Wednesday, September 22, 2004

George Bush, Alvin Toffler and the Third Wave

Ran across this interesting place:

Alan Toffler and the Third Wave

Michael Finley is a futurist. In this executive summary of his article about Toffler's Third Wave theory, he discusses the Third Wave and it's effects.

I've been thinking about our society quite a bit lately. Don't know if it's because of my age, the silly season or what. Seems to me that we are in the midst of a major paradigm shift away from a corporate-based society and toward an entrepreneureal society. This is certainly in keeping with our historical roots, and was predicted in the 70's, 80's and early 90's by the futurist, Alvin Toffler and his wife Heidi. I read their books back then - wish I had kept them!

In this silly season, of the two candidates, Bush supports the inevitable shift, and Kerry attempts to stop "The Third Wave" predicted by the Tofflers. Can't say that Kerry is being particularly realistic about it. He wants to move toward the upshot of Toffler's Third Wave, individuation, diversity, and entrepreneurship.

It isn't comfortable to live through a major paradigm shift, and we can't rely on the practices of the past. Michael Finley points
"In a not-always-pleasant way, the third wave began decentralizing the machine heart. Today is a time of transition, in which we witness the curious spectacle of massive second-wave-type enterprises adapting to the third-wave appetite for differentiation.
Take the coffee example. In the 1920s each town had its distinct coffee flavor. In the 1970s it was Maxwell House and McDonald's scalding coffee, from sea to shining sea. By the 1990s, an explosion of mom-and-pop coffeehouses took place across the country. Today you stop, as I did recently, at a coffee shop in Talladega, Alabama, and order a double latte of decaffeinated Kenyan with a finger of amaretto hazelnut syrup in .
Or you can have the best of all worlds, second wave McDonalds' standardization combined with third wave product choice, by walking into any of the 2,000 Starbucks coffee shops nationwide.
In retail, we have witnessed the second-wave juggernaut Wal-Mart break upon cities small and large, with the third-wave possibility of a single store selling 100,000 different items."

He goes on to point out:
"The clearest sign of changing politics is the decay of political parties. The day when a Franklin Roosevelt can put together astring of four elections by combining a handful of voter blocs(farmers, labor, intellectuals, the rural South, and the urban North) into a single lasting coalition is gone. Election todayrequires stringing together hundreds of splintered grassrootsgroups : the nonsmokers, AIDS activists, save-the-whales peopleand what-have-you.
Every group is passionate, and narrow in focus. It is in every way a more daunting process, and it is conducted, as making frankfurters should not be, in full view of the public. It is no wonder that no one, in the United States, in Japan, in Italy, or anywhere, believes in parties any more. Parties were a static second-wave, homogenized, massified function that do not seem relevant in the more volatile, diversified, heterogeneous third wave."

We are moving away from dependence on big government and big business and toward depending upon ourselves as small businesses and entrepreneurial enterprises take over the economy. The resiliant, those who can, in the words of the Marines, "improvise, adapt and overcome," in a positive way will be the ones who come out on top.

While no politician and no political party are perfect, some are more forward-seeing than others at various points in time. At this time, the party most capable of forward-seeing is the Republican Party. An example of this is the recommendation that small companies be able to work together to form blocs to obtain the same low rates for insurance that large corporations receive. They seem to realize that his is not the time for "warm fuzzy" feelings and making people "feel good." It is a time to help people to move from the previous paradigm into the
new paradigm.

This is very American! Although immersed in what Toffler called "the First Wave," the agricultural life, people who were forward-thinking moved away from their static societies and came to what became the US in a spirit of individualism and entrepreneurialism. We began to move through the Industrial Revolution and to leave our small farms to work in cities or to work for giant corporate farms.

In a return to the entrepreneurial and individual spirit of our forefathers, we see small businesses springing up like mushrooms in spare bedrooms and the corners of living rooms and dining rooms. A person with a computer and an internet connection can set up a business in less than 2 hours, and be making money at it in a couple of days. What isn't immediately perceptible is that these people DO have jobs! They just have a different kind of commute - across or down the hall instead of across the city or down the freeway. These people are not so much using traditional resources, but rather are manipulating the resources of other businesses. They are often "off the books" or in the "grey economy" in that they don't pay many (if any!) taxes and do not use many (if any!) tax-supported resources.

Many people have gone into entrepreneurial businesses in order to avoid being tax-supported. They don't want to be on welfare or on SSI - they see themselves as competant and capable of taking care of themselves better then the government can.

Kerry wants people to be taken care of by "Big Brother," entrepreneurs want to take care of themselves and Bush supports that position.

Kerry has a love-hate relationship with big business, entrepreneurs use big business to further their own ends, and Bush supports that position.

These are only a few reasons that I suspect Bush will win. He is improvising, adapting and overcoming by surfing well and riding that Third Wave, not fighting it.

1 comment:

Hokule'a said...

Enjoyed your article very much. Living that Third Wave here in Hawaii, having decided if its working out or not looking for that break will stop by again sometime