John wrote:If a country goes through an entire Crisis era
with no actual crisis, then it enters a new era, a "Fifth Turning,"
which has different characteristics from turnings 1-4.
I've been thinking about the Fifth Turning problem a lot lately and analyzing the behaviors and values of the Millenials around me. I'm not convinced that it is properly an additional Turning. I see it rather as the natural course of a Fourth Turning in the absence of a Crisis Event. I see the new Hero generation (let's call them "proto-Heros" for the moment) as being optimistic and gung-ho, but also very naive. They have been protected and sheltered as children and grow up believing in the positive aspects of their society without having anything negative to compare it with. As such, they are easily manipulated by the Nomad generation as tools to achieve the increasingly destructive goals of the Nomads. This normally leads to a full-on Crisis, in which the proto-Heros are traumatized and learn the necessary negative lessons in an abrupt, harsh way. This is what changes them into proper Heros able to end the Crisis and institute real reforms for the betterment of society.
In the absence of a Crisis Event, the Nomads retain ultimate power past the time they would normally have been retiring out of the picture, thereby extending the Fourth Turning beyond it's predicted span. The proto-Heros believe they are taking over control, but in their naivete they continue to be manipulated from behind the scenes by the Nomads. This is where we see such things as religious martyrs and suicide bombers appear. Furthermore, the proto-Heros unwittingly pass their own naivete on to their children under the influence of their Nomad "advisors", thereby raising a new generation of easily manipulated proto-Heros. This generational repetition, however, is an inherently unstable situation and must
eventually collapse in one of three ways:
1. A Crisis Event occurs, either caused from within by the Nomads' actions or imposed from without by other predatory Crisis-Era societies seeing "easy prey". At this point, a Generational Reset can occur normally, if a bit late.
2. The unravelling evolves into complete collapse of the society and death or effective disappearance of the remaining Nomads, at which point the long-suffering proto-Heros become Heros and pick up the pieces to create a new society. I call this a "Slow Crisis" because it proceeds more gradually than other types of Crises. In this case, the slowly growing awareness of their naivete and the Nomad manipulations provides the trauma necessary to transform the proto-Heros.
3. The proto-Hero generation learns their lessons quickly, becoming aware of the manipulations of the Nomads. If the Nomads to do not relinquish power and influence voluntarily, this path will lead to Revolution as the newly transformed Heros become unwilling to tolerate the status quo any longer. Disillusionment provides the transformative Hero trauma.
In summary, I believe a Fifth Turning is nothing more than the logical extension of a Fourth Turning in the absence of a Crisis Event to transform the proto-Heros into proper Heros. As a separate but related thought, I suspect that the length of an unravelling and early crisis era relates to the severity of the impending crisis. In other words, crises that take a long time coming tend to also be more violent, more furious, and more catastrophic. Given how long some of the current crisis-era nations have been waiting, that suggests the eventual Clash of Civilizations is going to be a doozy indeed!
But I could be wrong. In fact, as a Nomad, I'm probably wrong. At least I'm not in charge.