decade before today's "war on terrorism" began, before Osama
Bin Laden became a household name and Afghanistan hit the world headlines,
a small book called War and Anti-War warned:
rise of religious fanaticism (as distinct from mere fundamentalism)
promotes paranoia and loathing around the world. A minority of Islamic
extremists conjure fantasies of a New Crusade, with the entire Muslim
world united in a Jihad, or Holy War, against Judeo-Christianity".
what is now happening on the border of Pakistan, the book spoke
of ethnic and religious violence pushing "waves of poverty-stricken,
war-ridden immigrants (and hordes of drug traffickers as well) across
national boundaries". Widely read by military leaders around
the world, War and Anti-War cautioned that "In the increasingly
wired global economy, many of these seemingly small conflicts trigger
strong secondary effects in surrounding (and even distant) countries."
U.S. military would have to rely more heavily on precision weapons,
special operations forces and unmanned robotic aircraft, and would
need more on-the-ground human intelligence, and as well as a far
better understanding of the role of the world media.
authors of these early warnings were Alvin and Heidi Toffler, the
world's most influential and credible forecasters and futurists.
Silicon Valley to Wall Street and Washington, from Tokyo to Singapore
and Seoul, the Tofflers' books and lectures have given advance information
and powerful new ideas to the change-makers and world leaders who
are defining the early 21st century.
to Time magazine, the Tofflers "set the standard by which all
subsequent would-be futurists have been measured."
books include such classics as Future Shock and The Third Wave,
as well as Powershift, War and Anti-War, and, most recently, Creating
a New Civilization.
into over 30 languages ranging from Japanese, Spanish and French
to Chinese, Arabic, Finnish and Urdu, the Toffler books have sold
in the multi-millions, have been pirated in many countries, and
were burned in at least one.
Prisons to Palaces
Kim Dae Jung of South Korea and President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela
are only two among world leaders who read the Toffler books while
in prison on political charges.
China their book, The Third Wave, was first banned as a bearer of
so-called "Western Spiritual Pollution", then became China's
greatest best-seller, second only to the speeches of Deng Xiaoping,
and has cited in the press as the "Bible" of China's reformers.
the repressive years of the former Soviet Union, Future Shock penetrated
the "gulag" -- the remote prisons to which individuals
were sent for political "crimes", and was read by the
dissidents. In Eastern Europe, copies passing from hand to hand
contributed to the intellectual ferment that led to the democratic
gains of recent years.
their works focused on new possibilities. Thus, according to Asia
historian Alexander Woodside, "Where an earlier generation
of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese revolutionaries wanted to reenact
the Paris Commune as imagined by Karl Marx, their post-revolutionary
successors now want to reenact Silicon Valley as imagined by Alvin
Toffler books have influenced titans of business and finance as
well. Media baron Ted Turner has publicly credited the Tofflers
with inspiring him to launch CNN. Steve Case, chairman of AOL-Time
Warner, tells reporters that Tofflers' The Third Wave influenced
him to switch careers and enter the on-line media business. J. D.
Power cites their influence on him and his company, and Federal
Express has formally honored the Tofflers for the role their ideas
played in shaping its strategy.
Toffler Associates, the firm they started in 1998, provides top-level
strategic advice to governments, leading corporations, and other
clients around the world.
early as the beginning of the 1960s, the Tofflers foretold the explosive
rise of the computer. They wrote and lectured about PCs, electronic
"agents", virtual reality, and today's electronic networks
decades before they appeared in the market place. They described
the VCR years before it even had a name. When the forerunner of
the Internet had only 700 people on it, the Tofflers were on it
and telling the world about it.
a consultant, Alvin Toffler prepared a secret report for the board
of AT&T, then the world's largest private company, forecasting
the break-up of that giant company 12 years before the U.S. government
split it up.
The Tofflers forecast the coming of cable television when it was
still widely assumed that "advertisers would never back cable."
They lectured about niche markets long before that term was invented.
They wrote about the acceleration of change, the shift to work-at-home
and temporary help services in 1970. They identified the move to
de-massified media as early as 1961.
manufacture, out-sourcing, franchising, the current wave of corporate
restructuring -- all appeared in their lectures and books decades
their ideas about business "constellations", "vertical
and horizontal leadership", "de-synchronization",
the future fusion of biotechnology with information technology,
and the "trisection" of global power offer challenging
new insights into management and the economy of the future.
Rock Music and Overchoice
Toffler books have added numerous words and phrases to our language,
from the "third wave", "demassification", and
"adhocracy" to the "electronic cottage" and
"overchoice." Their term "future shock" is now
firmly embedded in dictionaries and encyclopedias.
ideas of the Tofflers have become part of the global cultural bloodstream.
They have inspired symphonies, poetry, a rock musical performed
at the Edinburgh Festival, and songs by some of the world's most
famous rock stars.
Tofflers' global impact comes not only from spotting individual
changes in advance or simplistically projecting unrelated trends,
but from identifying the newest forces behind change, synthesizing
them, and setting them into a coherent, intellectual framework.
their early years, both the Tofflers spent half a decade as blue
collar workers in heavy industry, later putting that practical experience
to use by writing about the nature of work and the contrast between
manual and mental labor.
Alvin Toffler has served as a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage
Foundation, a Visiting Professor at Cornell University, a faculty
member of the New School for Social Research, a White House correspondent,
an editor of Fortune magazine, and a business consultant.
holds honorary doctorates in letters, law, science and -- from Keio
University in Tokyo -- in managment science. In France, where the
Tofflers' work has won the prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger,
he has been named an Officier de L'Ordre des Arts et Lettres.
is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies,
serves on the advisory board of the Comptroller-General of the United
States, and has been elected a Fellow of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science.
the Tofflers are Distinguished Adjunct Professors at the National
Defense University in Washington.
Toffler, a futurist and intellectual in her own right, is on the
advisory council of the Center for Global Communications in Tokyo
and the scientific committee of the Piu Manzu Foundation in Italy.
She holds an honorary doctorate in law and has been awarded the
medal of the President of the Italian Republic for her contributions
to social thought.
Tofflers are honorary Co-Chairs of the U.S. Committee for the United
Nations Development Fund for Women. They have worked together as
an intellectual team since their marriage 52 years ago.