Jeremy Rifkin

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Jeremy Rifkin (2009)

Jeremy Rifkin (born January 26, 1945 in Denver , Colorado ) is an American economist, publicist and founder and chairman of the Foundation on Economic Trends (FOET; based in Washington, DC , USA). He teaches at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania , among others, and was considered a visionary of a hydrogen economy .


Rifkin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Wharton School . In his books he describes the effects of scientific and technical change on the world of work, the economy, society and the environment. Essays and comments from Rifkin's pen appear in papers such as The Guardian and the Los Angeles Times , in German-speaking countries for example in the Süddeutsche Zeitung .

On November 14, 2013, Rifkin received the Energy Award special prize “Energizer of the Year” in Berlin for his significant work, work and design on global energy-related topics.

Rifkin has also been a committed activist against biotechnology in the USA for years , such as cloning, the genetic modification of plants, organic patents or the use of bovine somatotropin in milk production.


Rifkin's work is controversial. Opponents have accused him of a lack of science. Harvard scholar Stephen Jay Gould described Rifkin's 1983 book Algeny as cleverly constructed anti-intellectual propaganda disguised as science. It is also criticized that Rifkin designs complex models, but does not describe a “detailed socio-economic model of society”.

He met with harsh criticism from the advocates of neoliberal social and economic concepts, and in the 1980s he was characterized as Luddit by scholars . Rifkin's predictions are also used as an argument for a radical reduction in working hours.

His books have been translated into more than 20 languages. In Germany he is best known for The End of Work and Its Future (1997, the original was published in 1995). Other titles such as The Empathic Civilization are viewed critically by reviewers because, for example, he describes empathy as "quantum experience" and propagates a "Western belief in progress". With regard to his interpretation of the term mirror neurons , one reviewer writes of “new findings that mirror neurons in the human brain hold basic structures for the construction of the emotional world.” Rifkin also discusses several theories from psychology . He is accused of fantasies and extreme ideas. The FAZ wrote: "We are used to the abuse of quantum as a superlative ..."

The French social philosopher André Gorz criticized the book The Age of Access , Rifkin's examples "hardly explain how and why this came about - and what it is about now." He is less concerned with the resistance that the new economic form of capitalism is causing create people, but dedicate themselves above all to everyday culture. Another criticism accuses Rifkin that his contributions are based on a technological determinism .

The Berlin cultural scientist Byung-Chul Han called Rifkin's projections a pipe dream . Other reporters miss the realism of his theses.

Books and statements

In The End of Work (1995; German The End of Work and its Future ) showed that the increase in productivity in the previous two decades had led to a dramatic disappearance of factory jobs. This was true despite the economic growth in the same period. Based on global economic data, it was forecast that this development will continue. Rifkin expected that by 2010 only 12% of working people will be employed in industrial production. By 2020 it would only be 2%. Rifkin saw great potential in the non-profit sector, which had to be financed through “tax shifting”. He called for greater taxation on natural resources. The book became a worldwide bestseller .

The Age of Access (2000; German Access ) deals with the influence of globalization on cultural identity and warns against the complete economization of our life. Core thesis: The industrial age is finally over, capitalism is changing radically. “Access”, rapid access to ideas, goods and services counts more than permanent and cumbersome possession in the access society that is already emerging today . Rifkin creates the image of the “Age of Access”. He also uses the term Protean personality , with which he describes socially networked people through modern means of communication , who are on the way to de-individualization, referring to Jean Baudrillard . The book won two prizes: the Arthur Andersen Business Book Award and the Bruno Kreisky Prize for the Political Book in 2000.

Rifkin uses the term Access Society (English access society ) in a different meaning than Jonathan Simon . He referred to a social change that was triggered, among other things, by the Internet .

The Hydrogen Economy (2002; German title: The H 2 -Revolution ) outlined the vision of a hydrogen economy and drove the debate about the change in the energy industry, for example through hybrid drives . Rifkin saw great dangers in the previous dependence of the economy on oil . The lack of information about where the hydrogen should come from in the necessary quantities is criticized.

In Der Europäische Traum (2004), Rifkin reflected on transatlantic differences and outlined the development of the European Union (EU). This book also provoked controversial debates. Rifkin received the Corine Literature Prize for the book in 2005 in Germany .

In the book Die Null-Grenzkosten-Gesellschaft (English title: The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons ), which was also published in German in August 2014 , Rifkin advocates the thesis that in view of the almost free possible worldwide networking, communication as well as data acquisition and exchange, the additional costs for products (so-called marginal costs ) would develop towards zero. He says that with the move towards a new economic order called collaborative commons ( dt . "Cooperating commons" mutatis mutandis about Common economies ) the conditions for a "third industrial revolution vorlägen".

Fonts (selection)


  • Jeremy Rifkin, Ted Howard: Entropy - a new worldview. Afterword by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen , Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1982, ISBN 3-455-08712-4 .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: Genesis Two. Biotechnology - creation made to measure. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1986, ISBN 3-499-18489-3 .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: Critique of Pure Unreason. Heretic's pamphlet. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1987, ISBN 3-499-18317-X .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: Clockwork Universe. Time as a fundamental human conflict. Knaur, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-426-04081-6 .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: The Empire of the Cattle. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / New York 1994, ISBN 3-593-35047-5 .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: The End of Work and Its Future. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt 1997, ISBN 3-596-13606-7 .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: The Age of Biotechnology. The genetics business. Goldmann, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-442-15090-6 .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: Access. The disappearance of property. Why we own less and will spend more. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / New York 2000, ISBN 3-593-38374-8 .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: The H 2 Revolution. When there is no more oil ... With new energy for a fair world economy. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt 2005, ISBN 3-596-16029-4 .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: The European Dream. The vision of a quiet superpower. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt 2005, ISBN 3-596-16970-4 .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: The Empathic Civilization. Paths to Global Consciousness. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / New York 2010, ISBN 3-593-38512-0 .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: The Third Industrial Revolution. The future of the economy after the nuclear age. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / New York 2011. ISBN 978-3-593-39452-7 .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: The Zero Marginal Cost Society. The Internet of Things, the collaborative commons and the retreat of capitalism. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / New York 2014. ISBN 978-3-593-39917-1 .
  • Jeremy Rifkin: The Global Green New Deal. Why fossil fuel civilization will collapse around 2028 and a bold economic plan can save life on earth. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2019. ISBN 3-593-51135-5 .



  • André Gorz : On the totalitarian project of capital. Notes on Jeremy Rifkin's "The Age of Access". In: contradiction. 40, 2001 ( excerpt on Friday , July 6, 2001)

Web links

Commons : Jeremy Rifkin  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Wharton Leader, Jeremy Rifkin, W'67 article in Wharton Alumni Magazine , Winter 2008.
  2. a b Goodbye Hydrogen, Section: Visions for Politics. on: , May 24, 2007, accessed on April 19, 2019.
  3. Energizer of the Year, see Jeremy Rifkin - Energizer of the Year 2013 .
  4. ^ Gary Stix: Profile: Dark Prophet of Biogenetics , Scientific American, August 1997.
  5. ^ SJ Gould, "Integrity and Mr. Rifkin," Discover Magazine , January 1985; reprinted in Gould's essay collection An Urchin in the Storm , 1987, Penguin Books, p. 230
  6. ^ Paul Liebrecht: The emergence of the access society. Chances of car sharing through cultural change. Diploma thesis at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam, course cultural work in the department of architecture and urban planning 2014.
  7. ^ Foundation on Economic Trends (website of the Center for Organizational Research and Education )
  8. ^ The Most Hated Man In Science . In: Time , December 4, 1989.
  9. a b List of the most important global economic data named by Rifkin, compiled by the Friends of Free Education in Frankfurt - FFB eV
  10. a b I feel very empathetic in the FAZ
  11. a b empathize with others on Deutschlandfunk
  12. .
  13. On the totalitarian project of capital. Notes on Jeremy Rifkin's "The Age of Access". In: contradiction. 40, 2001. Excerpt from: Friday . July 6, 2001. Friday debate: Property: The totalitarian project of capital - Friday
  14. Werner Bonefeld (Ed.): Revolutionary Writing: Common Sense Essays in Post-Political Politics . Autonomedia ,, 2003, ISBN 1-57027-133-X .
  17. Interview ( Memento from May 3, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) in: Stuttgarter Zeitung , April 29, 2005.
  18. Georg Cremer: Germany is more just than we think: An inventory, CH Beck, 2018, p. 240 [1]
  19. Capital as an Anabaptist . In: Friday , June 29, 2001.
  20. ^ Rifkin: Access, pp. 273 and 283.
  21. Bernd Dollinger, Henning Schmidt-Semisch: Just Exclusion ?: Welfare Production and the New Pleasure of Punishment , Springer-Verlag 2011, page 251
  22. The new economy of sharing: yours, mine - it doesn't matter , Manager Magazin from February 4, 2013.
  23. ^ The perfect storm that's about to hit . In: The Guardian , March 24, 2004.
  24. ^ Mathias Greffrath: Society: Look at Europe! In: The time . August 19, 2004, ISSN  0044-2070 ( [accessed May 31, 2019]).
  25. ^ In a nutshell - Jeremy Rifkin: The European Dream. The vision of a quiet superpower. Cicero online, accessed May 31, 2019 .
  26. Interview with Jeremy Rifkin: The American dream is over . Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, August 5, 2004, ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed May 31, 2019]).
  27. ^ “The beginning of a revolution” conversation with Rifkin in Der Spiegel No. 32/2014.
  28. ^ The Zero Marginal Cost Society Lecture by Rifkin at the AllianzForum in Berlin in September 2014, video from the American Academy in Berlin (1:28 hours).