#168 - Long Cycles of History

I've been reading The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe lately and let's just say studying history is not for the faint of heart. Also, if you are having trouble sleeping, this one will likely do the trick late at night. The themes and ideas are deep enough that you have to invest time and effort to chew on each chapter. If I had to summarize the main theme of the book it would be this:


History runs in cycles, about 80-100 years each, which are broken up into four roughly equal time periods which signify the birth of a new generation with new ideas, values, and behaviors that perpetuate the cycle.


That may seem simple enough, but when you begin unpacking all of the history, causes, effects, and events in that sentence, it is enough to make your brain bleed.


In reading Ray Dalio's The Changing World Order: The New Paradigm he seems to have taken much of his cyclical-shape of history from scholars like Strauss and Howe and explained these long-term cycles through the lens of macroeconomics. Blending the two cycles of history (both Strauss' and Dalio's) we have something that looks broadly like the following:


Major war or conflict >

New beginning / new world order >

Economic boom fueled by spending and creation and credit >

A debt bubble and a wealth gap that builds >

A debt bust >

Printing of money to ease debt burdens >

Internal and external conflicts (a rising external power: China) >

Political and economic restructuring >

Another major conflict


Ray Dalio believes the three biggest issues we face right now are:


1) credit and debt monetization

2) rising internal rifts (gaps between left + right, control vs. freedom)

3) rising external power (China)


which are quite literally the end of an archetypical cycle. In addition, Strauss predicted back in the late 90's that between 2010 and 2030, some interesting historic events would likely take place based on the past cycles of Crisis > Rebirth > Awakening > Tension > Crisis


To see how regular these cycles have occurred over the last 5 centuries, check out this timeline of when each 80-90 year cycle culminated in war:


1530's - 1540's - Reformation (Awakening)

1580's - 1600's - The Armada Crisis (Crisis)

1630's - 1640's - The Puritan Awakening (Awakening)

1680's - 1700's - Glorious Revolution (Crisis)

1740's - 1750's - The Pietist Awakening (Awakening)

1770's - 1780's - American Revolution (Crisis)

1830's - 1840's - The Evangelical-Utopian Awakening (Awakening)

1850's - 1870's - The American Civil War (Crisis)

1890's - 1900's - The Third Great Awakening (Awakening)

1930's - 1940's - WWII (Crisis)

1970's - 1980's - The Consciousness Revolution (Awakening)

2010's - 2020's - GFC > Pandemic > ??? (Crisis?)


So what could be coming? The two risks I see right now are 1) the civil division between the right and left in our country is higher than at any other time since at least 1900 and 2) that China decides to annex Taiwan or some other strategic foothold, and goads the US or other nations into a response. Either of these could lead to a devastating turn of affairs (War or fracture) and quite possibly a new world order.


Or not.


Like I said, studying history is not for the faint of heart.


Links:


How quantum computing will change everything (Chad Rigetti)


A summary of 73 reports' predictions about tech in 2022 (Link)


The Changing World Order: The New Paradigm (Ray Dalio)


2021 Annual Energy Paper (JP Morgan Asset Management)


Jordan Peterson, God, and Christianity with Word on Fire (Jordan Peterson)


Do Well, Do Good - Developing a Billion Dollar Microliving Empire in the Bay Area (Riaz Taplin)


Permanent Equity 2021 Annual Letter