The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy - What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny by William Strauss & Neil Howe

(New York: Broadway, 1997), 366

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. –Eccl-03

  • The First Turning is a High, an upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism, when a new civic order implants and the old values regime decays (Prophet).
  • The Second Turning is an Awakening, a passionate era of spiritual upheaval, when the civic order comes under attack from a new values regime (Nomad).
  • The Third Turning is an Unraveling, a downcast era of strengthening individualism and weakening institutions, when the old civic order decays and the new values regime implants (Hero).
  • The Fourth Turning is a Crisis, a decisive era of secular upheaval, when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one (Artist).
  • Each saecculumspans 80-100 years (a long human life)
  • Progress & History: the authors take a cyclical view of history (11+)
  • Tables describing the turnings on pages 50, 59, 60, 70, 71, 74, 81, 90, 98, 105, 138
  • America is presently in the Third Turning of the Millennial Saeculum (123):

    • Late Medieval (1435-1487)

    • Reformation (1487-1594)

    • New World (1594-1704)

    • Revolutionary (1704-1794)

    • Civil War (1794-1865)

    • Great Power (1865-1946)

    • Millennial (1946-2026?)

  • The authors predict the Millennial Crisis to occur between 2005-2026 (128)
  • We are due for a ekpyrosis: nature's fiery moment of death and discontinuity that combust the old social order and give birth to a new one (255)
  • Morphology of crisis (256):

    • Crisis begins with a catalyst that produces a sudden shift in mood

    • Society achieves regeneracy: a new counterentorpy that reunifies and reengergizes civil life

    • The regenerated society propels toward a climax that confirms the death of the old order and birth of the new

    • The climax culminates in a resolution: a triumphant or tragic conclusion that separates the winners from losers

  • Archetypes of a crisis (267):

    • The indulged Prophet (Boomers) children of Highs, born in the aftermath of one Crisis, foment the next Crisis upon entering elderhood

    • The abandoned Nomad (Gen X) children of Awakenings become the pragmatic midlife managers of Crisis

    • The protected Hero (Millennial) children of Unravelings provide the powerful young-adult soldiers of Crisis

    • The suffocated children of Crises come of age afterward as Artist (Gen Z/A) youths

  • A Fourth Turning Prophecy: one of the possible catalysts mentioned is (273):

    • >The CDC announces the spread of a new communicable virus. The disease reaches densely populated areas, killing some. COngress enacts mandatory quarantine measures. The president orders the National Guard to throw prophylactic cordons around unsafe neighborhoods. Mayors resist. Urban gangs battle suburban militias. Calls mount for the president to declare martial law.

  • How we should prepare for the Fourth Turning (313)

    • 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

  • How you should prepare for the Fourth Turning (317)

    • Rectify: Return to the classic virtues

    • Converge: Heed emerging community norms



      • >Do not isolate yourself from community affairs. Being "unplugged" could penalize you at a time you might need to know what all levels of government are doing just to meet your basic needs. Appearances will matter. Justice will be rough, because society will require more order but have fewer resources and less time to impose it. As technicalities give way, innocent people will suffer. If you don't want to be misjudged, don't act in a way that might provoke Crisis-era authority to deem you guilty. If you belong to a racial or ethnic minority, brace for a nativist backlash from an assertive (and possibly authoritarian) majority. At the height of Crisis, you might have to choose between loyalty to the national community and loyalty to your own group.



    • 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



      • >You should save plenty of money, even if that means cutting back on your current lifestyle.



    • Hedge: Diversity everything you do



      • >Generalists with survival know-how will have the edge over specialists whose skills are useful only in an undamaged environment...Try to ensure that no one severe outcome (inflation, deflation, market crash, bank panic, default on the national debt) would destroy your entire asset base.



Seasons of Life and Time (81, 83)

Era Years 0-20 Years 21-41 Years 42-62 Years 63-83 Years 84-?
1908-1929 1929-1946 1946-1964 1964-1984 1984-?
(Crisis) (Awakening)
Entering Elderhood
(Ages 63-83)
Artist Prophet Nomad Hero Artist
Entering Midlife
(Ages 42-62)
Prophet Nomad Hero Artist Prophet
Entering Young Adulthood
(Ages 21-41)
Nomad Hero Artist Prophet Nomad
Entering Childhood
(Ages (0-20))
Hero (G.I) Artist (Silent) Prophet (Boom) Nomad (Gen X) Hero (Millennial)

Source: Cory


Created: 2021-11-24
Updated: 2021-11-24-Wed