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Neil Howe: Fourth Turning Predictions – August 2020

Because the boomer generation destroyed all foundations.

What happens, ultimately, is populism moves from becoming the outside to the inside. This is why populism and authoritarianism are actually two sides of the same coin. And that goes back historically to the very origin of the term. Who were the first Populares, as we used to call them in Latin. They were the ones that supported Caesar. He was the first dictator. He spelled the end of the Roman Republic, and those who opposed him were the Optimates, the good people, the senators, the elite class, those who deserved to rule.

Well, when a popular party takes over because it’s pushing out all the encrusted elites who used to run things, they need one person to embody their will and run it. You get the logic here. So populism almost needs a single authority figure to give expression to what it wants. And this is why the two have always been linked historically. Ultimately, what happens when populism finally succeeds is it creates this extremely effective, authoritarian government that can actually get things done. And that’s very convenient and it may be very welcome in a crisis.

I think one aspect of the pandemic that I think has been particularly demoralizing for Americans is to realize what a dysfunctional country they’ve become relative to the rest of the world. It has exposed all of our civic vulnerabilities – that we don’t follow laws, that we don’t trust our leaders, that we have no top-down federal power.
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