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It must be nice to be on congress must read list. Alvin and Heidi Toffler found themselves there after long time friend newt gingrich become speaker of the house. Previously known for such futurist works as future shock, powershift, and the third wave, the tofflers, latest disquisition provides a bold revolutionary tract. Whether or not readers accept the tofffler, vision of future, creating a new civilization deserves examination, if for no other reason than to know what congress is using as mind fodder these days.
In creating a new civilization, the Toffler describe an inevitable new world order and how to survive and even profit from its arrival. The Toffler assert that history is trisected into three potentially clashing civilization emerged around, 8000 b.c as a result of the agricultural revolution. Second wave civilization arose with the industrial revolution and introduces mass production consumption education media corporation political parties and a new family structure. A third wave is now arriving, bearing a civilization of information those conflicts with its predecessors.
The central resource buoying the third wave is not land, labor, or capital but knowledge which the Toffler suggest include everything from data, inferences, and assumptions to values imagination and institution. Third wave nation creative and exploit this knowledge by marketing information innovation management culture advanced technology software education training medical care and financial services to the world. De manufacturing mass education and mass media will no longer exist (p.31). Short runs of customized product smaller labor unions collapsing industrial giants and weakening TV networks will replace these mass structure. The tofflers view this transaction as manifesting itself in computer driven manufacturing technologies that allow cheap customization and product diversity thus reducing economies of scale. Computers allow miniaturization which decrease warehousing and transportation costs as well as just in time delivery programs that slash the cost of waiting inventory.
Although the transaction from second wave brute force economies to third wave brain force economies began in the 1950s and accelerated in the early 1970s, the transformation remain far from complete meanwhile the upheaval caused by the transaction has had and will continue to profound effects on family life education employment and politics. Reorganization the inevitability of the third wave will allow competitive race will be won by least amount of domestic dislocation and unrest.
Due to the rise in mind work and the accompanying decline in manual jobs workers in the third wave economy will become less interchangeable. As a result manual worker should prepare themselves for jobs in the human services personal security training services leisure and recreation service and tourism. The Toffler suggest raising the traditionally low wages for service sector jobs by increasing productivity and inventing new forms of work force organization and collection bargaining that are more supportive of work at home programs flex time and sharing time.
In addressing the political impact of the third wave the tofflers point out that the second wave third wave schism generated two biases political camps. Those supporting second wave civilization are tenaciously dedicated to preserving the core institution of industrial mass society the nuclear family the mass education system the Gaint Corporation the mass trade union the centralized nation state and the politics of pseudoreprentative government. Second wave elites as well as middle class and poor Americans resist the third wave because they fear being displaced by the new order. Yet third wave proponents recognize that today most urgent problems from energy war and poverty to ecological degradation and breakdown of familial relationship can no longer be solved within the framework of an industrial civilization.
Further while the Toffler advocate the revamping of factory based modal of education as essential to the third wave transaction they do not offer firm blueprints for reform. These specifics are critical indispensable resource of the third wave thereby thwarting the great democratic leap forward that the Toffler envision.
Despite the seductive power of the Toffler revolutionary vision their rhetoric should be evaluated cautiously. The tofflers predictions may be entirely correct but their conclusions may also be ill founded. the Toffler exhort if we begin now we and our obsolete political structure but of civilization itself. Like the generation of the revolutionary dead we have a destiny to create. Preparing for whatever future awaits is wise but abandoning an established functioning system too soon may be imprudent and costly. It should give readers pause to recall that the heralds of this new knowledge and intellect will allow them to flourish in the society they promote. Perhaps it would be preferable to slow the rush into the third wave progressing more by natural momentum and less by progagandist catapult. The turmoil of the inevitable transition cannot be worse than the shock of prematurely entering an environment without being fully prepared. To the extent that the Toffler reassure their reader that the third wave signals a positive shift toward a desired destination they are to be commended.
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