The problem isn`t that our society doesn`t support
entrepreneurship---it absolutely does! (At least for a while longer,
depending on Congress.)
No, it`s that we`re not expecting much from our children. Interestingly
enough, based on this book I`ve just read (The Fourth Turning), this
support or lack of support for ideals and independence is cyclical. It
happens on a generational basis.
We`ve just come through what the authors call an "unraveling" cycle,
each of these lasting about 20 years. Following the unraveling comes a
crisis, also lasting about 20 years. The last one was the WWII crisis,
and these types of events change the world.
During the crisis they`ve been dealing with war and shortages (crisis), then busy rebuilding
everything (post-crisis). That creates an economic boom---a "high." It`s in the next cycle that things become
interesting, as with the Boomer generation.
After a crisis, the society just wants peace, family, and enjoyment of
life. They rebuild institutions and infrastructure, usually creating an
economic boom. The children born as this cycle moves along, create an
"Awakening." They`re raised in a boom, with abundance and no worries.
They`re encouraged to reach beyond the mundane, explore ideals and
spirituality, and they develop a strong sense of entrepreneurial spirit.
As young adults, they revolt against the staid older "hero" generation,
tearing down the institutions and seeing a focus on the mundane. They
push their ideals forward, then grow older. Taking power, they realize
there isn`t anything left, since they tore it all down. At that point,
they start businesses, and begin to see that gradual ending of the
great economic boom times.
The generation following the Boomers is a "nomad" generation. Raised
under egocentric parents, they`ve been left to grow up on their
own---the latchkey kids and survivors of abortion and divorce. This
"Gen-X" or more properly, "13th" generation has no particular loyalty,
sees the economy as passing them by, and looks toward themselves and
small groups to accomplish survival.
Right now, entering the Crisis (2005-2025), the oldest "hero"
generation is mostly dead. The "silent" generation (50s) is in power
but leaving. The boomers are just now taking control of the future
(middle age, managing gov`t.), and the 13ers are coming of age. The
youngest children being born in the 90s and now are the next "hero"
generation, who will fight the wars of the crisis.
Everyone is exhausted. We`ve just had the unraveling, and old people
just want to retire and enjoy the money they gained during the economic
high. Middle age boomers are tired of idealistic arguments and lost
kids, and want to refocus education on bringing society back to values.
The 13ers are old enough to understand that they`re tired of doing
whatever they please, and want a basic, simple family life with enough
money to live comfortably. So ALL five generations are in
alignment---they just want some peace and quiet, but see that the
institutions and government have failed.
The result is a society-wide re-focus on family groups and
neighborhoods, coming together in an adversarial position against an
increasingly intrusive government (still run to a large extent by
"silent" generation people). They no longer believe they`ll be
wealthier than their parents, and often are being given money from
those older parents who feel guilty.
There`s a general negativity in the air, as people become more
pessimistic and see no solutions to overwhelmingly complex social
problems. Like the autumn of the seasons, the fruits of 60 years have
been harvested, and now things begin to brown and die out. It prepares
the ground for the cold of the winter and the next crisis.
That clears everything out, brings many new solutions, and pulls all of
society together again. There`s a new community, a "we can do this"
atmosphere, and a solid focus on winning. All the entrepreneurial
effort taking place prior to the crisis, then comes into focus and the
society moves forward into the next economic "high" period.
It`s a fascinating book, although the first half is pretty dry. I only
wish they`d used types of music to better highlight which generation
they were talking about at any given moment. :-) To the best of my
understanding it works out to:
- Eldest prophets - WWII "hero" generation -- 40s big band music, and swing.
- Old artists - Silent "artist" generation, too young for the war,
too old to be kids -- 50s rock, folk music -- the "civil rights"
generation, now at the highest levels of power. This generation is the
guilt-ridden beneficiaries of the post-war boom, and believes in
transfer of wealth.
- Middle-age prophets -- Baby Boomers -- 60s hard rock, college
riots, talk about ideals a lot but don`t usually do much about them.
Self-centered, inward directed, seeking a spiritual awakening.
adult nomads -- 13ers (Gen-X), 70-80s grunge and techno rock -- lost
and raised on their own, pragmatic and working enough to solve a
problem, the moving on.
- Children - Millenials, the new "hero" generation who will form a
great team, come together and fight a win-or-lose war, without any
question about the outcome.