The Third Wave


  • many of today’s changes are not independent of one another.
  • a larger phenomenon: the death of industrialism and the rise of a new civilization.
  • … discover that many of the very same conditions that produce today’s greatest perils also open fascinating new potentials.
  • the right question is usually more important than the right answer to the wrong question.
  • Whether we know it or not, most of us are already engaged in either resisting — or creating — the new civilization.

A collision of waves

1. Super-Struggle

  • Until now, the human race has undergone two great waves of change, each one largely obliterating earlier cultures or civilizations and replacing them with ways of life inconceivable to those who came before.
  • new civilization…will topple bureaucracies, reduce the role of the nation-state, and give rise to semiautonomous economies in a post imperialist world.  it requires governments that are simpler, more effective, yet more democratic than any we know today.

The Revolutionary Premise

  • Most people … assume the world they know will last indefinitely.  … they confidently expect the future to continue the present.
  • large numbers of people …. concluded that today’s society cannot be projected into the future because there is no future.
  • We are not limited to this simpleminded choice between Armageddon and More-of-the-Same.
  • We are the final generation of an old civilization, and the first generation of a new one.

The Leading Edge

  • Wave front analysis … identifies key change patterns as they emerge, so that we can influence them.
  • Rise of agriculture… industrial revolution …  two separate and distinct change processes were rolling across the earth simultaneously, at different speeds.
  • First wave sometime around 8000 BC;  Second wave started 1650-1750.  By 1955, (3rd wave) service workers outnumbered blue-collar workers in the U.S.

Waves of the Future

  • the shared image of an industrial future … provided a degree of stability and a sense of self, even in the midst of extreme social change.
  • Life may indeed be absurd … but this hardly  proves that there is no pattern in today’s events. …Order becomes detectable as soon as we learn to distinguish Third Wave changes from those associated with the diminishing Second Wave
  • Most of us … are essentially either Second Wave people committed to maintaining the dying order, Third Wave people constructing a radically different tomorrow, or a confused, self canceling mixture of the two.

Gold bugs and Assassins

  • today’s parties and candidates … little more than a dispute over who will squeeze the most advantage from what remains of the declining industrial system. … a squabble for the proverbial deck chairs on the sinking Titanic.
  • 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.

The Second Wave

2. The Architecture of Civilization

  • when First Wave civilization reigned supreme…. “primitive peoples”, living in small bands and tribes and subsisting by gathering, hunting, or fishing, were those who had been passed over by the agricultural revolution.
  • For the “Civilized” world … land was the basis of economy, life, culture, family structure, and politics.  Life was organized around the village.  … the economy was decentralized, so that each community produced most of its own necessities.
  • Despite patches of primitivism and hints of the Industrial future, agricultural civilization dominated the planet and seemed destined to do so forever.

The Violent Solution

  • The Second Wave … touched off a bloody, protracted war between the defenders of the agricultural past and the partisans of the industrial future.
  • In the U.S. … a white agricultural tide pushed relentlessly westward, dispossessing the Indian, depositing farms and agricultural villages farther and farther toward the Pacific.
  • Meanwhile, Factories and cities began to spring up in  New England and the mid Atlantic states.  the Northeast had a rapidly growing industrial sector…. while the rest of the continent was still ruled by agricultural interests.
  • 1861: tensions between First and Second wave interests led to the civil war.  Would America be basically agricultural or industrial?
  • Japan: the Meji Restoration in 1868 … same struggle between agriculture and industry.
  • Russia: 1917 revolution was their version of our civil war.  Not about communism, but over industrialization.
  • Despite differences of language, culture, history, and politics … Second Wave societies share common features.
  • We must be able to identify clearly the parallel structures of all industrial nations …. for it is this framework itself  that is now being shattered.

Living Batteries

  • First wave societies drew their energy from “living batteries” — human and animal muscle power — or from sun, wind, and water.
  • All First Wave societies thus exploited energy sources that were renewable.
  • All Second Wave societies … began to draw their energy from coal, gas, and oil — from irreplaceable fossil fuels.
  • Newcomen’s workable steam engine in 1712, meant that for the first time a civilization was eating into natures capital rather than merely living off the interest in provided.

The Technological Womb

  • First Wave societies relied on “Necessary inventions” (coined by Vitruvius)
  • Second Wave pushed technology to a totally new level … by inventing machines.
  • 2nd Wave brought machines together in interconnected systems under a single roof, to create the factory and ultimately the assembly line.
  • The new technology powered by the new energy system opened the door to mass production.

The Vermilion Pagoda

  • Mass production was meaningless without parallel changes in the distribution system.
  • Railroads, highways, and canals opened up the hinterlands, and with industrialism came “palaces of trade” — the first department stored.
  • 1871: George Huntington Hartford … The Great Atlantic and pacific Tea Company.
  • Custom distribution gave way to mass distribution and mass merchandising became as familiar as the machine itself.
  • In all societies the energy system, the production system, and the distribution system are interrelated parts of something larger.  This larger system is the techno-sphere, and it has characteristic forms at each stage of social development.

The Streamlined Family

  • 2nd Wave techno-sphere needed equally revolutionary “socio-sphere to accommodate it.
  • Pre industrial revolution, multigenerational households were the norm, and the family was immobile — rooted to the soil.
  • As economic production shifted form the field to the factory, the family no longer worked together as a unit.
  • To free workers for factory labor, key functions of the family were parceled out to new institutions:
    • Education turned over to schools
    • Care of aged to poor houses or old-age homes or nursing homes.:
  • New society required mobility … workers who would follow jobs from place to place
  • The nuclear family … became the standard, socially approved, “modern” model in all industrial societies… it became an identifiable feature of all 2nd Wave societies.

The Covert Curriculum

  • Children had be prepared for factory life.
  • If young people could be prefitted to the industrial system, it would vastly ease the problems of industrial discipline later on.
  • Another central structure of all 2nd Wave societies: mass education.
  • Overt: reading, writing, and arithmetic.
  • Covert: punctuality, obedience, rote repetitive work.
  • Mass public education was a humanizing step forward… but 2nd Wave schools machined generations of young people into a pliable, regimented work force of the type required by electro-mechanical technology and the assembly line.

Immortal beings

  • In all 2nd Wave societies a third institution arose that extended the social control of the first two: the corporation
  • 2nd Wave technologies required giant pools of capital.
  • So long as proprietors or partners risked their entire personal fortunes with every investment, they were reluctant to sink their money in vast or risky ventures.  To encourage them, the concept of limited liability was introduced.
  • This innovation opened the investment floodgates.
  • The corporation was treated by the courts as an “immortal being”
  • 1901: worlds first billion-dollar corporation — United States Steel.  by 1919, there were 6 companies as large.
  • Together, these three — the nuclear family, the factory-style school, and the giant corporation became the defining social institutions of all 2nd Wave societies.

The Music Factory

  • In one 2nd Wave country after another, social inventors … tried to embody [factory] principles.
  • In the arts… Instead of working for a patron … they turned out “products” for anonymous consumers.  Structure of artistic production changes.
  • Concert halls cropped up, with box offices and businessmen who financed the productions then sold tickets to culture consumers.
  • bigger concert halls, more people, more volume needed… Resulted in a shift from chamber music to symphonic forms.
  • All civilizations also require an “info-sphere” for producing and distributing information.

The Paper Blizzard

  • All human groups, from primitive times to today, depend on face-to-face, person to person communications.  but systems were needed for sending messages across time and space as well.
  • During 1st Wave civilization all these channels were reserved for the rich and powerful only.
  • While face to face information exchange was open to all, the newer systems used for carrying information beyond the confines of a family or a village were essentially closed and used for purpose of social or political control.
  • 2nd Wave smashed this communications monopoly.
  • 2nd Wave technology and factory mass production required massive movements of information that the old channels simply could no longer handle.
  • As 2nd Wave gained momentum every country raced to build a postal service.
  • Nor could the mushrooming informational needs of industrial societies be met in writing alone.  Thus, the telephone and telegraph were invented.
  • a society developing mass production and mass consumption needed ways to send mass messages too.
  • Postal services could carry the same message to millions, but not quickly.  Telephones could carry messages quickly, but not to millions of people simultaneously.  this gab came to be filled by the mass media.
  • In the mass media we find the embodiment of the basic principle of the factory.
  • Stamp identical messages into millions of brains, just as the factory stamps out identical products for use in millions of homes.  Standardized, mass-manufactured “facts”, counterparts of standardized, mass manufactured products, flow from a few concentrated image-factories out to millions of consumers.
  • The techno-sphere produced and allocated wealth; the socio-sphere with its thousands of interrelated organizations, allocated roles to individuals in the system.  and the info-sphere allocated the information necessary to make the entire system work, to form the basic architecture of society.
  • If today’s industrial civilization is less than utopian, we need to understand why.  We need to look at the gigantic wedge that split the 2nd Wave psyche into two warring parts

3. The Invisible Wedge

  • The 2nd Wave, like some nuclear chain reactions, violently split apart two aspects of our lives that had always, until then, been one: Production and Consumption.
  • Until the industrial revolution… goods and services were principally consumed by the producers themselves.
  • Lacking means for storing food over long periods, roads to transport products, and the fact that increased output would likely be confiscated by the slave-owner or feudal lord, 1st Wave societies lacked any great incentive to improve technology or increase production.
  • 2nd Wave created a situation where the overwhelming bulk of all food, goods, and services were destined for sale, barter, or exchange.
  • 2nd Wave created a civilization in which almost no one, not even a farmer, was self-sufficient any longer.
  • Everyone became almost totally dependent upon food, goods, or services produced by someone else.

The Meaning of the Market

  • The marketplace, once minor and peripheral, moved into the very vortex of life.
  • Wherever the 2nd Wave struck and the purpose of production shifted from use to exchange, there had to be a mechanism through which that exchange could take place.  There had to be a market.
  • Marxist emphasis on class struggle systematically obscured the larger, deeper conflict that arose between the demands of producers (both workers and managers) for higher wages, profits, and benefits and the counter-demand of consumers (including the very same people) for lower prices.  The seesaw of economic policy rocked on this fulcrum.
  • The consumer movement in the U.S., ideological struggles in the USSR over whether industry or consumer goods should receive 1st priority are all aspects of the conflict created by the split between production and consumption.
  • Communist manifesto: the new society “left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked, self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment.'”
    Marx identified the dehumanization of interpersonal bonds, but attributed it to capitalism rather than industrialism.
  • Aggressive acquisitiveness, commercial corruption, and the reduction of human relationships to coldly economic terms are no monopoly of the profit system.
  • Corruption is inherent in the divorce of production from consumption.  The very need for a market… to reconnect the consumer and producer… places  those who control the market in a position of inordinate power.
  • In the West especially, the full firepower of advertising was trained on the consumer, urging her or him to borrow, to buy on impulse, to “fly now, pay later,” and in so doing, to perform a patriotic service by keeping the wheels of the economy turning.

The Sexual Split

  • Work in 1st Wave agricultural societies was characterized by low levels of interdependency.
  • The collision of low- and high-interdependency work produced severe conflicts over roles, responsibilities, and rewards.
  • Anecdote: most of the early industrial workers were rural folk who were accustomed to low interdependency, and had little or no understanding of their own role in the overall production process or the failures, breakdowns, and malfunctions occasioned by their “irresponsibility.”  Moreover, since most of them earned pitiful wages, they had little incentive to care.
  • Each home remained a decentralized unit engaged in biological reproduction, child rearing, and cultural transmission.  If one family failed to reproduce or did a poor job of rearing its children and preparing them for life in the work system, its failures did not necessarily endanger the accomplishment of those tasks by the family next door.  House-work remained, in other words, a low-interdependency activity.
  • Social differences and sex role stereotypes, moreover, were sharpened by the misleading identification of men with production and women with consumption, even thou men also consumed and women also produced.
  • Women were oppressed long before the 2nd Wave, but the “battle of the sexes” can be traced in large measure to the conflict between the two work styles and the divorce of production and consumption.
  • So long as production was intended for exchange, instead of use, so long as it had to flow through the ‘market’, certain 2nd Wave principles had to be followed.
  • Identify these principles and the hidden dynamics of industrial societies are laid bare.

4. Breaking The Code

  • Every civilization has a hidden code — as set of rules or principles that run through all its activities like a repeated design.
  • Industrialism … consisted of a set of six interrelated principles that programmed the behavior of millions.


  • Theodore Vail: American Telephone and Telegram company (AT&T)… on mail going through trains… introduced the idea of a standardized routing.  All letters going to the same place would go the same way.  Revolutionized the post office.
  • Frederick Winslow Taylor: work could be made scientific by standardizing the steps each worker performed.
  • In 2nd Wave societies, hiring procedures, as well as work were increasingly standardized.  Standardized tests, pay scales, benefits, lunch hours, holidays, grievance procedures.
    To prepare youth for the job market, standardized curricula.  Standardized IQ tests, grading policies, admissions procedures, accreditation rules.  Multiple choice tests came into their own.
  • the principles of standardization ran through every aspect of daily life.
  • If mass production required the standardization of machines, products, and processes, the ever expanding market demanded a corresponding standardization of money and even prices.
  • 1825: A.T. Stewart, New York, opened a dry-goods store with a fixed price for every item (shocking customers and competitors who always haggled)  This cleared away one of the key obstacles to the development of mass distribution.
  • 2nd Wave brought a flattening out of differences through a relentless application of the principle of standardization


  • Accelerating the division of labor, the 2nd Wave replaced the casual jack-of-all-work peasant with … the specialist and the worker who did only one task, Taylor-fashion, over and over again.
  • Critics of industrialism charged that highly specialized repetitive labor progressively dehumanized the worker.
  • 1977: U.S. Dept. of Labor published a list of 20,000 identifiable different occupations.
  • Specialization was accompanied by a rising tide of professionaliztion.  whenever the opportunity arose for some group of specialists to monopolize esoteric knowledge and keep newcomers out of their field, professions emerged.
  • ‘health’ in 2nd Wave societies came to be seen as a product provided by a doctor… rather than a result of intelligent self-care (production for use).  Education was supposedly “produced” by the teacher in the school and “consumed’ by the student.
  • Among communists, capitalists, executives, educators, priests, and politicians, the 2nd Wave produced a common mentality and a drive toward an ever more refined division of labor.


  • The widening split between production and consumption forced a change in the way 2nd Wave people dealt with time.
  • 2nd Wave societies moved to the beat of the machine.
  • Punctuality, never very important in agricultural communities, became a social necessity, and clocks and watches began to proliferate.
  • Children in industrial cultures were taught to tell time at an early age.
  • Social life, too, became clock-driven.  Standard-length vacations, holidays, or coffee breaks were interspersed with the work schedules.
  • Transport systems staggered under rush hours.  Broadcasters fitted entertainment into special time slots — “Prime time”


  • 1st Wave societies lived off widely dispersed sources of energy.  2nd Wave societies became almost totally dependent on highly concentrated deposits of fossil fuel.
  • 2nd Wave concentrated populations and concentrated work.  Much of the work in 2nd Wave societies was done in factories where thousands of laborers were drawn together under a single roof.
  • Stan Cohen pointed out: that with minor exceptions, prior to industrialism, “the poor were kept at home or with relatives; criminals were fined, whipped, or banished from one settlement to another; the insane were kept in their families, or supported by the community, if they were poor.”  All these groups were, in short, dispersed throughout the community.
  • Industrialism revolutionized that, with the early 19th century being called the time of the Great Incarcerations: criminals were rounded up and concentrated in prisons, the mentally ill rounded up and concentrated in “lunatic asylums,” and children rounded up and concentrated in schools, exactly as workers were concentrated in factories.
  • 2nd Wave gave rise to the giant corporation, and beyond that, the trust or monopoly.


  • In all 2nd Wave societies … “Big” became synonymous with “efficient,” and maximization became the 5th key principle.
  • 1960, U.S. the 50 largest industrial corporations had grown to employ an average of 80,000 workers each.
  • Vail’s AT&T employed 736,000.  At an average household of 3.3, well over 2,000,000 people were dependent on paychecks from this one company alone.
  • Marx: associated the “increasing scale of industrial establishments” with the “wider development of their material powers.”
  • Lenin: argued that “huge enterprises, trusts and syndicates had brought the mass production techniques to its highest level of development.
  • Faith in sheer scale derived from narrow 2nd Wave assumptions about the nature of “efficiency.”
  • Maximization led to the aggregations of many different kinds of data into the statistical tool known as Gross National Product.
  • The hiring of a crew to build a home or to demolish one both added to GNP, even though one activity added to the stock of housing and the other subtracted from it.
  • GNP, because it measured only market activity or exchanges, relegated to insignificance a whole vital sector of the economy based on unpaid production — child rearing and housework, for example.
  • 2nd Wave governments around the world entered into a blind race to increase GNP at all costs, maximizing “growth” even at the risk of ecological and social disaster.


  • While the Church and many 1st wave rulers knew perfectly well how to centralize power, they … were crude armatures by contrast with the men and women who centralized industrial societies from the ground floor up.
  • Information flowed up a centralized chain of command until it reached the general superintendent who made the decisions and sent orders down the line.
  • In politics too, the  2nd Wave encouraged centralization.  1780’s: replace the loose, decentralist Articles of Confederation with a more centralist Constitution.
  • Hamilton argued in the Federalist and elsewhere that a strong central government was essential not only for military and foreign policy reasons, but for economic growth.
  • yet a quick look at Sweden, Japan, Britain, or France is enough to make the U.S. systems seem decentralized by comparison.
  • Anecdote: In the U.S., when a demonstration is forbidden, the first question everyone asks is ‘By whom?’, and its usually a local authority operating autonomously.
  • The gradual centralization of a once decentralized economy was aided by a crucial invention whose very name reveals its purpose: the central bank.
  • no country could complete its 2nd Wave phase without constructing its one equivalent of this machine for the central control of money and credit.
  • Money flowed through every artery in 2nd Wave societies, both capitalist and socialist.  Both needed and therefore created a centralized money pumping station.  Central banks and centralized government marched hand in hand

5. The Technicians of Power

  • The six principles that formed this code lent a distinctive stamp to 2nd Wave civilization.  Today… every one of these fundamental principles is under attack by the forces of the 3rd Wave.
  • To understand who will run things tomorrow when the 3rd Wave becomes dominant, we must first know who runs things today.
  • Wherever the 2nd Wave swept in, those in power became the anonymous “they.”  Who were “they”?

The Integrators

  • Industrialism … broke society into thousands of interlocking parts. … In doing so, it shattered community life and culture.
  • Integrators defined roles and allocated jobs.
  • Marx: whoever owned the tools and technology — the means of production — would control society.
  • Wrong: in both capitalist and socialist nations, it was the integrators who rose to the top.
  • In the larger firms, no individual, including the owner or dominant shareholder could even begin to understand the whole operation.
  • A new executive elite arose whose power rested no longer on ownership, but rather on control of the integration process.
  • Shareholders had to rely on hired managers not merely to run the day-to-day- affairs of the company, but even to set its long range goals and strategies.
  • Boards of directors (owners) were increasingly remote and ill-informed about the operations they were supposed to direct.
  • W. Michael Blumenthal, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury: “Its not ownership that counts — it’s control.
  • Trotsky, 1930: The means of production might belong to the state… but the state … belongs to the bureaucracy.
  • Mao: world’s biggest 1st Wave nation, repeatedly warned against the rise of managerial elites and saw this as a dangerous concomitant of traditional industrialism.
  • Under socialism as well as capitalism, the integrators took effective power.  For without them, the parts of the system could not work together.

The International Engine

  • The info-sphere, socio-sphere, and techno-sphere had to be brought into alignment with one another.
  • Out of this driving need for integration of 2nd Wave civilization came the biggest coordinator of all: big government.
  • It is the system’s hunger for integration that explains the relentlessness of big gov. in every 2nd Wave society.
  • The trancendendent aim of all 2nd Wave Govs has been to construct and maintain industrial civilization.
  • Industrial societies depend on gov. to perform essential international tasks.
  • Clayton Fritchy: the U.S. Fed gov never ceased to grow, even under three recent Republican administrations, “for the simple reason that not even Houdini could dismantle it without serious and harmful consequences.”
  • Counter arguments to free-marketers who say Gov interferes w/business:
    govs built railroads, harbors, roads, canals, highways, postal service;  built or regulated telegraph, telephone, broadcast systems; Wrote commercial codes and standardized markets; foreign policy pressures and tariffs to aid industry.  Subsidized energy and advanced technology, often through military channels.  At thousand levels, Gov assumed the integrative tasks that others could not, or would not perform..
  • By relieving the family of educational and other traditional functions, gov accelerated the adaptation of the family structure to the needs of the factory system.
  • Presidents/prime ministers …. are primarily managers rather than creative social and political leaders.  they offer lip service to democracy and social justice, but .. [most world leaders] … rode into office by promising little more than efficient management.
  • In both socialist and capitalist industrial societies … technicians of power seized the ‘means of integration’ and with it, the reigns of social, cultural, political, and economic control.
  • 2nd Wave societies were ruled by the integrators.

Power Pyramids

  • Technicians of power were themselves organized into hierarchies of elites and sub-elites.
  • Specialized elites were integrated by generalist elites whose membership cut across all the specialization.

The Super Elites

  • In the Pentagon or the Soviet planning bureaucracy, those who made the major investment allocations in industrial society set the limits within which the integrators themselves were compelled to function.
  • These groups of faceless decision makers, controlling the levers of investment, formed the super elite in all industrial societies.
  • International structure and the technicians of power who ruled it were as necessary to 2nd Wave civilization as factories, fossil fuels, or nuclear families.
  • Industrialism and the full democracy it promised were, in fact, incompatible.
  • Industrial nations …. could not function without a powerful hierarchy of integrators.
  • As the 3rd Wave of change begins to batter at this fortress of managerial power… new ways of organizing along less hierarchical and more ad horcratic lines are springing up in the most advanced industries.
  • The 3rd Wave … opens fantastic opportunities for social and political renovation.
  • Need to X-ray our obsolete political system to see how it fitted into the frame of 2nd Wave civilizations, how it served the industrial order …. to understand why it is no longer appropriate or tolerable.

6. The Hidden Blueprint

  • When it comes to politics, no two industrial nations look the same.  Yet … a set of powerful parallels lies beneath the surface differences
  • After millennia of agriculture, it was hard for the founders of 2nd Wave political systems to imagine an economy based on labor, capital, energy, and raw materials, rather than land.
  • [politicians] are still elected not as representatives of some social class or occupational, ethnic, sexual, or life-style grouping, but as representatives of the inhabitants of a particular piece of land.  … hence, “residency requirements” in voting regulations.
  • 1st Wave life was slow. … representative bodies like Congress or the British Parliament were regarded as “deliberative” — having the time and taking the time to think through their problems.
  • Most 1st Wave people were illiterate and ignorant.  Thus, it was widely assumed that representatives, particularly if drawn from the educated classes, would inevitably make more intelligent decisions than the mass of voters.


  • The revolutionary founders of 2nd wave societies, whether capitalist or socialist … invented political institutions that shared many of the characteristics of early industrial machines.

The Represento-Kit

  1. Individuals armed with the vote
  2. parties for collecting votes
  3. Candidates who, by winning votes, were instantly transformed into “representatives” of the voters
  4. Legislatures (parliaments, diets, congresses, bundestags, or assemblies) in which, by voting, representatives manufactured laws
  5. Executives (presidents, prime ministers, party secretaries) who fed raw material into the lawmaking machine in the form of policies, and then enforced the resulting laws
  • Just as the factory came to symbolize the entire industrial techno-sphere, representative government (no matter how denatured) became the status symbol of every “advanced” nation.

The Global Law Factory

  • Voting became a part of the industrial way of life.
  • Nor were these “democracy machines” restricted to the national level.  they were instilled at state, provincial, and local levels as well, right down to the town or village council.
  • Each of these political units — national, provincial, and local — was also regarded as discrete and atomic.
  • The units were wired together in hierarchical arrangement, from top to bottom.
  • While at one time politicians could make decisions without upsetting conditions outside their own neatly defined jurisdictions, this became less and less possible [as units became more integrated]
  • The thousands of representational mechanisms built out of components of the represento-kit thus increasingly came to form a single invisible super machine: a global law factory.
  • How were the levers and control wheels of this global system manipulated, and by whom?

The Reassurance Ritual

  • Representative government made possible orderly succession without hereditary dynasty.
  • The spread of representative government was, on the whole, a humanizing breakthrough in history.
  • By no stretch of the imagination was it ever controlled by the people, however defined.  Nowhere did it actually change the underlying structure of power in  industrial nations.
  • To the degree that everyone had a right to vote, elections fostered the illusion of equality.
  • Elections took the steam out of protests from below.
  • Industrial engineers routinely distinguish between two fundamental different classes of machine: those that function intermittently (batch processing), an those that function uninterruptedly (continuous flow).
  • The global law factory, with intermittent voting, is a classical batch processor..  The public is allowed to choose between candidates at stipulated times, after which the formal “democracy machine’ is switched off again.
  • Contrast this with the continuous flow of influence from various organized interests, pressure groups, and power peddlers… who affect the decision making process on a round the clock basis.
  • So long as they played the representational game, people had at best only intermittent opportunities, through voting, to feed back their approval or disapproval of the government and its actions.  the technicians of power, by contrast, influenced those actions continuously.
  • Everywhere the gap widened between the representative and the represented.
  • Representative government — what we have been taught to call democracy — was in short, an industrial technology for assuring inequality.
  • We have a civilization heavily dependent on fossil fuels, factory production, the nuclear family, the corporation, mass education, and the mass media, all based on a widening cleavage between production and consumption — and all managed by a set of elites who’s task it was to integrate the whole.
  • Representative government was the political equivalent of the factory.  Like most factories, it was managed from above.

7. A Frenzy of Nations

  • If Singapore with its 2.3 million people is a nation, why not New York City with its 8 million?  If Brooklyn had jet bombers would it be a nation?
  • At the very foundation of 2nd Wave civilizations is the nation-state.

Changing Horses

  • Before the 2nd Wave began rolling across Europe most regions of the world … were organized … into a mishmash of tribes, clans, duchies, principalities, kingdoms, and other more or less local units.
  • The greatest of emperors typically ruled over a patchwork of tiny locally governed communities.  Political control was not yet uniform.
  • Voltaire: In traveling across Europe, one changed laws as frequently as horses.
  • Without political integration, economic integration was impossible.
  • 1st Wave societies had bred a race of highly provincial people — most of whom concerned themselves exclusively with their own neighborhoods or villages.
  • 2nd Wave multiplied the number of people with a stake in the larger world.
  • The modern nation is a 2nd Wave phenomenon: a single, integrated political authority, superimposed on or fused with a single integrated economy.

The Golden Spike

  • The available transport, communication, and energy supplies, the productivity of its technology, all set limits on how large an area could be effectively ruled by a single political structure.  The sophistication … of budgetary controls … determined how far political integration could reach.
  • In 1825, and for the next 30 years, railroad workers stitched one region to another.
  • In the U.S. the gov. awarded vast land grants to private railroad companies… [believing] that transcontinental roads would strengthen the ties of union between the Atlantic and pacific coasts.
  • Beneath the nation lay the familiar imperative of industrialism: the drive toward integration.
  • industrial civ. had to be fed from without.  It could not survive unless it integrated the rest of the world into the money system and controlled that system for its own benefit.

8. The Imperial Drive

  • No civilization spreads without conflict.  @2nd Wave civilization. soon launched a massive attack on the 1st wave world, triumphed, and imposed its will on millions, ultimately billions of human beings.
  • The fruits of overseas conquest enriched the ruling class and the towns rather than the mass of ordinary people who lived as peasants.
  • 1st wave imperialism was still petty — not yet integrated into the economy
  • 2nd wave transformed this relatively small scale pilferage into big business.
  • Imperialism became no longer peripheral, but so integrated into the basic economic structure of the industrial nation that the jobs of millions of ordinary workers came to depend on it.
  • Jolted by cycles of boom and bust, faced with chronic unemployment, European leaders were for generations obsessed by the fear that if colonial expansion stopped, unemployment would lead to armed revolution at home.
  • Colonizers regarded 1st Wave civilization, no matter how refined and complex, as backwards and underdeveloped.
  • 2nd Wave civilization could not exist in isolation.  It desperately needed the hidden subsidy of cheap resources from the outside.  Above all it needed a single integrated world market through which to siphon those subsidies.

Gas Pumps In the Garden

  • David Ricardo: if Britain specialized in the manufacture of textiles and Portugal in making wine, both countries would gain… assigning specialized roles to different nations would enrich everyone.
  • The self-serving belief that specialization would benefit everyone was based on a fantasy of fair compensation…  it presupposed efficient use of labor and resources, deals uncontaminated by threats of political or military force, and arm’s length transactions by more or less evenly matched bargainers.
  • money-shrewd European or American traders backed by huge companies, extensive banking networks, powerful technologies, and strong national governments a local lord or tribal chieftain who’s people had scarcely entered the money system and who’s economy was based on small-scale agriculture or village crafts.
    agents of a thrusting, alien, mechanically advanced civilization, convinced of its own superiority and ready to use bayonets or machine guns to prove it. representatives of small pre-national tribes or principalities armed with arrows and spears.
  • “Law of the First Price” — many raw materials needed by 2nd wave nations were virtually valueless to the 1st wave populations who had them.  Sheiks had no use for the black gold that lay under their desert sands.
  • Typically set in the absence of active competition, almost any price was acceptable to a lord or tribal chief who regarded his local resource as valueless and found himself facing a regiment of troops with Gatling guns.  And this 1st price, once established at a low level, depressed all subsequent prices.

The margarine Plantation

  • As trade passed beyond national boundaries each national market became part of a larger set of interconnected markets.
  • A single web of money was woven around the world.
  • Treating the rest of the world as its gas pump, garden, mine, quarry, and cheap labor supply, the 2nd wave world wrought deep changes in the social life of earths non-industrial populations.
  • margarine was originally manufactured in Europe out of local materials.  In 1907 researchers discovered that margarine could be made out of coconut and palm-kernel oil.  The result was an upheaval in the life style of West Africans.  The West got its margarine, and Africans become semi-slaves on huge plantations.
  • Once torn out of self-sufficiency and compelled to produce for money and exchange, once encouraged or forced to reorganize their social structure around mining for example, or plantation farming, 1st wave populations were plunged into economic dependence on a marketplace they could scarcely influence.
  • William Woodruff: “It was the exploitation of these territories and the growing trade done with them that obtained for the European family wealth on a scale never seen before”

Integration A L’Americain

  • The 2nd wave nations waged an increasingly bloody battle among themselves for control of the emerging world economic system  (WWI, WWII).
  • Even before the wartime guns stopped firing, it was apparent that the entire world industrial economy would have to be reconstructed on a new basis after the war.
  • USA and USSR took on this task.
  • 1994, Breton Woods Conference, under US leadership: 44 nations agreed to set up two key integrative structures — the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
  • IMF compelled its member nations to peg their currency to the American dollar or to gold.
  • The World Bank, at first established to provide postwar reconstruction funds to European nations, gradually began providing loans to the non-industrial countries … for the purpose of … infra-structure items to facilitate the movement of raw materials and agricultural exports to the 2nd wave nations.
  • General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT): promoted originally by the US, set out to liberalize trade, which had the effect of making it difficult for the poorer, less technologically advanced countries to protect their tiny fledgling industries.
  • The 3 structures were wired together by a rule that prohibited the World Bank from making loans to any country that refused to join the IMF or abide by the GATT

Social Imperialism

  • American leadership of the 2nd Wave world, however, was increasingly challenged by the rise of the Soviet Union.
  • Lenin, by 1920: “regarded the drawing together of nations as an objective process which … will finally and ultimately lead to the creation of a single world economy, regulated by … a common plan” — the ultimate industrial vision.
  • The Soviet Union, like its capitalist adversaries, benefited at the expense of the colonies.  To have done otherwise would have been to slow its own industrialization process.
  • Americans had IMF-GATT-World Bank, while Soviets had the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) and compelled Eastern Europeans to join it.
  • At the very time the US assumed leadership of the capitalist industrial nations and build its own self-serving mechanisms for integrating the world economic system anew after WWII, the Soviets build an counterpart of this system in the part of the world they dominated.
  • No phenomenon as vast, complex, and transforming as imperialism can be described simply.  Its effects on religion, on education, on health, on themes in literature and art, on racial attitudes, on the psycho-structure of whole peoples, as well as more directly on economics, are still being unraveled by the historians.
  • Without the concealed subsidies made possible by imperialism, capitalist and socialist 2nd Wave civilization might well be today where it was in 1920 or 1930.

9. Indust-Reality





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