Saturday, February 03, 2007


I thought this was kind of neat. True, it could be seen as a bit wooly, and very Anglo-America-centric, but it's also striking in what it reveals.

I'd venture a guess that a good number of bloggers are part of the same generation, known variously as Millennial, Generation Y and Generation Next, and would typically be those born between 1979 or 1982 and possibly somewhere between 2001 or 2003, depending where you want to draw the line. I think 2001 is a good place to draw it because of September 11th, and how much that event has impacted the world since. 2003 works too, though, because of the invasion of Iraq, which stands to have long-range consequences itself.

According to Strauss and Howe, history occurs in fairly consistent cycles. This is a somewhat more sophisticated version of the oft-repeated idea that history is like a pendulum. Each cycle has four stages, as a year has four seasons, and as a year is marked by two extremes (Summer and Winter) and two transitionary periods (Spring and Fall) so two is a historical cycle. The two extremes are an Awakening and a Crisis, and the transitions are a High and an Unravelling. The imagery this evokes is, needless to say, pleasing in an aesthetic sense, as one can fittingly imagine Spring being a High, Summer as an Awakening, Fall as an Unravelling and Winter as a Crisis.

The way the historical cycle that we're in right now (the "Millennial Cycle," from 1943 to about 2025-ish) starts as always with a High (1943-1960; economic prosperity, technological innovations, advent of television) followed by an Awakening (1961-1981; the consciousness revolution, hippies, anti-war movement), then an Unravelling (1982-2001; collapse of the Soviet Union, the US as global hegemon, beginnings of the rise of China, India and religious radicalism) and finally, we're now in a Crisis, which seems to make sense, given what's going on in the world these days.

There are four different types of generations. Prophets/Idealists (born 1943-1960) are typically born during a High, come of age during an Awakening, live midlife in an Unravelling and old age in a Crisis. This is probably the generation of the younger generation's parents, AKA the Baby Boomers. Before them were the Missionary Generation (born 1860-1882), who ended up being, among other things, part of labour movements, the first generation of black leaders after the American Civil War, leaders of temperance movements, and in their elder years those who led the fight against fascism in World War II.

Nomads/Reactives (born 1961-1981) are born during an Awakening, come of age in an Unravelling, spend midlife in a Crisis and old age in a High. This generation could represent some younger parents or possibly some young adults. Also known as Generation X. The previous ones were the Lost Generation (born 1883-1900), who fought World War I and had their numbers severely culled as a result (hence "Lost").

Heroes/Civics (born 1982-2001) are born during an Unravelling, come of age in a Crisis, spend midlife in a High and old age in an Awakening. This is my generation, known alternatively as Generation Y, Generation Next, the Millennial Generation, etc. The last generation of Heroes were the GI Generation (born 1901-1924), who fought World War II and then gave birth to the Baby Boomers and generally acted all stuffy during the consciousness revolution and think the 1950s was the greatest time in the history of the world (god I hope I never end up like that).

Artists/Adaptives (born 2002-2025?) are born during a Crisis, come of age during a High, spend midlife in an Awakening, and old age in an Unravelling. The youngest children today are a part of this generation. They're variously titled the New Silent Generation, or Information Generation. For a vague idea of what they have to look forward to, the last Artists were the Silent Generation (born 1925-1942), some of whom fought in World War II even though they weren't technically old enough to do so; others were just kids during the war, like my grandparents. In England they were called the Air Raid Generation. They were considered "silent" because they were caught between the GI's/"Greatest Generation," and the "world-changing" Boomers. They generally suffered through war and depression as youngins, making them more sensitive, hence "artists." They tended to be a bit more okay with the 1960s than the stuffy GIs, but still not a real part of it like the Boomers.

If the cycle continues to hold, the next 15 years or so should see the playing out of a major secular upheaval, followed then by about 20 years of peace and prosperity, and finally a new spiritual awakening after that.

More thoughts later...

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