation for his theory, discussing the four different seasons of the saecula, as well as the four different generations that propel it forward.
They spend the second hour applying that framework to the Fourth Turning itself, discussing what it would take to consolidate our society, what an existential threat to our nation’s survival will look and feel like, and what we can do to prepare ourselves for this great national challenge that will draw all other problems into it and require the extraordinary mobilization of most Americans.
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Episode Recorded on 07/24/2023