Futuribles Journal n° 403

Économie, emploi - Société, modes de vie

The End of Capitalism? Towards a Zero Marginal Cost Society

Jeremy Rifkin is highly regarded for his ability to identify emergent world trends, as can be seen in his previous writings (from The End of Work to The Third Industrial Revolution, with books on the rise of the biotechnologies and the “hydrogen economy” along the way). He was in Paris this September to promote his latest book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society. Hugues de Jouvenel and Marguerite Grandjean met up with him and present here the highlights of that interview, in which Rifkin explains that the age of full-on capitalism is drawing to a close. The fact is that producing at virtually zero marginal cost –as is most often the case in the Internet economy– totally rewrites the principles on which capitalism has been based for decades. As a result, a new paradigm is emerging, says Rifkin, a paradigm linked to the rise of the Internet of things, which makes possible the development of a collaborative, networked economy, producing common goods (“the collaborative commons” referred to in his most recent work). This article presents the main characteristics of this new paradigm which, as Rifkin argues, already exists in embryo today, prefiguring the world of tomorrow.

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