Rifkin, Jeremy(1945– ) social activist, author; born in Chicago, Ill. He graduated from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University, but America's role in the Vietnam War so disturbed him that he helped organize the first national rally against the war (1967). He then founded and directed the People's Bicentennial Commission (1971–76) to counter the official, establishment bicentennial celebrations. He went on to lecture and write vigorously about a variety of issues, usually stressing the "true story" hidden from most people, as in shaky pension funds, but most especially the dangers of technology and science, such as genetic splicing. To advance his message, in 1977 he established the Foundation on Economic Trends, which he financed by a continual round of lectures and many books. Among these are The Emerging Order (1979), Entropy (1980), Algeny (1983), Declaration of a Heretic (1985), and Beyond Beef (1992). Often dismissed as a pest by the sci-tech/corporate establishment, but admired as a useful gadfly by others, he raised important issues in the contemporary debate over the role of science and technology.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.