Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rifkin's new book continued

Continuing from this post. One can also view the entire series of posts on the book at this IPS thread.

In the Afterword Rifkin expresses mixed feelings for the end of capitalism. He appreciates the entrepreneurial spirit that animated it. He thinks that it is in fact is the so-called 'invisible hand' and disagrees with Adam Smith that it involves pure self interest devoid of public concern. Such a spirit is driven by a need to create newer and better products and services to serve the public, which of course also serves one's own financial interests. And that capitalism was an appropriate and efficient response to the energy-communication regime of the times.

The irony is that the entrepreneurial spirit played out to its logical conclusion in creating products approaching near zero marginal cost. The Trojan Horse Darrell talks about was inherent to the system all along and created its own downward spiral toward extinction. That along with the other downsides inherent to the system, like creating monopolies, not sharing the wealth with workers and exploiting natural resources to the point of possibly disastrous climate change.

Granted the complete demise of capitalism is a long way off, it being mixed with the Commons for some time to come. The former will slowly subside as the latter rises. The second industrial revolution emerged when the first was in full swing. It took 50 years for the second to be the major economic system. It will likely take another 50 for the third revolution to be the dominant player. But the writing is already on the wall. It's here now and here to stay, so perhaps it's time to get with the program?

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