We Are in the 1930s, ‘Winter Is Coming’: The Fourth Turning Author Neil Howe Warns
From the Balkans to the US, walls are going up, not down, according to demographer and The Fourth Turning author Neil Howe.
Speaking to a packed crowd at Mauldin Economics’ Strategic Investment Conference in Orlando, Howe said we are reliving many of the same trends and changes of the 1930s.
Faith in Democracy Is Fading
“Worldwide, people are losing trust in institutions,” he said. “Trust in the military, small business, and police is still there. But trust in democracies, media, and politicians is dropping.”
“When was the last time we saw these changes and the rise of right-wing populism?” he asked. “The 1930s.”
Howe’s statement is borne out of a June 2016 Gallup poll. When poll takers were asked how much confidence they had in institutions in American society, the results were troubling.
Just 15% said they had a “great deal” of confidence in the US Supreme Court. Banks trailed behind at 11%, followed by the criminal justice system (9%), newspapers (8%), and big business (6%).
Meanwhile, just 16% expressed a “great deal” of confidence in the presidency, with that number plummeting to 3% for Congress.
What Does This Mean for the Future of the West?
In his keynote, Howe shared his forecasting logic:
“My method is to step back and realize one thing: There is something we know about the world in 20 years’ time. The people who live there will be all of us, 20 years older and playing a different role. I call this ‘looking along the generational diagonal.’”
The critical thing to remember about the current crisis period is that what comes next will be an era in which there is a new order.
According to the Strauss-Howe generational theory, as this new order takes root, individualism declines and institutions are strengthened.
“History is seasonal, and winter is coming,” Howe has said. But after winter, comes spring.
As the American Revolution was followed by calm, as the Civil War was followed by reconstruction and a gilded age, and as the Great Depression and World War II were followed by an age of peace and prosperity, so too will this crisis period be followed by a calm, stable era.
It’s simply a matter of time.