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I've read Jeremy Rifkin's book called The Third Industrial Revolution (2011) and watched his promotional videos of his two other books: The Empathic Civilization and The Zero Marginal Cost Society. My thesis is that Jeremy Rifkin is a neosocialist and is currently probably the most dangerous man on earth. Considering his influence on government leaders throughout the world, I don't think this supposition is far from being true.


Compare these two definitions of neosocialism:

Definition 1 (historical):

A French and Belgian political movement of the 1930s, proposing a "constructive revolution" headed by the state and technocrats.


Definition 2 (modern), characteristics:

  1. A belief in the concept that capitalism has failed, but can be resuscitated by a new partnership between government and business. This new partnership will be inherently more fair to more people.
  2. A belief that competition isn't necessarily bad, and that government can and should be permitted to compete with private industry.
  3. A belief that big government isn't necessarily bad; what is bad is BAD big government. Big, effective government is desirable.
  4. A belief in the transcendent quality of the world community while de-valuing national interests. A sense of American relative and actual decline in the world, one that demands of us a more compliant approach to problem solving. A perception that American decline is not necessarily a bad thing.

My analysis of Rifkin's ideas:

He uses "non-A is A is non-A" logic. In other words, we start with us now (non-A), create an "empathic" civilization (A), and then focus on "biosphere consciousness" (non-A). A vehicle of such integration in order to disintegrate is a "sharing economy" (see its criticisms), which is inherently (hence in the long run) value-less and non-humanly efficient. If we follow Rifkin's advice to the end he proposes, there will be no humankind left. His hand-waving and legerdemain is making people believe in the illusion of supporting "social capital" after "the internet of things" is created. In reality, his promise of "social capital" focus "after" is very similar to Lenin's when talking about the glorious Communism somewhere so close behind the horizon. What socialists found behind the horizon, as we well know, was death from overexertion and economic suffocation.


Here is from Rifkin's The Third Industrial Revolution (2011) when he praises the role lobbyists played in causing our current economic trends:

The lobbyists connected the dots. That is, they brought together all of the disparate commercial forces and melded them into a set of relationships that became an embryonic template for a new economic organism. (Ch. 4, "Seeing the big picture," my emphases)


Rifkin is using Society Is Nature conceptual metaphor. The same kind of thinking repeats through Rifkin's book and presentations, especially when he compares economy to the nervous system and mind. Compare this to what Vladimir Lenin wrote in “What the ‘Friends of the People’ Are and How They Fight the Social-Democrats” (1894):

Economic life is a phenomena analogous with a history of other areas of biology. Earlier economists did not understand the nature of economic laws when they were compared with the laws of physics and chemistry. A deeper analysis shows that social organisms as deeply differ from one another as animals and plants. Aiming from this point of view to investigate the capitalist economic organization, Marx thereby formulates the strictly scientific purpose that must be pursued by any accurate investigation of economic life. The scientific value of this research is to determine those special (historical) laws that regulate the origin, existence, development and death of a given social organism and its replacement by another, higher organism (высшим организмом). (my translation from Russian and my emphases)


The message Rifkin proposes is analogous, except he criticizes Adam Smith and current economists for using metaphors of Newtonian physics instead of laws of thermodynamics, and he explains economics in biological, environmentalist ways. Social "organism" in both quotes is viewed without definite boundaries as a metaphysical conception characterized by nature.


What Rifkin is doing is happening right now in political, social, economic, technological, and pretty much every other area you can think of. Judge him for yourselves.


edit: changed "Newtonian metaphors of physics" to "metaphors of Newtonian physics"

Edited by Ilya Startsev

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