Three Waves of Alvin Toffler. The Basic Points

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According to Toffler, there are six basic fundamentals the economy of any industrialized society stands on: Standardization, Specialization, Synchronization, Concentration, Maximization and Centralization. Not getting into details, all of them meant to optimize the economy of an industrial society by raising the efficiency of labor, decreasing the production costs, speeding up the process etc.

The main point that proves the accuracy of Tofflers theory is that these principles work in any kind of industrialized society whether it is a capitalistic, socialistic or even the communistic one. With some margin of error, they could be found in the economics of either USA, former USSR or China. Countries with absolutely different history, human nature, traditions or, what is the most important, different kinds of governance, still had to come through the same economical cycles as they entered the industrial stage.

The economic rules were not the only ones that were developing in a similar way in different industrialized countries. The political and the social part of life also obeyed the strict laws of the Second Wave.

Even though the political systems were rather different, they all had one attribute that differentiated the industrial societies from the agricultural ones. It was the strong centralization of power that made possible the establishment of big corporations and, as a result, the realization of big projects.

The author raises a very interesting issue about the force that really makes the power decisions and integrates the whole system in the industrial society. That force was the product of the narrow specification and expansion of production. The representatives of that force became managers of all levels. They were the ones who got between the owners and the workers and made the thing run when the owner could no longer control the technological process. In the larger firms no individual, including the owner or dominant shareholder, could even begin to understand the whole operation. The owners decisions were shaped, and ultimately controlled, by the specialists brought in to coordinate the system. Thus a new executive elite arose whose power rested no longer on ownership but rather on control of the integration process(63).

According to Toffler, the executive elite is the force that really has control over the industrial society. Even though the real tools of the industrial production like plants or factories belong either to capitalists or to the state in communistic societies, neither the owners, nor the state has the real power in the Industrialism.

Executive elite is the people who are surfing on the edge of the Second Wave that came with the Industrialism. Those are the people who really rule and have the power. They make corrections to the laws through their representatives in parliament or through their people in the headquarters of the communist party, they settle and stop wars, they are in control of destiny of the whole peoples in the industrial age.

Anyway, we should admit that industrial era made our lives much more exiting. People got an incredible number of opportunities they couldnt dream of during the agricultural age. We can travel anywhere in the world within reasonable amount of time; telephone also made communication between people much easier; the achievements in medicine helped us to get rid to many of fatal diseases and have greatly extended the human life, mass-media made the distribution of information much easier too. Nevertheless, the industrial era kind of human beings were still used only as a tool for achieving certain aims. It was still not considered to be a primary link in the chain of the human existence.

Third Wave

The chapter where the author asks more questions that provides answers. Alvin gives the reader the right to decide which answers will most likely fit the system. Anyone who can answer them will probably be able to obtain a clear picture of what is going to happen to us in the near future.

In this chapter I found the most places where I want to argue with the author. It was not surprising for me because this part of the book was meant to describe the future structure of the society. Like I mentioned before, I have been wondering, what would be different in this book if it were written now, not twenty years ago. On the other hand, even now we still do not have enough experience to decide whether Toffler's theory is right.

The need for a new kind of energy and further discovering of irreplaceable fossil fuels was the reason of shifting into the second wave. But as we all know, the reserves of fossil fuels are not endless on the Earth and moreover, with the current consumption rate we are going to have them for a hundred more years. All this plus the increasing need for more powerful energy have created the potential situation for transferring into the next era or The Third Wave. In 1973, when the Yom Kippur War broke out and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries suddenly stepped out of the shadows. Choking off the worlds supply of crude oil, it sent the entire Second Wave economy into a shuddering downspin(131).

: 21/11/2007