madness in the world, armageddon and a dose of reality


“We cannot cram the embryonic world of tomorrow into yesterday’s conventional cubbyholes. enlightened conflict thinkNor are the orthodox attitudes or moods appropriate.” – Alvin Toffler in 1980 <discussing the impending ‘revolution’ he suggested was replacing the end of the Industrial Revolution – please note he called these ‘waves’>


“What will stop the madness?” – my buddy Scott



I have a bunch of smart, thoughtful and aware friends <my buddy Scott being one> and invariably parts of our discussions revolve around what is happening in the world today.

It is very very easy to be myopic with regard to events and shit in general as news media bombards you with one-sided opinions and the tragedy du jour <and I have entire rant/observation coming up on that>.


Me, being an attitudes & behavior guy, likes to get by my own frustration with the moment and take a step back to think about what may be happening culturally or from a civilization evolution perspective.


I find myself going back to Alvin Toffler and Peter Drucker <not his business management stuff> often.

Toffler in particular who in the early 1980’s outlined in some fairly astounding detail:



–       as he discussed the construct of what made the industrial revolution so successful <think a ‘factory construct mentality’>



–       and the fact that the 80’s and 90’s were the culmination of the Industrial Revolution <it was peaking … and its inevitable decline … by the way … this is also Schumpeter’s natural creative destruction of ‘as things peak in success others come along to destroy it and create something new and better>



–       therefore the next ‘revolution’ was emerging in the 80’s and 90’s <and revolutions do not occur overnight or even in years but rather decades or centuries>



–       which suggests that now, at this time, we are entering into what would be the true beginning of the clash between the past <the industrial revolution> and the emerging revolution <which doesn’t really have a name … it isn’t global – because we have been global since the 1700’s – and it isn’t computer – because computers are simply enablers for what will happen – but maybe it is the “global I” revolution ??? … just thinking aloud … the empowerment of “I’s” to be maximized … moving from a revolution which was all about amassing groups and efficiencies in factory like constructs to produce & distribute to a revolution in which smaller groups of “I’s” can do the same thing>.


Please note: that last thought is more mine than Toffler’s so blame me and not him.





From here on out I just wanted to share some of Toffler’s thoughts directly from his book “the third wave.” I have used some editing magic o clean it up but any typos or inaccurate edits are all my fault.


Conclude what you want from it.


I am not going to invest a lot of energy today on my own thoughts <although I do include some brief observations> but rather suggest that Toffler was a pretty smart shit who makes a lot of sense.


Basically … as you read what he wrote … the whole idea that when one economic construct declines and another arises they create a lot of angst and change and clashing of ideas <and ideologies>.


Simple idea.

Not so simple repercussions … unless you believe ‘madness’ is simple.


Here you go.


Some of Toffler’s words:




About it all ,an overview of the feeling and the madness> … remember … written in 1980


In the very midst of destruction and decay, we can now find striking evidences of birth and life. It shows clearly and, I think, indisputably, that with intelligence and a modicum of luck the emergent civilization can be made more sane, sensible, and sustainable, more decent and more democratic than any we have ever known. If the main argument of this book is correct, there are powerful reasons for long-range optimism, even if the transitional years immediately ahead are likely to be stormy and crisis ridden


The governments of the world are reduced to paralysis or imbecility. Faced with all this, a massed chorus of Cassandras fills the air with doom-song. The proverbial man hi the street says the world has “gone

mad,” while the expert points to all the trends leading toward catastrophe.


Large numbers of people … fed on a steady diet of bad news, disaster movies, apocalyptic Bible stories, and nightmare scenarios issued by prestigious think tanks have apparently concluded that today’s society cannot be projected into the future because there is no future. For them, Armageddon is only minutes away. The earth is racing toward its final cataclysmic shudder.


This book offers a sharply different view.

It contends that the world has not swerved into lunacy, and that, in fact, beneath the clatter and jangle of seemingly senseless events there lies a startling and potentially hopeful pattern. This book is about that pattern and that hope. The Third Wave is for those who think the human story, far from ending, has only just begun.


A new civilization is emerging in our lives, and blind men everywhere are trying to suppress it. This new civilization brings with it new family styles; changed ways of working, loving, and living; a new economy; new political conflicts; and beyond all this an altered consciousness as well. Pieces of this new civilization exist today. Millions are already attuning their lives to the rhythms of tomorrow. Others, terrified of the future, are engaged in a desperate, futile flight into the past and are trying to restore the dying world that gave them birth.

The dawn of this new civilization is the single most explosive fact of our lifetimes. It is the central event the key to understanding the years immediately ahead. It is an event as profound as that First Wave of change unleashed ten thousand years ago by the invention of agriculture, or the earthshaking Second Wave of change touched off by the industrial revolution. We are the children of the next transformation, the Third Wave.


We grope for words to describe the full power and reach of this extraordinary change they are, in fact, parts of a much larger phenomenon: the death of industrialism and the rise of a new civilization.

So long as we think of them as isolated changes and miss this larger significance, we cannot design a coherent, effective response to them.


As individuals, our personal decisions remain aimless or self-canceling. As governments, we stumble from crisis to crash program, lurching into the future without plan, without hope, without vision.

Lacking a systematic framework for understanding the clash of forces in today’s world looks like chaos.


Once I began thinking in terms of waves of change, colliding and overlapping, causing conflict and tension around us, it changed my perception of change itself. In every field, from education and health to technology, from personal life to politics, it became possible to distinguish those innovations that are merely cosmetic or just extensions of the industrial past, from those that are truly revolutionary.


Tearing our families apart, rocking our economy, paralyzing our political systems, shattering our values, the Third Wave affects everyone. It challenges all the old power relationships, the privileges and prerogatives of the endangered elites of today, and provides the backdrop against, which the key power struggles of tomorrow will be fought.

Much in this emerging civilization contradicts the old traditional industrial civilization. It is, at one and the same time, highly technological and anti-industrial.


The decades immediately ahead are likely to be filled with upheavals, turbulence, perhaps even widespread violence, we will not totally destroy ourselves. It assumes that the jolting changes we are now experiencing are not chaotic or random but that, in fact, they form a sharp, clearly discernible pattern. It assumes, moreover, that these changes are cumulative that they add up to a giant transformation in the way we live, work, play, and think, and that a sane and desirable future is possible. In short, what follows begins with the premise that what is happening now is nothing less than a

global revolution, a quantum jump in history.

<Alvin Toffler: The Third Wave>



end of the world insist–  about people and the mental conflict we face


Two apparently contrasting images of the future grip the popular imagination today. Most people to the extent that they bother to think about the future at all … assume the world they know will last indefinitely. They find it difficult to Imagine a truly different way of life for themselves, let alone a totally new civilization. Of course they recognize that things are changing. But they assume today’s changes will somehow pass them by and that nothing will shake the familiar economic framework and political structure. They confidently expect the future to continue the present.


This straight-line thinking comes in various packages. At one level it appears as an unexamined assumption lying behind the decisions of businessmen, teachers, parents, and politicians. At a more sophisticated level it comes dressed up hi statistics, computerized data, and forecasters jargon. Either way it adds up to a vision of a future world that is essentially “more of the same.”



–       Bruce thought: I have written ad nausea on this topic … without the benefit of Toffler’s thoughts. From here on out I will use his thoughts and thinking to hopefully make my own wacky thinking more cogent and thoughtful. Regardless … the TopModels guys actually do a nice job of using the Black Swan model to point out we simply don’t know what we don’t know … and because of that we assume what we experienced is not only the best way but also ‘the way it will be’ in the future. I imagine my point is that the mental conflict is natural. We will not know ‘what will be’ until it is actually created.

Yikes. Sounds painful doesn’t it? Maybe even maddening.




–  about violence or the clashing together of old and new thinking


As the Second Wave moved across various societies it touched off a bloody, die trying gaping voidprotracted war between the defenders of the agricultural past and the partisans of the industrial future. The forces of First and Second Wave collided head on, brushing aside, often decimating, the “primitive” peoples encountered along the way.

In the United States, this collision began with the arrival of the Europeans bent on establishing an agricultural, First Wave civilization.

A white agricultural tide pushed relentlessly westward, dispossessing the Indian, depositing farms and agricultural villages farther and farther toward the Pacific.

But hard on the heels of the farmers came the earliest industrializers as well, agents of the Second Wave future. Factories and cities began to spring up in New England and the mid-Atlantic states. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Northeast had a rapidly growing industrial sector producing firearms, watches, farm implements, textiles, sewing machines, and other goods, while the rest of the continent was still ruled by agricultural interests.

Economic and social tensions between First Wave and Second Wave forces grew in intensity until 1861, when they broke into armed violence.

The American Civil War was not fought exclusively, as it seemed to many, over the moral issue of slavery or such narrow economic issues as tariffs. It was fought over a much larger question: would the rich new continent be ruled by farmers or industrializers, by the forces of the First Wave or the Second?

Would the future American society be basically agricultural or industrial?

When the Northern armies won, the die was cast. The industrialization of the United States was assured. From that time on, in economics, in politics, in social and cultural life, agriculture was in retreat, industry ascendant.


The First Wave ebbed as the Second came thundering in. The same collision of civilizations erupted elsewhere as well. In Japan the Meiji Restoration, beginning in 1868, replayed in. unmistakably Japanese terms the same struggle between agricultural past and industrial future. The abolition of feudalism by 1876, the rebellion of the Satsuma clan in 1877. The adoption of a Western style constitution in 1889, were all reflections of the collision of the First and Second Waves in Japan … steps on the road to Japan’s emergence as a premier industrial power.


In Russia, too, the same collision between First and Second Wave forces erupted. The 1917 revolution was Russia’s version of the American Civil War. It was fought not primarily, as it seemed, over communism but once again over the issue of industrialization. When the Bolsheviks wiped out the last lingering vestiges of serfdom and feudal monarchy, they pushed agriculture into the background and consciously accelerated industrialism. They became the party of the Second Wave. In country after country, the same clash between First Wave and Second Wave interests broke out, leading to political crisis.



–       Bruce thought: Well. Violence is a strong word … and can come to life in a variety of ways … I personally prefer ‘turbulence.’ In this case ‘political crisis’ seems to be the purveying current image of this violence <although someone could argue what is happening in the Mideast is stronger than the politics … but they are also an outcome of political turbulence>. Regardless … Toffler’s point that there is inevitable violence as the continental plates of the old and new come crashing together is valid … and one we should take into consideration as we try and navigate this ‘new world.’ Just as millions of years ago when continental plates crushed into each other … new mountain ranges will be created … new lakes … new seas to sail forth on … all will be created. With a lot of noise and disturbance by the way.



–  about politics


The conflict between Second and Third Wave groupings In, in fact, the  central political tension cutting through our society today. Despite what today’s parties and candidates may preach, the infighting among them amounts to little more than a dispute over who will squeeze the most advantage from what remains of the declining industrial system. Put differently, they are engaged in a squabble for the proverbial deck chairs on a sulking Titanic. The more basic political question, as we shall see, is not who controls the last days of industrial society but who shapes the new civilization rapidly rising to replace it. While short-range political skirmishes exhaust our energy and attention, a far more profound battle is already taking place beneath the surface. On one side are the partisans of the industrial past; on the other, growing millions who recognize that the most urgent problems of the world – food, energy, arms control, population, poverty, resources, ecology, climate, the problems of the aged, the breakdown of urban community, the need for productive, rewarding work — can no longer be resolved within the framework of the industrial order.


This conflict is the “super struggle” for tomorrow.

This confrontation between the vested interests of the Second Wave and the people of the Third Wave already runs like an electric current through the political life of every nation.



–       Bruce thought: Well. Nowhere in all his writings does he seem to capture the true sense of ‘today’ more than when he says “runs like an electric current through the political life of every nation.” Government … whether we like to admit it or not … are a reflection of the people … and a reflection of forward thinking <leadership>. The masses <us folk> resist change in general … leaders need to foster productive change. So politicians are faced with a challenge which seems impossible to meet … pleasing the masses and yet leading the change. And all the while the ‘change objective’ has yet to be defined. Well. Even as I type that my head hurts.



–   about energy or fueling production



The precondition of any civilization, old or new, is energy. First Wave societies drew their energy from “living batteries”, human and animal muscle power, or from sun, wind, and water. Forests were cut for cooking and heating. Waterwheels, some of them using tidal power, turned millstones. Windmills creaked in the fields. Animals pulled the plow. As late as the French Revolution, it has been estimated, Europe drew energy from an estimated 14 million horses and 24 million oxen. All First Wave societies thus exploited energy sources that were renewable. Nature could eventually replenish the forests they cut, the wind that filled their sails, the rivers that turned then paddle wheels. Even animals and people were replaceable “energy slaves.”

All Second Wave societies, by contrast, began to draw their energy from coal, gas, and oil from irreplaceable fossil fuels. This revolutionary shift, coming after Newcomen invented a workable steam engine in 1712, meant that for the first time a civilization was eating into nature’s capital rather than merely living off the interest it provided.

This dipping into the earth’s energy reserves provided a hidden subsidy for industrial civilization, vastly accelerating its economic growth. And from that day to this, wherever the Second Wave passed, nations built towering technological and economic structures on the assumption that cheap fossil fuels would be endlessly available.



–       Bruce thought: This is fascinating … particularly since he wrote this in 1980. How will we produce new energy for the ‘new economic world?” Geez. This is a chicken or egg discussion. And we wonder why there is so much debate and angst over this discussion today? We shouldn’t. as with chicken or egg … we are discussing a ‘new energy model’ when we haven’t even discovered <uncovered? … defined?> what the new economic world looks like. It is probably difficult for all of us to accept … but both discussions need to happen at the same time so that both trains are at least moving forward. Accept the fact that today, in the moment, in the middle of change, no one … let me repeat … NO ONE has the right answer. We are simply asking the right questions at the moment.


–   education: and the covert curriculumeducation civilization


As work shifted out of the fields and the home, moreover, children had to be prepared for factory life. The early mine, mill, and factory owners of industrializing England discovered, as Andrew Ure wrote in 1835, that it was “nearly impossible to convert persons past the age of puberty, whether drawn from rural or from handicraft occupations, into useful factory hands.”


If young people could be prefitted to the industrial system, it would vastly ease the problems of industrial discipline later on. The result was another central structure of all Second Wave societies: mass education. Built on the factory model, mass education taught basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, a bit of history and other subjects. This was the “overt curriculum.” But beneath it lay an invisible or “covert curriculum” that was far more basic. It consisted and still does in most industrial nations of three courses: one in punctuality, one in obedience, and one in rote, repetitive work. Factory labor demanded workers who showed up on time, especially assembly line hands. It demanded workers who would take orders from a management hierarchy without questioning. And it demanded men and women prepared to slave away at machines or in offices, performing brutally repetitious operations.


Thus from the mid-nineteenth century on, as the Second Wave cut across country after country, one found a relentless educational progression: children started school at a younger and younger age, the school year became longer and longer (in the United States it climbed 35 percent between 1878 and 1956), and the number of years of compulsory schooling irresistibly increased.

Mass public education was clearly a humanizing step forward. As a group of mechanics and workingmen in New York City declared in 1829, “Next to life and liberty, we consider education the greatest blessing bestowed upon mankind.” Nevertheless, Second Wave schools machined generation after generation of young people into a pliable, regimented work force of the type required by electromechanical technology and the assembly line.



–       Bruce thought: Well. As an education guy … I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about this. And if I could send one thought to every educator in the word it would be this. We spend so much time talking about ‘outcomes’ and ‘how to produce the best test results’ or even ‘creating the proper technical skills’ when maybe we should be thinking about underlying construct of what we need to be preparing children for. I won’t get into the particulars of what that could, or should, be but rather pointing out that the somewhat simple idea of factory to “?” ideology may be the biggest question facing education today. That said … who the fuck is having THAT discussion?!?




–   life <as a factory>


Around these three core institutions <punctuality, obedience, rote/repetitive work> a host of other organizations sprang up. Government ministries, sports clubs, churches, chambers of commerce, trade unions, professional organizations, political parties, libraries, ethnic associations, recreational groups, and thousands of others bobbed up in the wake of the Second Wave, creating a complicated organizational ecology with each group servicing, coordinating, or counterbalancing another.

At first glance, the variety of these groups suggests randomness or chaos. But a closer look reveals a hidden pattern. In one Second Wave country after another, social inventors, believing the factory to be the most advanced and efficient agency for production, tried to embody its principles in other organizations as well. Schools, hospitals, prisons, government bureaucracies, and other organizations thus took on many of the characteristics of the factor … its division of labor, its hierarchical structure and its metallic impersonality.

Even in the arts we find some of the principles of the factory. Instead of working for a patron, as was customary during the long reign of agricultural civilization, musicians, artists, composers, and writers were increasingly thrown on the mercies of the marketplace. More and more they turned out “products” for anonymous consumers. And as this shift occurred in every Second Wave country, the very structure of artistic production changed.


–       Bruce note: I will write more on this … but this is a fantastic thought. The belief that the entire construct of … well … basically civilization as we know it … is built upon the idea of ‘factory mentality’ throughout everything with regard to our attitudes and behavior <think about Time, project management, Life milestones, etc.> … and that there is an entire generation awaiting to create an entirely new ideology is … well … frightening and exciting at exactly the same time.





I find it fascinating.


enlightened sandThe words I wish I had written on my own?


The dawn of this new civilization is the single most explosive fact of our lifetimes. It is the central event the key to understanding the years immediately ahead. It is an event as profound as that First Wave of change unleashed ten thousand years ago by the invention of agriculture, or the earthshaking Second Wave of change touched off by the industrial revolution. We are the children of the next transformation, the Third Wave.


We grope for words to describe the full power and reach of this extraordinary change they are, in fact, parts of a much larger phenomenon: the death of industrialism and the rise of a new civilization.




I find that my friends and I grope for not only the words … but the answers.


I admit I get frustrated by myopic points of views captured in things like “we will be destroyed if we continue to pursue this path’ or some politically skewed diatribe or stubborn view.


Change is about adapting.


Having a vision is good and there are multiple ways to reach the ‘end game.

But in the end … change is change.


And if we knew exactly what the change was and what was needed … well … we would be really smart motherfuckers wouldn’t we ?


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Written by Bruce