Saturday, August 02, 2008

Saturday Quiz: What Is The Fourth Turning?

Q: What is The Fourth Turning?
A: A term denoting long-wave generational cycles
: The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe (recommended to me by correspondent Matt S.).

Matt also recently recommended The End of Work by Jeremy Rifkin.

In this challenging report, social activist Rifkin (Biosphere Politics) contends that worldwide unemployment will increase as new computer-based and communications technologies eliminate tens of millions of jobs in the manufacturing, agricultural and service sectors. He traces the devastating impact of automation on blue-collar, retail and wholesale employees, with a chapter devoted to African Americans. While a small elite of corporate managers and knowledge workers reap the benefits of the high-tech global economy, the middle class continues to shrink and the workplace becomes ever more stressful, according to Rifkin.

Other readers have recommended The Evolution of Civilizations by Carroll Quigley.
An excerpt of an reader review:

This is a striking book. When one is past the formative years, it rarely happens that a single book can substantially change one's view of the world. For me the "Evolution of Civilizations" influenced my understanding of history more than anything I've read in many years.

The most important author's contribution to historical analysis is identification of the growth mechanism - "instrument of expansion", which can be quite different in different civilizations. It must include two necessary conditions - generation of surplus output, and its investment in productive economic activities. Later, this "instrument of expansion" becomes institutionalized, when surplus is spent on maintenance of status quo of ruling elites and various vested interests, and a society enters "Age of Conflict".

Can these apparently disparate topics be wound together constructively? Stay tuned.

Thank you, readers, for your many emails--I will be answering each one as I catch up with my large backlog/volume of correspondence. Each one is important to me and I very much appreciate your patience.

Excellent New Readers Journal Essay:

Read all five of this month's superb essays if you missed them

Why the Trend in Oil Is Up (José de Freitas, July 30, 2008)
Although I'd be lying if I said I am certain of which direction the oil price is going, my gut feeling is telling me that it's going up as a general trend, despite brief respites. A few points have not been sufficiently made, and I think Rainer H.'s piece exhibits some of the problems those points would address.

Thank you, Kevin L. ($15), for your much-appreciated donation and encouragement to this site. I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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