By Alvin Toffler

Copyright 1980

Notes by Bill Paton 1996.

1st Wave of Change: Agriculturalism

2nd Wave of Change: Industrialization

3rd Wave of Change: Informationalization

The Second Wave (Industrialization) has several principles that made its unique design:

  1. STANDARDIZATION: Identical products, Govt. Standards
  3. SYNCHRONIZATION: Punctuality, Work by clock rather than daytime or seasons time.
  4. CONCENTRATION: Urban centres, People work in factories, Giant Corporations.
  5. MAXIMIZATION: Big means efficient, Growth important even if shortsighted.
  6. CENTRALIZATION: Centralizing of Power, Central Banking, Centralized Government.

Another 2nd Wave Institution: The Nation State.

Economic Integration impossible without political integration. 2nd Wave technology could only be amortized if they produced goods for larger than local markets.

2nd Wave multiplied the number of people with a stake in the larger world, so bit by bit, psychological horizons expanded. Localism faded, National Consciousness stirred.

What we call the Modern Nation is a 2nd Wave Phenomenon: (a) a single integrated political authority superimposed on or fused with (b) a single integrated economy.

Progress Principle

Second Wave society and Expansionism is based on 3 beliefs:

  1. Nature is to be exploited.
  2. Humans are pinnacle of long process of evolution.
  3. History flows irreversibly towards the progress of a better life for humanity.

Time was standardized and seen in a linear fashion.

Space became organized: straight lines and squares; Buildings and cities.

Segmenting to smallest single units: the atom.

We believed we could accomplish or understand anything if we could find the critical variables.

Neither technology nor ideas or values by themselves are the driving forces of history. Split between Production and Consumption created marketplaces, stock exchanges, world markets, etc.

2nd Wave improved standards of living and length of life. However, the 2nd Wave's energies are spent. New realities are unfolding:

  1. We have reached a turning point in our war against nature.
  2. We can no longer rely on non

    renewable energy.

  3. Our value system is in crisis.

The second wave marketized the entire world. It was achieved in 3 ways:

  1. Getting new populations to enter the marketplace by whatever means necessary to produce more, prosume less. They became dependent and tied to it.
  2. Commoditization of life-goods and services were designed FOR the market.
  3. The amount of steps from producer to consumer increased - wholesalers, retailer...

Marketization is disappearing

It can no longer grow.

The 1st method is essentially complete. The 2nd could grow, but the rise of prosumers and de-marketization is ending that. 3rd: steps are saturated with new technology going more directly form producer to consumer.

2nd wave belief that integration into the market was progressive while self-sufficiency was backwards. It promoted materialism and money motivation. A Society bound together by contracts - "marriage contract", " social contract", etc. Thus it shaped the thoughts and values and actions of billions worldwide. One could argue this market building and elaborate sociological and psychological structure for exchange and human relationships was the most impressive achievement of 2nd wave civilization.

Now the world is essentially completely marketized, it will no longer be the central project of civilization. The 3rd wave will produce history's 1st "Trans-market" civilization. A civilization dependent of the market but no longer consumer by need to build, extend, elaborate and integrate structure - it is already done. We can move to new agendas for mankind. New religions, fantastic scientific achievements, new social and political institutions - who knows what else. A complete transformation.

The Third Wave: The new synthesis

Most people are culturally more skilled as analysts than synthesists. Four clusters of related industries are poised for major growth and are likely to become the backbone industries of the 3rd wave era, bringing with them major shifts of economic power and social and political alignments:

  1. Electronics and computers,

  2. Space industry: satellites etc.

  3. The Sea: Aquaculture, mining,

  4. Biological Industries.

1. Computers will change our whole world, social structure, even family life.
(Industries that lurk just beyond the present.)

2) Satellites can outmaneuver other things: Cellular phones, etc.

3) Aqua-aquaculture, undersea mining, aqua villages with energy produced on the spot.

4) Gene industry

We could clone ourselves, make a super race.

We are truly first hand gods. Holds good and bad potentials. New plants, future of evolution itself.

These potentially hazardous technologies (biological version of 3 mile island could make AIDS seem like a joke).

Bringing these 4 technologies together will release a flood of innovation unlike any seen before in human history.

We can't be hands off towards these. Full speed ahead, dam the torpedoes could be devastating. Can't work with shortsightedness and selfish criterias the 2nd wave was based on. Basic questions asked before of technology was do they contribute to economic gain or military clout. Now must have stiffer tests - ecological and social as well as economic and strategic. Not surprisingly there is public resistance to new technologies because of fear.

Techno-rebels (3rd Wavers) putting together new ways to look at technology.

Positive policy for managing transition to a 3rd wave future:

Realization that:

  1. Eco-sphere is fragile, all new technologies must be screened to avoid harming it more.
  2. Require democratization of technological decision making.

Believe technology need not be big, costly or complex in order to be "sophisticated".

2nd wave technology seems efficient because pollution costs, looking after employment etc. have been passed on to public.

Favour "appropriate technologies" intended to provide humane jobs, avoid pollution, spare the environment and to produce for personal or local use rather than for national and global marketing alone.

Wide recycling, cheap construction, simple transport experiments.

Some combine latest materials and combine them with old technologies.

Techno-rebels provide basis for humanizing the technological thrust.

Spies are popular in TV, movies because their business is information.

We all have a mind model of reality. Our images of information create our world. As our environment changes, so does the sea of info. Mass media imagery helped produce standardization of behaviour required by industrial production system.

3rd wave does more than accelerate information flow, it transforms the deep structure of information on which our daily actions depend.

De-massified Mass media; gone is LIFE, Saturday Evening Post, now are mini-magazine and E-zines. Special interest type. Narrowcasting of radio stations, TV, Internet.

VCRs and Videocameras consumers become own producer. New infosphere is emerging will change our personal one and it de-massified our minds as well.

Blip culture - we are more at ease with it - instead of receiving our mental model of reality, we are forced to invent it and re-invent it.

Places tremendous burden on us but leads to greater individuality, de-massification of personality as well as culture. Illiterate can find voice speech readers. Computers and internet - true narrowcasting.

Computers enhance our mind power as 2nd wave enhanced our muscle power. Will help all of us to think more deeply about ourselves and the world.

Because we can only deal with 2 or 3 factors, we evaluate huge problems on the basis of this, General Systems Theory, or Big Picture is possible with computers and networking.

Making the World work - all enviro people can contribute.

Systematic, conscious thinking about a great many variables is damnably difficult. Computers can help synthesize all this and deepen culture's views of causality and synthesize meaningful wholes.

The intelligent environment may eventually begin to change not merely the way we analyze problems and integrate information, but even the chemistry of our brains - brain is a muscle which needs exercise. Kids brought up in "smart" environment which is complex and stimulating may develop at different sense of skills; Less parent dependence, sense of mastery, or competence. They can afford to be inquisitive, exploratory, imaginative, and to adopt a problem-solving approach to life.


All memories are either private or social. Social memory lives with us and is the secret to our species evolutionary success. Anything that significantly alters the way we construct, store or use it touches on the very well-springs of destiny.

Twice before, humankind has revolutionized its social memory. Today, in constructing a new info-sphere we are on the brink of another such transformation.

Mass literacy was the first - file cabinets, museums, found new ways to store info.

Today we are jumping to whole new style of social memory. First way in mind only was dynamic, active, it was literally alive.

When it became second it became objectivized, static, frozen.

The Third Wave social memory is both extensive and active. This combination will prove to be propulsive. Activating this newly expanded memory will unleash fresh cultural energies. It makes possible a whole flood of new ideas, theories, ideologies and accelerates historic change and fuels the thrust towards 3rd wave social diversity.

Beyond mass production: Only 5% of manufacturing is of astronomical quantities. Most highly skilled work on one-off and short-run. At Hewlett Packard runs of 50 or 100 units is common. 78% of Pentagon goods budgets was runs of under 100. Eventually we will have true custom making. Laser cutters - custom tailoring on high tech basis. Death of Secretary: Paperless offices?

Electronic Cottage

Big % can and will work at home. This may help keep families together. Leads to community awareness and belonging. Energy requirements become less centralized, more likely to renewable. Also less commuting gas.

Economic impact - some industries benefit, some won't.

Psychological impact: face to face emotional relationships in neighbourhood, and vicarious outside.

Families of Future:

In 1930s people felt guilty about being laid off, even though it was not their fault. Now in the 1980s it is the same with marriage, not purely personal. Nuclear family (Husband, wife, and kids) may no longer be an ideal model for society. Reasons include: decentralizing, de-massified people, women's freedom, young have money, less dependence on others for money. Now alot more singles, living togethers, childless by choice, extended families.

Corporate Identity Crisis:

2nd wave sought global marketplace. Now they can't understand what is going on. We can have inflation and unemployment at same time. Speedup of corporate metabolism: shorter product life-cycles, more leasing and renting, more frequent buying and selling, more ephemeral consumption patterns, more fads, more training required for workers, more negotiations and legal work, etc, all exacerbated by inflation.

De-massified markets - no longer mass market but ever multiplying, ever changing sets of customization. Jobs become less interchangeable, so do people - emphasize unique characteristics. Ethnic, sex, etc and reassert identity and long-denied rights to jobs.

Forces that make mass society thrown into reverse. Nationalism in high tech context becomes regionalism instead. Melting pot pressures replaced by new ethnicity. Media de-massifies further. All these developments parallel emerging diversity of energy which forms and advances beyond mass production. All these interrelated changes create a totally new framework in which we will all function. Mass society is gone.

People are distrustful of big business. People attack the artificial divorce of economics from politics, morality, and other dimensions of life. A new type of corporation is demanded - responsible for making profit and contributing to solutions of ecological, moral, political, racial, sexual and social problems.

Social pollution: Unemployment, community disruption, etc.

Newfound pressures on the corporation:

These are now all part of "Production", marketing etc. Multiple bottom lines all interconnected and accountable to and for- having to create new systems of judging and goals. Social scientists, Societal accounting.

New Societal Rules.

New rhythms and a shift in time perception. Flexible work hours, part-time and night-time work. Mealtime are changing-grazing. VCR program changing. Interac bank machines all shifting a de-massification of time. Spreads out energy costs. Computer time - instant communications.

Attack on Standardization-Customization- all this leads to a profusion of lifestyle and more highly individualized personalities. This will create its own problems and confusions.

Attempts to achieve uniformity-like standardization of education are essentially rear-guard actions of a spent civilization.

De-centralization - neighbourhooding. Decentralized banking and economic managements.

Reduced centralized control of government and also business from head office. New leadership forms; matrix organization. Workers have many tasks.

All this creates whole new society, making yesterday's rules obsolete. Appropriate scale technology - meshing of both big and small is ideal. One of 2nd wave's rules was "Specialize to succeed" now is changing- emerging generalists.

3rd wave organizations - small components linked together in temporary configurations. Adaptability.

Health self-care. home pregnancy tests, stethoscopes etc. create and encourage a new perception of the body and oneself.

2 types of economy:

Sector A: self work, unpaid.

Sector B: Production of goods and services.

In 1st wave A was more important, in 2nd Wave B was more important, in 3rd wave A and B are equally important.

The rise of the "prosumers" who consume what they produce. Shift from B to A. Self-help, self-health, self-diagnosis, direct dialing, self-serve gas, self-banking, assemble at home, fix it yourself, homebuilding TV shows.

Customer input in design, one-person business. Literacy helps the workers.

Rise of Prosumer

The reintegration of the consumer into production will force us to look far more closely at interrelations. Prosumer will change role of market and future of civilization. They are changing the whole sociosphere. Their concern for environmentalism and naturalism is creating the need for enviro-products.

Colliding visions rock our mental universe. Everyday brings some new fads, attack on established science, belief in something. Collisions of emerging 3rd wave anything culture with entrenched ideas and assumptions.

This will all change the role of the market, or exchange network, in our lives. Lifestyles with half self-work and half other work is common. It is possible to create lifestyles that are more varied, less monotonous and less market-intensive. The internet explosion is an example of this.

Third Wave Economics

People are working hard, passionately, but maybe not at work. They are committed to a project or homework. Economics will have to take that into account. They will have to rethink things. People are choosing whether it is more productive (and fulfilling) for them to do it themselves rather than work to get money to pay someone else to do it. What is unemployment now? The problems of labour supply - both gluts and shortages may not be able to be solved within the Second Wave framework. Status quo preventative measures will try to stem the tide of people self-doing, yet it may be unstoppable.

Never before have so many people, worldwide, been so overwhelmed. Attacks of established science, searching for cults. Much of this confusion is because of cultural war between Third wave society and the entrenched ideas of the industrial society.

View of nature has switched: eco-awareness. New understanding of evolution: simpler life forms may have been descended from more complex; Evolution may have occurred in leaps and bounds. With DNA and our knowledge we can become designers of evolution.

"Progress" is being redefined to not just be technology or standard of living - we are looking at the past, eastern religions, etc. We are redefining what that is.

We are shifting our ideas of time, space, matter and causality.

Notions of time which may not be a straight line. Time is not absolute, it is relative. While these theoretical notions may seem impractical, it was Einstein's E=mc2 that led to the smashing of the atom.

Space: with technology less need for urban areas. Change is normal, constant.

People are interested in local community and neighbourhood, at the same time in the global view "Think globally, act locally." Viewing earth from space and new map designs such as Buckminster Fuller's are literally creating a new way of looking at the world.

Second Wave culture emphasized study of things in isolation from one another. Third Wave culture emphasizes contexts, relationships and wholeness (General Systems Theory). A revolt against overspecialization towards interdisciplinary thinking combined with looking at the whole and individual parts.

Second wave gave us comfortable assurance that we knew what caused things to happen. Every phenomenon occupied a unique, determined location in time and space. Same conditions always produced same results. Chaos theory and reevaluating ideas of order, chance, necessity and causality.

Feedback studies-negative feedback which help maintain stability-like thermostat which swing back and forward equilibrium. Studies of positive feedback which amplify and swing onto itself explain vicious cycles and swings and trends i.e. rich getting richer, and see how this affects all systems - body, political, social etc. understanding of complexity; things not so predictable.

Equilibrium can be smashed and create a wholly new structure at a higher level. It may be more differentiated order out of chaos. Change dominates change. Termites random activities can turn into highly elaborate non-random structures. Chaos theory re-evaluates old causality; we see world not as a mechanical clock, but as an open universe. All these concepts are moving us forward to the new culture of the third wave.

This new culture is oriented to change and growing diversity. It attempts to integrate new view of nature, of evolution and progress; new, richer concepts of time and space, fusion of reductionism and wholism with a new causality.

The decay of 2nd wave thought system leaves millions grasping for things to hold onto - mysticism, anything. They attempt to import and modernize old ideas not appropriate nowadays, rather than constructing new culture. However, a positive new culture is emerging.

Nation states are pressured from Above and Below.

From Below: Throughout highly technologically advanced countries, national attitudes are being tested and sectional pressure are mounting - Native self-government, Quebec's, etc potentially explosive internal stresses. Need for a 3rd wave energy base. These stresses can gain support because national governments are unable to respond flexibly to rapidly de-massified society. As conditions diversify, national decision-making is very difficult. Local and individual needs are forgotten or ignored.

From Above: global communications, global economy, worldwide environmental repercussions.

Multinational (or Transnational) corporations set their own agendas, have huge money resources, loyal to themselves, not national, play countries against each other, have their own quasi-diplomats and intelligence gathering agencies. Their power to deploy technology and move relatively quickly often outflank and outrun national governments.

Non-governmental Transnational Associations; Red cross, Greenpeace, UN, OPEC, Internet

Global Economy:

Growth of regional economies the scale of national economies. New global economy dominated by transnationals and served by financial industry no nation can regulate. Their ideologies are that nationalism is obsolete. An emerging planetary consciousness shared by environmentalists and money people. Next decades will be a struggle of newly created global institutions capable of fairly representing prenational as well as postnational peoples of the world.

A matrix type (Geodesic network) system is emerging that mesh different kinds of organizations with common interests. Rapid emergence of Third wave not only foreshadows end of 2nd wave imperium, it explodes traditional notions of ending poverty. Common method was to copy industrialized nations now which always met with failure. Switching to 1st wave methods of Green Revolution, intermediate technology. Alot to be said for this in that it avoids urbanization, eco-aware, local resourced, improves conditions of poor - yet it is only Band-Aid stuff - keeps poor down.

Third Wave civilization has many features which resemble 1st wave; decentralized production, appropriate scale, renewable energy, de-urbanization, work in home, high levels of prosumption, to name a few. We will be combining elements of the past with the future to make a new present.

Energy will be decentralized and renewable.

Less fertilizers will be required-better crops, controlled release pesticides.

We should be encouraging and rewarding ($) prosumption.

Encouraging people to build old homes.

New educational models - literacy may not be relevant anymore. (Operacy??)

1st Wave world may resist 2nd wave technology because it goes against their cultures, but 3rd wave technology is so similar it may be more acceptable transition. Their backwardness in 2nd wave terms may be advantageous in 3rd wave.

Today, behind the confusion of change, there is a growing coherence of pattern: the future is taking place. If we look back at this newcoming civilization we will find profound and parallel changes at many levels simultaneously. Changes are in: technosphere, biosphere, population sociosphere, infosphere, and relationships with outside world and a shifting superideology (powerful cultural assumptions that structure its view of reality and justify its operations) Often, we see only social decay around us, yet that is the compost bed of the new civilization.

The emerging 3rd wave civilization is coherent and workable in ecological, economic and democrating terms. The transition will be marked by extreme social disruption, wild economic swings, sectional clashes, secessionist attempts, technological disasters, political turbulence, violence, and threats of war. In climate of disintegrating institutions and values, authorities , demagogues and movements may achieve their goals.

The third wave civilization will draw on an amazing variety of energy source. A shift to a society based on self-sustainable, renewable energy. A Diversified technological base which will be more small scale, simple to operate systems.

The most basic raw material - that can never be exhausted - is information. Restructuring education, redefining scientific research, and reorganization of communication media will be priorities. Work, even factory work, will be more humane, smaller scale. Workers will be capable of discretion and resourcefulness rather than rote response. Education will have to work on these skills. Society built around a network rather than a hierarchy of standard bureaucracy, which will be gone. Hierarchies will be flatter and more transient.

It will not be a Utopia, but a Practopia. This is not a static perfection of an imagined ideal. It is a positive, realistically attainable future. It makes allowance for individual differences, embraces racial, regional, religious and subcultural variety. Built in considerable measure around the home. It will be pulsing with innovation, yet provide enclaves of relative stability for those who need it. Potentially democratic and humane, in better balance with the biosphere, and no longer dependent of exploitive subsidies.

Why is the 2nd wave system suddenly unworkable? Alot of reasons; Running out of oil, Eco-awareness, technological advances, sexual revolution, new attitudes to work, raw materials decline. Plus so many more reasons.

The decisions we make today, as individuals, as countries, as societies, will affect the outcome of the third wave potentials. Currently, the acceleration and demassification strains individuals and institutions alike, and intensifies the super-struggle. One result is future shock, we are left with only one option; Be willing to reshape ourselves and our institutions to deal with new realities. We must take a totally fresh and imaginative look at two important issues: the future of personality, and politics of the future.


Crime is rising. Drug use is rampant. People are confused, nervous breakdowns are commonplace. Cults and other religions are filling this void. They are all indications of a dying Second Wave.

To create a fulfilling emotional life and a sane psychosphere for the emerging civilization of tomorrow, we must recognize three basic individual requirements:

Understanding how the second wave's collapse undermines them suggests how we might redesign our environment successfully. Social isolation and loneliness is a real truth in current society. A SENSE OF COMMUNITY IS ESSENTIAL. It offsets loneliness and gives people a sense of belonging. Community demands more than emotionally satisfying bonds between individual. It also requires strong ties of loyalty between individuals and their organizations. People hunger for institutions worthy of their respect, affection and loyalty. A warm, participatory feeling emerges during crisis, stress, disaster, or mass uprising.

The rising level of de-massified, social diversity accentuates differences rather than similarities. We make it possible for each of us to more nearly individualize themselves. This makes it more difficult to find compatible mates or friends.

Once loneliness and the importance of community are recognized, we can do something about it. We can begin at the FAMILY level first. We can include all generations, by including the elderly, and encourage the family to take a larger role in children's education. At the same time, schools could promote a sense of belonging, encouraging teamwork and cooperation to promote the ideas of being responsible for others. Corporation could help building human ties afresh. Helping build morale and a sense of belonging and breaking up into small, self-managed units which could unleash enormous new productive energies and build community at the same time. (SATURN). Group cooperatives are possible within the current frameworks. Retirements should be re-examined; partial retirements could work, or part-pay systems could help. Older people in the community could be encouraged. A feeling of self-worth would be essential.

We need new ways to bring lonely hearts, or even friends, together. We should take the embarrassment away from them.

We should look at the tele-commuting and working on integrating people within this reality. Stronger homes, neighbourhood restaurants. Even virtual community relationships are better than the one-way truth of television.

Individuals need life structure. A life lacking in comprehensible structure is an aimless wreck. The absence of structure breeds breakdown. Structure provides the relatively fixed points of reference we need. Work, by making clear demands of people's time and energy, provide and element of structure around which the rest of their lives can be organized. By taking away a conventional structure, many people find a loss of meaning in their lives. The feeling that our lives "count" comes from healthy relationships with the surrounding society and seeing ourselves as part of a larger, even cosmic, scheme of things. Surveying the world around them, most people see only chaos and suffer a sense of personal powerlessness and pointlessness.

This can lead to the rise of cults. Cults offer a sense of community, structure and meaning. They offer friendship, impose tight behavioral constraints, and a single-minded version of reality. It provides a synthesis in offering an alternative framework to the fragmented culture around us. By giving the members a sense that their reality is meaningful, they feel compelled to carry that meaning to outsiders, which offers purpose and coherence in a seemingly incoherent world. So the Third Wave society must offer STRUCTURE AND MEANING as well. There are simple ways to get this started. Why not have a cadre of paraprofessional "life organizers" helping us with budgeting, finding work, following a diet, getting partners and so on. Need to study the structure of modern societies; schools, businesses, and how they are changing under The Third Wave. Worth examining meaning and structure providing institutions - even cults.

A sensible society should provide a spectrum of institutions ranging from free-form to highly structured. Certain groupings such as vegetarians and others might be encouraged to form communities in which moderate to high structure is imposed on those who wish to live that way. Perhaps a variety of civilian service corps - along the lines of workfare? In addition to providing useful services and a degree of life-structure, they could bring much needed meaning into member's lives - not some mystical of political theology, but the simple ideal of service to community.

We need to integrate personal meaning with a larger, more encompassing world view. They must understand their own mall contribution and also how they fit into the larger scheme of things.

Meaning, Structure, and Community are interrelated preconditions for a livable future. In working towards these ends; it will help to understand that the present agony of social isolation, the impersonality, structurelessness, and sense of meaninglessness from which so many people suffer are symptoms of the breakdown of the past rather than intimations of the future.

As we change society through our daily decisions and actions, the Third Wave civilization will in turn shape us. A new psycho-sphere is emerging that will fundamentally alter our character: The Personality of the Future.

As we change the deep structure of society, we also modify people. In any culture, there are widely shared traits that make up the social character. In turn, social character shapes people so that "their behavior is not a matter of conscious decision as to whether or not to follow the social pattern, but one of wanting to act as they have to act and at the same time finding gratification in acting according to the requirements of the culture." (Erich Fromm) We can look at the traits most likely to be valued in the civilization of tomorrow to discover that personality.

These character traits springs from the tensions between the inner drives of many individuals and outer pressures of society. Once formed, these character traits play an influential role in the economic and social development of the society.

The second wave was accompanied by the spread of the protestant ethic with its emphasis on thrift, toil, and deferral of gratification which channeled enormous energies into the tasks of economic development. It brought changes in objectivity - subjectivity, individualism, attitudes towards authority, ability to think abstractly, to empathize and to imagine. Peasants had to be educated, informed and moulded. Communications, politics, even imagination was democratized. The third wave should have similar profound effects on the personality.


Children of tomorrow will grow up in a far less child-oriented society. Adolescence won't be as prolonged or painful a process as they will be required to fit in and understand at an earlier age. Education will also change - more outside learning, it will become interspersed and interwoven with work and more spread out over a lifetime. Youth will be less responsive to peers, more responsible earlier, less consumption-oriented and less hedonistically self-involved.


Work will be less repetitive and less fragmented with each person doing a somewhat larger, rather than smaller, task. Workers will face frequently changing tasks. Therefore, workers will be required to accept responsibility, understand how their work dovetails with others, can handle ever larger tasks, adapt swiftly to changed circumstances, and who are sensitively tuned to the people around them. They will want a sense of fulfillment in work and be able to tailor their benefits packages. They will balance work more with the rest of their lives. They will have multiple objective in work. There will be various matrix style authority at work. Workers will question authority, exercise discretion, be morally responsive and responsible. Prosumption will promote self-reliance, adaptability and ability. Versatility and balance will be key. Firsthand contact with things and people. Handwork will be respectable again. Objective subjectivity and Subjective objectivity will be pronounced.

The de-massification of the media will have people aware of their self-image, people will demand to be treated as individuals. We will become producers of our own self-imagery - to project our image to the world; the technology of consciousness.

Individuals will vary more vividly tomorrow. They will crave balance in their live; between work and play, between production and prosumption, between headwork and handwork, between the abstract and concrete, between objectivity and subjectivity. To match this shift in personality, politics must shift as well.

It is impossible to be simultaneously blasted by revolution in energy, technology, family life, sexual role, and communication without also facing - sooner or later - a potentially explosive political revolution. All of our traditional methods are obsolete and about to be transformed. A third wave civilization cannot operate with a Second Wave political structure. Around the world there is a paralysis of political machinery and decision-making. It is essentially a vacuum. It confuses the businesses, the people and the politicians themselves. No longer can outcomes of actions be predicted. This power has not passed to the ordinary people, however. People become cynical and feel helpless.

The dangers of this have led to racism and terrorism, and frustration with the system. It has led to instability where new parties crop up if they offer even a glimmer of hope. Many believe there are strong, ominous overtones to all this. How to deal with economics, both within and without a country. There is the simple notion that what we need is a Messiah to save us. A masterful leader who is able to seize the rein of power is so appealing. Left and Right wing organizations put forward their beliefs and threaten to take over, by any means necessary. The cry for leadership is based on three misconceptions; the first is the myth of authoritarian efficiency, the notion that an Autocrat can "make the trains run on time". Yet even Hitler's Third Reich was not very efficient. The second is the assumption that the old style leadership that worked in the past will work now. We imagine Churchill or Roosevelt. Yet not all leaderships will work in all circumstances. The First Wave Monarch was a leader from birth, and was free to lead as he thought fit. The Second Wave leader dealt in impersonal and abstract power. He controlled a variety of decisions, from the media to the economy. His authority was based on power from the people. A first wave leader would be unfit to lead in the second wave. A Third Wave leader would be the same. The strength or weakness of a leader has nothing to do with an institution's breakdown. As the third wave society gets more complex and diversified, all leaders must depend on increasing numbers of people for decision-making. The more powerful he is, the more dependent he becomes. The new leadership qualities are not quite clear. Ability to listen to others may be more important than assertiveness. The third misconception is that our current system of leadership is right for our society, which it is clearly not.

The current political framework is complex because local and national interests can affect international ones. Much of a national leader's power is lost. Our political institutions also reflect an out of date organization of knowledge. It is virtually impossible to integrate all of the government's activities effectively. All of the social and political problems are interwoven. Energy affects economics, which affects health, which affects education, work, family life, and a thousand other things. The attempt to deal with each neatly defined problem in isolation creates only confusion and disaster. Yet this is how the government system is set up. This anachronistic structure leads to interminable jurisdictional power struggles, the externalization of costs, and to the generation of adverse side effects. Governments attempt to solve these problems by further centralization. Society and decision-making is accelerated and putting additional pressures on the decision-makers. Politicians careers have even accelerated. They cannot churn out intelligent decisions as fast as events require. Also as the society de-massifies, it creates a collapse in consensus. The sense of "national purpose" is gone. Special interest groups vie for their beliefs. The electorate and splinter groups are splintering into smaller, more transitory groups. Politicians find themselves besieged by these groups. Second wave governing is too slow to keep pace with change and the new levels of social and political diversity. It strikes at the very basis of Second Wave political theory: the concept of representation. Thus, more and more governments are minority governments. It forces us to question whether we are truly being represented. What is happening to representative democracy? Not only our second wave institutions, but the very assumptions on which they are based are obsolete.

Too many decisions, too fast, about too many strange and unfamiliar problems explain the gross incompetence of political and governmental decisions today. Our institutions are reeling from decisional implosion. Working with out of date political technology, our capacity for effective governmental decision-making is deteriorating rapidly. This increasingly mirrors the disarray in the outside world. A political system must not only be able to make and enforce decisions; it must operate on the right scale, it must be able to integrate disparate policies, it must be able to make decisions at the right speed, and it must both reflect and respond to the diversity of society. If it fails on any of these it courts disaster. Politically, we are hundreds of years out of date. It is like trying to fly a jumbo jet with Lindbergh's navigation systems. With nuclear weapons and our abilities, it creates an enormous threat for all parts of the world. The answer is not an Autocratic system, to take away our freedom, or defending our existing institutions. We shall have to invent new ones. The constitution of the US needs to be re-examined for the Third Wave. The old structures are unworkable in our radically changed world. It will require a hard-fought overhauling of our conventional democratic process. There will be many risks, but not changing it will cause even greater risks.


The first, heretical principle of Third Wave government is that of minority power. It is not majorities, but minorities that count and our political systems must reflect that. This is in keeping with our de-massified society. We need to get rid of the notion that increased diversity automatically brings increased tension and conflict in society. In fact, the reverse can be true. If everyone has different goals, they will be more willing to cooperate and form symbiotic relationships. It is the lack of representation and appropriate political systems that cause dissent.

We need to re-examine all methods of democracy. We might have a percentage listing for each possibility. We must get rid of a yes-no system. Party politics is no longer effective in our diverse societies. We need to empower the people, and minorities. We need to encourage long-term planning. By working with various ideas, we can come up with more appropriate structures and systems. With our telecommunications whole new methods of direct democracy or semi-direct democracy is possible. We could provide specific training to the public to educate them about various items for them to contribute to and influence.

Today's political arrangements are not quick to deal with problems. The problems have shifted, but the decisional power hasn't. Many problems are too busy for one government. We need some international systems in place. We need far better agencies in place. We must also move much decisionmaking down to local levels. This can create more efficient and useful government. This decentralizing will happen in business as well. Democracy came about because there were too many decisions for the elite to deal with. With the third wave, there will be an even more expanding elite, which will then become localized. The super-struggle politically will be those who are trying to prop up the Second Wave industrial society and those who are ready to advance beyond it. There are two political wars raging around us simultaneously. At one level is politics as usual Second wave groups battling each other for immediate gain. At a deeper level is these groups cooperating to oppose the new political forces of the Third Wave. This explains why these groups almost seem like blurry mirror images of each other. The second wave parties are committed to Second Wave civilization and dedicated to preserving the core institutions of mass society: the nuclear family, the mass education system, the giant corporation, the mass trade union, the centralized nation-state, and the politics of pseudorepresentative government. The Third Wave camp recognizes that today's most urgent problems, from energy, war, poverty and ecological degradation, and the breakdown of family relationships can no longer be solved within the framework of an industrial civilization. Most of us are in both camps.

The defenders of the Second Wave typically fight against minority power; they scoff at direct democracy as "populism"; they resist decentralization, regionalism, and diversity; they oppose efforts to de-massify the schools; they fight to preserve a backward energy system; they deify the nuclear family, pooh-pooh ecological concerns, preach traditional industrial-era nationalism, and oppose the move toward a fairer world economic order. By contrast, the forces of the Third Wave favour a democracy of shared minority power; they are prepared to experiment with more direct democracy; they favour both transnationalism and a fundamental devolution of power. They call for a crack-up of the giant bureaucracies. They demand a renewable and less centralized energy system. They want to legitimize options to the nuclear family. They fight for less standardization, more individualization in the schools. They place a high priority in environmental problems. They recognize the necessity to restructure the world economy on a more balanced and just basis. They are suspicious of all politicals and parties and feel that decisionmaking is not possible within the current system. Third Wavers are difficult to define. Some head up major corporations, others are environmentalists. It is not a movement, per se, but people with a common recognition that the old system is now broken beyond repair. Each of us play a role in this which can be either destructive or creative. We need to first acknowledge that the system needs changing. We need to see long-term and be creative. Never before have we had such a well-educated society, armed with an incredible range of knowledge. Never before have we had such a global view. This collective imagination can be tapped to design alternative political institutions based on minority power, semi-direct democracy, and decision division. By re-examining the system, we can help to avoid violent confrontation. We need public input. We should use the most advanced tools available to us. We need to redesign all elements within the systems. We need a vast process of social learning. We need to put on pressure from all levels and ideas.

The responsibility for change lies with us. We must begin with ourselves; being open-minded and creative minded. We must fight for freedom of expression. If we begin now we can take part not only in a reconstitution of our obsolete political structures, but also civilization itself. We have a Destiny to create.

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