When the United States launched a trade war, the world has undergone major changes and turning points in stages. Prior to this, involution mainly occurred in a certain competitive field in a certain region. Since then, involution has crossed national boundaries. The incremental cake is not big, and we can only strive for a larger share in the stock cake to ensure interests, which can easily fall into a zero-sum game or even a negative-sum game.
The huge incremental cake mainly comes from the changes in the production mode brought about by the technological upgrading of human beings, and the sudden and substantial increase in material wealth after improving efficiency often occurs after the “singularity” of technological progress. After technology has been upgraded, the material wealth that most countries and most people can share has increased significantly. The society is prosperous and the material is extremely rich. Everyone feels that there are endless things to do and money to make, so they all concentrate on Focus on thinking about how you can work hard to get more incremental cakes, instead of staring at the cakes on other people’s plates.
To avoid involution caused by excessive competition within a country and region, the best early strategy is globalization, which is what we now call “going overseas.” In order to avoid involution, American companies started globalization earlier; Japan’s economy recovered to a certain extent after World War II, and in order to avoid involution, it started globalization. Now, in order to avoid involution, we have also begun to globalize or are in the process of globalization and have even reached a certain degree of globalization.
However, when there are more and more global companies, globalization itself has become a field or a method of involution. For example, in the field of smartphones, the domestic competition of Xiaomi, OPPO, VIVO, Honor, and Huawei is fierce, and they still have to compete with Apple. However, the total market size is so large, and it is difficult to maintain growth. Therefore, we should look a little wider and look for overseas markets. Expansion in overseas markets is not easy, and it needs to compete with Apple, Samsung, and local manufacturers; Transsion, a Chinese company that entered the African market early, entered Southeast Asia and South America in order to maintain growth; however, when the cakes in overseas markets are visible to the naked eye, When entrants came in droves, the involution of globalization began to take place. The marketization method of globalization involution is the price war between manufacturers, and the investment in marketing advertising and after-sales service investment among manufacturers; the national method of globalization involution is anti-dumping and trade protection; the extreme method of globalization involution It’s the trade war and the tech war – the unreasonable tariffs, the ever-growing entity list in the name of politics and national security. Of course, the most extreme way of globalization’s involution is unjust war, that is, naked plunder.
When the global economy begins to deglobalize, can human beings avoid involution? Perhaps, revisiting futurist Alvin Toffler’s “The Third Wave” (The Third Wave) can give us some inspiration. I read this book for the first time when I was an undergraduate, exactly 20 years ago.
Foresight is accurate
Alvin Toffler has been called a prophet of the real world, in other words: a futurist. “Future Shock” in 1970, “The Third Wave” in 1983, and “The Great Future” in 1990, these three books made him “the most popular futurist in the United States”, especially “The Third Wave” had a global impact. The future that Toffler foresees in “The Third Wave” is: the prevalence of multinational corporations; the invention of computers makes SOHO (work from home) possible; people will get rid of the shackles of 9 to 5 jobs; The rise of the DIY) movement… time has changed, and in retrospect, many of Toffler’s predictions have come true.
In 1983, Toffler, in his book The Third Wave, divided human society into three stages: the first wave was the agricultural stage, which began about 10,000 years ago; the second stage was the industrial stage, which began It started at the end of the 17th century; the third stage is the informationization (service industry) stage, starting from the late 1950s. He believes that due to the emergence of new technology waves, developing countries can once again stand on the same starting line as developed countries.
The interesting thing about futurology is that after analyzing, predicting, and describing the future, the future will eventually become history, and when it becomes history, it will verify whether the original analysis, prediction, and description are reasonable. The great thing about Toffler is that when the future becomes history, it verifies the accuracy of his original foresight. A few examples can be picked from his writings:
”…so we might see people using solar energy to generate electricity, and then using that electricity to release hydrogen from water, and then use hydrogen to power cars. stage, once we start to incorporate these new technologies, the variety of uses will increase rapidly, and the energy base of the third wave will also emerge… The question is not whether the energy base of the second wave will be replaced , but how fast it is replaced…” That is to say, in the 1980s, Toffler predicted that fossil energy would be replaced by new clean energy, and predicted the rise of the current hot new energy.
For another example, in Chapter 13, “Diversified Communication Modes”, Toffler wrote: “In the era of the second wave, the power of mass communication tools has become stronger and stronger, but today there has been an amazing transformation. The three waves fell from the sky. Not only did the mass communication tools not expand their power, but they had to give up their territory. I call this new transformation “diversified communication tools”… The third wave swept the communication world, from newspapers to radio Magazines and television are all affected. Mass communication tools are under threat, and diverse new communication tools are multiplying rapidly… The third wave has ushered in a new era—an era of diverse media. New technologies drive new Information systems. These changes deeply affect one of the most important levels: our brains. Our experience of the world, cognition and ability to comprehend the world will have a revolutionary change…”, thus forming a fragmented culture-this It is simply a vivid description of the current decline of traditional media and the rise of online media, self-media and video media.
Also, in Chapter 15, “Beyond Mass Production,” Toffler states: “[In the third wave] some industries are moving from mass production to low-volume production, and others have moved beyond that stage, Towards pure custom production. These industries can also allow machines to be constantly readjusted so that each product is different from the next, while the machines can keep producing. We are moving in a clockwise, continuous Customized production is moving towards the future.” That is to say, in the era of agricultural civilization, single-piece manual production; in the era of industrial civilization, mass production by machines; in the information age, production by machine customization. These descriptions are in line with our current production evolution.
In the book “The Third Wave”, there are too many such incisive expositions. Of course, as a work of futurology, looking back now, Toffler also has many possible wrong views. After all, analyzing and predicting the future, and drawing it boldly, is a challenging endeavor, and mistakes are bound to happen. However, it is not easy to make most reasonable predictions.
Back to the question of whether humans can avoid involution.
Looking back at history now, informatization based on computer information technology and Internet technology, which started in the late 1950s, has brought mankind a technological dimension-enhancing bonus for more than 50 years. Space distance is no longer an obstacle, and management span is limited. Breakthroughs have been achieved, operational efficiency optimization has been realized, research and development costs have been greatly reduced, pull-type production methods can become a dream come true, there are more and more multinational companies, and people’s lifestyles have undergone tremendous changes. In the first 50 years of the third stage, multinational companies in many industries can make endless money in the early stage of business, as long as they continuously copy their own business to other countries and staking their land; Information technology continues to improve efficiency to make money.
However, the technological dimension-enhancing dividend brought by Toffler’s so-called third wave is gradually fading. At this time, involution has become the theme of the world economy. In order to avoid involution, human beings need the fourth wave – therefore, we need to study: what is the fourth wave, and when will the fourth wave come?
Perhaps, the fourth wave is the new energy revolution.
Just imagine, when the global renewable energy is inexhaustible, the material wealth of human beings will increase exponentially. Agricultural production has changed from sunrise and sunset in the first wave, relying on the sky for food, to industrial production in the second wave, to intelligent information production in the third wave, and to the new energy revolution. Full-time production – rice is not one season or two seasons a year, but can be grown all year round; greenhouse vegetables grow 24 hours… Human beings can eliminate hunger from now on.
Perhaps, the fourth wave is a major breakthrough in the space industry, and human beings go out of the earth to achieve space expansion.
Perhaps, the fourth wave is a major breakthrough in genetic engineering and synthetic biology.
In the investment world, the business, development trajectory, and speed of changes of investment objects are getting faster and faster. This is as Toffler said in the book: “This new civilization (the third wave) has brought about huge changes. All our previous assumptions will be challenged. The old way of thinking, the old formula, the old The dogmas and old ideologies, no matter how respected and useful they were in the past, are no longer the truth. New values, new technologies, new geopolitical relations, new ways of life and ways of contact appear, and the world Emerging quickly from these new things, we are therefore in dire need of entirely new ideas, reasoning, classifications and concepts. We cannot cram the nascent tomorrow’s world into yesterday’s old-fashioned pigeonholes, traditional mindsets and ideas no longer apply The new things in the future will promote the progress and prosperity of human beings.
Investment requires futurology. We need to actively embrace new values, new technologies, and new lifestyles. We must choose the current investment with a vision of the future. Only by seeing the future trend can we calmly face market turmoil. From this perspective, “The Third Wave” is not a perfect book, but it is by far the most influential futurology book. Reading this book several times may provide some ideas and references for us to look at the future world.