At each of these great gates of history, eighty to a hundred years apart, a similar generational drama unfolded. Four archetypes, aligned in the same order – elder Prophet, midlife Nomad, young adult Hero, child Artist – together produced the most enduring legends in our history. Each time the Grey Champion appeared marked the arrival of a moment of “darkness, and adversity, and peril,” the climax of the Fourth Turning of the saeculum. – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe
In September 2015 I wrote a five part article called Fourth Turning: Crisis of Trust. In Part 2 of that article I pondered who might emerge as the Grey Champion, leading the country during the second half of this Fourth TurningCrisis. I had the above pictures of Franklin, Lincoln, and FDR, along with a flaming question mark. The question has been answered. Donald J. Trump is the Grey Champion.
When I wrote that article, only one GOP debate had taken place. There were eleven more to go. Trump was viewed by the establishment as a joke, ridiculed by the propaganda media, and disdained by the GOP and Democrats. I was still skeptical of his seriousness and desire to go the distance, but I attempted to view his candidacy through the lens of the Fourth Turning. I was convinced the mood of the country turning against the establishment could lead to his elevation to the presidency. I was definitely in the minority at the time:
Until three months ago the 2016 presidential election was in control of the establishment. The Party was putting forth their chosen crony capitalist figureheads – Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. They are hand-picked known controllable entities who will not upset the existing corrupt system. They are equally acceptable to Goldman Sachs, the Federal Reserve, the military industrial complex, the sickcare industry, mega-corporate America, the moneyed interests, and the never changing government apparatchiks. The one party system is designed to give the appearance of choice, while in reality there is no difference between the policies of the two heads of one party and their candidate products. But now Donald Trump has stormed onto the scene from the reality TV world to tell the establishment – You’re Fired!!!
The linear thinking supporters of the status quo are flabbergasted and outraged by Trump’s popularity. The ruling classes never anticipate the mood shift of the peasants as they look down on the masses from their gated estates and penthouse suites. The country is looking for someone who can tear down the entire fetid, corrupt, rotting structure. The onset of phase two of this Crisis in 2016 will produce a populace more desperate, less trusting of the establishment and likely to turn towards someone like Trump, in despair. –Fourth Turning – Crisis of Trust (Part Two)
Strauss and Howe wrote their prophetic tome two decades ago. Their prognostications have played out exactly as they prophesied. They did not know which events or which people would catalyze this Fourth Turning. But they knew the mood change in the country would be driven by the predictable generational alignment which occurs every eighty years. Our regeneracy is now solidly under way.
“Soon after the catalyst, a national election will produce a sweeping political realignment, as one faction or coalition capitalizes on a new public demand for decisive action. Republicans, Democrats, or perhaps a new party will decisively win the long partisan tug of war. This new regime will enthrone itself for the duration of the Crisis. Regardless of its ideology, that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Where leaders had once been inclined to alleviate societal pressures, they will now aggravate them to command the nation’s attention. The regeneracy will be solidly under way.”– Strauss & Howe–The Fourth Turning
In Part One of this article I discussed the arrival of Grey Champions in previous Fourth Turnings; their attributes, deficiencies, and leadership skills; and why Donald Trump is the Grey Champion of this Fourth Turning – whether you like it or not. Now I will try to make sense of what could happen next.
“Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people. The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election. For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don’t have your good in mind. The political establishment that is trying to stop us is the same group responsible for our disastrous trade deals, massive illegal immigration and economic and foreign policies that have bled our country dry.
It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities. The only thing that can stop this corrupt machine is you. The only force strong enough to save our country is us. The only people brave enough to vote out this corrupt establishment is you, the American people.” – Donald Trump
Seventy year old Donald Trump has assumed the Grey Champion flagstaff. In an increasingly chaotic world, normal working class Americans in flyover country were seeking a leader who could bring order, defeat the corrupt establishment, make tough decisions, and capture the zeitgeist of this moment in history. The ruling elite oligarchs and their fawning minions, occupying their strongholds in New York, California, Illinois, and D.C., are infuriated the peasants have dared to resist. In their secretive secure spaces, the elites are plotting with one purpose in mind – this uprising must be quelled.
They are now fanning the flames of discontent, funding professional protestors, and convincing the useful idiot college student millennials, Trump is dangerous to their future. It seems these mathematically challenged snowflakes have already forgotten about the $10 trillion of national debt and $1 trillion of student loan debt loaded on their backs by the Obama administration in the last 8 years. This is not to mention the $200 trillion of unfunded welfare liabilities awaiting them as they graduate with degrees in LGBT Studies and great jobs at TGI Fridays in their future.
One of the great errors of freedom people (myself included) is that we’ve sometimes based our arguments on less-than-optimal grounds.
What I mean is that we argued for freedom on political or legal grounds. And while those arguments were generally accurate and valid, it was a relatively poor line of argument.
Our arguments on economic grounds were somewhat better, but they still missed the largest and clearest areas of human experience.
A stronger strain of argument, in my opinion, involves happiness.
Happiness, of course, is a subjective thing. A new car might make one person very happy but be a burden to another (or to that same person at a different stage of life).
Furthermore, happiness is very often temporary. People think they’ll be happy if they win the lottery, but that rush of happiness lasts only a short time, then fades away. Lottery winners are happier than other people for a few weeks, then they return to normal – or worse. The same goes for similar cases.
Long-term happiness is what we would be wisest to pursue. But this type of happiness – which we generally think of as satisfaction – requires things of us. In particular, it requires good choices, the courage to make them, and good information to base them upon.
The best definition of the long-term happiness I know is a paraphrase of Aristotle. It goes like this:
What makes us happy is the exercise of vital powers along lines of excellence in a life affording us scope.
Let’s break that down. Three things are required for us to be happy for the long haul, all of which must be present together:
Exercise along lines of excellence.
A life offering us scope.
What We Have, What Is Taken From Us
Of the three items listed above, two are innate to us:
We are born with vital powers. Unless we’ve been seriously damaged, these are already ours. We may develop them or allow them to atrophy, but they are inside of us and not directly assailable by anyone else.
Exercise along lines of excellence is something that we can do and should do. This depends upon us and our choices. We control this ourselves.
A life offering them scope is where the problem lies. Our lives have been massively restricted, and that directly restricts our happiness. That’s such an important thought that I’d like to restate it:
Restrictions of human action are direct restrictions of human happiness.
And please forget knee-jerk reactions like, “We have to restrict criminals!” That’s a non-issue, and, more importantly, it’s a brain hack.
Go ahead and restrict your criminals, but don’t restrict me with them.
There is no sane reason restraints upon criminals have to be applied to everyone else at the same time.
No one has any moral right to restrain you, unless and until you harm others.
There are plenty of natural obstacles in our world that limit a man or woman’s scope. We require food, shelter, sleep, clothing, mates, and so on. And that’s precisely why we must be unrestrained in all other ways. We need to employ our talents to overcome these problems… then, hopefully, to expand our horizons.
The more restrained we remain, the more impoverished and unhappy we remain.
To restrict peaceful humans is to directly restrain their happiness. It also directly restrains their talent, and that impoverishes the future, including billions of humans yet unborn. It is among the worst crimes imaginable, yet it is presented to us as an essential.
Our happiness is being stolen from us daily, and the justifications for this crime – if ever we examine them – are quickly seen as mere fear and inertia.
It’s time that we started playing a different game.