Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Turnings" in Uruguay

I'm reading an interesting book originally published in 1997, called The Fourth Turning.

The book's premise is that all history runs in cycles, roughly encompassing the length of a long human life 80-100 years.

Each generation's maturation is divided up into 4 parts running about 20-25 years each, and there are 4 different generational types, which come in predictable order, one after the other, every cycle.

The generations' quirks help shape history and vica versa.

"Talkin' bout my Kennel-Ration" (tender chunks)....

It turns out that the generational architype that I fall smack in the middle of is called the nomad type (Gen X).

Nomads are described as:

  • distrustful of institutions
  • cynical
  • grow up "too fast" and "underprotected"
  • pursue money first and foremost in early life and get burned out early and often
  • view the world as cruel and expect nothing from it.

check, check, check, check, check

  • They are typically viewed (and portrayed) negatively by those older than them.
uh, i always though this had something to do with my crooked teeth, doggy-pattern balding, splotchy skin, and penchant for marking my territory in inappropriate business settings...but "check".

Other Nomad generations were the "Lost Generation" -- came of age in WWI and spent early adulthood in the 1920's --- Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald are examples of these

Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara are a fictional version of Nomads in the cycle before the "Lost"

So what about the other generations?

The books says that when "prophet" types (baby boomers) come of age, they lead to great spiritual or "consciousness" revolutions (and neglect of their nomad offspring) 60's & 70's

When "hero" types (older GI generation and current Gen Y are examples) come of age, they will be led by those same greedy stupid (my edit) boomers into cataclysmic apocalyptic meltdowns that generally suck.

Kinda makes sense, since a couple years in the texas air national guard doesn't really qualify one understand what asking someone to disrupt themselves in the prime of life to go play with degraded uranium, or jump on a grenade to save a buddy in a pointless conflict really means....anyone with even a clue wouldn't be nearly as cavalier about it....duh.


The book characterizes the generational changes as "seasons" or "turnings" -- four turnings that have happened repeatedly throughout history, always in the same order.

The first turning is after a cataclysm -- like WWII. Conformity and grand civic gestures. Think: Eisenhower's America.

The second turning is a rebellion against conformity, an "awakening" -- Think: Summer of Love

The third turning is an "unraveling" where pessimism about the future, youth, and direction is rampant....individual ideals are pursued -- Think: 1984-2004ish (remember book was published in 1997)

Fourth Turning is when the Sh#t hits the proverbial fan and everyone pulls together and "makes it" or doesn't.

Who cares?

Well, it's pretty obvious that the authors are predicting some rocky times ahead for the US. I'm so far in that camp that it doesn't even warrant a post on this blog. To me this is a foregone conclusion. I've tried to softsoap it in the past, but the US is heading for major trouble -- worse (financially and security-wise) than it's already seen with the dotcom blowup and 9-11.

I thought this was a blog about Uruguay (?)

However, the interesting question that still remains (at least for me): can a different geographical location be on a completely different path (turning) or cycle? Or have we become too interconnected.

By all rights, Uruguay has gone through a couple of challenges that seem *close* to a big event -- the coups in the 70's....the financial meltdown early this decade might be another candidate.

If the coups were a Fourth Turning, they could be ready to exit the "conformity" stage....and if the pattern were to hold, they would be already entering an "awakening" stage. (There are already some signs. Protests are very active here. And people are expressing regret over former conformity e.g. voting to give former coup leaders amnesty off for their crimes against the previous regime.)

The last time the Anglo-Euro world entered a fourth turning (the great depression and WWII) south america vaulted to fantastic wealth by virtue of staying out of the conflict and selling supplies to both sides of the conflict. I'm not certain that can be accomplished again.

Obviously, i need to do more research on this topic as it relates to Uruguayan history.....In addition it should be noted that all my present day observations are a mere glimpse of Uruguay through a "nomad's" eyes, without the benefit of time to gauge changes in attitudes and behaviour directly.

ciao for now,

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