Neil Howe & Adam Taggart: How Will This Fourth Turning Unfold? (Part 1)

10/21/21 12:43PM EDT

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8Ndnpfw69w

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT.

Neil Howe, Demography sector head at Hedgeye, recently sat down with Adam Taggart (CEO & Founder at Wealthion).

In this special, two-part series, Howe lays out his prediction that today’s society has entered the "bust" part of our generational current cycle -- where the status quo falls apart -- often chaotically -- to be replaced by a new, hopefully better, order.

Below is a brief transcript discussing his findings with his heralded study The Fourth Turning and above is the full video for part one of the interview with Wealthion

Howe publishes a weekly Demography Unplugged research note. Click here to learn more and subscribe.

Transcript

Taggart: So you talked a little bit about this, what generally defines a Fourth Turning?  What kind of progression should we be expecting here as we get deeper into it, but then specifically, what are you expecting from this particular Fourth Turning. 

Howe: So in general, with a Fourth Turning you think about the supply and demand for social order. That's one fundamental way of thinking about all of the turnings. So you come out of a crises in the First Turning, say the American High. Say we're living in a Truman-Eisenhower era. Well what's the lesson of the recent crises? It is that America is fragile.

Our place in the world is fragile, and we have to band together. Big institutions have to be powerful and there has to be a total consensus, and there is a lot of consensus demanded of people. 

But interestingly during these periods, people are willing to give that consensus. In other words the supply of order is very high, but the demand for order is very high as well. We want a lot of order and we get a lot of order. 

What happens during an Awakening is that all those institutions start out being as strong as ever, then suddenly the public no longer demands order anymore. It wants freedom and wants to be authentic again. A lot of this has to do with the generational turnover. You have a whole new generation of kids who remember nothing about the crisis. You have Boomers who have by definition have no memory of World War II. So their thinking "Wait a second, we need more freedom, we have to loosen this up. We need to start discovering us. Look at you guys, you're automatons."

Taggart: Yup, got to get the man out of my life. 

Howe: Exactly, and you need to rediscover something much more authentic. That became really the new orientation of The Awakening , so the supply of Order remained high, but the demand of Order fell and that gave rise to the chaos of the 60's. You couldn't get a public consensus behind any of these issues. 

Now some of them we managed to accomplish! Like sending a man to the moon almost in the same month as Woodstock. So we were doing some of this stuff on top each other. We were both blowing up the system and actually showcasing some of the systems last magnificent achievements at the same time. By the way, in the same month Ted Kennedy ran his car off Chappaquiddick, which actually illustrated yet another aspect of the Awakening, the break-up of family life. So you see all of these things happening at the same time, but by the end of that era we were a newly liberated society. 

Taggart: The "Me" generation, "Greed Is Good," and all that. 

Howe: Exactly. The New Narcissism and all the stuff that Tom Wolfe would talk about in his novels. So finally we enter the Third Turning, and the Third Turning is an era where both the supply of order is low, but the demand for order is also low. So there is a new kind of equilibrium, we become a lightly governed country. And we become very much like where we were in the 1920's, or the 1850's, or the 1760's.

A kind of a rowdy, rebellious, fragmented country. Not much that unified us, but we're all kind of happy with it. We are all sort of individually prospering. We feel good about ourselves and the new generation "The No-Man" archetype, delights in becoming free agents. 

My favorite "Gen-X" slogan is "It works for me." I don't care if it works for anyone else, it works for me. It's good enough. Now to older generations that is kind of a shocking motto, how selfish is that. But we were all comfortable with that. We all remeber Bill Clinton saying "the era of Big Government is over."

Just a capitulation across the board. We saw this in Britain with Tony Blair and this whole neo-liberalism the third way these social democratic parties were taking around the world. Acknowledging markets just opening everything up, you don't have to regulate everything anymore. 

Well what happens is that finally you enter the Fourth Turning. With this lack of direction, lack of regulation, lack of cohesion, everything runs aground eventually. You become vulnerable to crises and everyone has forgotten the habits you do to actually counter it.

So this is the problem you have anytime you go into a Fourth Turning, is that by the time you are entering it, every generation who has had any adult experience handling a crisis is too old to serve or they've already passed away. That's the problem, no one is left to handle it. 

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ABOUT NEIL HOWE

Neil Howe is a renowned authority on generations and social change in America. An acclaimed bestselling author and speaker, he is the nation's leading thinker on today's generations—who they are, what motivates them, and how they will shape America's future.

A historian, economist, and demographer, Howe is also a recognized authority on global aging, long-term fiscal policy, and migration. He is a senior associate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., where he helps direct the CSIS Global Aging Initiative.

Howe has written over a dozen books on generations, demographic change, and fiscal policy, many of them with William Strauss. Howe and Strauss' first book, Generations is a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies. Vice President Al Gore called it "the most stimulating book on American history that I have ever read" and sent a copy to every member of Congress. Newt Gingrich called it "an intellectual tour de force." Of their book, The Fourth Turning, The Boston Globe wrote, "If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets."

Howe and Strauss originally coined the term "Millennial Generation" in 1991, and wrote the pioneering book on this generation, Millennials Rising. His work has been featured frequently in the media, including USA Today, CNN, the New York Times, and CBS' 60 Minutes.

Previously, with Peter G. Peterson, Howe co-authored On Borrowed Time, a pioneering call for budgetary reform and The Graying of the Great Powers with Richard Jackson.

Howe received his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and later earned graduate degrees in economics and history from Yale University.

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