Rifkin’s misreadings of the zero-marginal cost of production of information technology

ideology and the narrative of the demise of capitalism





Epistemology, marginal cost of production, ideology, new technology


In this paper, I address contemporary attacks on rationalism thanks to Rifkin’s concepts of “extreme productivity” and “zero marginal cost of production” as examples of an ideological twist on genuine economic expressions. The main issue dealt with epistemological issues in the context of the contemporary communication age. It consists to clarify the relation between economic ideas and their relation to reality. To proceed accordingly, I implement a hermeneutic method applied to Rifkin’s discourse. That method is grounded in the scholarly tradition of “the ordinary language philosophy”. Its results proceed to show 2 distinct language games at work: 1- the neoclassical definition of marginal cost and its own logic is distinct from Rifkin’s use of it. 2- Rifkin uses the expression “marginal cost” under the auspices of an ideological discourse on the demise of capitalism. 3- The confusion is based on a systematically deceptive use of scholarly referencing. I conclude by drawing some lessons for the role of a multidisciplinary defense of economic rationality in contemporary discourse.


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Author Biography

Philippe Rouchy, Blekinge Institute of Technology - Blekinge - Sweden

Senior assistant professor at the department of industrial economics at Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden. I graduated with a PhD in sociology both from the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France and the University of Manchester, UK. My research interests lie in the positive externalities of innovation. Notably, I develop research on increasing returns on technological change (ex. diffusion of new technology), human capital effect on innovation (i.e. user innovation, the role of invention vs. innovation, knowledge worker) and their effects on growth.


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How to Cite

Rouchy P. Rifkin’s misreadings of the zero-marginal cost of production of information technology: ideology and the narrative of the demise of capitalism. MisesJournal [Internet]. 2021Dec.20 [cited 2022Jan.20];9. Available from: https://misesjournal.org.br/misesjournal/article/view/1427



Special Issue 2021