Principalities & Powersrnby Samuel FrancisrnGnostic NewtrnThe hallmark of the sophomoric mind isrnthat it knows the sorts of things thatrnadult minds do but has not yet figuredrnout how to do them. Bright undergraduatesrnwho solemnly inform their professorsrnthat they plan to write term papersrnapplying what they have read about thernlatest fads of pop psychology to the enduringrnproblems of literature and historyrnare fairly typical specimens of thernbreed. They know that mature scholarsrnspend their lives trying to apply newrnideas to old problems, but in their ownrnimmaturity they have not yet learnedrnhow to tell which new ideas might offerrnuseful approaches to such problems,rnwhich ideas are worthwhile but irrelevant,rnand which ideas are merely foolish.rnHence, the papers they eventually submitrnto their teachers are usually minorrndisasters of ingenious but misappliedrnerudition.rnSophomoric minds are commonrnenough in colleges, but sometimes theyrnnever grow up. Sometimes they managernto gain Ph.D.’s and teach college, andrnoccasionally they get themselves electedrnto Congress. But only once in a centuryrnor so does a perpetual sophomorernbecome Speaker of the House of Representatives,rnwith a majority of hisrnown party behind him. Such an event isrnnow upon us, and the consequences ofrna sophomoric mind unleashed andrnequipped with real political power mayrnturn out to be a good deal more disastrousrnthan those of silly term papers.rnMost Americans and even most Republicansrnwho knew of Newt Gingrichrnbefore last November’s Republicanrnsweep of the House and Senate probablyrnhad no idea of what for years he hasrnthought and believed, and when in Januaryrnhe began to unbosom his wisdomrnin nationally noticed speeches, thosernwho listened to him must have beenrnastonished. It is well known that Mr.rnGingrich is a man of no small intelligencern—the brightest in the House,rnsome say—and is eager to absorb, combine,rnand spew out new ideas in muchrnthe same way as the computer withrnwhich he is so fascinated. In academicsrnand even young lawmakers, such traitsrnare assets, but in what is supposed to bernthe more sober figure of Speaker of thernHouse, they may be flaws.rnIt is a fair and reasonable interpretationrnof last year’s elections that the citizensrnwho voted for the Republicans didrnso because they generally wanted suchrnmundane desiderata as lower taxes, saferrnneighborhoods, smaller government,rnmore controls on immigration, and lessrnmeddling abroad. Probably not a singlernvoter in the United States cast his ballotrnfor a Republican (or a Democrat) becausernhe thought it would accelerate arnworid-historical transformation comparablernto the transition to agriculturernin prehistoric times or the IndustrialrnRevolution of the 18th century. It is justrnsuch a transformation, however, tornwhich Mr, Gingrich is personally dedicatedrnand to which he now seems determinedrnto delier the country, if notrnthe planet.rnThe transformation is what Mr.rnGingrich and his personal gurus like torncall the “Third Wave,” a term they takernfrom the best-selling tract of pop futurismrnby Alvin Toffler, and no sooner hadrnthe 104th Congress convened than Mr.rnGingrich himself showed up at a daylongrnconference with Mr. Toffler and thernlatter’s ubiquitous wife Heidi to proclaimrnthe arrival of the New Age. Thernconference, on the topic of “VirtualrnAmerica,” was sponsored by the Progressrnand Freedom Foundation, run by formerrnGingrich staff aide Jeff Eisenach,rnand in addition to the new Speaker itrnfeatured former Congressman Vin Weberrnand the lovely if largely brainlessrnArianna Huffington, who, while everyonernelse was palavering about the ThirdrnWave, had some thoroughly unremarkablernrevelations to impart about whatrnshe calls the Fourth Instinct.rnBut never mind the Fourth Instinctrnfor now. Keep your eye on the ThirdrnWave, which, it turns out, is the epochalrnsocial, economic, and political changernsupposedly induced by the arrival ofrncomputers and similar postindustrialrntechnologies. As Toffler himself describedrnit in his 1980 book, “The ThirdrnWave brings with it a genuinely new wayrnof life based on diversified, renewablernenergy sources; on methods of productionrnthat make most factory assemblyrnlines obsolete; on new, nonnuelear families;rnon a novel institution that might berncalled the ‘electronic cottage’; and onrnradically changed schools and corporationsrnof the future.” Mr. Toffler alwaysrncharacterizes the coming age in thernmost breathless and dramatically Utopianrn(not to say apocalyptic) terms—rn”The emergent civilization writes a newrncode of behavior for us. . . . The newrncivilization . . . will topple bureaucracies,rnreduce the role of the nation-statern. . . [and] could . . . turn out to be thernfirst truly humane civilization on earth.”rnThe First Wave, you see, was the agriculturalrnrevolution of Neolithic times,rnand it took thousands of years for its implicationsrnto unfold. The Second Wavernwas the Industrial Revolution, and itrntook only a couple of centuries to waftrnus to the crest of the third one. Now,rnarmed with laptops and lasers, we canrnsurf into the final high-tech happylandrnunder the mellow guidance of Mr.rnGingrich himself.rnMr. Gingrich, it turns out, believesrnalmost all of this, just as a college sophomorernbelieves everything he reads in thernNew York Times, and he has believedrnit for years. In his book Window of Opportunity,rnwhich bears a somewhat qualifiedrnendorsement from Toffler (theyrndisagree on abortion and school prayer)rnand somewhat less guarded ones fromrnRonald Reagan and Jack Kemp, Mr.rnGingrich expatiated on just a few of thernwonders of the coming era. The firstrnone he mentioned was “a home videocomputerrnsystem which would film yourrngolf swing” and tell you how to improvernit. Then there was the “personalizedrnhealth chair,” which would record whatrnand how much you should eat and “allowrna lot more people to stay out of nursingrnhomes” (he said nothing in this bookrnabout orphanages). There will be “anrninteractive computerized income taxrnpackage,” a “retirement rules and regulationsrnpackage,” a computer directoryrnfor federal parks and monuments, newrntechniques for helping the handicapped,rnand (perhaps Mr. Gingrich’s favorite, atrnleast next to spiffing up his golf swing),rnnew techniques for learning and “infor-rn8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn