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You wouldn’t have expected David Korten to raise any doubts about the global economy and its ability to solve poverty and environmental damage if you knew him in the 1980s. At that time, he was working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, touting the benefits of international investment in South East Asia. Then something changed.
Far from creating universal prosperity, Korten observed that the economic models of the organizations he worked for were producing devastating consequences for people and planet. In 1992 he wrote “When Corporations Rule the World,” his deeper examination of economic models that serve the interests of wealthy people who are in the position to profit from global corporations and financial markets.
His most recent book is, “The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community.” Korten argues that corporate consolidation of power is merely a contemporary manifestation of what he calls “Empire.” By Empire, he means, “the organization of society by hierarchies of domination grounded in violent chauvinisms of race, gender, religion, nationality, language, and class.” He says that as a result, our society is unraveling, whether you look at climate change, dwindling fossil fuel supplies, environmental degradation, or an unfair global economic system. According to Korten, we cannot avoid the unraveling. We can, however, turn a potentially terminal crisis into a new opportunity.
In May 2006, Korten spoke to an audience at the First Congregational Church in Oakland, California, about why he thinks we’re on the cusp of a major shift from a world dominated by economic values to one that embraces human values.
David Korten has been a supporter of National Radio Project.