mation accessing.” “We continue tornbehave as though we hved in the age ofrnbooks or even in the age of orally impartedrnknowledge,” Mr. Gingrich complained.rnSpeaking at the “Virtual America”rnconference on January 10, he made clearrnthat his views have not changed muchrnsince the above passages were publishedrn(in 1984—no comment), except perhapsrnthat he now sees his own role inrnleading the nation and perhaps thernworld into the Third Wave as rather largerrnthan he did then. Taking from Tofflerrnthe idea that the world situation today isrncomparable to that of the 1770’s andrn1780’s, a period Mr. Gingrich describedrnas “the transition from the end of thernmedieval agrarian society to the rise ofrnthe commercial and ultimately manufacturingrnsociety,” he noted the role ofrnAdam Smith as the prophet of the industrialrnage, with British Prime MinisterrnWilliam Pitt the Younger, “surroundedrnby the disciples of Smith,” actual!v implementingrnthe political changes appropriaternto the Second Wave.rnThe analogy is pretty clear. Just asrnSmith was the ideological prophet of thernSecond Wave and Pitt its political spearhead,rnso today Toffler is the prophetrnof the Third Wave and Mr. Gingrich isrnits Pitt. Mr. Gingrich, himself a Ph.D. inrnhistory from Tulane, is reported to readrnomnivorously the lives and careers ofrnsuch titanic leaders of the past as thernDuke of Wellington, Bismarck, andrnFranklin Roosevelt, and his speeches arernlarded with allusions to such figures,rnespecially Roosevelt, whom he seems tornsee as a model for contemporary statecraft.rnIndeed, what is transparent about thernwhole Third Wave paradigm, for thosernfamiliar with the thought of the laternEric Voegelin, who was perhaps the veryrnantithesis of a sophomoric mind, is thatrnToffler’s view of the contemporary worldrnand Mr. Gingrich’s own elaboration ofrnthat view are almost literal manifestationsrnof what Voegelin called “gnosticism,”rnthe ancient religious and philosophicalrnmovement that for a time wasrna significant rival to Christianity andrnwhich Voegelin saw as the intellectualrnand spiritual ancestor of modern totalitarianism.rnVoegelin identified four mainrn”symbols” as characterizing gnosticrnmovements, whether the religious onesrnof antiquity or their messianic politicalrndescendants of modern times.rnThe first symbol, he wrote, is “thernconception of history as a sequence ofrnthree ages, of which the third age is intelligiblyrnthe final Third Realm,” the lastrnstage of history in which the perfectionrnof the world, society, and man isrnachieved through “gnosis,” knowledgernthat usually is imparted through a kindrnof mystical illumination rather than rationalrncommunication. Voegelin identifiedrnthe Marxist “third age” of proletarianrncommunism and the nationalrnsocialist Third Reich as the symbols ofrnthose specific gnostic movements. “Thernsecond symbol,” Voegelin wrote, “is thatrnof the leader,” while the third symbol isrnthat of the prophet, the one carrying outrnthe heavy lifting for practical utopianismrnwhile the other works out and proclaimsrnthe theory. The fourth symbol is that ofrnthe “brotherhood of autonomous persons,”rnwhich in modern gnostic movementsrnconsists of the party, the race, thernproletariat, or other collectivities thatrnare supposed to be the historic agents ofrnsecular salvation.rnThe Toffler-Gingrich Third Wavernparadigm incorporates most of thernsymbols of gnosticism. The Third Wavernitself is the Third Realm, while Tofflerrnis the Prophet and Mr. Gingrich thernLeader of the Realm. The “brotherhoodrnof autonomous persons” is less apparent,rnbut no doubt it will emerge in timernas those who adhere to the paradigmrnand to Mr. Gingrich’s unquestionedrnleadership of it crystallize. But, as thernprophet and the leader explain thernThird Wave, the new realm they aim tornconstruct appears to be the antithesis ofrntotalitarianism. Thus, Mr. Gingrich insistedrnat the “Virtual America” conferencernthat “everywhere on the planet, wernare saying that the information agernmeans more decentralization, morernmarket orientation, more freedom forrnindividuals, more opportunity forrnchoice, more capacity to be productivernwithout controls by the state.”rnOf course, he is not the only one tornbelieve so, and it is now a commonplacernto think that the new technologies ofrncomputers and high-tech communicationrnwill lead to decentralization. JudernWanniski, George Gilder, Vin Weber,rnand Jack Kemp, among others, are thosernon the “right” who are most vociferousrnin proclaiming this new gospel—even asrntransnational trade pacts and organizationsrngobble and centralize old nationsrnand regions and even as new communicationsrnconglomerates absorb smallerrncompetitors. The truth is that what Mr.rnGingrich and his fellow Third Waversrnthink is decentralization is in fact thernvery opposite. The “personalized healthrnchair” that he predicted in his book is arnfairly clear example. By connecting yourrnbody and its signals to a centralizedrnhospital or health center, you are hardlyrngoverning your own diet, health, andrnphysical regimen. You are merely turningrnthem over to (a) the centralizedrnbureaucracy from which comes the informationrnon what your weight, bloodrnpressure, diet, temperature, exercise regimen,rnetc., “should” be and (b) the computerrnitself. What you do when you sitrndown in Mr. Gingrich’s health chair isrnsurrender your own body to its computerizedrntherapies and standards and atrnthe same time surrender your own mindrnto the decisions it tells you to make.rnMuch the same is true of all the restrnof the new technology. Its whole pointrnis to “hook you in” to networks, informationrnbases, services, etc., that you neitherrncontrol nor construct and that remainrnfar more centralized than thernbooks for which Mr. Gingrich seems tornshow so much contempt. All these gadgetsrnand services no doubt have theirrnvalue, from curing the handicapped tornimproving your golf game, but have nornillusion that they will make you free.rnComputers and the rest of the newrnpostindustrial technology offer opportunitiesrnfor human enslavement undreamtrnof by the gnostic prophets and leadersrnof the past.rnIn claiming—quite seriously, as far asrnanyone can tell—that technology ratherrnthan human ideas, moral values, and socialrninstitutions will make us free, Mr.rnGingrich is recapitulating an idea profoundlyrncharacteristic of gnosticism.rnTechnology itself is the “gnosis” of thisrnparticular movement, and once we arernilluminated (and thus liberated) by itsrnglow, not only will we no longer needrnsuch Second Wave contraptions asrnbooks, but we will also be done with thernwhole musty structure of traditional civilizationrnthat Mr. Toffler so happilyrnchirps into oblivion. The dehumanizedrnvision of the future that he and LeaderrnGingrich share may yield a certainrnamount of decentralization and “opportunity”rnin the short run, but as the machinesrnof the Third Wave replace socialrninstitutions and moral disciplines, makernno mistake about how much freedomrnfrom the first and second waves willrnremain on the beach.rnAPRIL 1995/9rnrnrn