Monday, March 08, 2010

"When I’m 64 . . .": HIstory and Taylor Swift's Happy Dance

Cities in the east such as Newark and Baltimore now have drug-dealing as their principal commercial activity . . . Simon Heffer, Telegraph, UK

If all goes as planned I will turn 64 this year, which should be of interest for two reasons: First, approximately 40 million Americans – war babies – will turn 64 at the same time and another 40 million not long after. Second, as the ancient Roman and Chinese historians understood, all historic regimes start to go to pieces in the 60th year and end around the 64th year. And if the Eliot Wave currency theory holds true, which has the dollar ending its creative arc in the year 2011, that would likely include us.

This theme as been advanced recently by writers William Strauss and Neil Howe and in my opinion some of their observations were good, some not so good. Unfortunately, the clever William Strauss, has passed away (at age 60). But the cyclical nature of history has some formidable footings in writing of the last century. Historian Herbert J. Muller writes in The Uses of the Past that Arnold Toynbee discovered C.G. Jung and Oswald Spengler well into the middle of his world history and came to understand the cycles better. These mature insights are all still available.

Take the last American cycle which began at Appomattox in 1865. Then count forward 60 years to 1925 when The Great Gatsby was published followed quickly by The Sun also Rises. Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald filled young hearts with disillusioned desire, sending them to the Jardin des Tuileries to catch pigeons for breakfast and do absinth into the night at Les Deux Magots. Four years later – the 64th year, the economy crashed.

Look at Victoria who went to the throne on June 20, 1837, and left January 22, 1901, 64 years. At her Diamond Jubilee in 1897, actually 60 years, the smell of blood was in the water as the Germans arrived to celebrate with bigger ships, better steel, more proletariat, the better to make the war machines to follow. Robert Graves chronicled growing up around the end of things with this good title: Good-bye to All That.

Or the Russians, who did so poorly last week at the Olympics. But they are better off, as they’ve gone back to Jesus. In 1917 twelve days that shook the world began the U.S.S.R. Plus 60 comes to 1977 and the Miracle on Ice would be just around the corner, when the CCCP hockey team fell to a handful of American school boys in 1980. Russia’s Soviet Empire lasted a little longer, 1922 to 1991, 69 years, but the last few of that was mush.

Our own post-war world began in 1946 and hit 60 in 2006. Then came the first whack to the economy, but by no means the end of things. Too early for that. Our period is at 64 now, like the 40 million my age. So it should be interesting.

Good news is that Mao’s China turned 60 this year. They’ll start falling apart soon and Japan already is, so forget the Pacific Century. But I’m looking forward to the next part because things don’t really end, they just change and in my observation in the long sequence of cycles they tend to alternate, moving outward and then back inward. Like the Russians are doing. And anyway, the next is always better than the last, at least for the young,now doing the Taylor Swift happy dance, who will transcend the end and get back to the beginning.