What we learn from history that we do not learn from history
-Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
I will focus on the Anglo-American long-term cycles and generations in this text. For now, Anglo-American world is the most dominant one in this globe. This thing may change in this century. To me, this change is actually more probable than continuous Anglo-American dominance. This first part is about the basics of a saeculum cycle, its four different seasons and different archetypes of generations. ”History does not repeat but it rhymes”, said Mark Twain. This text is mostly based on the book called ”The Fourth Turning”, written by William Strauss and Neil Howe. This book is an excellent and worthwhile reading. It was written in the middle of 1990s and is still relevant. Some of its forecasts have actualized and some of them have not.
As you can divide a year for four different seasons, you can do the same for a long-term saeculum cycle. A long term cycle lasts 80-100 years and in an Anglo-American societies they have lasted from the 1400s. These long-term cycles can be divided into four generational cycles called turnings. They represent different seasons in one long-term cycle. These turnings can last anything from 15-30 years, like different phases of life. Most often they last about 18-22 years. These turnings are a first turning called a High, second turning called an Awakening, third turning called an Unraveling and fourth turning called a Crisis. There are four phases of human life, childhood, young adulthood, midlife and elderhood. One generational archetype dominates one phase of life in one turning. These archetypes are:
- A Prophet generation, born in a High
- A Nomad generation, born in an Awakening
- A Hero generation, born in an Unraveling
- An Artist generation, born in a Crisis
You have to understand these archetypes and their role in the long term cycle. You have to understand that majority of the people in one generation have special characteristics these archetypes have, not all of them. These characteristics are formed by the events of history and vice versa. You have to also understand that without different archetypes, their wouldn´t be different turnings. A new archetypal generation is born, when most people of the same generation are either dead or living their last years. These archetypes are the main reasons why long term cycle reoccurs again and again.
About the length and reason of the cycle
Most people in Anglo-American countries are not aware of these long-term cycles and their roles in them. A Crisis in the end of the cycle happens, because most people who remember the last Crisis are long gone. A society and the nature have to complete their social and biological changes. Periodic destruction in the end of the cycle is needed to renew the society and the nature. Human life time is the natural rhytm for these cycles. How could it be anything else? The changes in political regimes, natural disasters, and technology vary in length, but natural human life cycle hasn´t much changed in the previous centuries. People died before in diseases and wars before their natural life spans ended.
The most important reason for why people are doomed to see these long-term cycles are that they think linearly. People think mostly about today and they forget to think about longer-term cycles. They have no idea about seasonal changes in societies. Within a long-term cycle, each season has its own characteristics. These characteristics vary within a cycle more than seasons in different long-term cycles. An Unraveling in one cycle looks more like the Unraveling in the previous cycle than an Awakening and Unraveling in the same cycle. The reason for variation is that different archetypes have different roles in different seasons. Different generations are dominating different seasons. Archetypes in young adulthood and in midlife have bigger roles in seasons. These dominant archetypes also move their actions and behaviors for reflecting their own lifetime experiences. Thus, their efforts are directed into different directions than the efforts of the previous dominant archetypes. These changes in efforts move people from one season to another. The most dominant archetypes have the biggest effects on the second younger generation. For example, Nomads that are in midlife right now have the most effects on Artists in the childhood.
This text was part 1 of the Anglo-American cycles and generations.
There is more to come in the next few weeks. You will be less well prepared for the future, if you don´t understand a long-term cycle.