11/16/2004

The Next Big Thing

BuzzFlash > Maureen Farrell >: The Next Big Thing

by Maureen Farrell
'Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation, and empire. Yet this time of trouble will bring seeds of social rebirth. Americans will share a regret about recent mistakes -- and a resolute new consensus about what to do. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake.' -- From the Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy, by William Strauss and Neil Howe, 1997

Nearly a decade ago, William Strauss and Neil Howe put forth an interesting theory: Every 80 years or so, they concluded, the U.S. faces a cataclysmic turning point that redirects the course of the nation. The first occurred during the Revolutionary War and the framing of our Constitution, the second, during the Civil War, and the third, during the Great Depression and World War II. And the fourth? You're soaking in it, Madge.

The America many of us knew has vanished into History's happy hunting ground and oddly enough, days of cigars and blue dresses, though surreal at the time, now seem oh-so-sweetly-carefree. If Mr. Bush proceeds with his 'mandate,' unsavory consequences will follow: Divisions between Americans will widen; the neoconservatives who pushed for war in Iraq will push for more; America will become further isolated from allies; the framework of international cooperation and rule of law we've relied in since WW II will continue to crumble; social conservatives will bulldoze the wall between church and state; policy decisions will be set by faith instead of reason, and America's new pariahs will start edging their way back into the closet. As legendary journalist Helen Thomas put it, we're in for 'dark times.'

And if you think the country has changed in the past four years, wait and see what's next.

'Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II,' Strauss and Howe explained. 'The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and efforts -- in other words, a total war.'"

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