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The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community (2006)

av David C. Korten

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256875,979 (3.76)1
In his classic international bestseller, When Corporations Rule the World, David Korten exposed the destructive and oppressive nature of the global corporate economy and helped spark a global resistance movement. Now, he shows that the problem runs deeper than corporate domination-with far greater consequences. Here, Korten argues that corporate consolidation of power is merely one manifestation of what he calls "Empire"- the organization of society through hierarchy and violence that has largely held sway for the past 5,000 years. Empire has always resulted in misery for the many and fortune for the few, but now it threatens the very future of humanity. Korten points to global terrorism, climate change, and rising poverty as just a few of the signs that the burdens of Empire now exceed what people and planet will bear. The Great Turningtraces the roots of Empire to ancient times and charts the long evolution of its favored instruments of control, from monarchies and bureaucracies to the transnational institutions of the global economy. Korten also tells the parallel story of the attempt to develop a democratic alternative to Empire, beginning in Athens and continuing with the founding of the United States of America. But this remains an unfinished project-Korten documents how elitists with an imperial agenda have consistently sought to undermine the bold and inspiring "American experiment," beginning in the earliest days of the republic and continuing to the present day. Empire is not inevitable, not the natural order of things-we can turn away from it. Korten draws on evidence from sources as varied as evolutionary theory, developmental psychology, and religious teachings to make the case that "Earth Community"-a life-centered, egalitarian, sustainable way of ordering human society based on democratic principles of partnership-is indeed possible. And he details a grassroots strategy for beginning the momentous turning toward a future of as-yet-unrealized human potential. The Great Turningilluminates our current predicament, provides a framework for grasping the potential of this historic moment, and shows us how to take action for the future of our planet, our communities, and ourselves.… (mer)
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"In this book, Koretn argues that corporate consolidation of power is merely
one manifestation of what he calls 'Empire': the organization of society though
hierarchy and violence that has largely held sway for the past 5,000 years. The
Great Turning masterfully traces the roots of Empire to ancient times and
charts the long evolution of its favoured instruments of control, from
monarchies and bureaucracies to the transnational institutions of the global
economy." --back cover
  collectionmcc | Mar 6, 2018 |
"This is a wise and much needed book that shows we can create cultures where our enormous human capacities for joy, caring, and cooperation are realized" (Riane Eisler). From the back cover. ( )
  strawberrycreekmtg | Jan 31, 2014 |
Any reader of The Great Turning must remember one key fact: You're not reading this book because Korten is a noteworthy psychologist or theologian or anthropologist. Korten has some keen insights and his experience with international NGOs and in academia ensure that the telling of his vision is effective, grounded in reality, and at times inspiring. He finds great metaphors to convey concepts that otherwise might hover just above true comprehension. Korten not only defines and describes a new economy, he does so in ways that help you see that you never really thought logically about our contemporary system—even if you considered yourself knowledgeable in economics before.

Korten is right in that instituting his community-focused system would change everything—but he’s also right that our current system is inherently based on change and therefore everything will change anyway, so why not work to ensure that future changes are improvements and not just helping consolidate the power of the already powerful. In short, Korten is at his best when he stays focused on undoing the conventional wisdom he characterizes as “[Trusting] in the magic of the unregulated market to convert your unrestrained greed and self-indulgence into a better life for all.”

He reaches too far in his vision. His vision replaces an unsustainable global economy driven by conglomerates with a global sense of spirituality which is basically Gnostic garbage, often citing Borg and Fox—nothing new here, what he promotes has been commonplace theology since the dawn of Empires. It’s ironic, since Korten seems to really understand the importance of love and community but doesn’t seem to understand that the spiritual worldview he’s embracing won’t support his vision of loving local economies any better than the greed-centered worldview of crony capitalism. He equates love with tolerance, elevates the feminine above the masculine, and believes that knowledge is power. The economy he envisions requires love that doesn’t tolerate abuse of power, puts men and women on equal footings, and understands that wisdom comes from outside yourself and is marked by humility.

He gets tripped up on this last point because of his reliance on conventional psychological models which are essentially repackaged Gnosticism that encourages intelligent people to believe that they are at the top of a five-step scale of human development. Instead of recognizing that people are a mix of good and bad, he prefers models which basically categorize people as either enlightened or unenlightened—inherently belittling the humanity of children and mentally disabled.

Fortunately, the system Korten promotes would better serve the people his theological and psychological models would exclude. If his economic ideas start taking hold, hopefully theologians whose theology is better equipped to bolster his communities will have more of an impact on his thinking. ( )
  ebnelson | Dec 30, 2011 |
I actually led a book discussion group on this book last year. The discussions were interesting but the book is, I think, inadequate. For anyone with vaguely leftist inclinations, It's sort of like going to see a romantic comedy starring (oh, say) Meg Ryan. You know what to expect, and you will probably enjoy it, but the plot is predictable and it is not going to really challenge you or add to your knowledge. He's pretty sharp about social inequality, but less so about the environment. But the whole contrast between "empire" and "earth community" is just too simplistic and overdone. Empire is evil, evil, evil, but suddenly, we're going to turn around and everything will be wonderful! Moreover, I cannot agree with his environmental ideas either. There is something unsettling about his first example of a "good" industry -- a cattle ranch where they treat the workers well. Cattle grazing is a leading cause of global warming, and according to November/December 2009 WorldWatch article by Goodland and Anhang, meat production actually contributes over half of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Korten says at one point that rulers learned to domesticate people after they domesticated animals. Do you think that these two forms of exploitation are related? In what way? So we're all in solidarity while we kill animals and destroy the climate. There does not seem to be any awareness, either, about peak oil, the financial crisis, and related issues. I've heard him speak: he eats meat, apparently, and he's overweight. Sigh. So, you might want to flip through the book to keep current with what people are saying, and Korten really is a good speaker, but his analysis lacks weight. ( )
  KeithAkers | Jun 5, 2010 |
too much political correctness and a shallow, naive way of thinking. Utopia's are great for dreaming and I can imagine this book sometimes stimulates thinking how life on earth should be. However, only a small percentage of the people have to be after their narrow self interest and you create a prisoners dilemma. This book seriously lacks in solutions how we should deal with serious problems we are facing, taking our history as people into mind. Also the book is very selective in quoting history, namely only the facts that suit him and omits many others. ( )
  mkriens | Oct 26, 2008 |
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Dedicated to: My paternal grandmother, Lydia Boehl Korten, who taught me that every person has a sacred purpose. / My parents, Ted Korten and Margaret Korten, who made it possible to honor the call. / My brother, Robert Korten, who assumed the family responsibilities I abandoned. / Thomas Berry, Riane Eisler, and Joanna Macy, on whose inspiration, analysis, and language I have drawn freely in framing the human choice at hand. / Timothy Iistowanohpataakiiwa, who initiated me into elderhood on my sixty-fifth birthday and helped me see with greater clarity the path of my elder years. / And George W. Bush, whose administration exposed to full view the imperial shadow side of U.S. democracy, stripped away the last illusions of my childhood innocence, and compelled me to write this book.
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In his classic international bestseller, When Corporations Rule the World, David Korten exposed the destructive and oppressive nature of the global corporate economy and helped spark a global resistance movement. Now, he shows that the problem runs deeper than corporate domination-with far greater consequences. Here, Korten argues that corporate consolidation of power is merely one manifestation of what he calls "Empire"- the organization of society through hierarchy and violence that has largely held sway for the past 5,000 years. Empire has always resulted in misery for the many and fortune for the few, but now it threatens the very future of humanity. Korten points to global terrorism, climate change, and rising poverty as just a few of the signs that the burdens of Empire now exceed what people and planet will bear. The Great Turningtraces the roots of Empire to ancient times and charts the long evolution of its favored instruments of control, from monarchies and bureaucracies to the transnational institutions of the global economy. Korten also tells the parallel story of the attempt to develop a democratic alternative to Empire, beginning in Athens and continuing with the founding of the United States of America. But this remains an unfinished project-Korten documents how elitists with an imperial agenda have consistently sought to undermine the bold and inspiring "American experiment," beginning in the earliest days of the republic and continuing to the present day. Empire is not inevitable, not the natural order of things-we can turn away from it. Korten draws on evidence from sources as varied as evolutionary theory, developmental psychology, and religious teachings to make the case that "Earth Community"-a life-centered, egalitarian, sustainable way of ordering human society based on democratic principles of partnership-is indeed possible. And he details a grassroots strategy for beginning the momentous turning toward a future of as-yet-unrealized human potential. The Great Turningilluminates our current predicament, provides a framework for grasping the potential of this historic moment, and shows us how to take action for the future of our planet, our communities, and ourselves.

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