Generation Watch

Generation Watch
News and Views of America's Living Generations


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Monday, September 17, 2007

Final post. I've decided I'm done with this blog. If anyone even bothers to read it any more it probably comes as no surprise to them since this is only the second post of 2007. After five years I'm just out of steam.

I encourage people who are interested in generations and history to join in the discussions at the Fourth Turning forums. Or check out the links in the blogroll in the sidebar to the right.

It was fun while it lasted but it's time to move on. Thanks to everyone who visited and sent me email comments.

Posted by Steve at 8:19 PM

Thursday, March 01, 2007

My favorite blogger calls them "Millennials." Thomas P. M. Barnett, the grand strategist who is my favorite person to read on the Internet, refers to the rising generation as "Millennials" in an interview with Hugh Hewitt. He sees them as more connected and willing to sacrifice for larger goals than other generations, and also doubts their receptiveness to Boomers' political messages.

Posted by Steve at 5:53 PM

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A brilliant Strauss & Howe post. From Sara Robinson, on the blog Orcinus. A must read if you're a Strauss & Howe junkie.

Posted by Steve at 5:51 PM

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Leadership page update. I finally got around to updating the current leadership page on the LifeCourse leadership project. It was woefully out of date, with the old Supreme Court still displayed. I updated the justices and the governors. Still left to do: the more arduous task of making sure Congress is up to date.

Of course, what we really want to know is what's in store come November and the elections. There are so many House and Senate seats and governor's mansions at stake. What generational share of leadership shifts will take place?

Posted by Steve at 3:46 PM

Friday, August 25, 2006

The immigration "crisis" in generational terms. Whenever you read about some politician proposing or instituting laws to crack down on illegal immigrants, you can be sure he or she is a middle aged Boomer, such as the mayor of this Pennsylvania town. And who can blame him for enacting such a harsh law, if he has crack dealers and gang shoot-outs plaguing his town? Though who have to wonder about a mentality that gloats that business is down 75% in Mexican restaurants.

The ones bearing the brunt of these laws will be Gen-X opportunists, both the criminally minded illegals and the nicer sorts who are really doing the community a favor by moving in and boosting the economy. And the ones who speak out in protest tend to be the young Millennials, as they suffer the most familial disruption, having grown up with the status quo that was friendlier to their family's way of life.

Posted by Steve at 6:23 PM

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More old timey blogs. When recounting the sites at the ageless project, I find that the number of sites by members of the older generations has increased substantially. There are now seven (7!) coming from the G.I. generation. You gotta love an octogenarian linking to YouTube. Go, Internet!

Posted by Steve at 6:23 PM

Monday, July 31, 2006

Strauss and Howe resources. I put together a diagram of the four turnings, with descriptive phrases, all of which are taken from the book The Fourth Turning. I ended up creating a handy reference chart.

Another great Strauss & Howe resource is Mike Alexander's Model for the Saeculum. What makes Mike's site so cool is that he has actually done considerable research using statistical data (crime stats, for example) to test the predictions of the S&H model. He also offers some interesting theories of his own to elaborate on cycles in history.

Jim Goulding has a web site based in part on Strauss & Howe's generatons work which emphasizes economics. He features a number of downloadable Excel workbooks, including an index of the book The Fourth Turning.

Finally, there's the web site Generational Dynamics, coming from John J. Xenakis. John really understands generational issues and has some very compelling insights on his site and blog, but I have to disagree with one of his fundamental premises - that we're headed for a "clash of civilizations"-type great war in the next generation. Despite my recent post worrying about the Iran situation, I just don't see WWIII around the corner.

I recommend all of these sites and hope they further your quest to understand generations and cycles of history.

Posted by Steve at 2:18 PM

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Still waiting for things to really get grim in the Middle East. Seriously. Historian David Kaiser has a post on his blog, pointing out the irreconcilable differences between two generations of Arabs and Israelis. We're talking about the war in Lebanon here, but that war is really a front for Iran, free to play hegemonic power games with the U.S. bogged down in Iraq. So the really dangerous irreconcilable difference is the one that may emerge once the United States' Boomer leadership is fully in charge and calls the Iranians to task.

Or think about it this way: recall that World War I was fought with the goal of dismantling empires and, in President Woodrow Wilson's words, making the world "safe for Democracy." His goals were not far removed from those of our current president. As awful as the carnage was in WWI, it was kept primarily on the battle lines. But in the next war (WWII) the enemy was presented with the ultimatum of unconditional surrender, which the American public accepted as a necessary evil, and consequently millions of civilians perished.

Posted by Steve at 9:43 PM

Saturday, July 01, 2006

What a joke. The only commentary you'll ever need on the political scene in the United States of America today comes from those very funny guys on Comedy Central. You know the ones - Jon Stewart on The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report. These two Gen-Xers skewer the older generations who run the show in D.C., mocking up video clips of them making idiots of themselves, and having a grand old time of it.

What these guys are doing - you're missing out if you don't watch their shows - is chronicling the last days of the Silent-generation led government in power. It's so easy to make fun of because it really is completely washed up and incapable of accomplishing anything meaningful. The old guard just futzes about and lets the Boomers rant on about moralistc "issues" like gay marriage, video games, and flag-burning. Meanwhile, real issues like mounting public debt and crafting working War on Terror policies are ignored or treated timidly with "non-binding resolutions."

As for the "serious news" shows on other TV channels, I think they're reporting on Star Jones and Barbara Walters cat-fighting, and on George Bush's love affair with the soon-to-retire Japanese Prime Minister. Oh, and whether or not Jon Stewart is a threat to Democracy.

I repeat: what a joke.

Posted by Steve at 7:43 PM

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sex farms for prison guards. A recent news story about a prison shootout exposed a sad and shocking aspect of the United States' vast penal system - that many female inmates, even juveniles as young as 13, are prostitutes to corrupt guards. Of course, this is really no surprise as this country has long been in the habit of crimininalizing and warehousing Gen-Xers and then not caring about them afterwards, so that it is now the developed nation with the greatest proportion of its citizens behind bars - a dubious distinction for the "Land of the Free."

Ex-Inmates Say Prison Sex Abuse Rampant

But now that Millennials are rising into young adulthood, this corruption is finally getting the attention it deserves. And while we're on the subject, is it any wonder something like Abu Ghraib could happen, given that our penal system is a country-wide sex abuse nightmare? If we're going to be exporting freedom and justice to far-flung places, we could use a lot more here at home.

Posted by Steve at 6:09 PM

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Ytt discussion well worth a listen. Phil Mariage sent me this email:

Hi Steve,
Just wanted to let you know that we aired this Tuesday a very good generational discussion on Pornography. My guests were authors -Dr. Joseph Slade - older generation - 'Pornography and Sexual Representation, 3 Vols. Jan La Rue - middle generation, Protecting Your Child in an X-Rated World and Ben Shapiro - Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future. The podcast is available at just click on Podcasts and then Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow. I think many of your site watchers might enjoy this program.

Phil Mariage
Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Phil's show is unique on radio for bringing different generational perspectives together, so it was definitely great to hear from him. The podcast, as well as past podcasts, is available at-

The related topic on the Fourth Turning discussion, mentioned in the podcast, is at-

Posted by Steve at 3:54 PM

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

More generations. For some good generations blogging, check out Generations in Conversation, from Duncan Macleod, a prolific online journalist who is also a minister living in Australia. He concentrates on spiritual and cultural topics with respect to generations, which makes his blog a nice complement to mine, since I tend to obsess on politics and war.

Posted by Steve at 6:21 PM

Saturday, June 17, 2006

House debate is as much generational as it is partisan. I watched part of the House debate on the war resolution and was struck by the generational divide across political sides. It was basically Democrats from the Silent generation objecting to the madness, their primary stand-in being Pennsylvania Congressman Jack Murtha, who gets the pile-on from a bunch of Team America Boomer and Gen-X Republicans standing up for freedom and the never-ending battle against Islamic extermism. I didn't hear any young Democrat voice an opinion.

Clearly the Bush administration has thrust American foreign policy in the direction of a major paradigm shift, which is essentially what this generation gap is about - the old guard is resistant. And that's not saying they're unwise to be so; paleoconservatives like Pat Buchanan make excellent arguments against U.S. interventionism. But as long as the younger generation speaks up on this issue through one party exclusively, the issue will be framed as that party sees fit, as the 256-153 "pro-war" vote indicates.

Posted by Steve at 6:25 PM

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Enron: The Ultimate 3T Story. For a good lesson in how a generational constellation can achieve an extreme of behavior which is ultimately dysfunctional, watch Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.

This movie demonstrates how the rise of the company and its malfeasances – both how it took advantage of deregulation to game the marketplace and how it used fraud to prop up stock prices – were enabled by the Third Turning generational constellation. It focuses on three individuals in particular: Andrew Fastow, the Gen-Xer who cooked the books, Jeff Skilling, the Boomer executive whose inventive practices justified the company's schemes, and Silent CEO Ken Lay, who gave the firm its veneer of respectability.

You also get a good look at the Gen-X traders, the workhorses who shamelessly manipulated energy prices. Jeff Skilling's idea of accounting for "hypothetical future value" to reward an idea immediately, because otherwise different people unfairly get the credit further down the development cycle, is very selfishly fitting for the Boomer generation and the era.

All in all, this documentary movie is an excellent lesson in how the generational constellation in the 3T directs energy at enriching the few (execs making mega-millions, traders retiring young) at the expense of the many (Californians suffering rolling blackouts for no reason other than Enron’s manipulative schemes).

Posted by Steve at 4:19 PM

Monday, June 05, 2006

The pragmatic visionary. It was nice to be mentioned on the blog of Thomas P. M. Barnett, a strategic planner with a vision of how our world can evolve in the next generation so that globalization continues to advance and benefit more of the planet's people, without a repeat of the disaster that derailed the process back in the era of the World Wars.

You see, there are many people who read Strauss and Howe's generational works, especially their prediction of a cycle culminating in a transformative Crisis Era, and assume that means we're doomed to face an impending "clash of civilizations" type Great Power war - which is just not an accurate interpretation of the theory.

What Strauss and Howe say is that at the end of the generational cycle there is a transformation of the civic order, an age of institutional reform which reshapes the outer world (just as the Awakening Era reshaped the inner world). This process will always be messy and painful, but it won't look the same each time it happens - not considering how military realities change and political and economic systems evolve with time. Tom Barnett's strategic vision, outlined in his book The Pentagon's New Map, and further developed in the sequel and of course on his excellent weblog, explains how institutions can evolve in our future to extend globalization's reach - no doomsday required!

Posted by Steve at 5:54 PM

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Like news? Then visit Ypulse, a web site dedicated to media for the next generation. Published by Anastasia Goodstein, she and the rest of the site's staff do a much better job than I ever do of keeping up with everything out there on the web related to the Millennials/Generation Y.

Posted by Steve at 2:34 PM

Lots of new links up. Recently I've had a chance to update the generations news links at LifeCourse, so check them out if you haven't been by lately. There are many articles featuring authors William Strauss and Neil Howe (wherever you see a gold circle) plus some interesting reporting on generations and recent events, such as the NSA spying controversy.

Posted by Steve at 1:41 PM

Monday, May 08, 2006

Who's got immigration reform? In all the controversial blogging and punditry over immigration reform - writing done by native born geeks, who apparently have lots of free time on their hands, since they can't be bothered to find work rebuilding New Orleans or picking strawberries and lettuce - I haven't noticed any comments on the generational make-up of our heroic lawmakers.

The House bill that really brought this issue to a head is HR4437, from F. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. Sensenbrenner is a Boomer and is behind a plethora of over the top law and order legislation; he is a real zealous type who frightens so many people there is a web site dedicated to paranoia about his politics. His bill means to clamp down on illegal immigraton without caring much for the consequences to the 5, 7, 11 or 12 million illegal aliens said to be residing here currently. Like so many from his generation, Sensenbrenner, or "Senselessbrenner" as some call him, is myopically focused on his mission (creating a police state, I believe) without concern for the bigger picture.

The Senatorial compromise meant to cool this overheated legislation down comes from John McCain of Arizona and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. They are both members of the Silent generation - the generation famous for Civil Rights. They have both been stressing that their bill won't offer amnesty - we've come a long way since the 80s - but they do offer a path to citizenship, showing they have more consideration for human rights than their younger counterpart in the House. But their legislation also has the required punishments and security measures that are demanded by the spirit of the age. Again, McCain and Kennedy belong to a generation known for its ability to compromise.

Posted by Steve at 10:12 PM

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Blogs - a 3T flash in the pan. I like this little piece from Matt Welch, where he says that all that's happened in the world of blogs this decade is that the partisan war of ideas has gotten worse. Blogs make it easier to isolate yourself in your own little opinion bubble, and have failed to live up to any potential to be a source of "grassroots fact-checking" or "cross-partisan critical thinking" or whatever.

I've tried to keep my blog generationally themed, though the reader is free to assume whatever partisan bias he or she wishes (but do read Matt's article).

Posted by Steve at 6:40 PM

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Our crusading leader. This blog has spent considerable effort pondering the question of what's happened these past few years in America in terms of social change. In the parlance of Strauss and Howe generational theory, have we or haven't we transitioned from the fragmented Third Turning to the gathering storm of the Fourth Turning? The dark and fearful mood of the nation suggests that we have, as does the vigor with which we pursue a clampdown on perceived threats in culture (e.g. violent video games) and community (e.g. illegal immigrants). But other factors suggest otherwise, such as paralysis in government, and the apparently insane continuation of debt deferment from decades past, as though there would never be a reckoning. Let's get our great-great-grandchildren to pay for the next war!

One interesting interpretation of the social mood is that the partisan split has actually sent one political camp across the divide while the other has remained behind. In this view, the conservative Republican-types accepted the challenge of 9/11, and opted for total war against the Evildoers - in other words, they went into 4T mode. But those darn liberal Democrats wouldn't play along, and stayed in 3T mode, refusing to get behind the president and the war.

But now Bush is starting to lose the support of conservatives, and the basic reason is that his message is muddled - he wants the 4T total war against the terrorists, but he also tries to sell a 3T message of free trade and open borders. He's really turned out to be in 3T mode, pursuing a partisan agenda.

Well, veteran historian Kevin Philips is mincing no words. In this Washinton Post column, he argues that the Bush-led Republican party has become an alliance of corporate interests (mainly oil-industry and financial-industry) and the religious right. And that afore-mentioned partisan agenda would be apocalyptic war in the Middle East, whatever benefits Corporate America, plus keeping science from being taught in school.

Philips is a member of the Silent generation, a generation which has long played the role of tempering the worst instincts of the Boomers, Bush's generation. In this case, he has some dire warnings about what the Boomers have done to the GOP.

Posted by Steve at 7:24 PM

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A whole army out there. Last weekend saw some real generational drama when, according to news reports, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to stand up for their right to continue living and working in America. These pro-immigrant marches were instigated by Spanish-language radio in major cities, so this could fall into the category of older generations using youth energy to fight their culture war battles, at least in those cases where the protesters were young people. But really, considering how high the turnouts were, this should be considered be the first activism from the Millennial generation in response to a threat to their economic well-being. And what is that threat? Zealous lawmaking from a reactionary Boomer Congress!

Posted by Steve at 5:55 PM

Monday, March 27, 2006

Militant culture wars. This past weekend saw how older generations will use the Millennial generation, today's teens, as pawns in their kulturkampf, when an Evangelical group gathered a veritable host of youth in the heart of Progressive America, San Francisco. Not unexpectedly, this created some friction. Check out these two blog posts, one from the left and one from the right, to see how this all about the culture warriors using kids as tools against one another.

Posted by Steve at 12:39 PM

Current ages of the living generations
Lost 106+
G.I. 82-106
Silent 64-82
Boomer 46-64
Gen-X 25-46
Millennial ?-25
Homeland ?

Millennial Saeculum
High 1946-1964
Awakening 1964-1984
Unraveling 1984-?
Crisis ?-

the ageless project
the count at the ageless project 8/15/2006

Strauss & Howe Generations Sites



About This Weblog- Generation Watch features commentary by Steve Barrera on America's living generations and their current experience. It has a companion news portal at LifeCourse Associates.

Where noted, background information on generations theory is copyright 1996 Broadway Books. All other content on this web site is copyright 2002-2007 Generation Watch and Steve Barrera. All rights reserved.