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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Newt Gingrich and the Tofflers

By Sam Blumenfeld

Glenn Beck recently interviewed Newt Gingrich and asked the former Speaker who was his favorite President. Newt said it was Teddy Roosevelt, the famous Progressive whose Bull Moose Party made it possible for liberal Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win the presidency in 1912. Beck drew from that reply that Newt was a Progressive. Gingrich denied that he was, but Beck was not convinced. After all, if you love Teddy Roosevelt, you’ve got to be a Progressive. By the way, John McCain’s favorite President is also Teddy Roosevelt.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is that unusual combination of politician, historian, intellectual, thinker, writer, consultant, and opportunist. He used his insider political know-how to earn $1.6 million from Freddie Mac as a consultant. What he advised the fools at Freddie Mac, we don’t know. (Some of them are now under indictment for alleged fraud.) But that is probably why he entered the race on a very low key because he knows that he brings to the campaign some very heavy baggage.

Yet, Newt considers himself a Reagan conservative. He claims to adhere to the U.S. Constitution, but his record — both in and out of Congress — has demonstrated many deviations from from constitutionalism and conservatism. (See here and here.) At the same time, Newt is also a visionary who has written about the new, so-called Third Wave civilization, which is in the process of changing the world. He wrote a Preface for the Tofflers’ 1995 book, Creating a New Civilization. Alvin and Heidi Toffler, a futurist couple, expect the New Civilization to replace traditional Christianity with Secular Humanism. In the Preface, Gingrich said:
I first began working with the Tofflers in the early 1970s on a concept called anticipatory democracy. I was then a young assistant professor at West Georgia State College, and I was fascinated with the intersection of history and the future which is the essence of politics and government at its best. For twenty years we have worked to develop a future-conscious politics and popular understanding that would make it easier for America to make the transition from the Second Wave civilization — which is clearly dying — to the emerging, but in many ways undefined and not fully understood Third Wave civilization.
That was written 16 years ago. Today, that “Third Wave” information-based civilization is, in Gingrich’s eyes, in full bloom. In 1995, the Tofflers wrote:
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....

This new civilization has its own distinctive world outlook; its own ways of dealing with time, space, logic and causality. And, its own principles for the politics of the future.
The politics of the future. The Tofflers believe that the Democrats represent the politics of the past, of Second Wave civilization, since their constituencies consist of big labor unions, and they favor lots of regulatory agencies with big bureaucracies that stifle free-market growth. In other words, the Democrats are stuck in Second Wave industrial-age thinking. And with a socialist in the White House, the Democrats are stuck in a 19th-century class-warfare ideology that the Soviet Union was stuck in for seventy years.

They write: “The Republicans are less rooted in the old industrial Northeast, and thus have an opportunity to position themselves as the part of the Third Wave.... If free markets and democracy are to survive the great and turbulent transitions to come, politics must become anticipatory and preventive.”

So that is what Gingrich means when he speaks of anticipatory democracy: preparing America for the new Third Wave civilization. The Tofflers see traditional religion as standing in the way of that new civilization. They write (p.77):
The religion-based wing of the Republican Party seeking a return to “traditional” verities, blames liberals, humanists, and Democrats for the “collapse of morality.” It fails to grasp that this crisis in our value system reflects the more general crisis of Second Wave civilization as a whole, and that this upheaval is not limited to America. Rather than asking how to bring about a decent, moral and democratic Third Wave America, most of its leaders merely urge a return to an idealized past. Instead of asking how to make a de-massified society moral and fair, many give the impression that they want to re-massify America.
What the Tofflers don’t understand is that Biblical morality has not changed in 3,000 years, and that it will be even more important in the future as computer technology and the Internet open even more doors to pornography and other corrupting temptations and influences. Civilizations may have changed, but human nature hasn’t. The idea that there is another, non-religious way to make society moral and fair is a dream that can never be realized. Without the Bible, man remains a hopeless barbarian dependent on corrupt humanist “decency” as a moral guide. Humanist decency includes killing the unborn, and it includes pre-marital sex, probably the greatest cause of social dysfunction in America today.

But the Tofflers see the “open-center” of the Republican Party as the political vehicle to “seize the future.” They write (p.78):
This is the message that Newt Gingrich ... has been trying, but so far with only limited success, to deliver to his own party. If Gingrich succeeds, and the Democrats remain chained to their pre-computer ideology, they could for good or ill, be trampled in the political dust.
Of course, nothing about the Third Wave came up during the debates. Indeed, since the 1980s, there has been a great Christian revival and the growth of a vibrant Christian homeschool movement, which is obviously not what the Tofflers anticipated. It doesn’t quite fit in with their vision of a secular humanist America. The idea that information or the Internet is going to change the deepest spiritual yearnings of a largely Christian nation is na├»ve. Especially in times of economic distress, people turn more toward traditional religion than away from it. That is why the mega-churches in the South are crammed to the rafters with worshipers in need of God’s love and blessing. Meanwhile, Gingrich himself seems to have embraced traditional religion and wants the voter to know that he has.

According to Wikipedia, Alvin Toffler first achieved fame as a futurist with the publication of his 1970 book, Future Shock. In that book, Toffler defined the term "future shock" as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies. His shortest definition for the term is a personal perception of "too much change in too short a period of time". The book became an international bestseller, and has sold over 6 million copies and has been widely translated.

In the Tofflers’ 2006 book, Revolutionary Wealth, they include Newt in their Acknowledgments of those who have contributed to their work. They state:
To Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, with whom we have debated, argued, screamed and laughed over the years. Whatever our political disagreements, we never spent an hour with him without learning something new. That’s a good mind to be around, especially when we disagree. And we are grateful.
That sounds an awful lot like a political endorsement! They write: “The Third Wave forces in America have yet to find their voice. The political party that gives it to them will dominate the American future. When that happens, a new and dramatically different America will rise from the ruins of the late-twentieth century.”

But the Tofflers also believe that our Constitutional system needs to be changed. In fact, they say it must "die and be replaced." They thank Thomas Jefferson for a system of government that has served us so well all these years, “and that now must, in its turn, die and be replaced.” (p. 91) Replaced with what? That’s going to be the exciting project of a future generation. I hate to think what our dumbed-down, semi-literate future Americans will come up with.

Meanwhile, the new America is already rising, but it is divided and confused by a conflict of ideologies. The Democrats are stuck in 19th century socialism, while some Republicans are trying to restore our Constitutional Republic. And the American people don’t know one Wave from another. So the country just crawls toward an uncertain future, waiting for some big change to take place in November 2012. While waiting, Americans can watch everything that once made this country the greatest nation on earth go slowly down the drain.

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