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So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast takes an uncensored look at the world of free expression through personal stories and candid conversations.
New episodes post every other Thursday.

Apr 11, 2024

In late 2013, some of us at FIRE started noticing a change on college campuses. Students, who were previously the strongest constituency for free speech on campus, were turning against free speech. They began appealing to administrators more frequently for protection from different speakers and using the language of trauma and safety to justify censorship.

What changed?

Neil Howe may have an answer. He is a historian, economist, and demographer who speaks frequently on generational change. His most recent book, “The Fourth Turning is Here,” was published last year. Howe argues that history has seasonal rhythms of growth, maturation, entropy, and rebirth and that different generations take on different attributes reflecting their place in the cycle.

Joining Howe and host Nico Perrino for the conversation is FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff, co-author of “The Canceling of the American Mind."


0:00 Introduction

6:10 Neil’s intent with his book, “Generations”

13:12 Pattern in American history

17:08 The nomad archetype

25:00 Covid and the younger generation

27:28 Do people shape events?

35:35 Gen-Xers and Millennials

41:45 The Fourth Turning

50:24 William James’ “The Moral Equivalent of War”

57:08 Are Gen-Z actually Millennials?

58:10 Dominant generations

01:06:40 How do generational cycles impact civil liberties?

01:10:57 Summary of Millennials

01:18:15 Peaceful periods lead to greater inequality 

1:19:16 Outro


Show Notes 

Neil Howe’s Substack, “Demography Unplugged

Greg Lukianoff’s Substack, “The Eternally Radical Idea