"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

Toffler’s Third Wave Theory

most people are culturally more skilled as analysts than synthesists

Book Review Of The Third Wave

Toffler’s three forms of power


The most basic form of power is violence, or physical forms of power. ‘Might is right’ is their watchword and it is close to the law of the jungle in operation.

The basic promise is ‘do as you are told and you won’t get hurt’.

Those who gain the power of violence do so by controlling the mechanisms of physical domination, from armies and police forces to the ownership of specific weapons.


Money is a more flexible form of power than violence as it can be exchanged for pretty much anything you want, from goods to services of all kinds.

Money can be viewed as ‘stored time/action’: you work and are given money, then give the money to others to save time/action. The trick in acquiring wealth is to invest the money in ways that it provides a maximum return on investment.

Those who gain wealth do so largely through a superior ability (or sometimes luck) in investment, taking controlled risks and gaining disproportionate returns.


Knowledge is the ultimate form of power and can be used to acquire both wealth and violence, if applied in the right way. ‘Knowledge is power’ is a common saying that highlights this.

The evolution of power

Toffler indicates how violence was the basic power of the nobility in ancient times, where a powerful elite worked largely through domination that threatened violence to those who did not comply.

In the industrial revolution, violence gave way to wealth, as the merchant classes became more powerful and gained control of critical resources and channels.

Today, in the Third Wave, the power of knowledge is replacing commercial wealth as the primary source of power. If you have the right knowledge, you can get a lot done without recourse to money. Power is thus moving to the educated elite (and masses). The internet is a great leveller of power in this regard.

Interview With Avlin Toffler:


Yes, or attaining wealth, and we don’t know how, a hundred years from now, it’ll all be distributed. It’ll be changing all along, but it may well be that countries that are now poor become very rich – and including tiny ones like Finland or Ireland or whatever. So the point is that (wealth is) on the move; it’s not stable. Time, spatial and knowledge relationships are no longer fixed in place with a slow change. They’re rapidly changing.


We invented the word prosumer many years ago in my book The Third Wave. It’s a composite of production and consumption, obviously, and we argue that there was, prior to the invention of money, people who lived without money. Everybody was a prosumer, growing their own lunch, sewing their own clothes, building their own shack and so on. So it was a pre-monetary or a nonmonetary economy. However, more and more prosuming populations (moved over to) become part of the (consuming or) money system.

From a previous post titled You And Your Research:

What Bode was saying was this: “Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest.” Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity – it is very much like compound interest. I don’t want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime. I took Bode’s remark to heart; I spent a good deal more of my time for some years trying to work a bit harder and I found, in fact, I could get more work done. I don’t like to say it in front of my wife, but I did sort of neglect her sometimes; I needed to study. You have to neglect things if you intend to get what you want done. There’s no question about this.

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