In politics, psychology, economics and science, many things give birth to their opposite. Ueber-conservative parents raise their kids strictly and the kids rebel and become hippies. Great Bull markets turn into great Bear markets. Inflation begets Deflation. Right-wing Congresses beget Left-wing Congresses, so-on and so-on, ad infinitum.
Not only do extremes give birth to their opposite, but they engage in an essential life-struggle with their opposite, the consequence of which is progress. Without struggle, without the will-to-power, the will-to-live and the will-to-transcend death, there can be no progress. Life becomes stale and stagnant in a never-ending status-quo of mediocrity and non-evolution. Stability is the midwife of decline and decomposition. This is the essence of what Hegel called dialectics.
In Dialectics, Thesis gives birth to Antithesis. Thesis conflicts with Antithesis. Through this conflict a new, higher equilibrium is reached which is called Synthesis. Synthesis is a combination, a resulting, unconscious, post-conflict union of the essential aspects of Thesis and Antithesis. It could be called a compromise, but this would be misleading, because it prevents one from understanding the essential necessity of conflict in bringing Synthesis about.
Many of you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about. Let me give you an example from recent American history.
America was very conservative in the 1940s and 1950s. We were a nation of war veterans. We had a centralized economy. Companies were centralized. Families were centralized. Authority flowed from the top-down. The militarization of culture led to regimentation in many walks of life, whether the corporation, the family, Church or the university. The favored group were affluent White men and there was also much racial and gender-based discrimination. There was also much sexual and intellectual repression. The power-elite of the 1940s and 1950s gave birth to the baby-boomers, many of whom were forced to endure the stifling, rigid conformity inherent in such a regimented and intolerant society.
The baby boomers, who were the offspring of the Greatest Generation, turned into its opposite. They became anti-war, anti-regimentation, anti-conformity and anti-bigotry. They embraced sexual openness, integration, the environment and all these ways of acting and seeing the world that were in diametrical opposition to the way their parents saw the world. This isn't true for all individuals, but collectively, as an organic whole, this is true. The protest movements of the 1960s were the Baby Boomer's collective, communitarian answer to the military campaigns of the Greatest Generation. Selma and Woodstock, Birmingham and the Civil Rights March on Washington were the Baby Boomer's answer to Iwo Jima and Normandy, Okinawa and the Bulge. The election of JFK up through the Protest Movements of the 1960s were the Antithesis.
The Synthesis was the LBJ-Nixon Establishment consensus-combination of Cold War Hawkishness abroad and social welfare statism at home. This consensus/synthesis was the status quo up through Ford and Carter. By lasting so-long, it, too, became a new Thesis, thus begining the cycle of conflict anew.
Reagan and Bush-I were the Anti-thesis, opposing big government social welfare statism and, through their actions if not their words, Cold War Hawkishness abroad (Reagan and Bush spoke loudly, but carried a small stick. Their rhetoric never matched their actions. While calling for vigorous arms-build-ups and making belligerent speeches, the US never really challenged the Soviets militarily abroad in the way that Truman, JFK and LBJ did; Actual American soldiers never fought direct Soviet proxies (or even actual, red-blooded Russians) under Reagan or Bush. American soldiers engaged in actual combat with Russians and Chinese in Korea. American soldiers fought Chinese and Soviet Proxies in Vietnam. This never happened again. Under Reagan and Bush, the US spoke aggressively, but American troops only fought fifth-rate chumps, like Iraq, that lacked the direct support of China or Russia. Most of the time we used proxies, like the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan or the Contras in Nicaragua, because we were still afraid of losing American lives, due to our "Vietnam Syndrome"). Reagan and Bush opposed the social welfare economic policies of LBJ and promoted big-business corporatism instead. They opposed his social policies of inclusion and tolerance as well and promoted nativism, nationalism and ethnocentrism instead. Reagan and the Christian Right espoused "family values," but this transcended party lines.
We are now living in an era of synthesis. We are pro-company, pro-corporate and anti-big government. However, we are also very tolerant of gender, racial and ethnic differences. We are also very sexually permissive, and not in the liberating ways or with the liberating justification of the 1960s. Rather than celebrating the breaking of shackles, today's sexuality is manipulated and cynically exploited by large companies in the pursuit of unconscionable profits.
This is the new synthesis and the longer it lasts, the longer it becomes the doctrine of the ruling status quo, the longer will it, too, come under criticism and attack from the new Antithesis that will challenge it.
What is this new Antithesis? Religion and Economic Populism. Watch. It is bound to happen and it will happen among all faiths and in all quarters of the world. This is the dialectical turn that gave birth to the Puritans, the Reformation and all the Great Awakenings in both Islam and Christianity. History shows that this is the inevitable sociological, dialectical reaction to a status quo such as that which currently reigns supreme.
Our age of materialism will turn to an age of asceticism. Our age of quiet tolerance will give birth to an age of vocal hatred. Our age of great wealth will give rise to an age where wealth is attacked. I do not know the specific lines along which these fissures or contradictions will emerge, but emerge they will and all those who wish to profit from the unfolding of future events must position themselves accordingly.
Sir Isaac Newton once said that "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Just as it is in physics, so is it in the world of man.