Sep

28

Ken Burns Says Current Times ‘Equal’ to Civil War, Depression and World War II: ‘It’s Really Serious’

Historian and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns said that the present day is one of the worst times in American history.

Burns made the remark while on the “SmartLess” podcast, hosted by Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes, comparing current events with the Civil War, the Depression, and World War II.

“It’s really serious. There are three great crises before this: the Civil War, the Depression, and World War II. This is equal to it,” he said on Monday’s episode when asked about the direction the United States was headed.

Peter Saint-Andre offers:

Perhaps he's been reading The Fourth Turning by Strauss & Howe. Highly recommended.

It does strike me that the recent run of presidents rivals the likes of Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan. Stefan can provide a more informed perspective for us.

Leo Jia writes:

The Fourth Turning sounds very interesting, thanks for sharing. I had similar senses in recent years, hope I had read it earlier.

According to Wikipedia [Strauss–Howe generational theory], our current turning is crisis starting in 2008 and ending in 2020 (+a couple years perhaps). The last crisis was between 1929 and 1947 (depression and ww2 together for 17 years). The crisis before that was between 1860 and 1865 (civil war for 5 years).

As one turning generally lasts 20-22 years, the current one is coming to the final years.

The next turning following a crisis is termed high. It's like 1946 - 1964, and 1865 - 1886, for which we can be hopeful.

I am not sure if the authors discussed about the not fully synchronous nature of the turnings through the world. For instance, America didn't suffer ww2 so much as Europeans or some Asians. Europe didn't have the depression, though it had ww1 earlier. Also, even in the same crisis turning for instance, different groups or countries can take differently: winners get more benefits than losers for instance.

So the podcaster talks about a worst crisis we are in, well that may be true, but the good news is that not everyone has to suffer.

Vic adds:

presumably that fellow traveler who has never believed in american excetionalim is referring to the negative feelings about president biden which i happen to agree is bearish as the masters 1000 and the big tech and the bilious billionaires will have less chance of capturing the rake from being one with the lokis.

Henri Huws suggests:

If you’re enjoying The Fourth Turning have a look at Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler. He was a history teacher by trade that wrote extensively on the coming decline of the west. Spengler’s cyclical theory on history is very interesting. He famously predicted the fall of the third reich, 9 years before the end of the war. All of his work is fantastic, but has a much longer time horizon than the 4th turning. In vol1 he focuses on how culture in civilisations throughout history changed as their civilisations grew and declined. In vol 2 He puts more emphasis on politics and economics. Its a dense read, but well worth it.

Duncan Coker recommends:

For geopolitics I recommend Peter Zeihan. His latest is due out next year, and the title is provocative: The End of the World is Just the Beginning. It could be taken as negative or positive depending on your time frame. As much as I like Ken, his comparisons to other points in history seem way off the mark.

Stefan Jovanovich

Mr. Burns left out the wow finish with Jesus and George Washington - always Lincoln's favorite bit of stagecraft.

Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence.–Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws: and, that we improved to the last; that we remained free to the last; that we revered his name to the last; that, during his long sleep, we permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his resting place; shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken our WASHINGTON. Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

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