The capitalist era is passing - t quickly, but inevitably. Rising in its wake is a new global collaborative Commons that will fundamentally transform our way of life. Ironically, capitalism's demise is t coming at the hands of hostile external forces. Rather, The Zero Marginal Cost Society argues, capitalism is a victim of its own success. Intense competition across sectors of the ecomy is forcing the introduction of ever newer techlogies. Bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin explains that this competition is boosting productivity to its optimal point where the marginal cost of producing additional units is nearly zero, which makes the product essentially free. In turn, profits are drying up, property ownership is becoming meaningless, and an ecomy based on scarcity is giving way to an ecomy of abundance, changing the very nature of society. Rifkin describes how hundreds of millions of people are already transferring parts of their ecomic lives from capitalist markets to global networked Commons. Prosumers are producing their own information, entertainment, green energy, and 3-D printed products at nearly zero marginal cost, and sharing them via social media sites, rentals, redistribution clubs, bartering networks, and cooperatives. Meanwhile, students are enrolling in massive open online courses (MOOCs) that also operate at near-zero marginal cost. And young social entrepreneurs are establishing ecologically sensitive businesses, crowdsourcing capital, and even creating alternative currencies in the new sharable ecomy. As a result, exchange value in the marketplace - long the bedrock of our ecomy - is increasingly being replaced by use value on the collaborative Commons. In this new era, identity is less bound to what one owns and more to what one shares. Cooperation replaces self-interest, access trumps ownership, and networking drubs automy. Rifkin concludes that while capitalism will be with us for at least the next half century, albeit in an increasingly diminished role, it will longer be the dominant paradigm. We are, Rifkin says, entering a world beyond markets where we are learning how to live together collaboratively and sustainably in an increasingly interdependent global Commons.
Jeremy Rifkin, one of the most popular social thinkers of our time, is the bestselling author of 19 books including The Third Industrial Revolution, The Empathic Civilization, The European Dream, The Age of Access, The Hydrogen Economy, The Biotech Century, and The End of Work. His books have been translated into more than 35 languages. Rifkin is an advisor to the European Union and heads of state around the world. He is a senior lecturer at the Wharton School's Executive Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania and the president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, DC.