War and Anti-War: Making Sense of Today's Global Chaos
a book by Alvin and Heidi Toffler
(our site's book review)
We have the power to make war and the power to make peace, but the latter gets only a small investment of time, money and personnel compared to the former, according to the Tofflers. Their premise, on the book jacket, is that “the way we make wealth is the way we make war—that today’s revolutionary changes in business are being mirrored in the world’s armies and the future of war itself. What is needed, they say, is a parallel revolution in the way we make peace.”
Of course, the way we make many things these days is to empower the process with information, high-tech electronic computer and communications support, and—in the case of war—high-tech surveillance and artificial intelligence. The Gulf War showed that in a contest between smart war and dumb war, it’s a no-brainer. Wealth buys force, but knowledge multiplies wealth and force.
Also, dictatorship spreads decisions inefficiently, micro-manages, overcentralizes, and precludes rapid local responsiveness due to chain-of-command delays. Vertical communication can organize a plan and coordinate a response but can only render battlefield decisions weak and impotent, because, like everything else in the Third Wave, it’s a contest between the fast and the slow (not the North and the South, like liberals and U.N. officials think). The Iraqi war, because of command structure delays, was a nonstarter. The 1990-1991 Gulf War was also a contest between the seeing and the blind, and the hearing and the deaf, as the U.S. weakened the information aspect of their assault so that the force aspect of their assault became ill-used, ill-timed, ill-placed, uncoordinated, and—eventually—disheartened (who ended up surrendering on camera—the world watched Iraqi soldiers chant "George Bush! George Bush!" as they gave up the fight and raised their hands in surrender).
The book covers such areas as First Wave war, Second Wave war and Third Wave war; the scale, organization, de-massification, infrastructure, acceleration, systems integration of war, space wars, robot wars, chemical and biological war, nuclear war, etc. It also looks at info-war, info-terrorism, and computer viruses. The economic factors of war are analyzed, and finally the various ways that peace can be intentionally pursued and planned for are covered—some of the ideas are quite new and innovative.
Nuclear bomb explosion
Since knowledge is the dominant factor in Third Wave war, and intelligence and guidance are sent via satellites, these are our most vulnerable war tools, and if an adversary takes out our satellites (which would be considered an act of war but unless we knew who did it we’d be helpless to know how to respond), we’d be “blind.” Or enemies could “soft-kill” satellites, which is to say “damage, distort, destroy or reprogram the information it processes and transmits. “. . . it takes very modest physical equipment—much of it available at your local Radio Shack—to manipulate or interfere with satellite signals, ground stations, and their associated networks.”
It takes very modest physical equipment—much of it available at your local Radio Shack—to manipulate or interfere with satellite signals, ground stations, and their associated networks
With regards to dealing with terrorism, the Tofflers ask: “. . . how do you ‘massively retaliate’ against a terrorist gang or narco-warlord, or even a tiny state, that has no important infrastructure or command center to attack? Or a team of ‘info-terrorists’ arriving in the United States to sabotage critical nodes in the country’s highly vulnerable communication system and satellite links. Or, indeed, not arriving at all, but sitting at computer screens somewhere half a world away and penetrating the networks that process and carry satellite-derived data . . .”
There is also new technology available that can render much of war bloodless, as it makes people temporarily sleepy or incapacitated by vomiting or diarrhea, glues weapons so they cannot move, slickens rails or steps until they’re unusable, makes metal parts too brittle to function without breaking, etc. This Third Wave war development may play a bigger part in conflicts, hostage situations, crowd control and embassy protection soon.
The authors say that: “The rise of religious fanaticism (as distinct from mere fundamentalism) promotes paranoia and loathing around the world. . . . On a world scale, the lurch back to religion reflects a desperate search for something to replace fallen Second Wave faiths—whether Marxism or nationalism, or for that matter Scientism. In the First Wave world it is fed by memories of Second Wave exploitation. Thus it is the aftertaste of colonialism that makes First Wave Islamic populations so bitter against the West. It is the failure of socialism that propels Yugoslavs and Russians toward chauvinistic-cum-religious delirium. It is alienation and fear of immigrants that drives many Western Europeans into a fury of racism that camouflages itself as a defense of Christianity. It is corruption and the failures of Second Wave democratic forms that could well send some of the ex-Soviet republics tracking back either to Orthodox authoritarianism or Muslim fanaticism. . . . religious passions, whether genuine or a mask for other sentiments, can be stoked by political demagogues and all too easily converted into a fever for violence. The ethno-religious nightmare in the Balkans merely foreshadows what might easily happen elsewhere.”
They point out that the overall context for all this potential conflict comes from the clash of First Wave, Second Wave and Third Wave states, each with their own agenda and needs.
The rest of their book is about peace making. The United Nations, as structured, is a Second Wave dinosaur, and as the Balkans conflict exposed the complete inadequacy of this body for the purpose of peacekeeping, it made the world community realize it had no effective way to deal with post-Cold War conflicts: “If the UN dinosaur cannot transform itself from a Second Wave bureaucratic organization to a more flexible, Third Wave organization that represents nonstate actors along with nations, competing centers of global power will be organized—‘para-UNs’ made up of these various excluded groupings.”
The UN dinosaur
The UN can hire carefully controlled mercenaries since it is clear after Somalia (shown) and Bosnia that few countries have the stomach to ask their militaries to get enmeshed in the nasty quagmires of other countries’ conflicts
The Tofflers have many peacemaking suggestions:
- The UN can hire carefully controlled mercenaries since it is clear after Somalia and Bosnia that few countries have the stomach to ask their militaries to get enmeshed in the nasty quagmires of other countries’ conflicts.
- Internationally chartered Peace Corporations each of which is assigned a region of the globe. Instead of being paid for waging war, a corporation’s sole source of profit would come from war limitation in its region. Speaking of such a corporation, the Tofflers specify that “its ‘product’ would be reduced casualty numbers as measured against some base-line period.” Such companies would have special internationally sanctioned rules that would allow them to do what it takes to get the job done, which might include: bribery, propaganda, limited military intervention and supplying peacekeeping forces to the region.
- Knowledge strategies for peace: mutual monitoring of military installations that would lead to a type of openness that would reduce fears and suspicion, weapons verification and inspection programs, use of surveillance satellites, etc. “The exchange of data, information and knowledge in a world increasingly marked by regional arms races is clearly a Third Wave tool for peace.”
- Million dollar bounties paid by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, some other foundation, or the UN for credible evidence of nuclear smuggling or weapons proliferation.
- Use an instant reaction media force that can go anywhere and beam the truth into a country in TV and radio broadcast forms, and supplement this with sending truth over the Internet. This is needed because the fanatics that start wars often either have or get control of the major media and begin broadcasting propaganda that is mostly lies and exaggerations.
Above all, we need the type of knowledge collection and analysis that will allow the world to be proactive rather than reactive in its anti-war efforts, say the authors, who remind us that “. . . it will take all the Third Wave ideas we can get, along with the efforts of peace advocates and soldiers alike, for us to survive the upheavals that lie ahead as the global system trisects [into the three Waves].”
Let’s look now at a fictitious scenario that may nicely supplement the above Tofflerian analysis: Two desert islands are a half mile apart on planet Scenario, which has no other land. Each island holds ten human people—two families of five—and each island is so small that there isn’t enough food growing to support any more people. In the past thousand years, wars broke out for these reasons:
- Too many people—one island was careless with its birth control so its inhabitants fought over the food and they also swam-sneaked over to the other island at night and stole food, were caught, and resource wars ensued.
- Bad planning—they were irresponsible relative to seed planting, on one of the islands, and ended up with less food than usual, so they fought over the food and they also swam-sneaked over to the other island at night and stole food, were caught, and resource wars ensued.
- Bad relationships—the adults treated each other unkindly and inconsiderately, were often angry, became tired of each other and tried swimming to the other island to see if they’d like the people better, which they did, but the other island’s people didn’t like them and threw them off the island, so they took the opportunity to act out their perpetual anger and went back to their island to prepare for war, which they then carried out.
- Bad parenting—they treated their young impulsively, following whatever thought or idea or emotion happened to come upon them, considering it “parenting by the use of natural, God-given parenting instincts,” and when the kids became hateful and resentful, they grew up suspicious of the neighboring island, generally angry and not knowing why, and always making war on the “the dirty, Godless Others” as a way of expressing their emotions, all of which was really merely a projection of their internal conflicts on the only convenient targets on Scenario. (Parents were not convenient targets, as the offspring had repressed the source of their anger and still needed their parents, even as adults, in a dependent, immature sort of way, since they hadn’t been nurtured well enough to really mature emotionally.)
- Bad futurism—lack of foresight led one island to plant only enough to feed its people if weather was always good and no crops came up diseased, bug-eaten or genetically diminished. Some years they ended up with less food than usual, so they fought over the food and they also swam-sneaked over to the other island at night and stole food, were caught, and resource wars ensued.
On this simple Scenario world, the history of what had gone wrong began to be recorded for future generations to learn from. They learned not to make these errors. As a result, the wars stopped and they all looked forward to living happily ever after. Their only regret was that it had taken them 1000 years to learn and apply the obvious lessons. But all’s well that ends well.
Almost. Unfortunately, the soil of each island had been wrecked when they invented poisons to attack each other’s crops with, and the pits and trenches they’d dug to snare enemies and crouch in to avoid enemy spears had started up erosion processes and all the people of Scenario died of starvation within a few years. But the cockroaches thrived, evolved into big intelligent dragon-snake monsters, evolved intelligence, became high-tech, then super-high-tech, then conquered space travel, then faster-than-light travel, and before you could say “To boldly go where no dragon-snake monster has gone before . . .,” they peacefully settled the Universe—spreading knowledge wherever they went—and lived happily ever after. Oh well, at least SOMEBODY got it right!
The moral of the story, as Tofflerian books constantly remind us, is that Third Wave knowledge applied conscientiously will be the key to 21st century survival, but survival chances decrease if we’re too slow to move from Second Wave force to Third Wave knowledge. Let’s see if there are other lessons:
Overpopulation causes many of Earth's other problems—it's a major contributor to war and environmental destruction
Crowding, as sociologists have told us for decades, causes aggression. Resource scarcity due to bad planning and/or bad futurism causes aggression. Overpopulation causes aggression. Bad parenting causes aggression. Bad relationship/communication habits cause aggression. In the absence of all these aggression-precipitating factors, we just might be able to get along as a species and go beyond coping and even thrive in the 21st century, as long as the basic Tofflerian Third Wave advice is followed.
We cannot use social engineering superheroes reactively to deal with mitigating aggression-producing factors such as bad parenting
We cannot use social engineering to deal with mitigating these aggression-producing factors. The 20th century was rife with Second Wave experiments in which wealth (“throw money at it,” as in politics) and force (nations using brute force to influence or conquer other nations) were used as the agents of social change. Big government characterized by infamous tax-and-spend liberalism was the mass-ified approach to problem solving that was tried and found wanting. It turns out that as people, values, ideals, businesses, goals, backgrounds and most other aspects of life diversify, one-size-fits-all mass approaches are rendered less and less capable of addressing social ills with any degree of success. Solutions being benevolently handed to us from all-knowing political father figures was an all-too-prevalent 20th century paternalistic illusion. The cynicism and social symptomatology of the last two decades of the century reflected just how well this illusion was translated into reality: it wasn’t.
The 20th century was rife with Second Wave experiments in which (the political favorite) 'throw money at it' was tried and failed
We need a solution that satisfies both sides, that empowers both responsibility and compassion, that transcends the right-left continuum, and that comes from individual choice, not tax-and-spend social engineering
So if top-down social engineering isn’t going to save us, then what about bottom-up individual responsibility expressed in Third Wave social movements in which each person and family does everything it can to make itself Third Wave compatible, using high quality knowledge-power rather than lower quality power to make relationships, communications, neighborhoods, and communities work effectively? Yes, that can work.
And since Second Wave authoritarian, hierarchical contexts have been malfunctioning in business, families, spousal relationships, parental relationships, and international relationships as we transition into the Third Wave, does this mean that it is time that new, ecological-holistic-paradigm-aligned, Third Wave knowledge replaces the old, mechanistic-reductionistic-paradigm-aligned, Second Wave authoritarian and hierarchical approaches in society? Yes. And does this mean that democracy and peace were difficult and unlikely in the Second Wave 20th century in which authoritarian approaches dominated, but that democracy, if experienced from day one in win-win authoritative (rather than win-lose permissive or authoritarian) upbringings, will finally begin to function effectively in the 21st century, since it will be natural for democratically raised people to enter into win-win democratic relationships in national and international politics?
Yes. Does this even mean that the corrupt political practices—always operating in the gray areas, the gridlock, and the polarized, divisive Culture War fights of late 20th and early 21st century politics will give way to a kinder and gentler 21st century politics? Only if the win-lose, authoritarian lifestyles of the 20th century are replaced by democratic lifestyles in the 21st century.
The pushmi-pullyu: a perfect symbol for the polarized, divisive Culture War fights of late 20th and early 21st century politics which led to little but gridlocked stalemate
There are three necessary ingredients to a peaceful 21st century, the first two of which are extensively covered in Toffler books, and the third of which in subtly implied as subtext, but not really dealt with directly—however, we will do that here:
- The use of effective anti-war peace-forms to prevent or mitigate wars
- The growth of a Tofflerian understanding of the world and its Third Wave transition as well as its trisected reality in which nations at differing stages of development see it in their mutual interests to cooperate with one another not just for new paradigm, ecological-biospherical reasons but for quality-of life and survival reasons as well
- The application of Third Wave knowledge to the nurturing styles of young humans on the planet so that basic personality structures are win-win, democratic, ecologically friendly, and repelled by even the thought of war.
We believe that win-lose people are prone to win-lose conduct—they are, in fact, psychologically predisposed to war. We believe that no amount of diplomacy, strategy, negotiations, persuasion, arbitration and treaty-signing will ultimately prevent war in the fundamentally conflict-prone. We believe that even the best peace-forms will not suffice to keep the 21st century from falling into a seething cauldron of conflicts if the people who inhabit this century are fundamentally win-lose people—such as Americans.
Bloodshed of win-lose people
By not empowering relationships, parenting and communication with the existing wisdom on the subject, we help to create a world in which the proclivity for win-lose violent solutions involving war-forms is strong and preordained, and the proclivity for win-win solutions involving peace-forms is muted and unlikely to result in a peaceful world, since the basic character structures of the citizens have been misguidedly conditioned to reflect only win-lose mind-sets. See Flat-gradient Nurturance versus Steep-gradient Nurturance.
The basic character structures of U.S. citizens have been misguidedly conditioned to reflect only win-lose mind-sets
Registering for MC search and match
The MC movement—Why Register for an MC?—is designed to address this problem at its roots. For the first time, the world will have to face the basic contradiction of creating nations of warrior personalities, arming these nations to the teeth with the worst possible implements of war, and then hoping that either the UN or good international relations (or God or good luck) will somehow be able to keep such people from violence and conflict. People brought up by Second Wave authoritarians are taught by the most effective teaching device known is that violence or threat of same is the way to relate to people and solve their problems. These offspring of authoritarians are psychologically conflicted people. People brought up with Second Wave steep-gradient nurturance methods are also psychologically conflicted people, and few of them resolve these conflicts optimally and lose or transcend their basic conflict-prone personality structures.
Most people, as the 20th century dismally manifested, project such conflicts outwards toward other people, dovetailing malevolently with basic xenophobic primate instincts, and the results are bigotry, racism, ethnocentricity, xenophobia, intolerance for differences and diversity, a felt need for authoritarian rather than democratic relationships, and zero-sum attitudes in all aspects of life. The bottom line: Basically peaceful people create PEACE; basically conflicted people create CONFLICT. Win-win people act to make everyone win; win-lose people act to make others lose—which ultimately leads to war.