In a long introductory puff--which calls The Third [gave ""even more scholarly, analytic, and socially committed than Future...



In a long introductory puff--which calls The Third [gave ""even more scholarly, analytic, and socially committed than Future Shock""--the co-publisher, South End Press, tells us that Toffler agreed to answer ""critical questions rooted in a left-wing analytic perspective."" The questioning, however, is as spineless as the introduction. Now and again the unidentified ""left-wing"" editor asks what-about-people? (""Hierarchical relationships""? ""Unemployment""?) To these feeble challenges, Toffler replies with familiar, repetitious words about the ""new work styles, the new values, the new diversity and individualization"" of high-tech Third Wave society--""the de-massification of production, consumption, communication, energy, and family structure."" The interrogator, snowed (and not sufficiently informed to contest a single concrete assertion), then simply feeds Toffler his next lines: ""But what makes you so sure. . . ?"" Or: ""Are you suggesting. . . ?"" In this talk-show format, Toffler gets to restate his concept of the electronic cottage, ""prosuming"" (productive but currently unpaid work), and ""anticipatory democracy' (decentralized, low-level decision-making). He gets to reiterate that ""the terms 'right' and 'left' are relics of the industrial period""--the new ""super-struggle"" being between Second and Third Wave forces (""Detroit and Dallas""). He gets to say, contra today's Japan-fixation, that no country is Number One (remember their unproductive, small-business sector) and, apropos of sex-and-race, that Third Wave diversity will relieve tensions. But he also warns, again and again, of ""social turmoil"" in the transition. In the much shorter Part II (the Premises of the title), Toffler speaks sketchily of his own career--a Marxist, factory-worker, freelance writer, futurist--and his own mental constructs; then, from defending the ""social wave theory,"" he moves to denying he's a techno-economic determinist. This last section does afford some clues to what makes Toffier tick (separation-from-Marxism, for one). But the more Toffler talks, the less his ideas amount to--much less than those of other post-industrial, global-village, open-society prognosticators. The vision needs a full Toffier scenario.

Pub Date: May 24, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983