Creating a new civilization – the politics of the
third wave

The third wave is a book written by sociologist and
futurologist by Alvin Toffler in 1980. It is sequel to the future shock,
published in 1970, and the second is a trilogy that was completed with power
shift: knowledge, wealth, and violence at the edge of 21st century
in 1990. Since 1993, Toffler has collaborated with his wife Heidi on two other
books, war and anti-war: survival at the down of the twenty- first century and
creating a new civilization: the politics of the third wave (1994). Toffler in
his best-selling future shock argues that technological changes since the
eighteenth century have occurred so rapidly that many people are experiencing
undue stress and confusion because of their inability to adapt quickly to the
strategic change.

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The book contends that the world has not swerved in
to lunacy, and that, in fact, beneath the clatter and jangle of seemingly
senseless events there lay a starling and potentially hope full pattern and
book is about that pattern and that hope. It divides the story of the evolution
of human civilization into three major phases: the agricultural revolution, the
industrial revolution and the information age. Each civilization phase is
denoted as a wave in the book and each phase is defined by its own ideology
that is impacted by variance in technology, social patterns, information
patterns and Power patterns. The strategic change in these variables brought
new wave in the society pushing back the old one. Through this cyclic pattern,
“humanity faces a quantum leap forward. It faces the deepest social upheaval
and creative restructuring of all time. Without clearly recognizing it, we are
engaged in building a remarkable new civilization from the ground up… what is
happening now is nothing less than a global revolution, a quantum jump in
history”. However, there can be no fixed time for a wave or civilization
to survive before it is replaced with the ways of life inconceivable to those
who came before. The agricultural revolution took thousands of years to play it
out, while the rise of industrial revolution took a mere three hundred years.
Today history is even more accelerative, and it is likely that the Third Wave
will sweep across history and complete itself in a few decades. This new
civilization, as it challenges the old, will topple bureaucracies, reduce the
role of nation-state and give rise to semi-autonomous economies in a post
–imperialist world, heal the breach between producer and consumer giving rise
to ‘presume’ economy.

Apparently different in facial make up, all the
three civilizations hold land as the basis of economy, life, culture, family
structure, and politics. In all of them, life was organized around the village
and birth determined one’s position in life. Division of labor prevailed and a
few clearly defined castes and classes arose: nobility, priesthood, warriors,
helots, slaves or serfs. In all of them, power was rigidly authoritarian. And
in all of them, the economy was decentralized, so that each community produced
most of its own necessities. The First Wave: During the First Wave people
stayed in one place and developed a sense of cyclical times that repeated it
with cycles of moons, crops, and seasons. Everyone worked on the farm and
people were generalists able to do many things. First Wave civilization’s
population could be divided into two categories; the primitive and the
civilized. The primitive peoples lived in small bands and tribes and subsisted
by gathering, hunting, or fishing. The civilized world, by contrast, was
precisely that part of the planet on which most people worked on the soil.
Wherever agriculture arose, civilization took root. All societies: primitive,
agricultural, or industrial used energy; they made things and distributed
those. In all societies the energy system, the production system, and the
distribution system are interrelated parts of the system as a whole. Apparently
different in facial make up, all the three civilizations hold land as the basis
of economy, life, culture, family structure, and politics. In all of them, life
was organized around the village and birth determined one’s position in life.
The Second Wave the Industrial Revolution took three hundred years to mature
and since then all Second Wave societies accelerated their economy by using
energy from irreplaceable fossil fuels through dipping into the earth’s energy
reserves i.e. coal, gas, and oil. And all Second Wave societies that built
towering technological and economic structures on the assumption that cheap
fossil fuels would be endlessly available. A shift to nonrenewable energy
sources: coal, gas, and oil made mass production possible. Mass production
required giant pools of capital. To encourage investors, the concept of limited
liability was introduced and the corporation was created. In one Second Wave
country after another, social inventors, believing the factory to be the most
advanced and efficient agency for production, tried to embody its principles in
other organizations as well. Schools, hospitals, prisons, government
bureaucracies, and other organizations thus took on many of the characteristics
of the factory; its division of labor, its hierarchical structural and its
metallic impersonality, in other words, bureaucracy.

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