The Empathic Civilization Book Review 6 pages


The Empathic Civilization, by Jeremy Rifkin is a fresh analysis of the history of civilization, how we got to the place we are in presently, and what we can do to guarantee the highest likelihood of survival of our species. Jeremy Rifkin is one of the most well-liked social thinkers of our time. He is a counselor to the European Union and other heads of state just about anywhere around the world. He is in addition the president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, D.C.

Rifkin’s most important argument in the Empathic Civilization is that compassion has played a superior role than we thought in the past, in the configuration of civilization. He argues that empathy has deeply affected major shifts in human consciousness all the way through human history and will likely be the influential factor of whether or not we stay alive as a species. Never before have we been so linked through technology and business, nevertheless so torn apart by war, climate change, hunger and illness. Our human made environment is changing the world, yet our on hand modes of consciousness are from previous eras of human history.

Of the other hand, George Ritzer is Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland. Ritzer has read and written in the faculties of social theory, globalization, and consumption. His most renowned work is the McDonalization of Society.

The thesis of the Globalization of Nothing is that “nothing” such as non-things, non-people, non-products and non-places are rapidly being replaced in our ever progressively more globalized world (ix). Ritzer says that capitalism, glocalization, grobalization have more and more important roles and a considerable negative impact upon our society (xvii).

Main Ideas/Concepts/Points

According to Rifkin, the aptitude to identify with is essential to human nature. He is adamant that it is time to alter our earlier assumptions that human beings are rationally self-centered and money-oriented, as the Enlightenment philosophers hundreds of years ago maintained. Modern discoveries in brain science and child development are forcing us to re-examine the older ideas of accomplishing happiness through limitless material progress. Biologists are finding out mirror neurons, also identified as empathy neurons that permit human beings to sense and experience another’s condition as if it were their own. Empathy has been the inspiring force in the wake of the evolution of individuals and of civilizations as a whole. Social scientists are finding out the evolution is calculated not only by the increase of power over nature, but in addition by the strengthening and extension of empathy to more varied range of people.

Rifkin maintains that the central part of the human story is the incompatible relationship of empathy against entropy. Entropy is the course of a system in deterioration. As a result, the absurdity is this: our ever increasing technical complexity brings more dissimilar people together, which in turn intensifies empathic compassion and expands human consciousness, but the enlargement of our empathic awareness is only probable because of an ever greater use of the Earth’s energy and resources ensuing in a spectacular worsening of the health of the planet. Empathy is at its maximum point in recorded history. Entropy is also at its uppermost point in recorded history.

Ritzer expands his thesis gradually but with a deep intentionality that will help the reader who knows his work well and also the one who is understanding him for the first time. In the first part he explores the “nothingness” of society together with the non-places, non-things, non-people and non-products. In part two, Ritzer splits globalization into precise topics counting glocalization and grobalization. Inside grobalization he explores capitalism, McDonalization, and Americanization. He lastly discusses the optimistic and negative sides to nothing and its globalization.

Contributions to Management of Complex Organizations

The Globalization of Nothing centers more closely on the subject, and Ritzer expands on Roland Robertson’s notion of glocalization, or the mixing of local and global fundamentals to generate unique outcomes in dissimilar locations. Ritzer suggests a counterpart, grobalization, by which he means the subsumption of the local into a global power, be it a business, nation, or association, with a byproduct being the defeat of unique home grown flavor in a homogenous planet. Ritzer sees McDonaldization, capitalism, and Americanization as fundamental elements of grobalization, above all the grobalization of ‘nothing,’ or ‘social forms which are centrally envisages, controlled and moderately devoid of distinctive substantive content (3),’ which is distinguished with ‘something,’ forms which are indigenously conjured up and controlled, and reasonably rich in substantive content. Ritzer focuses his concentration upon the glocalization of something and the grobalization of nothing, and views the second as a leading trend in our world, which is turning out to be more and more homogeneous.

While Rifkin supports what he calls “the 3rd Industrial Revolution.” The 1st Industrial Revolution was facilitated through steam power, the 2nd via coal. The 3rd Industrial Revolution, also recognized as the era of Distributed Capitalism, is included of four parts. The first is that we must change to renewable energy. it’s free of charge and it’s all over the place on the planet to a certain degree. The second is that we ought to convert every home, company and automobile into its own power generator. Rifkin calls these “buildings as power plants.” By fastening solar panels and making use of other renewable energies, we can have each and every building produce all of its own energy. The third aspect is that we must have a way to stock up this energy for future use. From beginning to end the use of hydrogen cells, we can store up renewable energy that is stored. The fourth and most significant aspect of the revolution is that we want to be able to sell and contribute to surplus energy with others in the course of existing electrical and internet grids. The increase of open source sharing of energy, like open source sharing of information, will marshal in mutual energy spaces, much like the mutual social spaces that before now survive on the internet. When each family and business turns out to be responsible for its own energy creation and expenditure by harnessing renewable energy sources and allocating it with others through elegant inter-continental power grids, we will turn out to be more intimately connected by our most basic of want: energy.

Analysis and Unanswered Questions

Consumption can be seen not only in restaurants and retail stores but also in unlikely places such as in the church. Ritzer said, “the church certainly has its “customers” (those who attend, or whom the church would like to see attend), and churches expand techniques for attracting and keeping a flock that, if thriving, are copied by churches around the world.” (177)

If this is accurate, does the local church have non-things, non-people, non-products, and could it be a non-place? A non-thing is an item that is shaped and is distinguishing to an area. In light of ministries, small groups, studies, and proceedings; do these mirror the local church or do they come from one church and all and sundry replicates it? A non-person is one who eliminates their personality and does a task. This is sad to have take place in ministry. A non-place is a place that restores diversity with consistency. It has been written and observed that Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week. This goes beyond race and speaks about to age and wage levels.

As the local church we might not accept this inclination of nothingness. Jesus called us to be a light unto the world and to be true to our personalities (the way he fashioned us) in the process. As a principal in the local church this practice is not satisfactory.

As Ritzer observed, the globalization of nothing can be an upsetting development but there are steps that each one of us can take to outline and regulate the world we live in. This may be by means of economic choices but more prominently I see great prospect in ministry to make sure “nothing” does not cover up the life changing and sanctioning message of Jesus Christ.

New Thoughts, Insights, or Ideas

We presently have all of the knowledge and technical know-how to achieve these fundamental changes, but can we do it in time to prevent global catastrophe? it’s no longer even arguable that our actions and lifestyles as humans are on shaky ground and contributing to global climate change and risking our very existence. We have no option but to change.

The changeover to biosphere perception has already started. All over the world, a younger age group is starting to comprehend that one’s daily burning up of energy and other resources in the end influences the lives of every other human being and every second person that inhabit the Earth.

We are on the brink of global peak compassion. We are also on or probably past the point of global maximum oil. Our strongly interconnected world is on the edge of what Rifkin calls “biosphere consciousness.” To determine the empathy / entropy paradox is the grave test of our species’ aptitude to endure and flourish. At any time a new energy government has congregated with a new communications upheaval, society is pressed toward further difficulty. This time around is serious nevertheless, we may not have sufficient time to change. The Empathic Civilization is rising, but will it happen fast enough to ward off global catastrophe?

The author said, “It is increasing difficult to find anything in the world untouched by globalization” (169). This appears to be a reliable and authoritative theme as the author seems to give modest hope that we will ever come out from a consumerist mindset and way of life. Ritzer seems to demolish hope that globalization will dwindle and possibly give us glimpses of what once was and no longer will be. There emerges be a core fear of “nothing.”

Globalism, capitalism, and consumerism is what I have recognized and experienced firsthand my entire life. Being brought up in middle-class America, from an early age I wanted G.I. Joe’s instead of the wood toy trucks that a friend of the family crafted, I was fully occupied and clinched what the commercials during Saturday morning cartoons told me I required. I also remember cringing when my parents wanted to go to the neighborhood hamburger diner “Dad’s” as an alternative to McDonalds. To this very day I find myself much more at ease eating in a non-place in place of gambling out and exploring other venues.


Rifkin, Jeremy. 2009. The Empathic Civilization. The Penguin Group. ISBN: 9781585427659.

Ritzer, George. 2007. The Globalization of Nothing. Upper Saddle River, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN: 1412940222

Riggs, Frederick (2006). Global Forces and the Discipline of Public Administration. In Jean-Claude Garcia-Zamor and Renu Khator, eds., Public Administration in the Global Village. Westport, CT: Praeger, 17-44.

Said, Edward (2009). Culture and Imperialism. New York: Alfred a. Knopf.

Schultz, Barry, and Slater, Robert, eds. (2000). Revolution and Political Change in the Third World. Boulder, CO: Lynne Reinner.

Zysman, J. (2010) the Myth of a ‘Global’ Economy: Enduring National Foundations and Emerging Regional Realities. New Political Economy 1 (July): 157-84.

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