Regular readers are aware of mariner’s belief that, generally, changes in society reach a moment of significant pressure to change every sixty years. The basic pattern that encourages the sixty year cycle is the generational influence in the social framework. For example, each generation grows up learning different values than their parents; the parents in turn learned different values than their parents.
Because of the natural, familial authority structure, grandparents hang on to the world they grew up in, parents manage the humanist influences of day-to-day life and the youngest generation is absorbing a world relatively unknown to the grandparents.
Significant world events can disrupt and force a restart of the sixty year cycle. For example, two world wars, a massive economic depression and, more subtly, the Cold War, prevented normal cycles of change to occur – although in rural America, the sixty year cycle continued primarily because of advances in farm machinery and real estate cycles.
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Mariner was ruminating about society with Guru the other day. It was sixty years ago that the 1960’s occurred. Those alive at the time may remember the following events from that era:
John Kennedy assassinated.
Bobby Kennedy assassinated.
Martin Luther King assassinated.
Four white college students murdered on campus by National Guard.
Racial uprising caused major fires in many larger cities, requiring in Baltimore a permanently posted, armed National Guard soldier at every intersection.
Disruptive rioting at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Rebellion against Vietnam War with protesters burning draft cards and bras and causing a small migration of young people into Canada.
Lyndon Johnson was forced not to run for a second term.
Oh, the memories . . .
The overriding effect of this pressure to change began with new liberal ideas about government and individual rights that began with FDR solutions to the Great Depression. But in the seventies, to regain control of an unruly society, resistance by the oldest generation led to a series of conservative election cycles that shut down liberal change until the emergence of the Millennials at the beginning of this century.
Today, the same generational influences are at play – except this time around there is a fourth, even older generation clinging to authority (Baby Boomers). Despite the overwhelming changes brought about by the Internet, shifting international economies, climate changes and population shifts, governmental authorities are plagued by this extra burden of really old officials remaining in power who are unaware of the new world their grandchildren and great grandchildren are experiencing.
Then along comes the pandemic. The sixty-year model is stopped dead in its tracks. Whatever changes were slowly to be introduced as the oldest generation passed away, suddenly were demanded immediately. A short example: work from home. Another: the political power of social media. Another: Within twenty years, six of the largest cities on America’s coasts will be forced to relocate or constrict real estate economies because of rising seas. But last-cycle politics from the very conservative clog the effort of government to keep up with new demands from society.
It is time for term limits based on age. Bring back the normal Homo sapiens life cycle of three generations of power – sixty years, more or less.
Perhaps it is good that the common citizen must shelter-in while the sixty-year cycle goes to war.