February 2007 was before the housing bubble popped, and perhaps the carnage in the financial markets was the catalyst for the saecular crisis. But the answers to the questions Fourth Turning gurus William Strauss and Neil Howe proposed generally had answers in the negative in 2007, the answers didn't change much by 2008 or 2009, and more recent developments aren't what the prophets expected.
- Are leaders describing the problem in larger rather than smaller terms, proposing grand solutions, and seeking to destroy (and not just contain) enemies?
Today, is "Make America Great Again" a grand solution, or a grandiose slogan? More importantly, might the destruction to come be of the major political parties, which have abandoned most pretenses of comity, let alone bipartisan consensus?
- Is there a shift away from individualism (and civil liberties) toward community purpose (and national survival)?
- Are the old "culture wars" arguments beginning to feel lame, ridiculous, even dangerous to national unity?
- Is the celebrity culture feeling newly irrelevant? Is youth fare becoming less gross and less violent?
- Is immigration reversing? Are mobility and openness declining? Is there more nativism in our culture and less "globalism" in our commerce?
- Is there a new willingness to pay a human price to achieve a national purpose? Will we harness technology only to reduce casualties and inconvenience, or also to achieve a total and lasting victory?
- Is each generation entering its new phase of life with a new attitude? Are aging boomers overcoming narcissism? Are Gen-Xers on the edge of midlife, circling their wagons around family? Are Millennials emerging as a special and celebrated crop of youth?
Might we be looking at another Civil War anomaly? In that saeculum, the Panic of 1857 and secession came in short order, and in Fourth Turning morphology, the period of unraveling was too short. This time around, though, the unraveling goes on and on without any emergent outline of a resolution. Perhaps history does rhyme, but as if in the forms favored by avant-garde poets.