Charlottesville is Only the Beginning

Recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia have shined a renewed light on our culture, where we have come from, and where we still must go. Not surprising this has set off a firestorm of emotional responses and actions from all sides.  More than thirty cities either have removed or are removing Confederate monuments, according to a list compiled by The New York Times. In Baltimore during the dead of night three statues the mayor and city council deemed offensive were lifted from their moorings.  As both for and against - protests and counter protests are being organized in cities across America.  

President Trump even weighed in as well a few times adding to the banter.  While there are many issues, one of the underlying debates over the Confederate monuments espoused by Mr. Trump and others is a fight between those who wish to preserve history and those who wish to “erase” it.  I actually think the President was partially correct – this is about history.  We are in a fight, but this just may be a fight between those who wish to learn from history and those who wish to “relive” it.

The history behind many of the Confederate monuments is not what most people may think. 

Most of the oxidizing green statues and Confederate war shrines were not created immediately after the war as a way to honor those men who died in battle. After the Civil War our nation went through eras of rebuilding, reawaking, and Reconstruction without trying to revive or romanticize the past.  It was not until another era following the turn of the century and early 1900’s that the majority of these monuments were actually erected.  The one in Charlottesville for example dates to only 1924.  As a matter of fact, between the years 1900 and 1935, close to half of all of the Confederate monuments were dedicated.  To put that in perspective, in the 156 years since the Civil War just thirty-five years during the middle of that time accounted for more than all of the monuments for the past forty years and the forty years immediately following the war combined. 

So why did we see this unexpected enthusiasm to preserve history during this era?  The time following the turn of the twentieth century was an era with strong tribal or group culture.  People began to - much more than the prior era - identify in smaller homogeneous groups rather than a personal identity or that of the collective culture.  This was brought on for a variety of reasons, but the outcome was smaller undiversified clusters of people where they found comfort in their identification based on shared values and beliefs.  The consequences were many times the clashing between various groups sometimes divided by gender, race, economic status, or partisan lines. We can see this in the data as measured by the voting patterns of the U.S. Congress.  Measuring the gap or partisanship of voting between the two major parties we see the greatest gap -or lack of cooperation - during this era between 1900’s and 1930’s.

Add to this, income disparity, economic uncertainty, and global unrest of the times it brought with it a certain level of anxiety of the future and concern we would drift too far from the past.  During this time, we were caught between nationalists longing for the glories of an imagined past, and activists invoking ideals of a utopia they wished to attain.  We saw this with the Ku Klux Klan who had been mostly marginalized prior to this era but now with the cultures feelings of nativism found a revival and new attention.  We had a revolution or revival of Anarchist-Communist that exploited and influenced the Progressive Movement.  We had tensions rising and saw a domestic bombing in New York city, race riots across the country, and violence between groups.  We also had statues erected at a record pace as a manifestation of one side or groups symbol of identification and devotion to the past.     

If any of this sounds eerily familiar and much of what we are living today you are not crazy.  History does repeat itself with some commonality and in an approximate eighty-two-year cycle.  We see this today and in cycles past with alt-right and alt-left. We see this between racial lines with Black Lives Matter today or the ‘new negro’ movement of the 1920s. We see this between gender lines with women’s rights movement of 1850s or alternative lifestyle movements of today. We see the seeds of revolution or secession play out before the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the red scare just prior to World War II, and today with the resurgence of small like-minded tribes like the socialist leaning ANTIFA and fascist leaning Neo-Nazi.    

The gap or partisanship of voting in the U.S. Congress is back at an all-time high it has not seen for eighty years.  Income equality is back above 45% of all income that was congregated amongst the top 10% of the people – a number not seen since the late 1920’s.  And instead of putting statues up they are now trying to take many down as a manifestation of one side or groups symbolic gesture and devotion for their ideals.

The problems are not the statues but the time and era we live in. We are repeating the cycles and history of the past.  What we are seeing is merely an emotional response to a logical conclusion of where the culture has come to and has been before. We are in the late 1700’s crying for a revolution, the mid 1800’s causing civil division, and the early 1900’s marching towards a world conflict.  We have divided ourselves as a nation as us versus them and my tribe against yours. Unfortunately, not looking at things logically and through history - emotionally and because of these smaller tribes and the era we are in many people cannot detach themselves to see this.  Instead many find comfort in their echo chambers that feed the illusion they must be right and discount and blame others if something does not fit their views or hinders them from what they feel is just.   

The President was partially correct – this does have something to do with history.  We are in a fight with history and we have seen time and time again that history and the cycles we live in tend to win.  The emotions and events we are witnessing are not unprecedented but predictable.  The same underlying triggers and times that raised the statues are the same underlying triggers and times eighty years later that are now trying to bring them down. History also tells us we will most likely keep going down this path with even higher tensions between groups, identity politics, and creating greater divides that will only be mended with the next looming crisis that brings us back together

After five years, I have recently completed my latest book of an in depth look at the Cycles that move a culture and the next looming reset. Stay tuned for the new book coming this fall “Cultural Cycles: Examining the History of the United States - Why It Repeats Itself, and the Next Looming Reset”.  This book uses history and analytics and most of all the reader’s own intuition and logic to explain the seemly rhythmic nature of history. It answers many of the questions of why various well-known historic events took place when they did and what we might be able to expect in the future.  After extensive research of historical patterns, I not only show how and why history does repeat itself but also provide insight to how America may be on the verge of the next cataclysmic reset.