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About David Korten
David C. Korten (1937– ) is an American economist, author, and former Professor of the Harvard University Graduate School of Business, political activist and prominent critic of corporate globalization, "by training and inclination a student of psychology and behavioral systems". His best-known publication is When Corporations Rule the World (1995 and 2001).
However, David’s 2006 book, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, seems to carry his thinking even further. This presents a more cultural approach to the challenge of global solidarity and justice. Based on the image of eco-philosopher Joanna Macy, David identifies the conjuncture of global crises as opportunities for cultural, economic and political “turning” based on reaching for higher levels of human consciousness.
Ultimately, The Great Turning is a call to humanity to reject a society based on domination, ecological destruction and unshared material wealth and to embrace a new way of living based on partnership, community, and respect for all of life’s richness.
“If we succeed, future generations may look back on this as a time of profound transition and speak of it as the time of the Great Turning. If we fail, our time may instead be known simply as the tragic time of the Great Unraveling.”
(See Karri Munn-Venn’s review of The Great Turning in CPJ’s Catalyst newsletter, Summer 2010)
The Great Turning Explained in Bullet Points
The Great Turning provides a powerful framework for understanding our time within a deep historical context and for defining the collective choice we must now make as a species. These are the key elements:
- We humans face a choice between two contrasting models for organizing our affairs: the dominator model of Empire and the partnership model of Earth Community.
- After 5,000 years of organizing human affairs by the dominator model, the Era of Empire finally has reached the limits of the exploitation that people and Earth will sustain.
- A mounting perfect economic storm born of a convergence of peak oil, climate change, and a falling U.S. dollar is poised to bring a dramatic restructuring of every aspect of modern life.
- There is no technological fix for the human crisis. The underlying problem is a consequence of social dysfunction and the only solutions are cultural and institutional
- We now face a choice between a last man standing imperial competition for what remains of Earth’s natural bounty and a cooperative sharing of Earth’s resources to create a world that works for all.
- Empire’s power depends on its ability to control the stories by which we humans define ourselves and our possibilities. Whoever controls the prosperity, security, and meaning stories that define the mainstream culture, controls the society.
- The key to changing the human course is to displace the prevailing Empire prosperity, security, and meaning stories that define dominator hierarchy as the natural and essential human order, with Earth Community prosperity, security, and meaning stories that celebrate the human capacity to live in cooperative balance with one another and Earth.
- Healthy children, families, communities, and natural systems are the true measure of prosperity.
- To end poverty, heal the environment, and secure the human future it is necessary to turn from growth to the reallocation of resources as the defining economic priority. Eliminate harmful uses (military, advertising, sprawl, and financial speculation), increase beneficial uses (environmental regeneration, food and energy self-reliance, health, education, and productive investment), and give priority to the needs of those the old economy excludes and represses (the desperate, hungry, and indentured).
- Security and social order depend on strong, caring communities based on mutual responsibility and accountability.
- All being is the manifestation of an integral spiritual intelligence seeing to know itself through the on going creative unfolding in search of unrealized possibility.
- We humans are a choice-making, choice-creating species that can choose to create societies that nurture our higher order capacities for compassion, sharing, and commitment to the well-being of all.
- Meaning is found in discovering our place of service to the whole.
To read further, please refer to the Great Turning website, at http://thegreatturning.net