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The Big Answer


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At Century's End: Great Minds Reflect on Our Times

a book by Nathan Gardels

(our site's book review)

At Century's End is a fairly powerful collection of essays and interviews by thirty of the world's top thinkers and leaders, providing insight on the course of the world at the end of the twentieth century. Among the contributors to this collection of essays, Alvin and Heidi Toffler discuss The Revolt of the Rich.

In this, the Third Wave, fast-paced, computer-literate and Internet-connected elites in China, India, Brazil and even Italy want to leave the less well off in their countries behind. They want out—to secede, at least functionally if not literally, from the Have-nots in their countries. The affluent Third Wavers in all these countries have more in common with each other than with the First Wavers and Second Wavers in their own countries. They feel themselves held back by the poor and taxed to pay for the problems of the poor that they don’t consider to be their problems.

The Tofflers say that “These multiplying, fast-widening cleavages represent large-scale threats to peace in the decades ahead.” Other splintering factors are protectionism and religious differences. The world is trisected into First Wave agricultural states, Second Wave industrial states, and Third Wave states, each with its own vital interests, elites, and agendas. Terrorism and war will be even more likely in this Wave-conflict context. “In the period of extreme turbulence and danger to come, our survival will depend on our doing something no one has done for at least two centuries. Just as we have invented a new war-form, we will have to invent a new ‘peace-form’ that uses the decentralization of power and knowledge to combat Third Wave forms of violence.”