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Thread: Are We There Yet?

Post#1 at 04-29-2007 07:47 PM by 1990 [at Savannah, GA joined Sep 2006 #posts 1,450]
04-29-2007, 07:47 PM #1
Join Date
Sep 2006
Savannah, GA

Are We There Yet?

Shortly after 9/11, Strauss and Howe wrote an editorial in USA Today about the coming 4T. These were questions they asked as key signs of whether the 4T had arrived yet or not:

1. Are leaders describing the problem in tn larger rather than smaller terms, proposing grand solutions, and seeking to destroy (and not just contain) enemies?

Well, now it's 2007, and I'd say the answer is yes and no. Bush's grand crusade talk is wearing thin, so "git 'er done" rhetoric is not widespread outside of the White House grounds. Many pols, especially in Congress, still prefer narrow "fixes" rather than broad solutions. On the other hand, Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani are still winning over voters primarily due to being more general and "feel-good" than the other presidential candidates.

2. Is there a shift away from individualism (and civil liberties) toward community purpose (and national survival)?

In 2002, I would have said yes. Now, not so much. Liberals and moderates (as well as some conservatives) have been majorly turned off by government overreaching. If anything libertarianism is on the upswing.

3. Are the old "culture wars" arguments beginning to feel lame, ridiculous, even dangerous to national unity?

What national unity? I would say the culture wars have died down noticeably, to the point of seeming passe and quaint, but this is only because people are tired of bickering, not because we are all uniting for some common purpose. In fact, I think there is a rather inaccurate myth that 4Ts necessarily mean people "rallying behind their leaders". Sometimes (Depression & WWII) this is the case, but more often than not it is the opposite. If people rallied behind their leaders during 4Ts, there would never be revolutions, mass uprisings, or civil wars.

So the most egregious indulgences of the culture wars may be gone, but by no means have we moved on completely.

4. Is the celebrity culture feeling newly irrelevant? Is youth fare becoming less gross and less violent?

Maybe. As Millies are slowly coming of age in pop culture, gangsta rap in the Eminem mold is on the way out. A big trend last year on the Billboard charts was "pop/hip-hop/R&B fusion". No longer are these three genres discernable.

But the trend is gradual. Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears are still doing shocking things, and the media is only barely beginning to calm the judgmental, moralistic "Are these children drug-dealing, promiscuous bad seeds?" rhetoric which was so pervasive in the '90s.

5. Is immigration reversing? Are mobility and openness declining? Is there more nativism in our culture and less "globalism" in our commerce?

Yes. BIG SIGN. The American public has always been somewhat suspicious of internationalism, but during the globalism-obsessed '90s, any talk that hinted at being nativist or isolationist was frowned upon. Public opinion has sharply turned against illegal immigration, and "free trade agreements". The shift is most surprising among liberal circles.

6. Is there a new willingness to pay a human price to achieve a national purpose? Will we harness technology only to reduce casualties and inconvenience, or also to achieve a total and lasting victory.

NO. But this is entirely Iraq's fault. If this war had not happened, we might have already declared triumph in Afghanistan and be on to grand reforms at home.

7. Is each generation entering its new phase of life with a new attitude? Are aging boomers overcoming narcissism? Are Gen-Xers on the edge of midlife, circling their wagons around family? Are Millennials emerging as a special and celebrated crop of youth?

It's happening from the bottom up. Boomers are slow to notice the change, but are getting there.

So according to S&H's own checklist, we are obviously still cuspy. Is it possible that the war in Iraq has significantly delayed a real 4T by prematurely engaging us in a violent, expensive struggle? And if so, have we f***ed up the saeculum?

Or is it just due to the Silent staying around longer than earlier Artist gens?
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Post#2 at 04-29-2007 08:38 PM by Odin [at Moorhead, MN, USA joined Sep 2006 #posts 14,442]
04-29-2007, 08:38 PM #2
Join Date
Sep 2006
Moorhead, MN, USA

Quote Originally Posted by 1990 View Post
Is it possible that the war in Iraq has significantly delayed a real 4T by prematurely engaging us in a violent, expensive struggle?

Or is it just due to the Silent staying around longer than earlier Artist gens?
Both, IMO. There are still quite a few silents around pushing the "wishy-washy" version of compromise (McCain, Lieberman, Reid, etc) that is all about political triangulation and smoothing over problems instead of actually dealing with the problems.

At the same time, Bush tried to act like a gray champion, but failed as a result of post-seasonal, 3T policies. This "recovered" the 3T mood for a while until Katrina, Iraq getting worse and worse, and waves upon waves of scandals at last triggered the 4T cascade.
To recommend thrift to the poor is both grotesque and insulting. It is like advising a man who is starving to eat less.

-Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism