Fri June 11, 2010
"The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis" (Encore presentation.)
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – (Please note: This show originally aired in January of this year.) On our show today, we present an interesting chat with the noted social thinker and futurist Jeremy Rifkin, whom the Utne Reader has called "one of the leading big-picture thinkers of our day." Rifkin is the bestselling author of "The European Dream," "The Hydrogen Economy," "The Age of Access," "The Biotech Century," and other works --- he's also a fellow at the Wharton School and an adviser to several European Union heads of state. He joins us to talk about his new book, "The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis." In this far-reaching, deeply knowledgeable work, Rifkin points out that the world is rapidly being converted by humanity into a global space --- witness social media, globalization, and so on --- yet our existing modes of consciousness are structured for earlier eras of history. Humanity thus finds itself on the cusp of its greatest experiment to date: refashioning our very consciousness so that we can mutually live and flourish in the new globalizing society. As one critic, writing for Publishers Weekly, has noted of this book: "For author and social thinker Rifkin . . . the central paradox of human existence is, and has always been, the conflict between empathy and entropy: while globalization brings together diverse people, the very good --- a rise in 'empathic awareness' --- is counterbalanced by the very bad --- 'dramatic deterioration of the health of the planet,' by way of the technology that drives progress. Though wordy, Rifkin provides a thorough, lucid overview of mankind's history along the 'empathy/entropy' spectrum: Spencer's mischaracterization of 'nature red in tooth and claw,' replaced by a more sensitive understanding of the biological and sociological evolution; the progression of socio-economic communities-civilizations --- from the Neolithic to the 'Modern Market Economy' [to the] the current 'Age of Empathy,' in which the dominance of one language (English), 'backyard' energies (wind, solar, etc.), the biosphere education in classrooms, and other developments shine the way forward. . . . This is the kind of reading fans of Jared Diamond and Richard Dawkins can sink their teeth into, with a contagious sense of urgency over whether we can 'reach biosphere consciousness and global empathy in time to avert planetary collapse.'"