Jeremy Rifkin: why do people publish this man?

The global economy has shattered.

No it hasn\’t you silly little man. Global GDP will be around $60 trillion this year as it was around that last year.

The new understanding goes hand-in-hand with discoveries in evolutionary biology, neuro-cognitive science and child development that reveal that human beings are biologically predisposed to be empathic. Our core nature is shown not to be rational, detached, acquisitive, aggressive and narcissistic, as Enlightenment philosophers claimed, but affectionate, highly social, co-operative and interdependent. Homo sapiens is giving way to homo empathicus.

Fresh ideas about human nature throw into doubt many of the core assumptions of classical economic theory. Adam Smith argued that human nature inclined individuals to pursue self-interest in the market. Echoing Smith’s contention, Garrett Hardin wrote a celebrated essay more than 40 years ago entitled “The Tragedy of the Commons”. He suggested that co-operation in shared ventures inevitably failed because of the selfish human drives that invariably surfaced.

Jeepers… if Smith didn\’t write a whole great big long book dealing with empathy (what he called sympathy). As if his description of the way we twist and turn watching a man on a tightrope is not mirror neurons, the latest Great White Hopw of neuro-cognitive science.

And Hardin most certainly did not say that co-operation in shared ventures would inevitably fail because of selfish human drives. He said that without some set of rules (which could be social, socialised, socialist, private, privatised or capitalist) *then* such co-operative schemes would break down in the face of human selfishness.

This generation increasingly views happiness in terms of “quality of life”

This is different from what economists have been banging on about with \”utility\” for a century in what manner?

Seriously, why do people take this ill educated nutter seriously?

2 thoughts on “Jeremy Rifkin: why do people publish this man?”

  1. Tim
    The problem with Hardin’s article, which is probably in a most cited category, is that he a ‘thing’ about population growth and he used the ‘tragedy of the commons’ case to support his case for the desirability of lowering population levels.

    There is no historical evidence that the long-standing common’s land actually led to over-grazing, or freedom to procreate led to unsupportable populations, certainly when he wrote.

    Population grows to the level which subsistence levels permit (including when highly skewed).

    Also, the ‘remedy’ of pricing ‘free goods’ (fish resources, water, etc.,) is always available.


  2. I suspect they take this guy seriously, Tim, because he provides a smattering of pseudo-intellectual cover for their communitarian, looter views.

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