Alvin Toffler
Alvin Toffler
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Creating a New Civilization:  The Politics of the Third Wave
ISBN: 1570362238
Creating a New Civilization: The Politics of the Third Wave
The authors discussed their book, "Creating a New Civilization: The Politics of the Third Wave," published by Turner Publishing. The husband-and-wife team have written many books together that focus on the changes in a society. The book focuses on the political elites and the change from a second wave to a third wave. They feel political elites are the decision makers and need to be flexible in order for a society to change.
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TRANSCRIPT
Creating a New Civilization: The Politics of the Third Wave
Program Air Date: April 16, 1995

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Heidi Toffler, when you and your husband write in the book Creating a New Civilization about elites and shifting from a Second Wave to a Third Wave, you say that the elites must have flexibility and intelligence of today's elites and sub-elites. It depends on their, you know, whether they have the flexibility. Who are the elites and why are they so important?
HEIDI TOFFLER, AUTHOR, "CREATING A NEW CIVILIZATION": We're referring there, I think, specifically to the political elites, and in every country there is a political elite, people who are the decision-makers, and they need to be flexible, is basically what we're saying.
ALVIN TOFFLER, AUTHOR, "CREATING A NEW CIVILIZATION": I think that there's a structure of elites in every complex society. They may be... What you had, it seems to me, with the coming of the industrial revolution, you went from small nobility and the monarchy and so forth, to a structure, a hierarchical structure of elites in society in which you had a sub-elite. You go look at education, there will be elite schools and elite leaders.
LAMB: Does that mean the masses?
ALVIN TOFFLER: No, no...
HEIDI TOFFLER: The people who are on top?
ALVIN TOFFLER: It means the ones who probably make the biggest decisions, and who have the clout to make them, to implement them. And I think that's true in the field, in all kinds of fields, there are sub-elites and sub-elites all over the place. In many towns there are specialized elites and then there are generalized elites. In many towns a generalized elite might be lawyers who happen to be on this committee, that committee, the other committee, whether it's the symphony orchestra or the chamber of commerce, or this or that. So there are hierarchies of elites within all of our societies, and this is not necessarily a terrible thing.
LAMB: Let me pick two elites that you... Well, let me pick two people and then ask you whether they're elite or not, because you mention early in your book-- Al Gore and Newt Gingrich.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Oh, they're both political elite, of course.
LAMB: And you’ve had contact with both of them for years?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yes, but more so with Newt Gingrich because of our friendship...
ALVIN TOFFLER: More with Gingrich than with Gore, but with both, yes. Minimal contact with Al Gore. Vice President Gore, when he was at one time co-chair of something called the Congressional Clearinghouse on the Future, which was a group set up with our help in 1975 to encourage long-range thinking on the hill.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Basically, the idea is that congress has always had an oversight function and we felt very strongly that it should also have a foresight function, it should look ahead as well as look backwards. And we tried to form something called the Congressional Clearinghouse on the Future, which became the Future's Caucus.
ALVIN TOFFLER: And this was actually at the initiative, excuse me, of two democrats -- John Culver who was senator, Democratic senator from Iowa, and of Charlie Rose of North Carolina, who's still in the House, a Democrat.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Because the caucuses could be bipartisan and that was where...
ALVIN TOFFLER: They asked us to put on a two-day seminar in Capitol Hill in '75, excuse me, on what we called anticipatory democracy. Participation is wonderful, but our society will collapse if nobody thinks about the future. What you have in this, in our culture, is the average, the ordinary family worries about next week and where the money's going to come from to pay the dentist when they take the kid to the dentist next week, or tomorrow. The CEO’s, they worry about 90 days out, because they've got, the SEC requires, every 90 days a profit and loss report. Members of Congress in the House, you've got an election in two years, that's the time horizon. So where is there any pressure to thinking five, ten, 20 years ahead? Very little. And politicians, we feel, by and large get punished when they talk about the long-range. And I think that's part of what's happening, happening to Newt, as a matter of fact. Whether you agree with Gingrich's policies or not, he's one of the few people on Capitol Hill and in Washington who has a long-range perspective.
LAMB: Is it frustrating when people try to pigeonhole you as a Democrat or a Republican?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yes!
ALVIN TOFFLER: Oh, absolutely.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah, because we're neither. We vote for people, rather than for political parties and find that the party structure very often is, particularly now, is so adversarial and mud-slinging, and both of the parties have their eye on the '96 election, other than, rather than on the problems in--the real problems in the country today, and trying to get together to solve them.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Indeed, we think that what's happening these days is dangerous because if the next year and a half doesn't produce some significant change which roughly parallels what we think the American people want, roughly, then the odds are there may well be splintering and fragmentation, and a multiplicity of additional parties. And that opens a door that nobody knows what's on the other side of.
LAMB: Go back to Al Gore and Newt Gingrich. You probably as much as anybody have been up close to both parties over the years. What's the difference between an Al Gore and a Newt Gingrich when it comes to -- you know, they both talk about the information highway.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Okay.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Well, unfortunately we've been closer to the Republicans because they've invited us, starting with Lee Atwater. He invited us to the White House to talk to the White House staff, give a seminar on the third wave when in 19…probably '81...
ALVIN TOFFLER: Yeah, '80, '81.
HEIDI TOFFLER: And we've been very anxious for the Democrats to invite us but other than...
ALVIN TOFFLER: Until this election...
HEIDI TOFFLER: Well no, what was interesting, though, was the day that we spoke to both the Republican...
ALVIN TOFFLER: In the mid-70's, in the mid-70's, we spoke to the Republican governor's conference and a Democratic party mid-term convention -- gave the same speech to both.
HEIDI TOFFLER: In two different cities.
ALVIN TOFFLER: In two different cities, on the same day. Since that point, there's been very little contact with the Democrats, not by our design, but by theirs. And therein lies the difference, it seems to me, between Gore and Gingrich. It's not personal, this isn't a personal matter. The problem is this: there are smart people in both parties, there are people who think long-range in both parties. The difficulty is that much of what we describe as the oncoming third wave threatens existing constituencies in the Democratic party, and as a result, there is -- people in the Democratic party -- remember, I mean we were just invited after this election by Senator Daschle, to meet with, with the leader, the democratic leadership in the senate, and we did, and we found that a very fruitful experience. But the Democrats are constrained by their constituencies, which are essentially threatened by the emergence of the third wave, information-based society, because there are jobs at stake, there are industries at stake. We're talking about a distinction between second wave, or smokestack society, so to speak, and third wave, or information-based society.
LAMB: Quickly define the First, Second and Third Waves so people that haven't paid close attention to this will understand.
HEIDI TOFFLER: The First Wave was the industrial -- was the Agricultural Revolution, which started when somebody planted a seed and found out that they could grow food and stay in one place.
LAMB: Thousands of years ago.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yes, and that spread at the rate of one kilometer a year for 9,000 years. It spread very slowly. Then about 300, 350 years ago, the Industrial Revolution began, bringing about the second, we say the second great historic wave of change. And then in about 1955, roughly, the Third Wave of change began, which is, if you want to put a single word on it like industrial or agricultural, probably information is the best, the Information Revolution.
LAMB: Where did you get the idea for this First, Second and Third Wave? Where did the language itself...?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Well, we invented the language of First, Second, and Third Wave. We use the metaphor of waves for a specific reason. We are not thinking just about technology, we don't just write about technology, we don't just write about hardware and, or for that matter, economics. We think the entire social system, the entire way of life is changing, and that means family structure, it means values, it means culture, it means the arts, it means science -- all of these are changing in parallel and in relationship to one another, so that creates a wave of change. And the nice thing about the metaphor of waves is it suggests, unlike other theories of social change, that you can have multiple waves of change moving through the same society at the same time. And indeed, it suggests further, in a kind of poetic, visual way, that when waves collide, you get conflict, and that's what we think is happening in this country. And that's what we think distinguishes the Democrats and the Republicans right now -- the Democrats, because of history, because they were based in the northeast, they had very heavy roots in the rustbelt industries. Both the companies and the unions, are restrained, constrained, they seem, their constituencies, in some ways, threatened by the emergence of an information-based society. The Republicans also have -- are captive to a constituency, the religious right, who -- both of these, the democratic constituency that prevents the Democrats from dealing with these issues directly, want to go back to the 50's. It's as though they believe that somehow you can put all those workers back on all those assembly lines. The rest of the world doesn't exist. And on the Republican side, you have the religious right which seems to believe that you can move back to the 50's and you're back to the white picket fence and the television, the families that were glorified on television in 1950's.
LAMB: What is this period... I mean, this book was out in paperback by the Progress and Freedom Foundation, and as a matter of fact, it's published by Turner. Which Turner?
TOFFLERS: Turner...Turner publishing. Ted Turner's...
HEIDI TOFFLER: Well they have a publishing division, and we -- Jeff Eisenach, the head of PFF, published the book in a limited number of copies because he wanted it...
ALVIN TOFFLER: Circulated in Washington.
HEIDI TOFFLER: ...Circulated, yeah. But the demand for it became greater, and Jeff, with the foundation, couldn't take over the function of a publisher, and the suggestion was made that we go to a…
ALVIN TOFFLER: Commercial publisher.
HEIDI TOFFLER: …commercial publisher with it and Turner wanted to do it, so...
LAMB: Did Turner just want to do it because of the political connection?
ALVIN TOFFLER: No, I think it's a commercial, it's a commercial publishing.
HEIDI TOFFLER: No, publishers don't by and large have any political bent. They publish whatever they think will sell.
LAMB: This is $14.95 And it's relatively small. I think it's about 108 pages, or actually 112, I think, when it gets the acknowledgements done.
HEIDI TOFFLER: It's the smallest book we've ever done. (Laughs)
LAMB: How's it sell?
HEIDI TOFFLER: It's... Just...
ALVIN TOFFLER: Well you had a lot of authors on this program. I would bet you that if you did a survey of authors and asked them, "What happens when you're doing television, what happens to the sales?"
HEIDI TOFFLER: Well, no, we don't know. The answer is we don't know, because it's just getting into the bookstores.
ALVIN TOFFLER: The answer the writers will give you is, "The books are never in the cities where the television shows are." You've heard that, no doubt a thousand times, and that may very well be true now as well.
LAMB: You've done “Future Shock,” “Third Wave,” “Powershift,” and “War and Anti-war,” those four books, and...
HEIDI TOFFLER: We've done several others that were either...
ALVIN TOFFLER: We've done others as well.
HEIDI TOFFLER: ...edited, or...
ALVIN TOFFLER: Well, we did “Previews and Premises.”
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah.
ALVIN TOFFLER: 1983.
HEIDI TOFFLER: And “Adaptive Corporation”...
ALVIN TOFFLER: “The Adaptive Corporation,” so we've done a variety of books.
LAMB: What's the biggest seller?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Oh, “Future Shock,” so far. “Future Shock” sold over five million copies and was the fourth or fifth best-selling book, not of the year it was published, 1970, but of the entire decade of the 1970's.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Our books sell all over the world, and I think I just realized that the answer to that question is China, and it's "The Third Wave," because there were millions of copies of "The Third Wave" published in China, and we never got any royalties from them.
LAMB: Was that legal?
ALVIN TOFFLER: We had a lot of…
HEIDI TOFFLER: No. No, it was -- they weren't part of the copyright convention.
ALVIN TOFFLER: They pirated, it was pirated, but let's put it this way, it didn't make us too unhappy because the book became the bible of the democratic movement in China, and at one time was the best-selling book in China after the speeches of Deng Xiaoping. And the people who marched in Tiananmen Square were our readers.
LAMB: Have you been to China?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yes.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Sure, sure.
HEIDI TOFFLER: But to get back to that, what it did was pave the way for the economic reforms that the chinese...
ALVIN TOFFLER: And indeed one of the charges against Zhao Ziyang when he was ousted after he was sympathetic to the students during Tiananmen Square, he was ousted as chairman of the Communist Party, one of the charges was that he had met with us. And he was dumped, not because of us, obviously, but that was one of the side issues.
LAMB: Do you have any sense of how it worked, and who stole the book and had it...
ALVIN TOFFLER: Oh yeah, yeah, we know. It's a great story actually, we were invited to China and Heidi said...
HEIDI TOFFLER: By a group of futurists.
ALVIN TOFFLER: By something called the Chinese Society for Future Studies. Now the fact that they had such a thing, had just started such a thing, was itself a signal, because in the old constrained days, if you were a Marxist, you knew the future.
HEIDI TOFFLER: It was socialism.
ALVIN TOFFLER: It was socialism, you didn't have to have futurists discuss what the future might be. So they permitted the formation of something called the Chinese Society of Future Studies, they invited us as the first foreign guests to give some lectures, we went and...
HEIDI TOFFLER: We had just finished making a television documentary, a 90-minute documentary.
LAMB: What year?
HEIDI TOFFLER: 1982.
ALVIN TOFFLER: '82, '83, Somewhere around there.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah, and...
ALVIN TOFFLER: '83.
HEIDI TOFFLER: No '82, winter of '82, January '83. And we had, we had done the editing in Canada and it was just finished, and I said to Al, "I'm going to take a couple of cassettes with me," because we were lecturing, and I said, "This way they can see what's happening, they can see the changes," because China had been so isolated. And Al said, "No, it's..."
ALVIN TOFFLER: I said...
HEIDI TOFFLER:..."We have too much baggage," and he said...
ALVIN TOFFLER:...They won't have the machine, the VCR's.
HEIDI TOFFLER: "You take it, you're going to carry it," so I did. And he said, "And besides they won't have the equipment to play them on." And surprisingly, they did, and they did, the first night we were there we went to a banquet.
LAMB: What city?
HEIDI TOFFLER: In Beijing, and sitting next to me was the minister of communications and...
ALVIN TOFFLER: Broadcasting.
HEIDI TOFFLER: He turned and I asked him if we could get television, you know, large television sets with cassette players, and he said, "What kind of cassette?" And I said, "VHS," and he said, "Yes," he said, "Why?" And I explained that we wanted to show the film, and the first question he said, he asked me was, "Who has the rights to them?" I said, "We do," and he... I said, but you... And I figured if I looked too eager, if I appeared to be too eager, he would get turned off, so I said, "Oh, no, we have the rights, but you can't show it on Chinese television." And he said, "But can we make copies?" I said "No, I know what's going to happen if you make copies," and he said, "No, I promise you we'll only make copies for your lecture." And of course he did make copies and they did, after we left, circulate.
ALVIN TOFFLER: The People's Liberation Army Studios, which are the best in Beijing, did a Chinese version.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Dubbed it...
ALVIN TOFFLER: They used a famous actor doing the voiceover, and they distributed it and showed it to tens of millions of Chinese.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Think tanks, and...
ALVIN TOFFLER: And the book itself, and the story has one more twist, and that is we left after the...
HEIDI TOFFLER: But you have to make clear that our books were not allowed to be translated, published.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Prior to that, right. And Heidi correctly said, "You know, if we leave a cassette, it will circulate to the top." And then what happens, we leave and the guy who was our interpreter and handler during the visit, who was also a Chinese sociologist, began making speeches about "The Third Wave" and began writing articles about it, and immediately he gets a letter from the prime minister's office saying "I want the name of everybody you've spoken to and I want a copy of everything you've written." And he was frightened because he'd been kicked around during the Cultural Revolution, and a week later he gets a similar letter from the office of the chairman of the Communist Party, so he's really nervous. What happens then is, right in the middle of that, “The Third Wave” is published in 3,000 copies and it is immediately attacked as a source of western "spiritual pollution" and taken out of the stores, even though it was restricted to top leadership. At that point, six months go by of dead silence, as far as we're concerned, we're hearing none of this until much later. But there is an internal debate in policy circles and in October of '83, Zhao Ziyang, who was then prime minister, calls a conference in Beijing of top policy-makers and says, "We must study the Third Wave." And then people are still afraid, so they go to the chairman of the Communist Party, who at that time was Hu Yaobang, and say, "What do you think about what the prime minister said?" And he said, "Too many people in the party are afraid of new ideas." And with that the printing presses began, and millions of copies.
LAMB: What does it say about the Chinese people that you could take a cassette and the guy says, "I'll never copy it," and then they copy it multiple copies, and the same thing with the book?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Well, look at what they're doing now.
ALVIN TOFFLER: It says that they have no concept of intellectual property. Indeed, we'd just gone through this tremendous trade conflict with them over precisely that issue, and they do not understand even now, I think, why it's so important to the United States, why intellectual property is a significant issue. I think they go along now because they're being forced to do it, as a great many... We've been pirated elsewhere, as well-- Korea, Taiwan.
HEIDI TOFFLER: I disagree with you. I think they understand very well the importance of paying license fees on patents and...
ALVIN TOFFLER: But they think for us it's trivial, you see.
HEIDI TOFFLER: I think they think that they would rather not pay them and save the money.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Oh, sure, oh, sure.
HEIDI TOFFLER: I don't think it's a question of their feeling that since they're poor... I mean, this is what the problem with the Uruguay round talks for seven years were. On the one end of the debates there were the agricultural subsidies, and the other end was intellectual property, and it took seven years for those two issues, basically to get through.
ALVIN TOFFLER: See, we would categorize those as, on the one hand, the agricultural issue is a first- wave issue, and the intellectual property, the control of information, is a third-wave issue. And those are the two things that kept the Uruguay negotiators wrapped up for seven years.
LAMB: When was the first time you met this man?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Which man? This one? (Laughter)
ALVIN TOFFLER: Wait a minute now!
LAMB: Your husband.
HEIDI TOFFLER: I met him probably in July of 1948.
LAMB: Where?
HEIDI TOFFLER: In Washington Square Park in New York. I was going for summer session. I wanted...
ALVIN TOFFLER: At NYU.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah. I wanted to get out of college as fast as I could.
LAMB: New York University?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah. I was having lunch with a friend of mine who was a high school friend, and she had been in Al's class the previous semester.
LAMB: Was he teaching or just sitting in?
HEIDI TOFFLER: No, he was...
ALVIN TOFFLER: I was just back from signing up black voters, registering black voters in North Carolina.
HEIDI TOFFLER: And he came home to have his mother do his laundry. (Laughter)
ALVIN TOFFLER: What do kids do?
HEIDI TOFFLER: And then went up to school to see if any friends were around. And when he saw me-- and I had blonde hair, and he liked blondes-- with a girl from a class, he immediately came over, and we've been inseparable since that day.
LAMB: Now, where were you from originally?
HEIDI TOFFLER: I was born in Manhattan, in New York, and raised basically in the Bronx. Al was...
ALVIN TOFFLER: I'm a New Yorker as well. From brooklyn, so.
LAMB: And in those days what were your politics?
ALVIN TOFFLER: They were radical left. We were radical students of that day, and we thought we had the message to carry to the working people of America that you needed to go left. When we tried to do that, we discovered that they had a message for us: "You kids are nuts!" (Laughs)
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah, but it was an interesting time to be at university, because the GI Bill had just come into play, and we were not in a ghetto of 18-year-olds; we were with men who were serious, who had served in the military for years, who had fought, many of whom were married, had children. It was before Sputnik, and they didn't take attendance in classes. You could make deals with your professors to read the books and come in and take the final exam. And we spent more time sitting around having philosophical bull sessions and discussing politics and such things.
ALVIN TOFFLER: These men who had come back from the war were highly politicized. They had been -- they'd fought in Italy, they'd fought in France, they'd fought all over the place, and they came back and they were quite a considerable influence on us.
LAMB: What was their politics? What were most of their politics?
ALVIN TOFFLER: I would say that certainly the ones that we came into contact with, they tended to be leftish, influenced by their European experiences.
LAMB: Veterans?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah.
LAMB: Leftish veterans.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Yes, yes, yes.
LAMB: And, what were your...
ALVIN TOFFLER: Now, that was not necessarily typical of the rest of America, but we grew up in -- this was Greenwich Village in the 1940's. Greenwich Village is where the Bohemia of America was. And it was -- for us, school was almost incidental. We were going to the 5th Avenue Cinema and seeing foreign films, we were going to the Museum of Modern Art, we were standing on street corners and listening to speakers all the time. It was a very excited, intellectually vibrant place to be at that particular moment.
LAMB: And it was '48?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Yeah.
LAMB: And what was your age then?
ALVIN TOFFLER: 20.
HEIDI TOFFLER: No, 19.
LAMB: So you had not gone to war?
ALVIN TOFFLER: No, no, I was six months too young. I was six months too young to serve in World War II, and that in fact influenced our later course, because I felt that we had had, both of us -- certainly I felt that I had -- grown up in a very sheltered lower-middle class family, that these guys had seen the world, they'd done quote "romantic things," they'd fought, and I wanted to be a writer. And what did writers do? Jack London sailed, John Steinbeck picked grapes -- you had to do something other than live in a nice, stable lower-middle-class family. So that, in fact, influenced my development even before we met, and then afterwards the idea that we need to get out of New York and we need to go do something different.
LAMB: What were your parents about then? What did they do for a living?
HEIDI TOFFLER: My mother was a -- at that time, I don't know. She had, during the war, you know, been "Rosie the Riveter," but since my parents were separated when I was four, and my mother always worked to support the two of us, she had no intention of -- I mean, she left the factory at the end of the war, but went into -- Maybe she -- yeah, she probably started in the telephone company, was a telephone operator.
LAMB: What did you want to become by the way, at that point?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Well, I took, you know, the obligatory 18 credits of secondary education.
LAMB: That's not where your heart was.
HEIDI TOFFLER: No, but I didn't want to teach. But in those days -- we were children of the depression and grew up -- you always thought about your education in terms of work, and I wanted to be a doctor, but in those days being poor and being a woman meant I had absolutely no chance.
LAMB: Who proposed?
HEIDI TOFFLER: I don't know. I think it was mutual.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Well, we lived together for a couple of years before we decided to get married, and we got married, and we've been married for 45 years. So that premarital living together does not necessarily rule out a lengthy and good marriage.
LAMB: And how about your family?
ALVIN TOFFLER: My family were also -- her family was more working class, I would say, ours a little, just one tiny little notch above that. My father had a small business. He was buying and selling fur for the fur industry in New York.
LAMB: Were all your parents born in this country?
ALVIN TOFFLER: No.
HEIDI TOFFLER: No.
ALVIN TOFFLER: No, mine were born in Poland, and hers, her mother comes from...
HEIDI TOFFLER: My biological father was born here. His parents were from Germany. And my mother came here when she was 11 from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Her father threw her books in the fire, and she went to first grade and learned English in six months; was in Hoboken, New Jersey. And she's 85, alive and well, and speaks English without any trace of an accent.
ALVIN TOFFLER: And feisty as...
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Which is great.
LAMB: When did you leave New York, and where did you go?
ALVIN TOFFLER: We left in 1950, beginning of 1950, and we went for what was to be our great adventure, and that is we went to work as factory workers in the midwest.
LAMB: What town?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Cleveland. And in those years, during those years, I spent five years as an automobile -- on the automobile assembly line, as a millwright in a steel foundry, and in a number of other jobs as well. And Heidi as well. Heidi worked in an aluminum foundry, and she became a united autoworker shop steward.
LAMB: And you wanted to be a writer?
ALVIN TOFFLER: I wanted to be a writer, and during all of that time I was writing, writing, writing, writing.
HEIDI TOFFLER: I didn't particularly want to work in factories, but the first job I got was in a library, earning $45 a week with a college degree, and I found that I could double my salary working in a factory, so I quit the library and went to work in a factory making light bulbs for General Electric. I was there for a year. And then found that I could earn even more in an aluminum foundry, and was elected shop steward, so I was a UAW Shop steward for three years.
ALVIN TOFFLER: And she desegregated facilities, public facilities in that town.
HEIDI TOFFLER: I was also chairman of the recreation committee.
ALVIN TOFFLER: She's not telling you, but her company was 50% white, 50% black, about 1,000 workers, and she led them to desegregate.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Oh, no, as chairman of the recreation committee, we used to have picnics every year, and one year it was hot, and I said, "let's have it at the swimming pool." I think this was '52. And my black workers said, "no, we can't go to the swimming pool." And I said, "why not?" And they said, "they won't allow us to." I said, "well, if we have the picnic there and 1,000 people go, they can't refuse." And that's what we did. And from then on the city swimming pool in Cleveland, Ohio, was desegregated.
LAMB: You say that when you were in college at NYU you were leftists. What happened as you started working in the factories?
ALVIN TOFFLER: A couple of things happened. First, it turned out -- we were kids, and we discovered that the workers instead of, I mean, the theory we grew up on was there had been a great depression before the war; the only thing that pulled us out of the depression, we were taught, was the war. Now the war was over, so the expectation, widespread expectation, was that America was going into another deep depression. And consequently...
HEIDI TOFFLER: But there were recessions.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Oh, yeah, there were, but they were mild compared to the depression. So our assumption was that the working people were going to get poorer and poorer. But in fact what happened in the 50's was the exact reverse of that. The working folks that we worked with knew better than we did: they had a boat parked outside the suburban house that they had, they took vacations, the kids went to college, and life was getting better instead of worse. And we concluded at some point that reality is more important than theory. The reality is America was going through an enormous period of economic growth, things were getting better for the great majority of people, and that was good, not bad.
HEIDI TOFFLER: And largely because of the trade unions and their power.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Well, in part, in part. And also, during that period, as far as we're concerned, that period of working with our hands gave us something that nobody can ever take away from us. All the intellectuals who talk about work, all the people who talk about employment, all the people, not all but most of them have never actually done physical, assembly-line work; we have. We've lived in that environment long enough to know it and to be able to then write about it and think about it.
LAMB: After the five years or so in Cleveland, then what?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Then went to work as a journalist. I'd always wanted to write and I was writing all during that period -- I was writing fiction, I was writing poetry, I was writing all kinds of stuff, preparing my craft, learning my craft.
HEIDI TOFFLER: But not getting published, though.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Not being published, by and large. But the time came when it was time to do that, so first thing I did is -- I was practically in my filthy work jeans when I went knocking on the doors of anybody who seemed to have a publication in that city, and I knocked on the door of a trade journal on welding and they hired me, and the editor said, "Because you know how to weld, not necessarily because you know how to write." And he tested me. He gave me a tryout. He said, "Write something about some welding process that you do," and I did, and he hired me and I worked there for a short while. But then came an opportunity to go to work for an unusual newspaper which no longer exists, which was published by the printer's union, the ITU, International Typographical Union, and that was in the 50's. Between 1952 and 1957 they published a daily newspaper. It was the only labor-backed daily in America, and their model was a London newspaper called the Herald. And I got a job on that paper.
LAMB: Staying where?
ALVIN TOFFLER: We then...
HEIDI TOFFLER: We moved to Charleston, Charleston, West Virginia.
ALVIN TOFFLER: In West Virginia, and then in Iowa, Bettendorf, Iowa. And the reason for those places was that the union had a very unusual policy. They paid very high strike benefits. If you were on strike and a printer, you got paid 70% or 80% of your regular pay, and you marched around the building, and some of those strikes could last years. Finally somebody said, "Why are we paying them to march around a building? Why don't we start a newspaper in each of these towns…
HEIDI TOFFLER: …then we'll suck advertising away from the struck newspaper…
ALVIN TOFFLER: …and it'll take advertising away from the struck publisher…
HEIDI TOFFLER: …and then we'll create a newspaper, and when the strike is over, we'll have a two- newspaper town."
ALVIN TOFFLER: "We'll sell it. We'll sell it."
LAMB: And what were you doing all of this time?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Well, I left the aluminum foundry when I was eight months pregnant.
LAMB: What year was that?
HEIDI TOFFLER: 1954.
ALVIN TOFFLER: '53?
HEIDI TOFFLER: No, '54. And our daughter was born in February of '54, and basically for the next two or three years I stayed home and took care of her.
ALVIN TOFFLER: But in fact, the reality is, Heidi's name has not appeared on some of our books, as most people know, but she has been co-author of a lot of these books -- all of these books, in fact -- and even when I was doing daily journalism, when I'd come home at night to write a story, I would read it to her and we would debate it, we would argue it, so she was part of the writing process practically from day one.
LAMB: You know, I noticed in the “Powershift” and all of these books are in paperback out there, you bring this up: you say for reasons that were partly private, partly social, partly economic -- and that varied at different times -- you didn't include your name on any of that…
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yes, right.
LAMB: …do you want to tell us why you wouldn't?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Well, in 1970 I don't think “Future Shock” would have had the credibility it had if it had had my name on it. I think in 1970 we weren't ready for a co-authored book on, you know...
ALVIN TOFFLER: I disagreed with that then, and I disagree with it now.
LAMB: And what made you change? Because the book, the first one -- was the first one you had both your names on this one right here?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Right, “War and Anti-war.”
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah.
LAMB: And this is 1993?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Correct, correct.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Well, I remember what you told the New York Times. She'd been pestered repeatedly by feminists, but more important, she was getting tired of going into a lecture crowd, the audience coming up to her and saying, "What a wonderful husband you have to give you credit!" We had one that was just unbelievable. We went into a business conference, a lecture I had to give...
HEIDI TOFFLER: In New Orleans.
ALVIN TOFFLER: ...and the president of the association comes out and says, "Oh, lovely to meet you, Mr. Toffler, I was so honored to have you here. Hi, honey!" And I said, "She's not my honey, she's my professional colleague, as well as my wife." And he said, "Oh, I'm sorry," and turned to her again and said, "Hi, honey," as though he couldn't get it out of his head! So the time had come, really the time had come, and Heidi finally acceded and said, "Okay." Bylines never very meant much to her; they did to me.
LAMB: One of the things I noticed in the “Powershift” was that you had a little parenthetical expression there that you once taught a couple of seminars to murderers.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Yes.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yes.
LAMB: What was that?
HEIDI TOFFLER: That was a friend of ours who is Polish, as a matter of fact, was teaching at Antioch College in Los Angeles, and also went out to -- what's the name of the...?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Frontier, a prison for women.
HEIDI TOFFLER: ...Frontier prison, and was teaching a course on ethics and asked us to come and do one or two of the classes with him. And two of the Manson girls -- this is a women's prison, and they're only in for murder.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Well, no. This group were murderers.
HEIDI TOFFLER: In this class, yeah. And they had read “The Third Wave” and were -- yeah, you would never have known that you were anywhere but in a small women's college.
LAMB: What'd you learn from them?
ALVIN TOFFLER: We learned from them a lot. For example, this is -- I think we used that experience in “Powershift.” We were preparing to write “Powershift” about power in society -- who has it, who doesn't, how does it work, what's the relationship of information to that. So I interviewed one of these young women and I said, "Do prisoners have any power?" And she said, "Sure." And I said, "Well, if a guard were harassing you, what would you do?" She said, "Well, I could go to the warden and complain, but if I did that, the guard would simply come down on me heavier." She said, "What I could do is I could write to a politician and have the politician go to the warden and say, 'Get that guard off her back,' but then if the guard found out, I'd really be in deep trouble."

And then she said -- and this is a verbatim quote, and we use it somewhere in the book -- "Fortunately, prisons are filled with idealists, so I get someone else to write the letter." Now think about. Think about the use of information, the manipulation of information -- disguising the source, for example, of a communication. It taught us, it helped teach us a lot about how information, and particularly in Washington, is manipulated, massaged, and in “Powershift” there are two chapters on what we call "information tactics." You don't deliver the information all at once; you dribble it out. Or you deliver it in a great deluge so you swamp the Congress with it. Or, alternatively, you use back channels, or you leak, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So, part of the manipulation of information that we describe or model in the book came from her.
LAMB: “Future Shock” written in 1970, and we got up to about 1957, '58, and you lived in Bettendorf?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Then came here, then came here.
LAMB: You came to Washington in what year?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Late 1950's, Christmas '56. Spent three years here.
HEIDI TOFFLER: 1957, Yeah.
LAMB: What did you think of that move?
HEIDI TOFFLER: I loved Bettendorf. It was really easy to live in.
LAMB: Bettendorf, Iowa?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Iowa, yeah.
ALVIN TOFFLER: On the bank of the Mississippi, literally.
HEIDI TOFFLER: And I was a little apprehensive about moving here, but after we got here and Al was covering the Hill on the White House, and we started freelancing for the, you know…
ALVIN TOFFLER: Everybody.
HEIDI TOFFLER: …major magazines, life became much more interesting and I was glad we made the move.
LAMB: And why did you decide to come to Washington?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Oh, because journalistically it was and is, for many, the place to be, and it was -- I felt I was ready, I had learned my craft. I had been covering things for this other newspaper. I covered the Democratic Convention of 1956. I covered the farm revolt of that period, I covered labor economics. And so when I came here, I worked for...
HEIDI TOFFLER: You know, moving up to the Washington bureau was...
ALVIN TOFFLER: I worked for a Pennsylvania paper, which is also now defunct.
LAMB: Which one?
ALVIN TOFFLER: York. York Gazette and Daily.
LAMB: And how did -- was that also tied to the union?
ALVIN TOFFLER: No, it was a commercial daily.
HEIDI TOFFLER: No, it was just that the labor's daily could only afford a part-time, half-time, and so Al looked for another job.
ALVIN TOFFLER: And we freelanced. We wrote for all, we began writing for all the major magazines from Good Housekeeping on up and down, and most of them in those days didn't have anybody in Washington, so we inherited a lot of assignments.
HEIDI TOFFLER: And we always did the serious piece for -- we did the first piece on water pollution in your drinking water for Good Housekeeping.
ALVIN TOFFLER: We did a lot of political profiles. And in fact, at that time, what I really dreamed of being was the...
HEIDI TOFFLER: Karsh?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Karsh. You know, the photographer Karsh, the great photographer. I wanted to be the Karsh of profiles. And we did Barry Goldwater, and we did Hubert Humphrey, and we did Justice Douglas, and we did...
HEIDI TOFFLER: Johnson.
ALVIN TOFFLER: ...Johnson, and we did many, many of the figures of that period, on the Hill, and we did Dag Hammarskjold at the UN, And so on.
HEIDI TOFFLER: And there was no competition for those.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Basically, basically none.
HEIDI TOFFLER: No.
LAMB: What were your politics around 1960?
ALVIN TOFFLER: They were, we had left behind the kind of cliched left politics that we'd had, and suddenly we found ourselves in Washington, and found ourselves dealing with human beings rather than cardboard cut-out figures. So that, you know, this guy is not a representative of the capitalist class. This guy is not -- this guy is a human...
HEIDI TOFFLER: When you called Humphrey out of the Senate and he was wringing his hands because he didn't -- he wasn't sure how to vote.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Or I covered, I covered...
HEIDI TOFFLER: And the stereotypes just melt away.
ALVIN TOFFLER: I got to know of course a great many members of the House and Senate, and they were human beings with all the foibles and complexities and problems of all other human beings, and suddenly the map was different.

It was no longer a kind of theoretical sketch of politics with good two guys and bad guys, it was a more human one. But at that time, at that very time, is when we began thinking... Began the thinking that then led to “Future Shock”, “The Third Wave,” and now “Creating a New Civilization.” Because in those three years on the Hill and in the White House, what I discovered was there were all kinds of powerful things happening out there in the world, and it seemed to us that the political system didn't have any conception of what the impact of those might be. For example, between 1956 and 1960, those five years -- precisely the time when we were here -- you had the following. For the first time in the United States, service workers outnumbered blue-collar workers. Service and information workers outnumbered. It was the beginning of this great transition. Second, during that same period, you had the introduction of universalization of television; you had the introduction of jet commercial travel; you had the introduction of the birth control pill; you had powerful, powerful technological and other -- and the computer was just beginning to bubble through. And all of this was happening, and on the Hill and in Washington it was as though none of that had happened.
LAMB: Let me ask what might sound like a crass question, but along this way you've got to make a living and you've got to pay the bills, and you've got a daughter you're raising. Which came first, your interest in writing about this stuff, or did you ever sit around and say, "We could make a lot of money by having this great theory"?
HEIDI TOFFLER: No, no.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Just the opposite, just the opposite.
HEIDI TOFFLER: As a matter of fact, I went to work for a year and a half and supported Al...
ALVIN TOFFLER: While I freelanced.
HEIDI TOFFLER: ...while he freelanced.
LAMB: What were you doing?
HEIDI TOFFLER: I was working in a private library in Alexandria, Virginia.
ALVIN TOFFLER: On behavioral sciences and executive business.
HEIDI TOFFLER: If I start describing it -- this AID Executive decided that he would start a mail-order library so you could -- executives could get a book review once a month and then check off the books that they wanted and send the card in.
ALVIN TOFFLER: It was before paperbacks, before the trade paperbacks.
HEIDI TOFFLER: And it was a management library, so I got to read a lot of management literature while I worked there, and then on the weekends I worked with Al -- and the evenings -- on the freelance articles.
ALVIN TOFFLER: But I want to come back to that question, because that -- America has a very funny attitude: American academics and American...
HEIDI TOFFLER: Well, wait a minute, I just want to say one thing. Our friends thought we were crazy because we weren't interested in that regular paycheck and the stability and the... And for us the work was...
ALVIN TOFFLER: More important, more interesting.
HEIDI TOFFLER: ...More important, more interesting. It wasn't a question of money.
ALVIN TOFFLER: And when we wrote Future Shock, I can tell you how many copies we thought that book was going to sell. If anybody thinks we wrote Future Shock to make money…
HEIDI TOFFLER: No.
ALVIN TOFFLER: …they need to know that about a year or two after the great sensation, we had lunch with our publisher, and I said, "Jim, I'll tell you what I thought it would sell if you tell me what you thought it would sell." And Heidi and I had discussed this, maybe 30,000, 40,000 copies, which would have been a moderate book at that time. Nobody anticipated selling five million copies, nor would it have changed, because the fact of the matter is twe were driven by the material. And in this country you have a strange attitude that if a book sells widely, it can't be serious. Now, what's behind that? What's behind that is the assumption that a large number of people out there, if they buy the book, they must be -- I mean, they can't have five million smart people in America, right? They've got to be a dumbed-down audience. The fact of the matter is, Future Shock was the first of a line of serious books that were paperbacked and sold in very, very large numbers.
LAMB: Did you write a good enough contract that you didn't get a bad -- I mean, it's often here when somebody sells five million copies, you get a lousy contract -- didn't make any money.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Well, we did all right, but we did -- at that point we hadn't read the fine print, because it didn't matter. After that you read the fine print.
LAMB: We're missing a gap here of about ten years. And time goes by so quickly on the show.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Oh. Yeah.
LAMB: Between '60 and '70, where were you?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah.
ALVIN TOFFLER: New York, freelancing. Worked for Fortune.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Well, no. Well, we were freelancing. Al went -- we used to go up to New York periodically with a list of story ideas and, you know, partially developed research, and just knocked on doors, and knocked on Fortune's door, and...
ALVIN TOFFLER: No, no, no, no.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yes, you did.
ALVIN TOFFLER: I wrote to them, wrote them.
HEIDI TOFFLER: All right, I don't -- it doesn't matter. And Fortune said, "Sorry, we don't buy freelance articles, but we have an opening for somebody to do the labor column in Fortune, and with your background, you know, it's -- and you can write well." And we went through a big hassle about whether we wanted to leave Washington. And we were getting sort of bored with -- the cycle started to repeat itself, and we felt that we weren't learning much anymore.
LAMB: So you went to New York?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Went to New York.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Took the job.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Spent the next two years on Fortune.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Which I hated, by the way. I hated the regular paycheck and hated the...
ALVIN TOFFLER: And what my deal with them was, "Yes, I'll write a labor column; I will not bash the unions, I will not bash anybody, but I will interpret what's going on. And indeed, you shouldn't have a labor column. You should do a big story on labor when there's a story to do rather than be committed to doing one every month, because there's Business Week doing one every week." So we would spend three weeks of the month trying to figure out what to write, and then one week doing the story, which is a dumb way to run a magazine. And then hopefully they would drop it.
HEIDI TOFFLER: And by the way, women could not be writers.
ALVIN TOFFLER: And on that – yeah, at that time women on Fortune...
HEIDI TOFFLER: Could only be researchers.
ALVIN TOFFLER: With one exception, Carol Loomis. Women were researchers, men were writers. And when I proposed a woman take my place during vacation, they said no and they went outside and they got a male freelance who then fled the job. Anyway, that was Fortune, and I learned a lot from Fortune. One of the things I learned is how badly checked all daily journalism is by comparison.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Because at Fortune, every -- and that was Fortune when it was a monthly, when it was that big fat magazine. And every single word was double-checked in that magazine. And nothing in the daily journalism matched that level of research and checking.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah.
ALVIN TOFFLER: After that, left Fortune, and then spent the 60's essentially freelancing for all kinds of publications from the Annals of the Academy of Political and Social Science to Good Housekeeping to New York Times to Life magazine et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
LAMB: If somebody just joined us on this book, we've talked a lot about you all and not a lot about this book. But one of the reasons I'm talking about the “Powershift,” “The Third Wave,” “Future Shock,” it's all in here.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Yes. Yes.
LAMB: You use a little bit from all of those.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Right.
LAMB: How did you decide to do this book, “Creating a New Civilization?”
ALVIN TOFFLER: Okay. We were approached by Jeff Eisenach of the Progress and Freedom Foundation, who said, "Could we publish a small edition of some of your work? We would like to distribute it in Washington, on the Hill, and elsewhere."
HEIDI TOFFLER: "And Newt would like to do...the forward"
ALVIN TOFFLER: "And Newt Gingrich would like to do the forward."
LAMB: What year?
ALVIN TOFFLER: This was last summer. And as we've known Newt since 1970 or ‘71, ‘72. I think perhaps we ought to make that plain, how we know Newt and why we are in the same book with Newt Gingrich. I gave a speech in Chicago in ‘71, ‘72, to the American Council on Higher Education, and a young professor from Georgia made a trip up to hear me speak, came up, shook hands. We began talking. He went back to Georgia and began teaching a course. He was a historian, but he went back and also taught a course on Future Shock. That's our first contact. We then again met in ‘75 when we put on a conference on Capitol Hill on anticipatory democracy and tried to promote the idea that Congress ought to be a -- should be looking long range.
LAMB: And that were the Democrats.
ALVIN TOFFLER: That was at the request of the Democrats. But we also said, they said as well, "We want a bipartisan participation," so we reached out to find a Republican futurist...
HEIDI TOFFLER: Futurist.
ALVIN TOFFLER: ...a conservative futurist...
HEIDI TOFFLER: And Newt was the only one.
ALVIN TOFFLER: And that's a guy named Newt Gingrich down there in Georgia someplace. He was not in Congress at the time, but he was teaching this stuff. He was teaching history, environmental science, and futures. And so he came up -- that was a wonderful day or two. There was, we had Betty Friedan on one side, we had Newt Gingrich on the other, and we had primarily a democratic audience.
LAMB: You say in your introduction here that Gingrich has a trait that fanatics typically lack: a keen sense of humor. Can you give us any examples? Where do you see it?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Oh, you see it, you certainly see it in private discourse.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah.
ALVIN TOFFLER: There's some I wouldn't want to repeat, not because they're dirty, but because they're political. But, believe me, he is capable of a gigantic guffaw. And when we stay together, when they visit us...
HEIDI TOFFLER: No. Was the question, "are there fanatics who don't have a sense of humor that we know?" I'm confused with the question. (Laughter)
ALVIN TOFFLER: …when we get together, we usually have screaming, shouting arguments all night long -- political arguments -- and then we bust out laughing. And it's a warm relationship that we've developed over these many years. He said early on, “You're going to agree with 80% of what I say and detest the other 20%." And that percentage rises and falls.
LAMB: The Anticipatory Democracy Conference in the mid 1970's -- had you all started to change your politics at all then?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Oh, sure, sure. Because our politics, our left politics -- we left our left politics behind by the late 1950's.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Oh, no. Our politics changed 15 years before then.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Because the country had changed, and it didn't meet our left-wing expectations. It had not gone in the direction that left-wing theory said it should go. We should have -- by the end of the 1950's we should have been in a deep depression, we should have had something approximating fascism. We did have the McCarthy interlude, which was horrible for everybody, I think -- most thinking people.

But on the other hand, the country was doing fabulously well economically, and we were learning.
LAMB: When did you move from New York?
ALVIN TOFFLER: You mean...
LAMB: Didn't you move to the coast?
TOFFLERS: No.
HEIDI TOFFLER: No, no. We just spend the winters there.
LAMB: Oh, you do not live in Los Angeles.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Oh, no. We have a house in Connecticut, which we've had since 1960's, and we had an apartment in New York and a house in Connecticut and we'd go back and forth. But we're Connecticut residents, and we no longer have an apartment in New York.
LAMB: As you've done better over the years, I assume financially also...
HEIDI TOFFLER: Mm-hmm.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Sure.
LAMB: ...Have you changed your thinking about what's right and wrong, and what's up and down?
ALVIN TOFFLER: No, but I think we've changed -- sure we've changed our thinking, but not because we've gotten wealthier. We've changed our thinking because the country has changed, the world has changed.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah.
ALVIN TOFFLER: I mean, bear in mind that our thesis from day one was that change is accelerating. That's what “Future Shock” was about. "What are the consequences -- not of this right-wing move or left-wing move -- what are the consequences of simply speeding things up?"
LAMB: Where did you get "future shock," the term?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Oh. I was on the telephone with a psychologist discussing the concept of culture shock. You go to another country, another culture, you can be disoriented as a consequence. When I got off the phone I said, "Bingo. You can create a strange new culture in your own country and be shocked by that." If the future comes at us too fast, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, and so that's future shock.
HEIDI TOFFLER: And we can become very disoriented.
LAMB: When you're in a writing situation, how do you two work?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Okay. We spend endless hours and weeks and months and sometimes even years discussing what book to write -- which is the primary question.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Outlining it.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Second, outlining...
HEIDI TOFFLER: And re-outlining it.
ALVIN TOFFLER: ...which is a major -- and re and re and re. Debating all of these issues that go into the book.
LAMB: Like, are you writing a book right now?
HEIDI TOFFLER: No.
ALVIN TOFFLER: We're just in between. We're just about to start a new outline. And what we do then is, I go out after we've had these discussions, I will draft a chapter, come back, we'll work on it together, come back, I do the keyboard stuff, but we do the thinking together.
HEIDI TOFFLER: And sometimes you outline the chapter and it won't write, or you'll get so far in the chapter and then -- so you know there's something wrong with your outline.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Or something wrong with your thinking about it.
HEIDI TOFFLER: So then you have to go back and re-outline and go off in a different direction.
LAMB: What's the fourth wave?
ALVIN TOFFLER: We've been asked that, many, many times, and the fourth wave -- I guess -- is if we look ahead 30 or 40 years, this country and the world is in for an enormous jolt, an absolutely staggering jolt when the Biological Revolution and the Information Revolution fuse into something incredibly new that most of us can barely scarcely imagine.
LAMB: Can you give us any indication what the next book would be about? Have you gotten there yet?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Not really, no.
ALVIN TOFFLER: At any given time we've got about a dozen outlines, and then we go through those dozen outlines again and again and again, so we're not sure which one of several.
HEIDI TOFFLER: And so much of it depends upon the feedback from the last book. And I think we were pretty sure we wanted to do one of the books that we've got in a pretty substantial outlining stage, but I think the feedback from “Creating a New Civilization” will possibly...
ALVIN TOFFLER: Will alter our views in some way.
HEIDI TOFFLER: ...change the book.
LAMB: How is this time for you compared to all other times and publicity and all that?
ALVIN TOFFLER: Well, the... I mean, because of Gingrich's, you know, election to the speaker, to being speaker, there has been just an avalanche of basically trivial publicity. I mean, if you turn on Nexus and you put in our name, it will say, "wait a minute, there over 1,000 references," and so forth.
HEIDI TOFFLER: That's on the one hand. But on the other hand, I am absolutely delighted that people are taking our ideas seriously, going back and reading the books and using our terminology of first wave, second wave, and third wave, which just makes life so much easier for us. It means you don't have to keep explaining it over and over again.
ALVIN TOFFLER: But more important, more important, we have been writing for 30 years about the coming of a new kind of economy in society which will bring dislocations with it, which will bring unemployment and problems and deep difficulties along with it, just as the Industrial Revolution did. Nobody paid serious attention. Millions of people read us, but there was no policy relationship to that, except in the business community where a lot of attention was paid and a lot of strategic decisions were based on our books. New companies were formed based on our books. Reorganizations of companies were done based on our books. We got the Mackenzie award for contribution to management literature and so forth. However, in terms of Washington politics, almost zero anticipatory approach or attention to what's coming down the pike: a fundamental change in the nature of how we work, where we live, where the -- I mean the future of urban of centers, with de-urbanization, the shift from manual work to knowledge work, the competition from abroad, the new role of technology. All of this stuff has been out there. We've been sounding the alarm...
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah.
ALVIN TOFFLER: ...for ten, 20, 30 years. Now, for the first time, because we have actual technological unemployment, because we have actual people losing their jobs as this transition takes place, there is now serious attention just beginning to be paid -- belatedly.
LAMB: You mentioned you have one daughter.
TOFFLERS: Yes.
LAMB: And what does she do?
ALVIN TOFFLER: She's editing science-fiction at the moment.
HEIDI TOFFLER: She's a copy editor. Self-employed also.
LAMB: What about this period of the attention you're getting do you dislike?
HEIDI TOFFLER: Dislike? People who don't read our books...
ALVIN TOFFLER: Yes.
HEIDI TOFFLER: ...who attribute statements, positions, and tend to trivialize it -- either call it -- because “Future Shock” was a best seller, as was “The Third Wave,” they call us pop-sociologists and visionaries.
ALVIN TOFFLER: A good example -- the New York Times. When we wrote in 1980 that people would be working at home, the New York Times had a piece -- page one, bottom left-hand side of page one saying, "Ah, they're just visionaries." Last summer, same position, page one: "Guess what? People are working at home." Our books have foreshadowed work at home, VCR's, flex-time, corporate reorganization structures, the attack on bureaucracy that we're seeing in business and now, at last, in government. These are themes that have run through our books from “Future Shock” right on down to today.
LAMB: So in the end, then how do you -- what's the label you want to put on yourself? We started out that you want to be a writer, but what is it today?
ALVIN TOFFLER: We are authors. We are social critics. We're social thinkers, I suppose, in a way. And we are futurists. I don't deny that we write and think about the future. But you know, the key thing about that, which nobody understands, is the first word in every lecture we ever give is, "Nobody knows the future." Anybody who claims to know the future is not a futurist.
LAMB: Quick -- what label do you like?
HEIDI TOFFLER: The same. Social critic, futurist. We both have gotten the Medal of the President of the Italian Republic for contributions...
ALVIN TOFFLER: ...Contributions to social thought. Our books -- we are better known outside of the United States.
HEIDI TOFFLER: Yeah.
LAMB: We're out of time. And here's what the cover of the most recent book looks like. “Creating a New Civilization,” Alvin and Heidi Toffler, with a forward by Newt Gingrich. And we thank you for joining us.
ALVIN TOFFLER: Pleasure.


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