Three Waves of Alvin Toffler. The Basic Points

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All other issues, such as technical progress and even political, economical and social sides of the society are only the consequences and they are being changed in order to fit the new reality. Industrialism was more than smokestacks and assembly lines. It was a rich, many-sided social system that touched every aspect of human life and attacked every feature of the First Wave past (22).

First two waves.

First wave.

According to the author, the people of the First Wave were the first civilization that ever existed on the face of the Earth. He does not deny that people did exist before that, but I did not find any evidence that he considered those people to be a civilization. In his book he talks of civilized people, those who adopted the agricultural style of life, and the rest of the population, people called primitive, the ones who could not switch to the progressive way of living and were left behind in barbaric world. During the long millennia when First Wave civilization reigned supreme, the planets population could have divided into two categories the primitive and the civilized. The so-called primitive peoples, living in small bands and tribes and subsisting by gathering, hunting, or fishing, were those had been passed over by the agricultural revolution(21).

The distinctive feature of the agricultural society was the decentralization of power. People still had to live together mostly in small groups because it was the only way to feed themselves and to survive. But there was no centralized government over them that would lead them or try to organize people for bigger projects. Brutal physical force was used as a method of solving either private or social conflicts. In most agricultural societies the great majority of people were peasants who huddled together in small, semi-isolated communities. They lived on a subsistence diet, growing just barely enough to keep themselves alive and their masters happy (37). The trading was developed very poorly and the market itself did not exist at all. Even though that there was some simple division of labor and several communities specialized in producing a particular kind of food or simple labor tools, mostly they just naturally exchanged their products with the other groups. Money did not exist in the agricultural era.

As I already mentioned in the basic principles of the Alvin Tofflers theory, the social life of the people is a secondary issue and is subordinated to certain civilization rules. The agricultural age was a nice example. The family structure was also preconditioned by the human needs for survival. Lots of relatives lived at the same place mostly because it was easier to cultivate land and grow their harvest this way.

The social life of the majority of people was quite monotonous due to the lack of travelling. An average person living in agricultural age probably met fewer people during his or her life than we do in one month or even a week.

The agricultural era was and, probably, will be the longest in the history of the human society. It took more than a 1500 years for several little currents of the first wave to come together and form the big stream that wold later grow into the Second Wave.

Second Wave

Causes of shifting into the second wave

Like I said before there should have been a coincidence of several factors to come together in order for a civilization to come into the next stage. After a series of unsuccessful attempts the human society finally made the move towards its future and started the big clock of history again. According to Toffler, it happened in the 18th century (All Second Wave societies began to draw their energy from coal, gas, and oil from irreplaceable fossil fuels. This revolutionary shift, coming after Newcomen invented a workable steam engine in 1712, meant that for the first time a civilization was eating into natures capital rather than merely living off the interest it provided(25).

The future need for new kinds of energy later conduced to the development in industry and technology. Finally, all the sides of the human life in the new age were changed in order to get more efficiency out of new industrial formations such as manufactories, factories, plants etc. At this stage the civilization needed entirely new methods of organizing people, totally new economical and political systems.

Unlike those of the Third Wave, the economical issues of the Second Wave can be talked about with quite a great deal of persistency. For almost three hundred years, we have had enough time to witness and analyze the process that took place and, finally, formed the economy of the industrial society.

Now we can definitely say that the main concept that made the industrial production different from the agricultural one was the division of labor. Establishment of the first manufactories is considered to be one of the first steps of transferring into the industrial age. The further development of the Second Wave economy was preconditioned in many aspects by this principle.

: 21/11/2007