Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
After reading the Intro and first chapter a few comments. On p. 6 he discusses how monopolies intentionally thwart competition and innovation so as to maintain their stranglehold. But he claims entrepreneurs find a way around it and end up forcing competition with their better tech and price reductions. Yet he discusses on pp. 7-9 Larry Summers 2001 paper, wherein Summers acknowledges the emerging information economy was indeed moving to near marginal cost. Summers though didn't propose something like Rifkin but instead recommended "short-term natural monopolies" (8).
Recall Summers was Obama's pick for Director of the National Economic Council. His policy suggestions were well in line with the earlier promotion of "natural monopolies," and his resume attests. And we're seeing exactly this economic philosophy at play with the FCC Chairman Wheeler's proposed pay-to-play rules, where the ISP monopolies will destroy internet neutrality. Recall that Wheeler was another Obama pick, and was a former, and will return to being, a cable and wireless lobbyist. While Obama claims to back income equality and net neutrality he appoints the likes of Summers and Wheeler who make no bones about their support of monopolies. And without net neutrality good bye to Rifkin's entire plan, which requires it to succeed.
If you haven't yet, please take action to preserve it. Here's one place and you can find several others if you but look.
In reference to this cartoon, Rifkin differentiates the free market from capitalism. Free markets existed before the advent of capitalism in the late medieval period, when craft guilds produced goods. There were mostly small, family operations where the craftsman owned their own tools. The change to capitalism occurred when some merchants wanted to bypass the guilds and hired poor laborers in the countryside to do the work with tools the merchants leased to them. Their operations grew so that they could provide goods at lower cost than the skilled craftsmen and ran them out of business, then hired them as slave wage laborers. Adam Smith saw a direct relationship between the enclosure of land and the enclosure of tools (39-40).
As noted above, there is always a mix and overlap of the eras involved. So when regressives talk about free markets they tend to use examples of small business. This seems more from the medieval era of skilled craftsmen competing with each other to make the best products for the best price, which serves everyone. Capitalism, however, is about big business, monopolies and oligopolies. Rifkin makes a case that it was the best way to implement that era given the massive scale of building out its infrastructure.
But make no mistake about it: it was not a free market of the kind envisioned by Adam Smith. That was more a vision for the burgeoning first industrial revolution when we were in the transition from feudal guild markets still situated in an agricultural economic base. Smith himself warned of the dangers of large corporations taking over and monopolizing the marketplace.
If we accept that capitalism was a functional fit for the era, we must also admit that it no longer fits for the emerging era. It's time to free the market yet again, this time with free goods and services, i.e., in terms of marginal costs, not fixed costs. As to who finances the latter, it was discussed in the chapters above.
Congratulations on this highlighting (and re-presentation) of the work you've done in this thread....
Thanks. It took quite a bit of editing on both my and Frank's part to re-work it for Integral World. I'm so used to the forum/blogging format that I didn't realize how out of practice I am in a more polished presentation.
Recall chapter 13 discussing car ownership, then see this article. Driving has decreased by 10% in US households in the last 10 years while owning less than 2 cars, the lowest figure in 20 years. Less than 70% of 19-year olds have a license, down 17% in the last 20 years. Enrollment in high school driver education is down 40%. Drive-in theaters are down to just 350 from over 4000 in the 50s. More people are bicycling, taking buses, light rail and other public transportation. When cars are necessary, sharing them is on the rise. The article notes something is up but doesn't articulate it much. Rifkin's book puts it in context on the emerging Commons era.
More evidence supporting claims in the book. See this article on US solar power generation. It represents 74% of all new US electricity generation in the first quarter of this year. And 60% of this is coming from middle income residents. They don't say what % solar is of the overall US energy production. But it must be getting significant because fossil fuel companies and their regressive government toadies are trying to suppress its growth.
In AZ they are imposing a 5% monthly surcharge on residential solar generation. Utilities in AZ, OK and San Antonio are trying to add surcharges for customers who want to sell back their surplus to the grid. Imagine that, customers selling back surplus energy for the benefit of others on the grid during peak usage, thereby reducing everyone else's costs. Except that the utilities and fossil fuel magnates, still making a killing in these circumstances, just can't make a gazillion killing. Poor, poor rich people.
Rifkin has a new blog post here in response to the EPA CO2 emission standards released today. He takes this as an opportunity to reiterate many of the same points from his new book, although he does provide some updated information since the book was published. Some of it I've already provided above. One update in the new piece consistent with the last post above that in Germany individuals owned 40% of the RE capacity. This is consistent with the developing Commons whereby individuals own and generate their own energy and share it with each other via the IoT.
Also recall this recent post above on the cost of implementing the new EPA CO2 emission standards, estimated at $50 billion/year until 2030. Rifkin cites Cisco estimating that the IoT using RE will generate $14.4 trillion in cost efficiency savings and revenue by 2022. The $50 billion/year cost noted by the US Chamber of Commerce comes to about $400 billion in 2022, a mere 3% or so of the projected savings generated by the IoT and RE. Indeed a bargain for the finance minded, eh? And saving the planet to boot?
Integral Options blog re-posted the Integral World article here.
Here's a Rifkin video on the book.
Rereading parts of TDOO I came upon the following relevant to this thread:
"Where critique focuses on content and modes of representation, composition focuses on regimes of attraction. If regimes of attraction tend to lock people into particular social systems or modes of life, the question of composition would be that of how we might build new collectives that expand the field of possibility and change within the social sphere. Here we cannot focus on discourse alone, but must also focus on the role that nonhuman actors such as resources and technologies play in human collectives. For example, activists might set about trying to create alternative forms of economy that make it possible for people to support families, live, get to work, and so on without being dependent on ecologically destructive forms of transportation, food production, and food distribution. Through the creation of collectives that evade some of the constraints that structure hegemonic regimes of attraction, people might find much more freedom to contest other aspects of the dominant order" (section 5.2).
Without such change in our economic infrastructure we are all prone to what Sloterdijk highlights in the Critique of Cynical Reason (same section). We know it's wrong to participate in a job that contributes to further income inequality and environmental degradation, yet we need to feed our kids. So our ideology becomes cynical, ain't nothin' I can do about it except play along. (Recall Stewart's recent comments on our response to gun violence.) Hence the need for jobs that exemplify the commons ethic and change the actual regimes of attraction.
Why Bryant has yet to discuss Rifkin or this movement after repeated prompting is beyond me, since it is right up his onto-cartographic alley. Although I have as yet read the new book, so he might yet prove me wrong.
Recall this post on crowdfunding and see this article. Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig wants to reform campaign finance laws so he's crowdfunding a Super PAC with that intention. The PAC will contribute to candidates who support campaign finance reform. The initial crowdfunding of $1 million from donors of less than $10,000 was reached so it was matched by wealthy donors. The latter included the usual wealthy Democrats but also included a high profile libertarian donor to GOP campaigns. That is Lessig's hope, to encourage a mix from the political spectrum around the issue of money in politics. He might consider approaching the Patriotic Millionaires that financed the recent MoveOn discussion on inequality with Picketty and Warren for his next round of crowdfunding.