“I know it when I see it” is a joke saying that alludes to an old Supreme Court justice when he explained explicit pornography. The justices themselves had fun with that line when censorship cases came before them after that line was first uttered. I know it when I see it can apply to many things, and one that is a great concept is when a decade starts or ends. A decade is not just the simple years in the decade, but the “era”. Several years back, I recall some writers saying the ‘80s never ended. They did. There is something specific about an era and these lines can be buffered by transition periods. Looking back 50 years, it is fun to play the game of when the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s etc. all began and ended.
There is the real ‘60s and then “the ‘60s man”. The real ‘60s has had a nice rehab and shape up in the popular mind with Mad Men. The true ‘60s were a continuation of the Eisenhower era with a youth surge that would not hit critical mass until the Boomers hit young adulthood and Vietnam hit into gear. The anti-war, hippie garbage ‘60s did not start until ’68 and ended in ’74. The summer of love was in ’67, but it was a localized thing that had not spread nationwide. The epic year of ’68 is the start of "the ‘60s", and ’74 is a nice ending as Nixon (a leader ending an era) is booted out, the post-war Washington consensus is gone, inflation takes off, abortion is legalized and hitting the mainstream’s consciousness, and American troops are completely out of Vietnam. Steve Sailer has put forth a similar timeframe for publicly imagined “the ‘60s”.
Does that mean “the ‘70s” start right up there in ’75. No. Considering what the public envisions with the ‘70s is more of a polyester, disco, Star Wars funky time. Disco was a small phenomenon that was actually fading until Travolta sent it to the stratosphere and made it a nationwide trend. Saturday Night Fever, the quintessential ‘70s disco movie was released in December of ’77. Now it had to reflect something already evident and well enough known for it to succeed. That is what amounts to a ’78 film being the class ‘70s pop culture music movie. The original disco enthusiasts called the late comers who coked up and danced poorly disco zombies. The ‘70s do not end with Reagan’s election. The early Reagan years are stylistically, mood and economically more like the ‘70s. This era of is best captured in ’76-’82. The inflation worries were constant and still a factor into Reagan’s first two years in office. Paul Volcker had to kill inflation to help our economy switch to a FIRE based economy. Early ‘80s weddings still have the awful tuxedos of the ‘70s. Seriously, what the h3ll happened to men’s fashion in the ‘70s. It was the decade we lost our minds. It is okay because in the ‘80s we’d recover.
By 1984, the ‘80s are officially “the ‘80s” so hard that Reagan’s re-election is a conservakin, flag waving epic of awesomeness. The ‘80s become “the ‘80s” in 1983. A perfect example of the switch being ’83 and ’82 really being the ‘70s is to look at Rambo. Rambo is an ‘80s ass-kicking hero. Rambo was originally called “First Blood” and released in 1982. Watch it. That is a moody, Vietnam veteran trouble at home story. Rambo 2, which is actually called Rambo: First Blood part 2, is released in ’85 and dripping in ‘80s. Rambo goes back to ‘Nam to kill commies and free POWs like we should have done if we had been Reaganified in the ‘70s. Empire Strikes back is made i 1980, but a total '70s vibe, while 1983's Return of the Jedi is '80s. Look at a list of films from 1983; "the '80s" had begun. The year 1983 is when MTV reaches critical mass and effect with Michael Jackson’s trio of music videos, “Billie Jean”, “Beat It” and “Thriller”. The medium could make a band, and would prove it with Madonna’s debut album coming out in ’83 but becoming huge in ’84 with the use of video for promotion. The “Morning in America” Reagan vibe was in reality an Indian Summer, and as all seasons do, it would come to an end.
The ‘80s were dragged into a field and shot in ’92. It was a good run from ’83-’92. The first clue was the fall of Russian aligned communism being complete. The other early clue is that we had a long delayed recession in ’91, but the recovery was our first FIRE economy recovery. It was not like old recoveries and took longer to get back to full employment even if the GDP was rising. Bill Clinton proved the Boomer ascendancy, as we finally had a president who openly was a draft dodging, cheating, p0t experimenting product of the New Left’s takeover of universities. Gary Hart’s career was crushed for a smidgeon of what Clinton was accused of. Funny thing is Guns n Roses Use Your Illusion double release was one week before Nirvana’s Nevermind, yet one is an ‘80s band while the other is the Grunge standard bearer. A similar changed happened with rap where MC Hammer went from big time and releasing an album in 1991 with Jose Canseco and Roger Clemens showing up in the music videos to the seismic change of gangsta rap and The Chronic in 1992. The ‘80s were dead.
The ‘90s did not kick off immediately. There is that depressing, downer period where people were still afraid of AIDS killing anyone (media/education scare) and wearing layers upon layers with thermal underwear and plaid. NAFTA and early globalization was fought incredibly hard. We’re hitting 20th anniversaries for Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, and Chris Farley movies, and that is a good indicator of the ‘90s gaining steam, but not hitting critical mass until those types of movies automatically got bigger budgets, higher salaries for the stars and better production values. The ’94 Contract with America Gingrich sweep was a bit of a Reagan last gasp politically. I’ll settle on ’96 because of Clinton’s recovery politically, the Internet taking off, the Spice Girls, and the AIDS cocktail severely reducing deaths and making the Sexual Revolution hit a new gear after the brief HIV-AIDS forced restraint. There is no debate on the ending of the ‘90s. They ended September 11th, 2001.
The 2000s kick off with 9/11. That 2001 recession helps end the decade, too as the stock market bubble was done and the association of dot-com with bust was cemented. As much as the end of the Cold War, signified the end of the ‘80s and a beginning of an inward look and questioning of reality, the kick-off of the war on terror marks the start of the 2000s. That globalization has negatives was starting to dawn on people, not the elite, but the economic and security anxiety factor ticked up for normies. There is another factor at play that does not get much attention. The results of the 2000 census came in showing Hispanics higher than blacks. Pearls were clutched by blacks, and they even threw out the “add in multiracial that include black and we be bigger still”. The rise of Hispanics was finally recognized beyond California voters and Pat Buchanan. President Bush speaking español at events (stupid cowboy) is something no one ever would have expected from a prior president. The other rise was the rise of gay. Everyone politely forgot how HIV-AIDS would be a 3rd world problem if not for gay men, and the media pushed the fabulousness of gays. The global war on terror being a bad thing had media attention from what, January 2004 to January 2009.
The 2000s came crashing down in 2008. The American financial crisis, the rise of the Obama coalition (really the McGovern coalition, just in greater numbers), and the media black out, puff job on Iraq, Afghanistan and anything new war related signified a switch. I am not willing to say the 2010s started then, because there is something important that had to happen for a new realization to start to take hold. Voting had to fail. Obama was voted into office in ’08, and the masses expected change, jailed bankers and no more war. Didn’t happen. The Tea Party was a genuinely populist rise of the last remaining voters who can pool money to take on incumbents. They managed to peel back some minor subsidies and hold Congress hostage on spending with only one house of Congress. That is a small, small success, but they have been absorbed now into the establishment. Occupy lasted three months, and there was no lasting imprint on the nation except for the women raped at OWS events. Three people movements. Three failures. Voting is not going to change anything, and more people view DC as dysfunctional and impossible to change. The cap to this might be Obama’s re-election when, ahem, higher information voters looked around and said “WTF?”. Here is my idea for the 2010s. President Obama gave a speech about naysayers and fear-peddlers about the government in May of 2013 in Ohio. Edward Snowden proved every tinfoil hat and conspiracy theorist correct in June of 2013. He proved Obama’s words outright lies even to the normies. If the 2010s started and will be defined by a nationwide disgust with the rotten institutions of America and possibly the globe, Edward Snowden’s revelations in June 2013 might be that turning point.
The 2000s are gone, and the 2010s have started. How long will they last, who knows? The surveillance state was born decades past, but mass awareness is now. Not just surveillance from the state but from each other. The rapid slide down the slippery slope after gay marriage will be an item for the 2010s. If it all feels collapsing, look at it as change and the rush by elites trying so hard and so fast to rip up every asset and push every bit of degeneracy before the wicked ship they built sinks. To borrow from Strauss and Howe, we’re definitely in a crisis period, and the long awaited Fourth Turning is here. It is early. We have not had to make any tough decisions yet, as we keep printing money to paper over any slight discomfort. It should get worse. This will be compounded since this is our global empire. We are the hegemon. Out of this crisis, there will be a different America. The journey changes you.