a book by Alvin and Heidi Toffler
(our site's book review)
The most hopeful thing in this book is Toffler’s statement that “the biggest surprise of all may be that the revolutionary wealth system and civilization described in these pages will, despite everything, open enormous opportunities for billions of us to live better, healthier, longer and more socially useful lives.” Knock on wood.
This futurist sees big picture realities and makes big picture predictions that mostly come true, so we ignore their advice, as a country, at our peril. The holistic thinking he and his wife Heidi bring to the table are much needed to put context on the chaos of countless world events. The reasons to listen are legion. Because of the dangers in the world that we need to be proactive about rather than reactive. Because the various corporate and military leaders (some of which he has helped in person from time to time) need an overall framework within which they can fine-tune their business and military and national security strategies. Because we all need to understand what's going on in the world in order to guide our personal decisions as well as our voting decisions. And that only scratches the surface.
Votes solicited by politician
The Tofflers tell us that the emerging wealth system “cannot be understood within the framework of conventional economics, and that, to even glimpse its future, we need to look at the deep fundamentals that lie behind all wealth creation” and they mean for us to include all the ways wealth used to be created, all the ways it is now being created, and all the ways we believe it will be created in the future. Economists and corporate bigwigs ignore this guidance at their peril.
This book expands on the definitions and predicaments and dangers of Third Wave civilization, and, as such, is a continuation of their best-seller The Third Wave. Our relationships to the deep fundamentals time, space, and knowledge are being revolutionized by this Third Wave. The authors expect that prosuming and consuming will go hand in hand in the near future with the former possibly becoming more dominant than the latter someday. These authors—not known for their shyness—also call into question the very premise of monetary exchange. The Tofflers think big. (And it’s a good thing somebody does!) Prosuming consumers will participate in the process of production, whether it is design, construction or customization.
Prosumer (the buyer is the designer of the honey jars the seller uses for honey packaging)
Many of our activities—whether parenting or volunteering, blogging, painting our house, improving our diet, organizing a neighborhood council or even "mashing" music—pump "free lunch" (create “wealth” that’s passed along) from the "hidden" non-money economy into the money economy that economists track.
Their “mass settlement into outer space” idea is great fun to contemplate, but since the scientists haven't even begun to make headway into most of the food supply and health issues, we don’t feel too inclined to start packing our suitcases. (In all fairness, we imagine the Tofflers are similarly disinclined.) The attempt to create a balanced and self-sustaining replica of Earth’s ecosystems, Biosphere II, was a miserable (and expensive) failure that later nearly got sold to developers in disgust. (On June 26, 2007, the University of Arizona announced it would take over research at the Biosphere 2—as of yet, no data has been gathered that might be useful in estimating whether the Biosphere itself is capable of sustaining eight people for two years, its original mission.)
Biosphere 2 Lesson: We have no clue how to survive in space or on Mars. Obviously we cannot bring all the needed food, so any mass settlement into outer space would soon become a tomb or tombs. No one is even working on this all that seriously—NASA figures that handling the problem by planning to bring food with enhanced shelf life is the way to feed a Mars mission, although they're giving lip service to hydroponic growth labs which no one knows how to handle. Nor do they know how to handle the air and water and radiation issues when combined with food growing. So a Mars mission, let alone space settlements, would soon get the name Biosphere Oops!
The authors urge us to drop the obsolete bureaucratic business model and develop a less ponderous post-bureaucratic business model. They also want a Nobel Prize for social invention. (Think MC [microcommunity] here.) They warn us about the assault on science and the scientific method by "truth managers" who prefer decisions based on other criteria, from mystical revelation to political or religious authority. This leads us to decide if we can trust anyone or anything—is science now the whore of corporations, of politicians, of religions? The list goes on and on. See The New Know-Nothings: The Political Foes of the Scientific Study of Human Nature.
The Tofflers warn that the risks and dangers of our futures are—like most everything else in this book—accelerating. Terrorists wish to replace advanced civilization with their theocracies. A few of them are trying to get their paws on nukes in furtherance of this cause. One can only shudder.
The Tofflers are the swinging banjo in the movie Deliverance, forewarning us of grave repercussions should we continue on the wrongheaded path we're on in which political and religious authority undermine truth and science
The sciences have become the whores of politicians and special interests and the public has become more skeptical of the "objectivity" of scientific findings