Steven Meinking on Wed, 19 Apr 2000 01:29:14 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Jeremy Rifkin and Hypercapitalism

Jeremy Rifkin and Hypercapitalism

That the commodifying tendrils of capitalism will be extended to anything
and everything, pervasively including subjects and culture, reaching to the
core, to the very marrow of existence and commodifying this existence from
the point of its wellspring - this pervasive commodification is

The novelty of hypercapitalism is that it now has a name.  The concept
itself is nothing new, especially in relation to those techno-apocalyptic
naysayers that have been dreading the time when a virtual infusion will
overtake us all and transform us into cyborg, or more distinctly into a
technocracy of the commodified.

I'm not sure if one should damn the day of hypercapitalism's coming.  After
all, when the time comes it will only emerge as a return of a commodified
spectacle not unlike the consumerism of yesterday and today.  Corporations,
after all, are nothing without their consumers and it is the consumer that
chooses the path of hypercapitalism, whether in the name of convenience,
efficiency, or some other interest.  Since consumption will be the manner in
which the hyper will be wrought, one is left only to wonder just how far it
can go.

For decades now "culture goes all the way down" has been a popular
supposition, and theorists have gone to great pains in determining just how
much of the culture is economic and vice versa.  Hypercapitalism does make
approaching this problematic a bit easier, if only because its musing is so
extreme.  Rifkin points out that the world of hypercapitalism will be one
based on access, where every experience will be paid for, and where
ownership will be dissolved into economic relations of access to data.  Of
course, we already see evidence of this today in the standard contract
consumers accept with internet providers, and further, in the leasing of an

But at this point we are thinking a deeper extreme - the foundation of a
subject who can be adequately quantified into a twenty-four hour, seven day
a week, three hundred sixty-five day a year consuming machine.  A subject
whose very experience becomes entirely a matter of economic relations, the
difference from one consumer to another based merely on the variable choices
for certain experiences over others made along the consumptive way.  "You
are the sum of choices you make" (I saw this slogan on a hallway poster when
I taught middle school) will take on an entirely new hyper-meaning as
culture and capitalism flip-flop in rapid engagement.

Ideas will be of paramount value, and the apparatuses of patents and
copyrights will become even more vitally entrenched in the interior of a
system where life mimics a reality effaced by a virtuality perfectly
simulated and available on-demand.  Culture, experience, hypercapitalism -
three poles deeply intertwined, and probing ever deeper.

- Steven Meinking

Texts and Projects:

"I know of no better aim of life than that of perishing, _animae magnae
prodigus_, in pursuit of the great and the impossible."
- Friedrich Nietzsche, _Untimely Meditations_

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