Category Archives: history

Join Estonians in Celebrating Independence Day!

Back in February, 1918, the world was quite different. The First World War was not yet over (it was last until November of that year). Meanwhile, the Bolsheviks had just blasted their way to  power after their revolution in October, 1917. Well, they were not totally in power,. They were fighting a civil war with the White Russian forces who were supported from the west.

One month after the bolshevik revolution,  an Estonian “diet” proclaimed that they were sovereign over Estonian territory. But they were quickly forced underground by Russian forces still in Tallinn. Then, those forces pulled out, and on February 24, 1918, the Estonians declared a “provisional government”. A day later, the German army arrived in Tallinn to shut that down. In fact, it was not until the end of the great war in November 1918 that the Estonians were once again able to  organize their own government. This time the Germans who were still hanging around went along with it.

When the Estonians did that, the Soviet Union immediately invaded from the east. That was November, 1918. While the Estonians were desperately trying to organize a fighting force in Tallinn (with considerable help from abroad), the Soviets advanced to within 34 kilometers of Tallinn itself itself. Things looked grim. But behind the scenes, things were coming together.

Image result for Estonian War of Independence

The call to arms had been heard, and young Estonian lads were leaving the farms to take up the rifle for the cause of independence. In January of the new year, reorganized better equipped Estonian forces stopped the red army and began a counter-offensive. Things then moved swiftly.  Narva was re-taken on January 17. By the end of January, Tartu was liberated and Valga as well. The Soviets attacked again in February, but were repulsed at Narva.

Image result for Estonian War of Independence

An Estonian counterattack in March pushed the red army behind the Optjok River, but fighting continued and the front was unstable.

In June 1918, the Estonians encountered a new enemy – the German Landeswehr.  This was a force composed of German army units and Baltic Germans that had been fighting the Soviets. They toppled the Latvian provisional government and moved to try to consolidate power. Fighting broke out with the Estonians and centered on the  Latvian town of Cēsis.After hard fighting, the Estonians took the town and advanced towards Riga.

Around this time, the allies tried to negotiated a resolution of the conflict between the Estonians and Germans in Latvia in order to stop the Soviets. This was achieved. and the Estonians cooperated with the allies, who supported the White Russian forces attempting to take Petrograd up into the autumn of 1919.

To make a long story short, this eventually failed, and the White Russians fell back. The Estonians did not trust them, and when they re-entered Estonia, they were disarmed.  This opened the door for the Estonians to negotiate its peace treaty with the Soviet Union. That was signed on February 2, 1920. Estonia had won its independence through force of arms.

Image result for Tartu peace Treaty

We celebrate this on February 24th each year.! Hoist a glass of A Le Coq or Sake Premium with us!


The World Has Not Ended!

But while the world has not ended, a gorgon may be upon us! Gorgon? Yes, if you are not aware, or do not recall what a gorgon is,

The Gorgons were two monstrous sisters whose bodies were covered with impenetrable, grey, foul-smelling scales, and whose hair was made up of living snakes. And the description just gets worse from there; they had hands made of brass, tusks erupting from the sides of their mouths, sharp venomous snake’s fangs and climbing up on the gross-factor, they both had scraggly, unkempt beards dangling down from their scaly chins. Yep, beards. Hanging out of their mouths were black, lumpy tongues that spoke of death and rot. And just when you thought this vision of pure slimy grossness couldn’t get any nastier, the sisters had slitted, yellow snake’s eyes that could turn any living being into stone just by making eye contact with them. Makes even the worst wake-up-get-ready Monday look pretty good when you think about what the Gorgons had to work with!

The most famous gorgon of course, was Medusa. She had been a beautiful young priestess in a temple dedicated to Athena. But Poseidon fancied her, and being a god, he thought nothing of forcing himself upon her, thus defiling the temple. Athena was furious! Apparently, she felt that the young priestess was to blame for this defilement, and so she turned the young girl into, yes, a gorgon, and deposited her on a deserted island. Indeed, Athena had quite a temper!  Medusa hung out there, gaining quite a nasty reputation for her deadly stare, and for rarely cleaning the place. Later, Perseus  would  find a use for Medusa’s head and so he lopped it off and deposited in a sack that he carried around.









I go through this history to provide some background to Donald Trump’s recent press conference and subsequent tweet. At his press conference, President Trump lost his mind. He thought he was in control. And his obviously misplaced self assurance made things much worse.

What caused this? My own theory is that as he got started, Trump had a vision. The vision was that gorgons were returning to life. They were coming to claim him! They are the press! Looking into their eyes would be the kiss of death. And so, he reasoned, one must deflect and demur, dodge and parry! One cannot be honest! Ever! And with these thoughts foremost in his mind, Trump behaved in a most peculiar manner. Again, he thought he was being clever. He thought that the audience would see that the room was full of gorgons. But to those not aware of his inner torment,  and not aware of the gorgons before him, Trump looked quite mad..

BTW, this is a rather historic moment. Historic because Donald Trump belongs to  s rather historic group of people . Donald Trump belongs to that segment of society who believe that modern capitalism has no dark side. They want  their unlimited energies to be unleashed! There is nothing to fear! There is nothing to fear, especially, when republicans control all levels of government!

As Sir Kenneth Clarke informs us, this energetic attitude was germinated in 17th century Holland, and with the restoration of Charles II to England. it took root there.  Science and poetry had not yet been estranged from each other. European man saw no limits to his scientific, and industrial potential. He was full of curiosity and ambition.  This led to the industrial revolution, and heroic materialism, and eventually to Donald Trump. Donald Trump believes in the ascendancy of this group!

But then suddenly Trump had visions of gorgons besieging him! He lost it during an important press conference. That night, he tweeted that the press is the enemy! He is quite sure that the press are gorgons returned to afflict us all! To ruin the wonders that his brand of crony capitalism could create! We all must be warned!

But there is a deeper level  still to Trump’s thoughts. He is only dimly aware of this deeper level as he stares approvingly in the mirror. The deeper level whispers to him that he was the maiden in Athena’s temple. He has become the gorgon, Medusa. And worst of all, Perseus is coming.

Stay tuned!

Did You Know that the Prince Regent Went Mad?

The regency period in English history (1811 to 1820) is quite extraordinary. It started when old King George III went bonkers. Perhaps it was his disappointment over losing the colonies due to moronic taxation policies. Yes, they were his idea.  Here he is before he went bonkers

Image result for George III

The king was not dead, and there could be no new king, so there was a “regency”, where George III’s son acted in his place. This was not great for the king, as his son hated him and tried to have his doctors hasten his path to the Valhalla- Well, never mind all that. We are focused here on the regent himself.

The prince regent wanted to look like this

Image result for Prince Regent

And when he was a lad, he was rather charming. But things changed.  Later he probably looked more like this

Image result for Prince Regent

He became George Iv when his father died. By that time, his youthful charm was long gone. He had this incredible need to pamper himself which he did at least in part by consuming vast quantities of food and booze. He ended up with a 56 inch waist!

Image result for Prince Regent

This became less amusing to his subjects, who were going without due to the prolonged struggle with Napoleon..  So what happened next?

In the final years of his reign, as his health declined, George IV seemed to be increasingly out of touch with reality. He devoted his time to planning further even more grandiose building projects, none of which were to ever see fruition. He might also talk at length about his imagined exploits at the Battle of Waterloo where his imaginary role became ever greater and more heroic.

Fantasy had conquered reality. Perhaps this is what happens when you rely on fantasy to guide your sense of reality.

George IV is not the first man in power to lose his marbles in an orgy of excess. The Roman Caesars had this routine down pretty well. and you can go 9on from there. And George IV will not likely be the last of his type. Citizen Kane comes to mind. Yes,Mr. Trump, fantasy is dangerous.

Richard at Bosworth Field

I have long been fascinated by the figure of Richard III.

My early interest was triggered by Shakespeare’s portrait of the man – the evil one, the great dissembler and manipulator of men.

Here is Sir Lawrence Olivier showing us the evil smirk of a dastardly man.

Of course, Shakespeare lived in Tuder England — and the Tudor dynasty had come to power by usurping Richard’s throne. So there was a strong incentive to make the usurpation look more like an act of moral necessity than a power play.

Slanting history to this end started immediately after Richard’s death in battle, and continued through the reigns of the usurper, Henry VII, his son Henry VIII, on up to Elizabeth I, in Shakespeare’s time. Thus we see observations like this

chronicler John Rous (c. 1420–92) … swiftly stopped praising Richard as a “good Lord” when Henry VII was crowned, and instead recalled how Richard had taken two years to gestate before eventually being born with teeth, long hair to his shoulders, and a hunchback.

Yikes! You get the idea. Richard had to be a monster, and chroniclers knew that. Painting him thus would win rewards. So they did.

But what was Richard III really like?  In fact, it may not have been so much Richard’s evil cunning that set him apart, but his aggressiveness. Whatever he was, he was not a warm and cuddly sort of dude. Consider

  • Richard had a terrible scolioosis of the spine (a curvature), which likely caused him constant pain and required extra physical effort and willpower just to play the role of medieval leader. Imagine donning armour, riding a horse into battle, and engaging in face to face combat with that sort of disability! His recently unearthed bones show that by the time of his death (at age 32), that pain had increased by the onset of arthritis. My take –  Richard’s main personality traits were willpower and determination rather than long term calculation. This is stuff we tend to associate with Henry V, a guy who gets much better press than Richard.  Shakespeare got it wrong.
  • Meanwhile, despite his disability, Richard had proved to be a loyal and capable military and administrative leader for his brother, King Edward IV, throughout the so-called “Wars of the Roses”. Stevenson’s portrait of the young Richard in his novel “The Black Arrow” might not have been far from the mark: a bellicose fighting man who was ready to fight to the death. Don’t expect a huge amount of empathy from this dude. From the Telegraph

He had seen his father, brother and guardian die violent deaths on the battlefields of the Wars of the Roses. He had grown up in an atmosphere of fear, treachery, plots and open violence culminating in another brother, King Edward IV, ordering the judicial drowning of his remaining brother, George, Duke of Clarence, in a butt of Malmsey wine in the Tower. Small wonder, then, that at his own coronation Richard was seen to be playing with a dagger at his side, drawing it in and out of its sheath, while shooting suspicious glances around him

  • Richard’s brother, King Edward IV, died young, at the age of 41. Richard was just 30. Richard was still in his prime which he knew would not last very long. If he wanted to “play the power game” it would have to be soon now!
  • Edward IV’s son, the presumptive heir Edward V, was only 12 years old when his father died, and his mother was Elizabeth Woodville, who many thought had not been a suitable match for a king. The Woodvilles were power hungry and they made the first move to cut Richard out from the transition. They would regret that dearly.  My take – Richard’s loyalty to his brother died when his brother died. After that, he was motivated solely by power realities.  Grab power, or it will grab you!
  • Richard had his own son and heir who might have succeeded him had he survived (in fact, Richard’s son died just one year after Richard usurped the throne).

In light of all of the above, it is not a huge surprise that Richard would make a grab for the throne, and he did.  After he did, he lived it up! Analysis of his bones indicate that his diet became much richer and he started consuming roughly a bottle of wine per day. Live for the moment, dude! He was winning the game — at least as far as he could tell!

Did he have the princes in the tower murdered? We do not know and probably never will. And this is perhaps less important than the fact that many suspected Richard’s guilt at the time. Whether he really was guilty or not, the suspicion damaged him politically and he took no steps to distance himself from the ugly rumors. This is odd, given that Richard was not stupid and was ruthless. You would have thought that he would have come up with something. But he never did. That doesn’t mean that he is guilty. It does mean that strategically, he failed to cope with the crisis at hand..

Just a few years after usurping the throne. Richard arrived at Bosworth Field to meet yet another aspiring usurper, this time to his throne. While Richard arrived with a superior force in terms of manpower, his army seemed strangely unable to overcome the other side in the clinch. Some fighters on his side apparently just simply “melted away”. A lack of conviction for the cause?  BTW, this tells you something about Richard’s inability to instill loyalty – they were fighting an unknown guy, supported by French troops, who had at best a weak claim to the throne. Huh?

Perhaps realizing the game was up, Richard gambled all on a final cavalry charge aimed directly at Henry. Classic Richard! Bold! Decisive! Damn the odds! Go for it! Kill  or be killed! And my guess is that when Richard got close to Henry (within a sword’s distance) Henry peed his pants. Here is the young Henry

Image result for Henry Tudor

But victory for Richard that day  was not to be. Nobles who had been on the sidelines jumped into the fight on Henry’s side. Richard’s small force was overwhelmed, he was dismounted and killed fighting in battle. And no, he was not calling out for another horse to get away when he got pole axed, probably from behind. He was the last English king to die in combat  So it goes,  Richard had charged into history.

BTW, in case you are wondering, the chivalrous knight who saved Henry Tudor’s ass was Sir William Stanley.

Image result for Sir William Stanley

Later, Henry would have him executed for treason. Yes, Henry VII would turn out to be kind of nasty himself. There is a reason why More called him the “Winter King”. But that is another story.

So it was back then.  Warm and cuddly? Think again.

When Thomas Cochrane Spoke Out …

It may surprise you, but not very long ago. only a very small minority of British subjects had the right to vote. Before the Reform Act of 1832  it was around 3%. The Reform Act raised it to 6%. Very radical!

And so the series of satirical paintings by Hogarth created in 1755, entitled “The Humours of an Election”  is not so far fetched. Here is one of the images, called “Chairing the Member

Image result for Hogarth election

The scene is described thus

One of the victorious Tory candidates is being carried through the streets on a chair in a traditional ceremony. He is about to tumble down because one of his carriers has just been accidentally hit on the head by a flail carried by a Tory-supporting rural labourer who is attempting to fight off a Whig supporter (an old sailor with a bear).

A group of frightened pigs run across the scene in a reference to the story of the gadarene swine. The Whig leaders watch from a nearby house. At the right two young chimney sweeps urinate on the bear.

Sir Kenneth Clark found the blind violinist on the right to be a charming touch of whimsy that elevates the painting above mere satire.

This raucous mood seemed to crest around that time known as the Regency, around the turn of the century.  The Regency, was a time of astonishing excess. The Prince Regent, who assumed kingly duties in place of his temporarily mad father, King George III, was at the center of all this. Here he is celebrating his birthday, in a caricature by Cruikshanks

Related image

Sadly, after Napoleon was finally removed from power, the mood soured. An agricultural depression got ugly, and led to the passage of the infamous “Corn Laws“. These laws imposed a tariff on imported grain. Why suddenly was imported grain so dangerous?  The landed gentry needed the revenue from their own grain sales and could not afford to be undercut by imports. It mattered less to them that the high food prices this caused might adversely affect the poor.

The passage of the Corn Laws demonstrates who held the reins of power at that time – the landed gentry who were represented by the Tory party dominated parliament. The Tories held power by and large throughout the late 1700’s and up to 1830, with Whigs only coming in for brief periods.

You can see then why electoral reform became such a political hot potato. The hated Corn Laws had to be repealed and Tories had to be forced to share power more equitably. Those pushing for this would meet at the newly founded “Reform Club“.  BTW, the Corn Laws were finally repealed in 1846. The Economist Magazine, still in print today, was founded in 1843 with help from the Anti-Corn Law League.  This all may sound a bit obscure to us, but it was a very, very big deal back then.Indeed, the arguments for the repeal of the Corn Laws brought discussion of “the benefits of free trade” to the fore, and we might argue is the starting point for building our modern system of trade … that recently has become rather controversial.

My interest in this goes to the earlier part of this era when the Radicals started speaking out about electoral reform. Radicals and Whigs sometimes took similar positions on electoral reform, but the Radicals felt the Whigs were too soft. They wanted actin now! Unfortunately for them, they never developed any coherent political organization, and so they generally were kept out of power.

Thomas Cochrane, was one of the Radicals, and his story is rather incredible . Here he is

He was a naval hero. Napoleon himself called Cochrane “Le Loup des Mers” (Wolf of the Seas).  You can get the details of his exploits from the above link,. Suffice to say here that Cochrane’s career was the stuff of legend that inspired Forester a century later to create Horatio Hornblower.  He was not just any old dude.

Cochrane was also a Scott who liked to speak his mind. A more colloquial way to put this might be that he liked to “mouth off”. This was behavior that the Radicals found engaging, but as we will see, it got Cochrane into serious hot water given the political tensions of the day.

Cochrane was elected to Parliament as a Radical in 1806 and he started complaining right away. Given that this was the Regency Period, no doubt here was much to complain about. But not surprisingly, he started developing powerful enemies. In 1809, his public complaint about a fellow naval officer’s conduct in battle led to an inquiry and his being stripped of naval command. Then in 1814, he was implicated inn a fraud.

In June with five others he was brought to trial for fraud in a trial presided over by the harsh, overbearing and Radical-hating Lord Ellenborough. The outcome was never going to be in question and, even though the prosecuting counsel admitted the evidence was circumstantial, Cochrane was found guilty.

A word about Lord Ellenborough.. He was a high Tory and

… a notable enemy of the radicals, who had previously convicted and sentenced to prison radical politicians William Cobbett and Henry Hunt in politically motivated trials

Here is Lord Ellenborough in full glory. BTW, his is an interesting story as well. He started his public life as a Whig, but went hard Tory in reaction to  the french revolution.

Related image

You get the idea. Cochrane swore he was innocent and the circumstantial evidence against him was weak. But the fact that there was circumstantial evidence at all was convenient and Ellenborough was easily persuaded to convict.

And the result?

Cochrane was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, fined £1,000 and was ordered to stand in the pillory opposite the Royal Exchange for one hour. In subsequent weeks, he was dismissed from the Royal Navy by the Admiralty and expelled from Parliament following a motion in the House of Commons. Cochrane was further humiliated by the loss of his knighthood in a degradation ceremony at Westminster Abbey. His banner was taken down from the Chapel of Henry VII in the Abbey and physically kicked out of the chapel and down the steps outside.

Cochrane’s story does not end there. He went on to more amazing naval exploits for other countries. When the Whigs eventually came to power, and the nasty old Prince Regent (now George IV) passed away, Cochrane’s honor and career were restored. Eventually, the government even paid compensation to his descendants for the injustice of the trial.

It is an engaging tale — and perhaps would make an interesting movie. It also tells us something that may be relevant today. Stripped of all the rhetoric, Cochrane the Radical, was targeted as a political gesture. Political passions trumped reason and good will..And this type of unseemly targeting can happen whenever the political heat becomes uncomfortable for figures in power.Nixon, for example, had his enemies list.

The political heat in the US is rather high these days, And we have already seen a certain amount of this unseemly behavior. The targeting of Hilary Clinton is a prominent example.

I suspect that we will see more of this as the political heat rises further and perhaps from all sides. If and when we do, we can at least be reminded that it is nothing new. And hopefully the ugly mood will pass, as it did after the political impasse of the early 19th century in Britain was eventually broken and reform was won … errr …  at least for men

Let’s see, said the blind man!

Oscar Wilde’s Peculiar Demise

I was thinking this evening about Oscar Wilde’s prison related deprivations. It was prompted by a comment made by Wilde’s prison warden. The warden said that while Wilde was holding up in prison despite being subjected to hard labour, he would not survive more than three years after being released. Men who are unused to such treatment never do.

The man knew what he was talking about. Wilde died at the age of 45, exactly three years after his release.

How long  was Wilde’s prison term? I knew at one time but could not remember. My first thought was that it was less than a year. Or was it three years? In fact it was two years. That might not seem very long if one is just sitting in a jail cell, reading books and writing letters. But Wilde was not that fortunate In case you are wondering,

The deterrent object of imprisonment had been officially laid down as “hard labour, hard fare, and a hard bed.” Evidence given by a variety of witnesses before a recent Home Office Committee on Prisons had shown that two years imprisonment with hard labour, involving solitary cellular confinement, with its attendant laborious and largely useless work in the shape of the treadwheel [pumping water or grinding grain], the crank [turning the handle in a cylindrical metal drum] and oakum picking [separating loose fibers in old rope used in caulking scams of wooden ships], which had to be performed on a poor and inadequate diet, were calculated to break a man in body and spirit.

The last sentence of the above quote bears emphasis — hard labour was calculated to break a man in body and spirit. Being sentenced to hard labour was a serious matter, and I would guess it was a bit unusual for it to be imposed on a gentleman. Indeed, Wilde suffered enormously from hard labour. He did not complain, and he never showed bitterness over his treatment. But the punishment was brutal. If you are interested in the more lurid details, you might refer to the above link.

And perhaps Justice Wills, who had sentenced Wilde, would have been pleased by this. At sentencing, Wills said in open court

It is the worst case I have ever tried. I shall pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In my judgment it is totally inadequate for such a case as this. The sentence of the Court is that you be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for two years.

Worst case? Two years at hard labour — calculated to break a man in body and spirit — in effect, a delayed death sentence prefaced by torture,  was “totally inadequate”? Clearly Justice Wills had got his dander up.

What provoked him? I do not see the extreme provocation from what I know of the legal matter itself. True. the alleged activities were considered to be salacious but there was no violence or obviously great harm to society. To the contrary, in the Victorian era,  illegal sexual activity by members of polite society was not so serious as long as it was conducted in a discrete manner. Wilde was not an aristocrat, but he was accepted in polite society. And he was not accused of publicly conducting illegal activities. Nor was there any evidence that Wilde had injured anyone,  either physically or otherwise. Last but not least, the witnesses for the prosecution were notoriously unreliable, and testifying for money.  So, yes, there was a crime involved. But was it that horrendous? One shudders to think what additional punishment the good Judge would have imposed had he had the power to do so. Perhaps burning at the stake?

So if it was not the legal issues, what was so bloody awful? My best guess is that it had less to do with the homosexuality than the publicity about it. This was not a run of the mill trial. To the contrary, Wilde was a celebrity, and the press riveted public attention on the matter. Wilde contributed to this by his eccentric manner in court, and by having his lawyer read letters from Queensberry to evidence bullying. Unfortunately, these letters also referred to the prime minister, Gladstone and even the queen. This created an indirect suggestion that these figures —- who should have been above reproach in public —  were somehow involved in the scandal. And of course, Wilde had attempted to use his libel suit to continue what came out as a scandalous lifestyle.  Perhaps there was a feeling that unless Wilde was smacked down, the above figures and the court might be seen by the public as endorsing public immorality.  That could not be tolerated!

BTW, this line of thought finds support in the way the government acted. The first criminal prosecution of Wilde ended in a mistrial. The government might have let the matter drop and some argued at the time that this was the right thing to do. The government did the opposite, going full bore with the toughest prosecutor they could find, in order to go back to court and this time get a conviction. There is no recorded reasoning for this decision.  Using hindsight, it does appear to be excessive, though in line with Justice Wills’s level of outrage about the case.

And the government got their conviction on the second go round. The punishment then had the desired effect. Wilde was broken, bankrupted, and soon dead. And not only that, Wilde’s reputation was so blackened that his wife had to change the family name to protect their two young boys. As Churchill put it, Wilde was “obliterated”.

One hundred years later, it is not so easy to understand why all of this was necessary. The fact is that Queensberry did provoke Wilde – not just once, but repeatedly. He was acting like a nut case, which apparently he was. Wilde may have been less than brilliant in deciding to bring his libel suit, but one wonders what alternatives he had given that Queensberry was likely to continue his provocations. It was not just a matter of honor. Queensberry was attempting to  disrupt Wilde’s ability to earn his living. Given this, one might expect at least some sympathy from someone.  Nope. There were clearly emotional elements to the case that are hard to fathom from our perspective.

Perhaps we might conclude by stating the obvious – the intense emotions arose from something that we see very differently now. The Victorians were obsessed with public propriety. They would have found the rise of someone like Donald Trump unthinkable. Come to think of it, I am still getting over that one myself. No matter what happened in private, for Victorians, it had to stay there. Wilde may not have intended to breach this standard —, and he had a point that it was Queensberry who was forcing things into the open — but in the end Wilde got the blame for doing just that. The man who used publicity to make his literary fame, died from an overdose of it. No one comes out smelling like a rose from this, though Wilde’s work is still entertaining. We disregard the unpleasantness of his obliteration.

Remembering 2016

It was indeed a tumultuous year. And, I think a year that will be remembered as a turning point.

Straus and Howe argue that there is a four generation cycle to history. The basic idea is that people who grow up around the same time share similar attitudes based on their experiences of that time. Each generation faces certain pivotal challenges (that are called “turnings”) that shape these attitudes and which are cyclical.

Why cycles?  Why not straight line growth? Sir Kenneth Clark pondered that question in his Civilisation Series. He thought it was because old paradigms wear out and need to be updated. Straus and Howe would argue that the cause is more closely related to needs of generations to give up individuality to cope with crisis and the urge to re-assert individuality and autonomy when the crisis is past. Each produces an over-reaction. Too much conformity and then too much individuality.

The model seems to fit the period from 1945  to the present remarkably well. The first so-called turning in that period was a “high” after the war had been won and the peace took hold. This high went straight through the 1950’s and into the 1960’s.

BTW, a so called “prophet generation” is born and raised during the end of the crisis and grows up during the “high”

Prophets grow up as the increasingly indulged children of this post-Crisis era, come of age as self-absorbed young crusaders of an Awakening

The boomers?  As a boomer myself, this does seem to fit.

Then comes the “awakening”, a period when folks want more autonomy and attack institutions. This certainly started in the 1960’s and continued at least through the 1970’s. The so called Age of Aquarius? Again, the model appears to fit like a glove.

BTW, a “nomad” generation is born and raised during this period.

Nomads grow up as under-protected children during this Awakening, come of age as alienated, post-Awakening adults,

Gen X? Ah, punk rock and grunge?

Then comes the “unravelling” when autonomy is at a peak and institutions are weakest. We saw this through the 1980’s and  1990’s evidenced by growing divisiveness in the public sector and “greed is good” morals in the private sector. Anything goes! It is interesting to think perhaps that the fall of the Soviet Union was part of the great “unravelling” of that period.

BTW,  a “hero generation”is born during the unravelling.

Heroes grow up as increasingly protected post-Awakening children, come of age as team-oriented young optimists during a Crisis,

Millennials?  It is too soon to tell if the millenials will take this role.

The final turning is a new “crisis”, where we face a renewed threat to our national, and perhaps international well being. We know form history that these sorts of crises incubate for a time. So did both the first and second great wars. And so too may be the crisis that shapes the period form 2000 to 2020 or so. We have certainly had events that appear as crisis including the rise of terrorism, and the 2007 financial meltdown,

BTW, those born in the new crisis fit the “artist archetype”.

… great dangers cut down social and political complexity in favor of public consensus, aggressive institutions, and an ethic of personal sacrifice.

Gen Z?

So, does the model give us any guidance to where we are in 2016? If it fits, the latest crisis period started somewhere around the turn of the century. It has festered now for more than a decade and may continue for another decade or so into the 2020’s.

So is it now coming to a head?  It is not beyond the realm of imagination to argue that the 2016 election is just that sort of concrete manifestation of institutional failure and crisis. Perhaps. If so, us boomers are doomed to play only a limited role as elders. Will Gen X  nomads lead us through this? Will millenials emerge as the “hero generation”?

Let us see. But even if the model is a less than perfect fit, I do believe that 2016 has given us a turning point in history. We are now in a new and rather unsettled era and there is no going back.