Tag: authoritarian

I’m Worried

I’ve been worried before. Big world or national events happen and it’s natural to wonder what the fallout will be. But time moves on and things get back to normal. The worry dissipates. However, this moment in time feels different. There are so many things that have taken a turn for the worse, it’s hard to see a path back to stability. For the first time in my life, I’m actually concerned about where we’re headed. Not just a yell at the TV and vote the bums out concern, but an oh shit I can see things turning very dark kind of worry.

I’d been thinking about this in an abstract way as we’ve watched the events of the last few years unfold. But I just recently finished a book that really made me think. It’s called “The Fourth Turning“. It’s not new – it was published in 1997. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon it, but I devoured it. I read it on a Kindle, but wish I’d had a paperback version. It’s the kind of book you write in the margins, go back and re-read tables and charts, and place copious post-it notes.

In a nutshell, the premise is that human history runs in 80-year cycles that are broken up into roughly 20-year blocks, or “turnings”. What’s fascinating, and prophetic, is that the four turnings have repeated consistently from the beginning of human history. The four turnings are as follows:

  • High – A period of stability, growth, prosperity, and conformity
  • Awakening – a period of spiritual awakening and rebellion against conformity
  • Unraveling – a period in which individualism triumphs over crumbling institutions
  • Crisis – This is the fourth turning. War, revolution, and a profound loss of trust in institutions

The three recent crises in recent American history are the revolutionary war (1776), the civil war (1861), and WWII (1941). The last High period was the post WWII boom, the Awakening was the ’60’s to the early 80’s, and the Unraveling was 90’s to the 20’s. It certainly feels like we’re currently in or at the cusp of a new Crisis.

This was the author’s prediction in 1997:

“History is seasonal and winter is coming. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and the twin emergencies of the Great Depression in World War II. The risk of catastrophe will be 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 effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.”

(The Fourth Turning, Strauss & Howe, 1997)

It’s not hard to see that our ruling class has led us to an abyss – financially, politically, and culturally. Bonds, treasuries, and stocks are in free-fall. We’re $31 trillion dollars in debt. The debt service alone will soon be eating into any entitlement or discretionary spending. And yet, we keep printing and spending money like drunken sailors. Inflation is quickly wiping out any savings and wage growth for most of the population. We’re clearly in a recessionary period, probably heading towards stagflation.

Politically, the world is extremely dangerous right now. World powers are jockeying for position, power, and control over global resources. We’re probably the closest we’ve ever been to a tactical nuclear engagement. Meanwhile, the public face of our own government is an inept octogenarian with dementia. It’s unclear who’s actually running our government, but that cabal has mismanaged (either via utter incompetence or on purpose) virtually every aspect of the American fabric. While I wasn’t thrilled with the election of the current administration, never in a million years would I have thought things could unravel as fast as they have.

And finally, we’ve lost the culture that maintains a society. I honestly believe we’ve abandoned any sense of ourselves as “Americans“. We’ve been driven into loose groups separated by race, gender, and political ideology. Wokeness and the onslaught of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity has driven a wedge into society that I don’t think we’ll recover from. There is no common ground anymore. Pick your camp and defend at all costs (via mean tweets and cancel culture).

We’re at the end of the Unraveling period. Society is divided, we’re at the brink of a financial collapse, and weak leadership invites global power shifts. The scope and scale of government overreach and authoritarianism we’ve seen the last few years really frightened me. Not so much that government would do it, but how willing many in society accepted it. The loss of trust in law enforcement, health services, and public officials is not recoverable.

So, what will the trigger be for the fourth turning? A nuclear move by Putin in Ukraine? The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines? A new “George Floyd” moment that spawns civil unrest? A resurgence of Covid and new lockdowns? The next 2008 financial crisis? Food or energy shortages? All seem possible right now.

This country, and the world, just doesn’t feel stable right now. I honestly don’t remember feeling that before. I don’t know what the answer is. I’m not sure if there is one. History sure seems to be good at repeating itself. We’re just not very good at recognizing it. But maybe that book is hogwash? There’s no doubt that the danger of pattern matching is that it’s very easy to start seeing patterns everywhere to reinforce your desired outcome.

I just don’t know. But I’m worried.

I Have Concerns

I had an epiphany the other day that depressed the hell out of me, so naturally I wanted to share the negativity with y’all. We live in interesting times, as the saying goes. I saw a kid, maybe nine or ten, walking down a neighborhood street. By himself. Wearing a mask. This is what we’ve done to an entire generation – put the fear of Fauci into them to the point that they’re more comfortable wearing a mask when outdoors, alone.

This is already a generation that’s afraid to explore, they don’t drive until forced to, and they’re perfectly happy living with mom and dad forever. They generally don’t work as kids, summer jobs are a thing of the past, and they spend every free waking minute gaming or on their devices. Their relationships are with on-line gamer groups and reddit forums. They are immersed in woke culture, think nothing of announcing their pronouns, and assume M&M’s changing cartoon characters to be less “sexy”, is normal. That company’s official statement was that this is part of their “global commitment to creating a world where everyone feels they belong and society is inclusive.” These young people are already beginning to understand that finding a job or being accepted into a school will be more regulated by Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies than actual merit. Once they do get into corporate America, they’ll need to embrace and celebrate the woke company line if they wish to remain employed and be accepted by peers.

These kids have grown up seeing fear and hysteria propagated daily about masks, lockdowns, vaccines, and health passports being required to shop or eat in a restaurant. They’re being fed a steady diet of “us vs them” rhetoric. Every single day, the idea that government is the solution to everything is reinforced. They saw shutting down business for “the greater good”. They hear that the unvaxxed should be denied healthcare, and only semi-dismiss it as crazy. The “Karen” culture of snitching on neighbors and calling the manager for every subtle perceived slight, grows more common. They post their encounters to Tik Tok to shame those who don’t follow rules.

Here was my epiphany – these kids are going to grow up and run for office in the not-so-distant future. They will be the leaders, CEOs, and cultural influencers for the next generation. And that my friends, worries me. These kids spent their formulative years being told that literally everything is racist. Even their own generation are inadvertent racists who need to make amends. Offensive statutes of Teddy Roosevelt are trigger points, and authoritarian government scientists and “experts” know what’s best for you – do not question or you’ll be labeled some sort of weird right wing anti-science denier. They deeply believe that we only have a dozen or so years left to defeat climate change and that the mere act of drinking out of a plastic straw murders hundreds of turtles. So, when the government decides that a social credit system is in your best interest, who’s going to say no? These kids grew up with government mandates and authoritarianism. They won’t blink an eye and will celebrate it as progress. Want to get into school or land a job? Your DEI score better be good enough.

And as the world rapidly bifurcates further into the haves and have-nots, and the middle class disappears, the resulting labor class will devolve into the undesirable caste. The kids of today, having never done actual manual labor themselves, will find that the need to import cheaper and cheaper low caste workers will only grow. Borders will become mere suggestions at that point (if not already). Production of anything in this country, already struggling, will succumb to juggernaut of China and globalization. We will be a net importer of everything.

Enhanced “patriot act” type laws giving the state full surveillance authority in the name of preventing “domestic extremist acts of terror” will pass the through the congress of the not-so-distant future without pushback. These kids have been monitored and watched from the moment they were born. They were taught to “check-in” with mommy every 10 minutes just going to down the street to play with a friend. From day one, every (data) aspect of their lives has already been mined and sold by big tech. They don’t see the big deal with giving up a bit more privacy in exchange for perceived security.

I don’t see this coming progressive tide stopping. These kids, these future leaders, see it as normal. It would take an absolute massive groundswell of opposition to start pushing back against the current progressive status quo in any meaningful way. You see it in bits and pieces here and there, but not in huge numbers. Will the population grow weary enough of the massive rise in crime and violence to start pushing back against corrupt Soros-elected DA’s and politicians advocating for defunding the police? The older generations might, but I don’t see the up-and-coming generation suddenly rejecting what they’ve been taught – that police and harsh sentencing laws are racist and discriminatory. I simply don’t see the kids of today pushing back against the woke mindset of their peers.

I told you this was going to be negative. I’m not sure I see a way out. What I do see is that the idea of a future “national divorce” is not as far-fetched as I once thought. I don’t see anything as extreme as an actual civil war and separation. Instead, I see a “soft” separation. Some sort of traditionalist vs progressive local and state governments. Like the great migration spawned by the industrial revolution from rural areas to the cities, the next migration will be free states vs authoritarian. The question is – what direction will the migration be?

What’s crazy is that simply typing this already feels like an act of insubordination. Like I’m labeling myself as an alt-thinker. One of the deplorables. I suspect I’m probably on somebody’s watch list for my subversive writing. If I’d told you just five years ago, we’d be forced to produce vaccine passports and ID just to get in a restaurant, you’d have thought me a weird tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist. Back then If I said in five years police will be arresting 9-year-olds in museums for not having their vaccine cards – you’d may have thought, of course that will happen… we elected a crazy right wing, bad orange man who’s a certified authoritarian fascist. But these things weren’t done by the alt-right, but by the progressive liberal left.

And that way of thinking is embraced by the kids of today. They don’t know any better. They have zero historical frame of reference and have been sheltered from birth from everything scary. I don’t see it getting better. This is a war of incrementalism. Tiny little changes, bit by bit, chipping away at what you thought was the status quo, until you suddenly no longer recognize the new normal.

I’m not sure there’s an answer. Every empire reaches their peak at some point. The great American experiment had a good run, but I fear we’re on the downslope. Weak men create hard times, as the saying goes. And our current generation aren’t the most rugged little cowboys. You do the math.

I’m not sure there’s an answer. But you can choose to accept the status quo or not.

Become ungovernable. Be a Contrarian.

P.S. Although I diligently followed the five D’s of dodgeball – dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge, it finally got me. The coof. The covfefe. The virus that shall not be named. The last several days have produced some fun, fever fueled dreams which probably contributed to this avalanche of Debbie-downerism. Apologies. A bit more Tylenol and I’m sure I’ll be back to puppy-dogs, rainbows, and thrilling fitness and diet exploits.

There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May he live in interesting times.’

From a speech by Robert Kennedy, 1966