9/11 and the Fourth Turning

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Before the year 2001, the date September 11th meant nothing. It was nowhere near a holiday or any other important date that triggers an association (like April 15, June 6, or December 7). After 2001, however, September 11th is one of the most evocative days on the calendar.

On this 22nd anniversary of the attacks against the U.S., I decided to crack open my well-read copy of The Fourth Turning and share some morsels. Keep in mind this book was written in 1997, almost a quarter century ago, so obviously it had no inkling of what was coming. I emphasize this because some “predictive” books are held up as being prescient, but the logic and comparisons are so tortured as to make it pointless. In sharp contrast, The Fourth Turning seems terrifyingly accurate.

Let’s start early in the book, on page 3:

It describes briefly each of the four “turnings”, with the last one being “…..a Crisis, a decisive era of secular upheaval, when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one.” OK, so far, so good.

A few pages later, the book characterizes what the upcoming Fourth Turning will be like, which is “due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation, and empire.

My view is that all of this started on precisely September 11, 2001. Think about the terrorists attacks and the months that followed. Think about the financial crisis of 2008. Think about the election of 2016, the George Floyd riots, and what happened on January 6, 2021. Now re-read the description of “The Fourth Turning” above again, and notice how it seems like it’s ripped from the headlines.

Much later in the book, the authors break down the “morphology” of what is to come. They state that it as follows: “……a Crisis era begins with a catalyst – a startling event (or sequence of events) that produces a sudden shift in mood.” I think the attacks of 9/11 fit this perfectly!

The authors go way out on a limb with five specific predictions about what will transpire in the Fourth Turning………..

Notice how, the moment they finish with their five bullet points, they practically apologize and state “It’s highly unlike that any one of these scenarios will actually happen.” Um, seriously, fellas? You just made five predictions and immediately disclaim them? Let’s walk through them briefly:

  • A state lays claim to federal tax monies, and tax rebellions start springing up – ok, nothing like that has happened.
  • A global terrorist group blows up an aircraft….the United States and its allies launch a preemptive strke…….[Political] Opponents charge that the president concocted the emergency for political purposes…….Foreign capital flees the U.S.” So, umm, yeah.
  • An impasse over the federal budget reaches a stalemate. The president and Congress both refuse to back down, triggering a near-total government shutdown. The president declares emergency powers. Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling. Default looms. Wall Street panics.” – this starting to sound familiar? This stuff has happened on multiple occasions already, and in a few weeks, we could have yet another government shutdown!
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announce the spread of a new communicable virus. The disease reaches densely populated areas, killing some. Congress enacts mandatory quarantine measures. The president orders the National Guard to throw prophylactic cordons around unsafe neighborhoods. Mayors resist. Urban gangs battle suburban militias. Calls mount for the president to declare martial law.” – At this point, if you aren’t starting to get chills, something is wrong with you.
  • Growing anarchy throughout the former Soviet republics prompts Russia to conduct training exercises around its borders….Iran declares its alliance with Russia.” – I vaguely remember hearing something about Ukraine or some such thing.

And then we get more hints about what the end-times will be like. I won’t bother re-typing this.

I hope you’ll agree with me that this book did a pretty amazing job seeing the road ahead. How would you like to write a book write now about the years 2024 through 2050 and be judged on how THOSE predictions turned out? Yeah, I wouldn’t either.

The good news is that the authors don’t simply state the world will end, and that’s that. Instead, within the next two to three years, we’ll be on the other side of this thing.

The not-at-all good news is that something is coming in those two to three years which is going to dwarf everything that preceded it, and, simply stated, it’s going to be awful for a lot of people. That makes sense, because so many cans have been kicked down the road, that there is a mountain of cans just waiting to face us.

If the authors are as accurate about what’s going to happen in 2024 and 2025 as they were about what happened in the quarter-century which preceded it, I’d suggest paying extraordinary attention to what this book has to say.