The "War on Terrorism" Isn't the Next American Crisis
The previous postings suggest that the last six major crises in American and pre-American history were about the battle between the forces of concentrated power, and the forces of distributed power. The latter power, the “underdog”, always prevailed.
For this reason, American’s battle today in the "War on Terrorism" doesn’t seem to fit the pattern. The American military certainly isn’t the “underdog” in this conflict. In fact, it is the opponent who seems to fit that tag. Moreover, it’s tough to say that “their” power distribution is more concentrated than “our” own. “Semi-autonomous sleeper cells” doesn’t much sound like concentrated power to me.
Some might point to the way fundamentalist Islam treats its women. This may seem to us like an example of power concentrated in the hands of men, and denied women. From that vantage point, “we” are certainly a more diffuse power than “them”.
But this discussion highlights the nature of the relevant pattern. The relevant pattern isn’t about just any kind of power distribution. The power distribution that matters in the crisis is the one that threatens the survival of the nation. Fundamentalist Islam’s treatment of its women may be deplorable to the sensibilities of the America that has accepted the feminist revolution. But fundamentalist Islam’s treatment of its women doesn’t threaten the survival of this nation. Moreover, no one is suggesting the possibility that Mr. Bin Laden stands any chance of ever sitting behind that big desk in the Oval Office. This fact alone distinguishes the current “War on Terrorism” from the six major crises identified by Strauss & Howe.
Finally, think again about the Big American Tent of power. Major crises have the effect of inviting into the tent a new class of previously disempowered People. Which previously excluded class of People does the “War on Terrorism” promise to bring into the Big American Tent? … tick, tock … tick, tock … OK. Time’s up. That’s right. The answer is “no People”.
Actually, I believe, as far as American history is concerned, the “War on Terrorism” will serve another purpose altogether. I believe this war will serve to expose to all the People, with painful clarity, the grave danger posed by the presence of the Corporate elephants in the Big American Tent.
If you don’t believe me, then read the next posting. Maybe you’ll believe Strauss & Howe.[posted: 12/13/03]