Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon and the Coming Crisis in American National Life

An interesting discussion of Strauss and Howe’s “fourth turning” theory as it applies to Trumpism.

I seem to be one of the few people associated with the alt-right (at least peripherally) that’s not particularly enthusiastic about Trump, though I generally had a more favorable view of him than Hillary. The more I watch Trump and the people around him, the more I lean towards the view that he represents a ruling class faction that recognizes that the neocons have led the US towards foreign policy ruin, and that neoliberal economics are seriously destabilizing the US domestically. So they want to try to reverse some of that so that the plutocracy can actually have a functional society to rule over in the future. The liberal-left opposition coalition is opposed to this for ideological reasons, and the Deep State is opposed because their bread and butter might be threatened.

Right now, it appears there is a war going on within the state between the Deep State and the Trumpian nationalists. The Republican Party has become largely Trumpized with the neocons and moderate Republicans either having been pushed to the margins, or having fallen in line behind Trump. The best possible outcome that has any probability of happening would be one where the system continues to fracture and fragment, and where the Deep State, Trumpians, Republicans, Democrats, Alt-Rights, and SJWs all function as counterbalances to one another, where no one is able to gain a monopoly on power.

By David Kaiser


During the 1990s, two amateur historians, Neil Howe and the late William Strauss, developed a new theory of American history in two books, Generations: the History of America’s Future (1991), and The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy (1997). They identified an 80-year cycle in American history, punctuated by great crises that destroyed an old order and created a new one.

Though their theory is not widely taught in colleges or discussed in the media, Strauss and Howe may well play a major role in Donald Trump’s administration. Stephen Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News who has been appointed Trump’s chief strategist in the White House, is very familiar with Strauss and Howe’s theory of crisis, and has been thinking about how to use it to achieve particular goals for quite a while. I know this because Bannon interviewed both Neil Howe and myself in 2009 while he was making a documentary film about the ongoing financial crisis. The film, called Generation Zero, discussed those ideas in some detail.

Bannon focused on the key aspect of their theory, the idea that every 80 years American history has been marked by a crisis, or “fourth turning,” that destroyed an old order and created a new one: The great crises identified by Strauss and Howe included the era of the American Revolution and the Constitution (1774-1794); the Civil War and its immediate aftermath (1860-68); and the Depression and the Second World War (1929-45). Doing the math, they predicted another great crisis sometime in the first 15 years of the 21st century.


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