Winter Comes Again

William Strauss and Neil Howe predicted in The Fourth Turning, that once the cultural war was complete we would enter a period of great crisis, the fourth turning. They thought the cultural war would conclude perhaps around 2005 (ish). Most of us can see now, it ended in 2019 with total defeat of anything close to an authentic conservative worldview. Read chapter four of their book; pandemic, the great economic devaluing, grey champions - it is all there. Their observation of the cyclic nature of history is spot on from my observation, and it is hard to argue that their book, originally written in 1999 is not proving accurate as well.

What Does This Mean?

They predicted a crisis that would define the lives and worldview of a generation, specifically generation Z, those youngsters still in college or freshly graduated. These folks just entered a world or were preparing to enter on filled with hope, promise and prosperity. The events surrounding COVID-19 have done damage to the economy we cannot yet even reckon. This will change the lives of these youngsters - it will shape them in the way it shaped the youngsters coming of age in the depression and WWII. I have written a lot about the Fourth Turning here and in a couple books, I hoped it would never become a reality. But here we are.

However, all is not doom and gloom. The thing that has always emerged from past events is a young generation that went into adulthood and changed things. Hardened and shaped but the smack of dire reality, it has been the crisis generation that has in each prior event rebuilt, changed and corrected things.

I am sorry this burden falls to my children, to their generation, but this is the nature of things. We older folks need to love them, support them and pass along everything our grandparents taught us.

 

The excerpt below is from The Philosophy of Commonsense, published December 2019

A Love Letter to Generation Z – the Great Hope

Dear Zoomers,

When you came into the world in the late 1990s or the 2000s you provided your parents something to actually care about.  We, Gen Xers, were accused all of our lives of being aloof and nihilist but we had our reasons.  We were a small generation, ignored by advertisers and sandwiched in between two lame and uncool groups of people.

Our older cousins the Boomers we found to be full of it.  Self-righteous about their exploits in the 60s and so smug about all the stuff they bought in the 80s and 90s.

Our little cousins the Millennials were just annoying. From the time they could talk they were entitled.  As soon as they went to college, they thought they were smart enough to change the world. Many as young adults live with their Boomer parents, protest to tell everybody else what they should say or think, rail against capitalism yet they buy a lot of things.  Boomers hire these brats to actually run things, thinking they know how to talk to others of their ilk.

We have looked around at these lame hypocrites all of our lives and shook our heads. Those people are simply not cool.

Perhaps we were nihilist, perhaps our sense of sarcasm and irony was well developed seeing others mess things up.  We certainly were not perfect.  I think you are already aware of that.

Perhaps my generation was never meant to change the world, we were just too small and surrounded by two loud-mouthed know-it-all generations.

I am sorry you will have to spend much of your adult life dealing with the trouble the Millennials will cause.  I am sorry you will inherit a world that is far less perfect than it ought to be.

The political system in the United States that was described by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835 as the finest example and a shining hope to the world has descended into lies, petty arguments, deceit, and ineptitude.  It will only get worse I am afraid in the coming years.

If the theories related to generational turning are correct, there will be, within your lifetime a major crisis.  This will be no mere market crash or a small war.  It will be a defining event such as the American Civil War, the American Revolution or World War II.  It may or may not involve a lot of violence but it will threaten to fundamentally change the very nature of society and government.  Everything that is and was may be threatened, the good and the bad.  What replaces it is uncertain.

That what, the thing that comes after, the solution that moves us forward is for you to figure out.  You will be the calmer, more reasoned, practical and creative voice in society.  The Boomers started this and the Millennials will take it to a climactic conclusion, you will end it and put it all back together.

Much rest upon your shoulders.  We and future generations are depending upon you. To coin a cliché, the fate of the free world is in your hands.

At the conclusion of all this mess, once the Millennials have enacted all of their ideas and ideologies, only to see them create more problems, less freedom, and less prosperity it will be you that finds a new way. You will have to find ways to balance liberty and responsibility, to define the nature and source of truth, to figure out what a just and good society and the government looks like.

We, your parents, had the privilege of knowing some great people in our lives.  Our grandparents from the depression, the WWII generation, and our parents from the Silent generation.  These were good, solid people that believed in traditional values of self-regulation, hard work, personal freedom, charity, justice, and responsibility.  They went to church and respected the God of their fathers.

We literally went to “old school” in hot and cold basic classrooms, where we were taught the story of American exceptionalism and the American Creed.

We have observed the idealist and hypocrite Boomers and Millennials and we have come to know a few things.

We know that there was a lot of value in the words of those old men and simple preachers we interacted with as youngsters.  Their common-sense and realist approach made them a lot smarter than all the other folks we have seen trying to change the world and tell everybody else how to think and talk.

After a rocky start of apathy and silent rebellion, we found our way back to church.  In fact, 94% of all adults that attend church weekly are Generation Xers, and 64% of all Generation X claim a belief in God. (Pew 2019)

We have come to know that those old folks we knew when we were young were right about a lot of things. We have come to know that those that advocate loudest in the public square from the generations before and after us are wrong about a lot of things.

We do not know how to handle the crisis you will face, we do not know the exact way that crisis will play out. We know that you are special, you were special to us because you gave us something to actually care about.  You are special in the minds of theorists like Strauss and Howe because you are a generation that fixes things.

I think there is one thing my generation was supposed to do.  That is to serve as something of a link between traditional America and you.  To be a living, speaking and perhaps writing testament to the words and ideas of people that were better than us.

What we are supposed to do is pass along some of that knowledge and insight to you.  To explain the values and ideas that made those people so much better than the ones running things now.

In the near future, as you look at problems and seek solutions don’t forget to look back and ask questions of those people.  Read some of their ideas, try and understand what they thought and why. Use common-sense.  Know that universal truth exists and seek a relationship with the Creator. Trust realism and over idealism until idealism can firmly prove an idea wrong.  Be stoic in your approach to life, self-governing, self-improving, humble and steadfast. Seek first principles based upon real truth to answer pressing questions.

I am sorry that this challenge is your lot in life, but you are well prepared for it. You gave us a reason to care.  You will fix things.

 

The Implications of the “Cowtow” – 1984

Most of us naively assume that when Chick-Fil-A announced on 18 November 2019 that they would no longer donate to charities that the radical progressive minority deem “hateful” that this was just one more small thing. Nothing particularly special in the big picture. Not as significant as Roe v. Wade, not the same as many modifications to immigration over the years. Not as earth-shattering as other major losses in the Cultural War. In one sense, that is a correct assessment – it is after all just a chicken sandwich store, right. So what if Chick-Fil-A kowtows to the crazies of the world you might say, most other companies already have?

Taking such a view misses what has actually occurred. Such a view does not accept how this changes the world going forward.

Consider the facts.

  • Depending upon what measurement criteria are used, in 2019 Chick-Fil-A was between the #3 and #5 largest fast-food chain in America, increasing in almost all measurable categories since 2018.
  • Chick-Fil-A is privately held, therefore immune to vast stockholder pressure.
  • In both 2018 and 2019, Chick-Fil-A was subjected to an organized and viral campaign of lies, boycott, protest and corporate character assassination by the radical progressive left – yet they still grew in size and profits.

Despite apparently successfully shrugging off the efforts of the radical left Chick-Fil-A was thriving. They are privately held and have a board that is answerable to a smaller group of people. It appeared they were standing by their values, and winning at the game of capitalism simultaneously. Then in November of 2019, they just quit.

Sure, soon after they opened their first store in the United Kingdom the company announced in October 2019 it would close that location at the end of the six-month lease. Local LGBTQ groups had protested the location and the company since it opened. Perhaps this meant Chick-Fil-A was not going to be able to penetrate the European market. They are still a privately held company with $10Billion in sales annually – not bad. British and European citizens must find their own way to fight the Cultural War. They have gotten so much more wrong than America. If they cannot get their own houses in order, and they do not get to each Chick-Fil-A sandwiches as a result, so be it. After all, consider what the British have allowed Caroline Farrow to endure. To Britain I say, no waffle fries for you mate, cheers.

We cannot know why Chick-Fil-A caved. They were certainly making enough money and if sticking to one’s values meant staying out of Europe and the oppressive laws of the EU, so be it. But they did cave.

Image result for 1984

Implications

This, of course, means as Rod Dreher pointed out ” if even Chick-fil-A capitulates to the illiberal demands of LGBT activists, then what chance do you have in professional life, you and your religion, despised by power elites?

In the greater context of the Cultural War, this means;

  • Any company or organization that donates, supports or even hints at support of any cause, idea or organization deemed inappropriate can be brought to heel. There are simply no other privately held companies of Chick-Fil-A’s size, $10B in revenue.
  • Individuals, CEOs, professionals, teachers, academics, media personalities are now even easier targets. Those that speak up for traditional values, speak at “forbidden events”, donate to the wrong charities or espouse traditional values in the public square may be placed on a list and “canceled” one by one. Silencing voices and denying employment and income to those that resist. This has, of course, already been occurring, but the Chick-Fil-A capitulation is a watershed, these events will become more common.
  • Common people will come to further believe the narrative. “If the left said Salvation Army and the FAC were spreading hate, and Chick-Fil-A stopped supporting them then maybe they were spreading hate – I just want my sandwich“. The public square will be ceded further.
  • The surrender of Chick-Fil-A will demonstrate to politicians that the will and resolve of the radical left is much stronger than the conviction and dedication of traditionalists. They make noise and cause trouble far in excess of their true numbers. We are silent, allowing them to control the narrative and the public square. Politicians will soon come to realize that making attempts to even appeal to a traditional base is pointless, they can get elected without it, not despite it.
  • Politicians that seek to retain some support for traditional values will be increasingly isolated, ineffective because of shrinking numbers and easier to single out for organized smear and opposition campaigns.
  • With the public square under control, corporate America (and their donation dollars) captured, Congress and the Senate either filled with their candidates minus a few ineffective holdouts; it is over – this stage of the Cultural War is lost.
  • With public opinion either cowed into silence, relegated to a small corner of “radical hate and ignorance, access to corporate dollars secured, and domination of the political process the radical progressive agenda can move forward at a pace hitherto unimagined.

I personally assumed the process of total defeat in this stage of the conflict would take another decade. I see the march of history toward an authoritarian and Godless future, one has to be naive not to acknowledge that reality. I just did not think it possible to occur so quickly.

The 2016 election was an anomaly. As I argue in my latest book, The Philosophy of Commonsense, the election of Donald Trump was a result of him being the only Republican candidate to advocate for any of the issues at play in the Cultural War – Trump promised to fix the immigration problem, traditionalists believed him and elected him, despite his obvious flaws. His election was essential a counter-revolution to the progressive agenda, one last major offensive. The right cannot pull off such an offensive again.

Here is why:

Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X voters edged out older generations in 2016 vote
Older generations, Boomers and Silents, were surpassed in voting numbers in 2016
Gen X voter turnout reached a record high in 2016
Millennial turnout in 2016 was low, compared to 2008. Many more Millenials were eligible to vote but their numbers did not increase. Millennials vote almost 66% for liberal-progressive candidates
Blacks, another demographic that historically votes heavily in favor of Democratic and progressive candidates voted much less in the 2016 election

Despite most of the possible constituency that would possibly vote for anything traditional turning out, and the progressives missing significant numbers the results were less than encouraging: (via Ballotpedia)

DHillary Clinton48.3%65,844,969227
R Donald Trump 46.2% 62,979,984 304

Thank God the founders understood the importance of regions, States, community, and locality and placed the Electoral College in our system – an item the progressives will soon move to “correct”. The map may look red, but all of those red states are ignorant backwaters to the progressive.

Mathematically speaking, it does not matter if the Republicans field a better, less abrasive version of Trump, a candidate that claims to stand by more than one tenant of traditionalism, the numbers are just not there. Older, more conservative voters are dying, young and more progressive voters are increasing. Add to this the fact that Trump is really a major disappointment to many traditionalists, he did and apparently will not fix anything related to immigration and he has not advanced the cause of morality in any way at all. It will be difficult to mobilize a second offensive, believers have been burnt again and will not be motivated in 2020 and going forward.

Perhaps my generation, the slackers and nihilists of Generation X will remember some of what we learned and observed as kids. It is hard to imagine a group of kids that grew up watching Star Wars and reading 1984 not understanding how tyranny can slip into a government by “good intentions”. Generation Xers are already attending church weekly more than any other living generation. But we are a small generation, we cannot alter the landscape alone.

The real hope lies in our children, the Zoomers, as Forbes argued in Why Democrats Should Be Losing Sleep Over Generation Z

Hello, Generation Z! The fiscally responsible, tattoo hating, Republican-leaning group, touted by conservatives as their best hope for the future, and as the antithesis of Millennials.

Ashley Stahl

But the impact of the Zoomers is several years away. It will be some time before the full force of their voting impact is felt. In the meanwhile, America will be fundamentally changed, and much faster than most could have predicted.

It will only be after America moves very close to authoritarianism in government and the public square, the engine of capitalism is seized up with wealth-hating and redistribution policies and almost all of the remnants of Christian and traditional values are stripped from public life that Zoomers will step in and fix things. How we help prepare them for that awesome task was the entire purpose of my book.

We are in for a long, and ugly ride. We lost this stage of the Cultural War. Our battles and efforts now should be focused on retrenchment*, shoring up institutions, speaking truth so that it does not disappear entirely from dialogue, living in compassion, living our values and preparing our children for their task.

*Retrenchment is a technical term in fortification, where it is applied to a secondary work or series of works constructed in rear of existing defences to bar the further progress of the enemy who succeeds in breaching or storming these.