Wired 1.05: Shock Wave (Anti) Warrior

This is a pretty insightful comment from Alvin Toffler from 1993. 

Information, including misinformation, will change the world militarily and economically. If we look at global power, in the broadest sense, the most basic division in the world was not between East and West, but between industrial and nonindustrial powers. Between first wave or agrarian countries, and second wave or industrial countries. That two-way split in world power has dominated the planet for 300 years. What is happening now is a process of what we call trisection. The world system is splitting into three parts – three different layers or tiers – or more accurately three different civilizations.

Of course, you’ll continue to have agrarian countries and you’ll continue to have the mass-manufacturing cheap-labor suppliers, at least for a transitional period. But we are also rapidly developing a chain of info- intensive countries whose economics depend not on the hoe or the assembly- line but on brainpower. The people reading Wired are children of this third wave of change. It is an entirely new civilization that is still in its infancy.

We call it a civilization because it’s not just the technology that’s changing. The entire culture is in upheaval. All the social institutions designed for the second wave – for a mass production, mass media, mass society – are in crisis. The health system, the family system, the education system, the transportation system, various ecological systems – along with our value and epistemological systems. All of them.

And the emerging third-wave civilization is going to collide head-on with the old first and second civilizations. One of the things we ought to learn from history is that when waves of change collide they create countercurrents. When the first and the second wave collided we had civil wars, upheavals, political revolutions, forced migrations. The master conflict of the 21st century will not between cultures but between the three supercivilizations – between agrarianism and industrialism and post- industrialism.

Each of these have different interests. They need different resources. They view reality from different perspectives. Even their conceptions of time, and of history, differ.

We live in an accelerating, almost real-time environment, and it’s hard to comprehend the attitudes of the Serbs, say, or the Jews and the Arabs still fighting about wars that took place a thousand years ago.