Generational Cycles – (Generational) First Principles
Editor | On 28, Jul 2019
Every complex problem has a thousand clear, simple wrong answers. But it also has the potential for a clear, simple correct one provided we understand the first principles from which the complexity emerges. Strauss & Howe’s generation model, empirically based though it may be, offers some clear pointers towards what the ‘first principles’ of societal behaviors emerge from. Sitting right at the heart of their model is the principle of parent-to-child influence. The way your parents raised you, will have an impact on the way you raise your own children. Some parents will look at their upbringing and decide to do more of the same; others will look back and decide to do the opposite. What emerges from this idea is a four-generation oscillation between under- and over- nurture of children.
If we plot this oscillation on a 2×2 matrix, it looks something like this:
In order of the four turnings of the overall cycle:
- During the post-Crisis, ‘High’ quarter-cycle – in the top-left quadrant of the matrix – we have weak Artist generation parents not nurturing their Prophet generation offspring.
- During the second, ‘Awakening’ quarter-cycle (top-right quadrant of the matrix), the Prophets have grown up to be strong, but, like their parents, and in no small part because they are Narcissistic they continue to under-nurture their Nomad generation offspring.
- During the third, Unravelling’ quarter-cycle (bottom-left quadrant), the Nomads have grown up determined not to repeat the under-nurture their parents dished out to them and so become high-nurturers. At the same time, for various reasons, they typically find themselves in a peer-relationship with their offspring. Meaning that, as parents at least, they are weak. Their kids will be Heroes.
- During the fourth, Crisis quarter-cycle (bottom-right quadrant), the Heroes grow up doing even more over-nurturing of their Artist offspring. At the same time, they look back at their peer-relationship relationship with their parents and determine to correct the errors of that decision. So, they become strong parents. Hero-Mum and Hero-Dad are in charge…
…and so the poor old, Suffocated Artists grow up to become weak, low-nurture parents, and the cycle returns unbroken….
…and will continue to do so until the under/over-nurture contradiction gets treated as a contradiction to be solved rather than a pendulum-swinging trade-off to be managed: