A theory used to describe the slow progression of social legislation in the United States (and possibly elsewhere).

The cycle follows a basic pattern where generations become progessively more and more liberal and then turn to be coming more and more conservative.

The United States is rare amongst nations in that it that it seems to lack a strong value of it's own history and traditions (this is not nessicarly a Bad Thing, see notes below). Each generation seems to rebel against the generation that spawned it. Conservitive parents producing liberal offspring and vice versa. With each cycle each generation becomes more and more extreme, until an arbitary limit is reached and then generations begin to mellow a bit with each passing liberal or conservitive generation, and then the cycle begins again. Disruptions in the cycle have occurred, although they have appeared only to spark in an extreme in the current trend. Please keep in mind that what is considered "liberal" and what is considered "conservitive" has changed throught American history and indeed some of the most radical "liberal" ideas (like "hey!, black people shouldn't be slaves") aren't so radically liberal any more.

Tho illustrate this (and I may be way off here, but hey I'm not a historian, if you are, please comment, correct, or shout obsenities in my direction) here's my basic outline.

We start at a liberal peak with the revolutionary war (prtty radical idea for it's time), after the war things started to calm down and as America expands, the nation with each succeeding generation seems to become a bit more conservitive, although we still have our liberals every other generation, they are getting less and less liberal, while the conservitives are gaining momentum, Conservitism peaks out with the height in the cotton and tobacco trades in the early 1800's then liberalism begains to take hold again and we have a nice little civil war. After this we have a nice stint in conservitive control, but it guides us through the industrial revolution and completes the transcontinental railroad. Conservitivism reaches a peak with prohibition in the early 1900's But this radical move spurs the liberals to an extreme and gives us the "roaring 20's" (which w3as actually a pretty liberal time). WWII spurs a more conservitive momvement in America and we see the dominance of conservitive thought until the 1960's. Already laying low in the extreme liberal movments of the 60's was stoked by the war in Viet Nam this liberal movement (all in all the "Baby Boomers" were a pretty liberal generation) progressed into absurdidty in the 1970's The "Me" generation of the 80's spurred us back to more conservitive thinking and ushered in "The Reagan years" and created the somewhat liberal, but mostly apathetic Generation X. Gen X has brought about the new Millenial Generation which studies are showing to be a rather conservitive lot.

This is by no means a "new" or "radical" idea. Just one that I thought should be noded.
Note: America does have some pride in it's history and traditions, but no where near the scale of many other countres (that have been around a lot longer than the USA), it is this lack that has allowed the USA to progress in so many ways. Countries with long histories, mired in tradition still undergo cycles like this although usually at a slower rate. America seems to almost encourage the "rebellious youth" movement.

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