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Biosphere Politics: A New Consciousness for a New Century

Crown Publishers, Inc., 1991
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In Biosphere Politics Jeremy Rifkin lays the groundwork for a compelling vision of the twenty-first century. The author takes us into a new world in which the biosphere itself becomes the framework for rethinking personality, politics, and culture.

Rifkin notes the irony that we live in a culture obsessed with the notion of security, yet we feel less secure than any society in history. Biosphere Politics challenges the conventional vision of the future, which promises security through military might and high technology. Rifkin sets a revolutionary new course for science, economics, and politics that is grounded in humanity's newfound responsibilities to the living earth. In the process, the author provides the first comprehensive postmortem on the death of geopolitics and Cold War concepts of security.

The scope of Biosphere Politics is panoramic, ranging from the land enclosure movement of Tudor England, to the new gene-splicing and "virtual reality" technologies that threaten to enclose and put price tags on life and even human consciousness.

Rifkin digs below the traditional terrain of politics, with its emphasis on power relationships and institutional arrangements, to probe the culture and psychology of daily life that influence our feelings about security. The author takes the reader on a fascinating odyssey, exploring some little-known but profound changes in history that have molded the thinking and sensibilities of the modern age. He examines the metamorphosis in table manners and eating habits, new trends in furniture and architecture, changes in sexual behavior, the loss of olfactory and tactile experiences, the transition from an oral to a print culture, and other social phenomena that have affected both our worldview and our world.

In this provocative and interdisciplinary analysis, the author fashions a bold new concept of human consciousness: one designed to transform our thinking about the various dimensions of security. Rifkin asks us to journey beyond the suburbs and highway culture, profligate consumption, the global shopping center, and escalating resource wars into a new biosphere world. In the new earth-centered era, our very concepts of time and space are revolutionized, and personal and public relationships are radically transformed, opening the way to the third stage of human consciousness.

Biosphere Politics takes us into the post-modern world of the twenty-first century, where our personal and public lives are transformed, reflecting a whole new way of thinking and acting in the world.


The human species enters the third stage of human consciousness, signaling the most significant change in human culture since the neolithic revolution.

  • Concepts of time and space are revolutionized, fundamentally altering the most intimate details of daily life.
  • Security based on increased autonomy, efficiency, and mobility is challenged by a new form of security grounded in deep re-participation in community.
  • Politics along the conservative/liberal spectrum gives way to a new earth-directed politics dedicated to preserving, enhancing, and re-sacralizing life within the biosphere.
  • The nation-state and the multinational corporation are challenged by new political and economic institutions on the local and global level that are more compatible with ecosystem sustainability than with high-tech market-driven forces.
  • The military-industrial complex is dismantled and production is radically redirected toward the building of a sustainable green economy.
  • The increasingly artificial world of genetic engineering, "virtual reality" environments, and simulated milieus is challenged by a new commitment to resurrect the bodily senses and participate more fully in the natural world.

"Rifkin's finest book to date … a must-read for anyone interested in large-scale transformation in the nineties."

— New Age Journal

"Rifkin builds a convincing argument that three great social forces are already converging to bring about radical world change … [His] vision makes for absorbing reading regardless of one's political views."

— San Francisco Chronicle

"Offers a history, science, and economics lesson in an immensely provocative examination of the state of things and how we got there."

— Booklist


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