The Burning Platform
by Jim Q
In Part One of this article I explained the model of generational theory as conveyed by Strauss and Howe in The Fourth Turning. In Part Two I provided an overwhelming avalanche of evidence this Crisis has only yet begun, with debt, civic decay and global disorder propelling the world towards the next more violent phase of this Crisis. In Part Three I addressed how the most likely clash on the horizon is between the government and the people. War on multiple fronts will thrust the world through the great gate of history towards an uncertain future.
War on Multiple Fronts
“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
The drumbeats of war are pounding. Sanctions are implemented against any country that dares question American imperialism (Russia, Iran). Overthrow and ignominious imprisonment or death awaits any foreign leader questioning the petrodollar or standing in the way of America spreading democracy (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Egypt). The mega-media complex of six corporations peddle the government issued pabulum about ISIS being an existential threat to our freedoms; Russia being led by the new Hitler and poised to take over Europe; Syria gassing innocent women and children; and Iran only six months away from a nuclear bomb (they’ve been six months away for the last fourteen years). Hollywood does their part with patriotic drivel like American Sniper, designed to compel low IQ unemployed American youths to swell with pride and march down to enlistment centers, located in our plentiful urban ghettos.
The most disconcerting aspect of Fourth Turnings is they have always climaxed with total destructive all-out war. Not wars to enrich arms dealers like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, but incomprehensibly violent, brutal, wars of annihilation. There are clear winners and losers at the conclusion of Fourth Turning wars. Leaders mobilize all forces, refuse to compromise, define their enemies in moral terms, demand sacrifice on the battlefield and home front, build the most destructive weapons imaginable, and employ those weapons to obtain victory at any cost.
It may seem inconceivable that war on such a scale will happen within the next ten years, but it was equally inconceivable in 1936 that 65 million people would die in the next ten years during World War II. We valued all the wrong things and made all the wrong choices leading up to this Crisis and during the early stages of this Crisis. The accumulation of unmet obligations, unpaid bills, un-kept promises and unresolved issues will provide the fuel for an upheaval that will shake our society to its core and transforms the country’s direction for the next sixty years. The outcome of the conflict could be tragedy or triumph. Our choices will make a difference.
There will be war on many fronts, and they have already begun. The culmination will likely be World War III, with the outcome highly uncertain and potentially disastrous.
With the world awash in sovereign debt, as governments have over-promised welfare benefits, every country is attempting to debase their currency in order to make their debt load bearable. There is one problem with this approach. If every country is implementing the same strategy, it becomes a race to the bottom. Japan is leading the race and is the most likely candidate to cause a catastrophic collapse in the global financial system. The EU and their negative interest rate strategy is crushing the Euro, but not addressing the solvency issue at the heart of the bank-centric European mad experiment.
The depression engulfing Japan, the recession overwhelming Europe, and the rapidly deflating Chinese mal-investment bubbles have dramatically reduced demand for oil, copper, and iron ore. The collapse in demand for oil has caused the currencies of Russia, Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil to plunge. Argentina, Turkey and the Ukraine risk hyperinflation, as their economies are basket cases. The result of rapidly declining currencies is more pain and suffering for the middle and lower classes. As prices rise for food, energy and essentials, the peasants get restless. This leads to anger, extremist parties gaining traction, and ultimately revolution.
Since the end of World War II, the U.S. dollar has been the currency in which all world trade has been conducted. The global oil trade has been settled in dollars. American economic warfare aggression against Russia, China, Iran, and other developing countries has pushed them into closer economic cooperation. The dollar’s domination days are numbered. The current strength of the dollar is only a reflection of the U.S. being the best looking horse in the glue factory. The U.S. economy is the least worst, but will not be de-coupling from the global downturn. The movement of physical gold from West to East is a reflection of a shift in power. U.S. mega-corporations, who get half their profits overseas, face the double whammy of slowing demand and a stronger dollar. The combination will crush their profits and contribute to the coming stock market crash. When Greece exits the EU, the currency wars may lead to real war in Europe.
As Warren Buffett admitted in an oligarch momentary lapse into truthiness:
“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” – Warren Buffett
The meme driving the OWS protests was the 1% versus the 99%. The comparison is misleading. The 1% includes many small business owners, productive professionals, successful physicians, and hard-working entrepreneurs. The true class war is between the .1% and the 99.9%. There is a small clique of bankers, billionaires, corporate CEOs, media moguls, politicians, and their acolytes who represent the Deep State, or invisible government, and control the mechanisms of financial markets through their capture of the system. There is absolutely no question they are winning. It’s hard not to win when the game is rigged in your favor by your fellow .1% cronies. The markets are no longer free. They are manipulated and rigged to benefit the .1% at everyone else’s expense. The wealth of the richest has skyrocketed while the wealth of the rest has fallen since 2009. Real median household income languishing at 1989 levels proves they have been the losers. The next financial collapse initiated by the policies designed to benefit the .1% will push class warfare into the streets. Gated communities and doormen will not save the .1% from the wrath of their victims.
A particular dicey war is the war between the older generations and younger generations. In past Fourth Turnings the prophet generation (Boomers) has provided leadership for the hero generation (Millennials). The tension between older and younger generations is palpable. Older generations have accumulated wealth during the good times. The Boomers who didn’t save for their retirement refuse to yield the field and allow Millennials into the workforce. Millions of delusional Boomers utilized the easy debt provided by the bankers to live for today and never save for tomorrow. Well tomorrow is here. The older generations are still going to receive all the social benefits they were promised, while younger generations will get stiffed. They know they are going to get screwed and are unlikely to take the screwing lying down.
It’s the older generations who control the levers of society. The aged ruling class has doled out the hundreds of billions in student loan debt and convinced Millennials College was a sure path to success and good jobs. Working as a french fry jockey at McDonalds doesn’t make the grade as a good job. Young people without jobs and without hope are a particularly combustible concoction. If there is revolution in the streets it won’t be led by obese Boomers on their motorized scooters. The barricades will be manned by the young. Confrontation with the police state may be initiated by Gen Xers and Boomers, but the fighting and dying will be done by the Millennials.
The war on terrorism, like the wars on drugs and poverty, is unwinnable. They aren’t meant to be won. They are meant to enrich the vested interests, expand their control over our lives, erode our liberties and freedoms, and provoke fear and dependency among the masses. The terrorist plots concocted by the government, using clueless dupes, and then foiled by the DHS agencies that created them are nothing but a ruse to rile up the easily manipulated hoi polloi. The neo-cons want to leave the Middle East a smoking crater in their thirst for blood. The war on terrorism is a cover for hijacking the oil under the ground in the Middle East. ISIS is now Satan, Hitler, and Attila the Hun rolled into one, even though they didn’t exist a year ago. They are the existential threat of the day – the excuse for U.S. troops and armaments to flow back into Iraq. The military industrial complex profits will surge. Despite the fact these terrorists are no threat to our American way of life, the level of fear mongering amongst the chattering classes in Versailles on the Potomac and on the entertainment news networks is at hyperbolic volumes.
Chris Hedges explains the current propaganda storyline as espoused by the Deep State:
“This sentimentality, as Baldwin wrote, masks a terrifying numbness. [The War Culture] fosters an unchecked narcissism. Facts and historical truths, when they do not fit into the mythic vision of the nation and the tribe, are discarded. Dissent becomes treason. All opponents are godless and subhuman… It holds up the dangerous belief that we can recover our equilibrium and our lost glory by embracing an American fascism.” – Chris Hedges
Somebody needs to inform the neo-cons they don’t hate us for our freedoms. They hate us for occupying their lands, reigning terror on their people from unmanned killer drones, invading their countries, interfering in their political processes, and stealing their oil. Islam is most certainly a religion of hate and there will be no reconciliation between Christians, Muslims and Jews. The Middle East will remain a quagmire of hatred, centuries old animosities, religious extremism, despotic leaders, and oil. Terrorism does not pose an existential threat to the United States. It’s laughable to conclude that a country of 320 million, protected by vast oceans, with a trillion dollar military and 300 million guns distributed amongst its population, is actually threatened by a few thousand illiterate religious zealots in the Middle East.
Terrorism is a tactic used by militant groups unable to wage an insurgency or fight a conventional war. The purpose is to lure a larger enemy into an outsized response, resulting in bleeding and bankrupting the larger foe. Osama bin Laden succeeded beyond his wildest expectations, as the U.S. has wasted $6 trillion thus far, along with the lives of 7,000 Americans and 50,000 wounded. The terrorists have already won. They have put our country on the path to bankruptcy, while convincing our leaders to strip the citizens of their liberties, freedoms, and rights. And there are now more militants and terrorists than existed in 2001, in countries that didn’t have terrorists in 2001. The Middle East is a powder-keg which could be the catalyst for the start of World War III.
A cyber war has been being waged against the American people and foreign allies by the NSA for the last decade. The technology addicted masses are completely oblivious to their loss of privacy and freedom. They don’t know or don’t care their rights under the Fourth Amendment are being abridged. You are being tracked and monitored through your electronic devices. Your TV is recording your conversations. The U.S. has been waging cyber war against enemies and allies alike. The U.S. unleashed the Stuxnet computer virus into the Iranian nuclear program computers to set back their efforts by years. That was an act of war. It is now comical to see the governmental outrage when foreign nations and hacker organizations break into government computers and wreak havoc. In cyber war, the playing field is fairly even. Even North Korea can create problems for a superpower. Obama and his acolytes should duly note that Wall Street hired hundreds of Russian computer programmers because they seem to have a penchant for writing code. I’m sure Putin realizes that too.
Hackers have already caused billions in damage to retailers like Target, Home Depot, Staples, Sears, and Neiman Marcus. Over 1,000 merchants have had their computer networks breached. Hackers could potentially bring the financial system to its knees with a few keystrokes. Foreign governments have their smartest tech geeks probing U.S. computer networks for weaknesses and will act on these weaknesses when they feel it is beneficial to their interests. Technology will not save the world, but it might play a part in ending it. All the military firepower at the American Empire’s disposal may be nothing more than our Maginot Line during the next worldwide conflict. If satellites and computer systems can be disabled through computer code, leaders will be blind, deaf and dumb to threats. This would ratchet up the odds of someone panicking and pushing the wrong button at the wrong time. The future of the world may hang in the balance.
It appears this Fourth Turning’s primary driving force will be the internal conflict between government and the people. To linear thinkers, self-proclaimed progressives, corrupt politicians, obedient government workers, and those dependent upon the government for their sustenance, the thought of civil war in the United States is inconceivable. Civil uprisings generally occur after currency collapse when mass hunger and poverty overtake the land. A breakdown in the electronic based economic system in which store shelves go empty, fuel becomes scarce, and the electronic transfer of welfare benefits ceases would create mass chaos in the streets. With our just in time supply chain, a grid failure or breakdown of electronic ordering, payment and communication would bring the nation to its knees within one week. Millions would perish within a few weeks. The government would attempt to utilize the military and national guard to maintain order. With their families also starving and no means of getting paid, will they be obeying the orders of a government that caused the collapse?
The other possibility is secession. It’s been tried before and the conflict was bloody and earth shattering. There really are two Americas. The east and west coasts are dominated by the liberal elite who look down upon the rest of the country. The .1% mostly resides in their gated enclaves, penthouse suites, and luxury beachfront mansions. They have nothing but contempt and disdain for the average American, living in Middle America or the South. The feeling is mutual amongst the working class towards the liberal elites. Most of the 300 million guns are concentrated in the Midwest and South. As trust in government and institutions wanes, the issue of states’ rights is likely to gain traction amongst a large swath of the critical thinking citizenry. The animosity between factions in this country is at historic levels. Again, civil war, secession, and the nation breaking into sectional regions of common interests are unlikely to occur until the existing social order collapses under the weight of un-payable obligations. That time is coming.
Every previous Fourth Turning climax coincided with total war on a grand scale. Each Fourth Turning war has seen a leap in the technological means of killing human beings. We put a lot of effort and resources into finding better ways to annihilate humanity. The Civil War saw 5% of the male population killed. World War II saw 65 million people killed. How many will die during this Fourth Turning total war of survival? Fourth Turning wars are decisive, final and fought with all necessary means until final victory or defeat, not like Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan. World War I was savage and brutal, but it was not decisive. It left issues unresolved and its Treaty of Versailles created the basis for World War II. The technological means to put an end to mankind is at the disposal of leaders in a number of nation-states. It would only take one psychopathic despot or elected president of immense ego and self-importance to initiate the doomsday clock. It appears these qualities are now essential to governing a modern day nation. Someone will do something stupid, and then all hell will break loose.
Anyone who doesn’t comprehend the implications of alliances being formed and broken by countries around the globe is either choosing the ostrich strategy or is ignorant of history and the events leading to wars. A thorough reading of The Guns of August may be helpful. The world is like a room full of gunpowder and the sociopaths running the show keep lighting matches. Someone is going to miscalculate and the place is going to blow sky high. The insolvent EU is splintering. The northern countries despise the southern countries. Greece, Spain and Italy are all economic basket cases and their exits will mark the end of this grand experiment in debt delusion. Once the bad debts crash down upon the European banks and governments, the anger, bitterness, accusations and violence will reach epic proportions. This could trigger war, as extremist political parties gain traction. The economic suffering in the 1920’s led to the rise of Mussolini and Hitler. Hunger leads the peasants to rally behind any strong leader.
The Ukrainian civil war, crafted by the U.S. and its weak kneed NATO allies, has been the facilitator of a shift in world alliances. The U.S. has made a blundering attempt to teach Putin a lesson for interfering in their Syrian pipeline uprising against Assad and encouraging the Crimea to rejoin Russia. By attempting to position NATO armaments on Russia’s border they have triggered centuries old fears of being invaded by European powers. Russia will stop the U.S. plan at all costs, and the Russian supported rebels have soundly defeated the Kiev Nazi forces in eastern Ukraine. The U.S. backed forces have slaughtered women and children randomly as they blunder about in eastern Ukraine. The latest cease fire will not hold. Germany and France are coming to their senses and starting to look out for their best interests, rather than the interests of the American Empire. A shattering of the NATO alliance would be an earth moving event and would set the stage for further conflict in Europe. Enemies are interchangeable when you are an imperial power.
The world has begun to devolve into two distinct factions. The imperialist actions of the American Empire in the Middle East and Ukraine have pushed Russia, China, India, Brazil, and Iran closer together regarding trade deals; transacting commerce without using the USD; oil and gas pipelines; and military cooperation. If there is going to be total war in the next dozen or so years, it most surely would be the United States versus an alliance of Russia and China. Japan is experiencing Chinese saber rattling over disputed islands. Russia continuously probes NATO defenses with aggressive actions. It is clear the U.S. has decided Vladimir Putin and Russia is world enemy #1 and are using all their economic and propaganda tools to de-claw the bear. Failure to make Putin bow to American pressure will raise his stature at home and abroad.
China’s domestic, economic and social issues continue to worsen. They are in the midst of experiencing an epic bust after a debt fueled explosion of government manufactured growth. Their fraudulent economic boom is coming to a messy end. Totalitarian regimes are known for using foreign threats to distract the populace from domestic suffering. As a matter of fact, all regimes use this tactic. When the global economy rips apart at the seams due to the debt saturation, world leaders will attempt to blame other countries for their dire circumstances. Foreign enemies are good for business. Ask our Nobel Peace Prize winning President. War is inevitable.
Strauss & Howe pose four potential culminations to our current Crisis, only one of which offers hope. There may be other possibilities, but probably not. The outcome which will not happen is just a continuation of the status quo, with the same corrupt leadership using the same debt based solutions, as they enrich themselves and their cronies. The existing social order will be replaced by something new, but not necessarily better, if there is anything left after a war that could end in Armageddon:
- This Fourth Turning could mark the end of man. It could be an omnicidal Armageddon, destroying everything, leaving nothing. If mankind ever extinguishes itself, this will probably happen when its dominant civilization triggers a Fourth Turning that ends horribly. For this Fourth Turning to put an end to all this would require an extremely unlikely blend of social disaster, human malevolence, technological perfection and bad luck.
- The Fourth Turning could mark the end of modernity. The Western saecular rhythm – which began in the mid-fifteenth century with the Renaissance – could come to an abrupt terminus. The seventh modern saeculum would be the last. This too could come from total war, terrible but not final. There could be a complete collapse of science, culture, politics, and society. Such a dire result would probably happen only when a dominant nation (like today’s America) lets a Fourth Turning ekpyrosis engulf the planet. But this outcome is well within the reach of foreseeable technology and malevolence.
- The Fourth Turning could spare modernity but mark the end of our nation. It could close the book on the political constitution, popular culture, and moral standing that the word America has come to signify. The nation has endured for three saecula; Rome lasted twelve, the Soviet Union only one. Fourth Turnings are critical thresholds for national survival. Each of the last three American Crises produced moments of extreme danger: In the Revolution, the very birth of the republic hung by a thread in more than one battle. In the Civil War, the union barely survived a four-year slaughter that in its own time was regarded as the most lethal war in history. In World War II, the nation destroyed an enemy of democracy that for a time was winning; had the enemy won, America might have itself been destroyed. In all likelihood, the next Crisis will present the nation with a threat and a consequence on a similar scale.
- Or the Fourth Turning could simply mark the end of the Millennial Saeculum. Mankind, modernity, and America would all persevere. Afterward, there would be a new mood, a new High, and a new saeculum. America would be reborn. But, reborn, it would not be the same.
I would love to just be an impartial observer during this Fourth Turning, like a sports announcer in a booth far above the field, broadcasting the events as they unfold. But, it is not to be. I’m living in the midst of this Crisis with all the other participants. I’m not happy about the prospect of financial collapse, societal collapse, and war. I have three young sons and refuse to allow them to be used as cannon fodder by the State, in their quest to retain dominion over the American people. I understand the younger generations must do the heavy lifting during this Crisis, but I do not relish the prospect of putting them in harm’s way. It’s not fair they are left with the burdens created by decades of bad choices and cowardly acts of their elders. But no one said life is fair. This generation was born at a particular time in history when much will be required. They have a rendezvous with destiny. None of us has a choice. We can’t sit this one out. The bad times ahead will require courage, fortitude, sacrifice and intelligence, if we are to be triumphant. This Fourth Turning could end in apocalypse or glory. Our decisions and choices will matter. Prepare now.
“Thus might the next Fourth Turning end in apocalypse – or glory. The nation could be ruined, its democracy destroyed, and millions of people scattered or killed. Or America could enter a new golden age, triumphantly applying shared values to improve the human condition. The rhythms of history do not reveal the outcome of the coming Crisis; all they suggest is the timing and dimension.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe