Douglas Rushkoff and Life, Inc

The other day on impulse I bought the Kindle version of Douglas Rushkoff’s new book Life Inc . I heard two interviews with him, one on Bat Segundo and another on Tech Nation. I’ve long since dropped Tech Nation but this is the rare episode I actually didn’t delete out of hand and actually listened to.

Both interviews were interesting and in aggregate they sold me the book. I’m interested in the basic question of “When did we decide that these legal constructs that emulate a person are more important than actual people?” The Bat Segundo interview had one of Ed’s trademark conflicts of premise with Rushkoff. I swear to god, I’ve never heard any interviewer get more guest pushback than this show, but it was entertaining. One of the insights that interested me in the book was Rushkoff’s tackling of Maslow’s hierarchy of need, specifically that “self-actualization” is the highest peak of human enlightenment. As he points out, that’s actually a (by definition) self-centered viewpoint, and one could argue that the highest point of achievement is something like “community actualization” where you not only are secure and fulfilled in yourself but also with those around you.

Until Dragon*Con and beyond, I’ve got every second of reading time committed to books I need to read for interviews, but as soon as that is passed I’m reading the Rushkoff. It sounds right in my wheelhouse.

Update: I forgot to mention that in the Tech Nation interview, Rushkoff lamented that people are trying to earn more money so their money earns more money, and then to retire ever younger. Let me be the first to say “Guilty as charged!” I have a very good job that allows for a very secure life that I enjoy going to most days (I’d be lying if I said “every day.”) Even so, the idea of having all day every day to pursue whatever crazy idea occurs to me, to read books and comics and watch old movies, that seems like a damn pleasant existence. I’ve said for many years that if I ever get the point that my money and investments earn as much as I do, I’m going to get out of the way and let it do the work. Rushkoff seems to think that’s a weakness in character or morals or something. That’s what I call “the master plan.”

5 Replies to “Douglas Rushkoff and Life, Inc”

  1. Rushkoff lamented that people are trying to earn more money so their money earns more money, and then to retire ever younger.

    God forbid the drones ever stop. I know I sure would hate it if I ever stopped shoveling the coal that fired other people’s economic engines.

    People that proselytize on such matters always fall into 1 or more of 3 categories: 1)Have plenty of money, 2)Have plenty of time and 3)Like what they do. Which pretty much makes them douchebags for lamenting that others might find themselves in similar situations.

  2. I disagree, Rushkoff. I think that there is a majority of people that could obtain this goal. For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that your premise is true and most can’t do it. Is there something in the goal itself that is unworthy of the attempt? Regardless of success or failure, is trying to do it a wrong thing?

  3. For those interested in the actual context, the statement I cite occurs at 7:30 in the Tech Nation interview. Listen to the minute before and after to get a sense of what is being said around there.

  4. I know its low odds that DRush comes back to this post, but let’s live like we are in an optimistic world.

    Douglas, I went back and listened to that part again to make sure I was hearing what I thought I heard. It sounds like you have a moral objection to wanting to live off the proceeds of one’s wealth and that you think this is an upper echelon, elitist endeavor. From your brief comment here, it sounds like your objection is that it doesn’t scale. I have the same objection to the Tim Ferriss “4 Hour Work Week” shtick, in that somewhere someone has to be doing the work.

    Is your objection moral or practical?

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