Économie, emploi - Société, modes de vie

The Zero Marginal Cost Society : The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism

Le capitalisme va disparaître. Ce n’est pas le propos d’un altermondialiste virulent mais celui de Jeremy Rifkin dans son dernier ouvrage, paru au printemps aux États-Unis et en France cet automne : The Zero Marginal Cost Society (ZMCS). Et le plus extravagant dans cette assertion, ce n’est pas le résultat mais sa cause : le capitalisme va disparaître par excès d’efficacité. Son horizon ultime, via l’augmentation incessante de la productivité, est la réduction des coûts marginaux de ...

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Économie, emploi - Société, modes de vie

Europeans and the Market Economy

Drawing on the findings of the three waves of Values studies carried out in Europe in 1990, 1999 and 2008, Abel François proposes an analysis of (essentially Western) Europeans’ economic values on the basis of their perception of the market economy. That perception is measured by three questions relating to competition, ownership of the means of production and incomes, which bring out a relatively positive view, overall, of the market economy (except with regard to income inequalities), but also great divergences between countries and between the various waves of studies.

Abel François then proposes to examine these findings using a combined indicator of the perception of the market economy which aggregates the three basic questions. This enables him to distinguish three groups of countries based on the way the indicator has moved between 1990 and 2008, but it leads him also to downplay the strictly cultural factors underlying these developments. It is, he argues, factors more directly linked to the current economic situation and the economic success of countries (factors he describes as “sociotropic”) and the personal situation of the respondents (“egotropic” factors) that influence the perception of the market economy, with respondents regarding it more favourably when they believe that it brings them personal advantages or is favourable to the community to which they belong.

Analyse prospective

Économie, emploi - Société, modes de vie

Crise du capitalisme ou crise de valeur ?

Le capitalisme a-t-il une âme, ou se résout-il indéfiniment, pour paraphraser Lamartine, dans des objets inanimés : smartphone, compte d’exploitation, titre financier ou tableau de maître vendu aux enchères ? La question, qui a fait couler beaucoup d’encre depuis deux ou trois siècles, mérite d’être posée à nouveau en cette période de marasme économique. Les théories des auteurs classiques, comme les travaux plus récents ou les résultats des enquêtes sociologiques, vont en définitive dans le même sens : l’économie ...

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Futurs d'antan

Géopolitique - Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement

Our Plundered Planet (1948)

The book from which this article is taken was published in 1948 (Boston: Little Brown), when the world was still binding the wounds of the Second World War. Albert Einstein commented that, “reading it, one feels very keenly how futile most of our political quarrels are compared with the base realities of life.”
The author, Fairfield Osborn Jr., was the son of a great American palaeontologist and was himself an eminent naturalist and president of the New York Zoological Society, which, changing its name to the Wildlife Conservation Society, became an important non-governmental organization for nature conservancy.
The work displays an awareness of the general problem posed by mankind’s cohabitation with the other forms of life that populate the planet. It pre-dates Rachel Carson’s famous Silent Spring by 14 years.
Unlike most contemporary authors, Osborn foregrounds the demographic phenomenon, the teeming upon the planet of those he calls “the children of the Earth”. He then raises the problem of war, noting that it is what characterizes humanity, if it is not to descend to what he calls “the inferior forms of animal life” such as ants, but he condemns the idea – all ethical considerations apart – that war could be a tool for regulating world population. In characterizing human action as “a new geological force”, he anticipates the neologism proposed by Paul Crutzen to characterize our age: the “anthropocene”.
Some parts of the present picture are, of course, absent from his account, either because their importance was not then recognized, such as greenhouse-gas-induced climate change, or because the threat they represented was as yet too distant, such as the exhaustion of oil reserves. But others are lucidly identified, such as globalization, which had not yet reached the intensity that it has today, and which makes every nation “more or less dependent on every other”, and the problems of food resources, which bring us up against the limits of productive land, for man feeds only on living matter.
As a result, he comes to the conclusion that, whatever progress is achieved, technology will not avert the need for a thoroughgoing transformation of our collective behaviour, in order to achieve a sustainable balance with nature.


Économie, emploi - Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement

Finish off Capitalism or Die. On Bernard Perret's Book Le Capitalisme est-il durable? (Is Capitalism Sustainable?)

Predating the current economic crisis, the ecological crisis besetting modern societies probably marks the death knell of the productivist capitalist system. This is the general idea developed by Bernard Perret in a recent work entitled Le Capitalisme est-il durable? [Is Capitalism Sustainable?] (Paris: Carnets Nord, 2008). Perret argues that what is termed “economic growth” is based on cheap energy, the accumulation of material goods and the destruction of natural ecosystems. If we do not put an end to this blind, headlong rush, society is heading for destruction. It has, therefore, become essential to put sustainable development at the heart of the economic system, writes Perret, in order to bring the notion of “economizing” back into economics. In his view, this involves a return to a planning orchestrated to this end by the public authorities: the aim must be to be more efficient by consuming less, to set a goal for economic actors and, above all, to give the survival of humanity precedence over the logic of the market.
Jean-Claude Val has read Bernard Perret’s book for Futuribles and reviews its main ideas here. The situation is serious, but not, perhaps, hopeless…

CR table ronde

Économie, emploi - Institutions - Population

Le Vietnam, dragon en puissance ?

Le Vietnam est un pays dont on a beaucoup parlé par le passé pour des raisons historiques mais que l’on mentionne peu actuellement. En effet, c’est un pays très pauvre, au PIB (produit intérieur brut) de 63 milliards de dollars US, soit 3 % du PIB français, mais dont la croissance économique est forte et régulière puisqu’elle atteint depuis plus de 15 ans 7,5 % par an en moyenne. Ce pays est donc loin d’être déjà un ...

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