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The Big Answer


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The Post-Corporate World

a book by David Korten

(our site's book review)

Capitalism is Actually Delivering a Fatal Blow to Life, Democracy and the Market

There is a deep chasm between the promises of the new global capitalism and the reality of social breakdown, spiritual emptiness, and environmental destruction it is leaving in its wake. In this important book, David Korten makes a compelling and well-documented case that capitalism is actually delivering a fatal blow not only to life, but also to democracy and the market.

Polluting a stream and the land around, killing wildlife, look at the environmental destruction capitalism is leaving in its wake
Polluting a stream and the land around, killing wildlife, look at the environmental destruction capitalism is leaving in its wake

Among his startling ideas:

Capitalism is a pathology that commonly afflicts market economies in the absence of vigilant public oversight. Since the economy internal to a corporation is a planned economy, the current consolidation of economic control under a handful of global corporations is a victory for central planning—not the market economy. The alternative to the new global capitalism is a global system of thriving, healthy market economies that function as extensions of healthy local ecosystems to meet the livelihood needs of people and communities.

Capitalism is a pathology that commonly afflicts market economies in the absence of vigilant public oversight; it should be seen as a disease like cancer
Capitalism is a pathology that commonly afflicts market economies in the absence of vigilant public oversight; it should be seen as a disease like cancer

The Post-Corporate World—What's Needed and What's Possible

Radical as such proposals may seem, they actually reflect processes that are steadily gaining momentum around the world. The Post-Corporate World provides a vision of what's needed and what's possible, as well as a detailed agenda for change. Korten shows that to have a just, sustainable and compassionate society, concentrated absentee ownership and footloose speculative capital as embodied in the global, for-profit public corporation must be eliminated in favor of enterprises based on patient, rooted, stakeholder ownership limited to those who have a stake in the firm as a worker, supplier, customer, or member of the community in which it is located.

Korten outlines numerous specific actions to free the creative powers of individuals and societies through the realization of real democracy, the local rooting of capital through stakeholder ownership, and a restructuring of the rules of commerce to create "mindful market" economies that combine market principles with a culture that nurtures social bonding and responsibility.

Like Korten's previous bestseller, When Corporations Rule the World, this provocative book is sure to stimulate national dialogue and debate and inspire a bevy of grassroots discussions and initiatives. The Post-Corporate World presents readers with a profound challenge and an empowering sense of hope.

The global financial system is now so unstable that even the speculators who create and profit from the instability are sounding warnings. Unsustainable demands on the environment have increased. And the social fabric has further eroded.


Korten Wants Us to Replace the Mechanical Paradigm with the Ecological-Holistic Paradigm

In this appeal for the adoption of the kinder, gentler ecological-holistic paradigm, the author questions the type of “progress” we should seek as a world—should it be economic, materialistic, often ignoring human social needs, or should we begin to act on the knowledge that we already have positively established as true: that all life is inextricably connected. This systems view would lead us towards social and ecological balance. Sustainability is then possible. The current slash-and-burn predatory capitalism in which environment and social issues are not even factored in is global suicide. The current attitude of the religion of the corporatocracy is that those who would survive and prosper must learn to win in the global economy’s relentless and unforgiving competition. But, following through, when the last group to survive in a polluted world ravaged by war and devastating climate change are drawing their last breath and the strongest among them buries them and chisels out a headstone just before climbing into the grave himself, is it going to say: "WE WON!"?

War is the religion of the corporatocracy—it's how the USA competes, acquires resources and power, it's the 'eat' aspect of the saying dog eat dog
War is the religion of the corporatocracy—it's how the USA competes, acquires resources and power, it's the 'eat' aspect of the saying dog eat dog

Surely we can see the problem with dog-eat-dog capitalism where ONLY money counts! If we use up or poison all drinking water, what will we drink? If we use up all fertile, healthy soil, how will we farm? If we keep dumping poison and waste into the sea until it chokes and dies, where will we get fish? If we poison our air, what will we breathe? The earth is a system. If we take and do not give back, it will rebel, get sick, and end up dead. Thinking of the planet as an endless supply of resources we can use irresponsibly can have only one final dire consequence, which only fools wil deny. See The Politics of the Solar Age: Alternatives to Economics and Creating Alternative Futures: The End of Economics

“Under the surface, even such seemingly unconnected problems as ethnic violence, pollution of the air and water, broken families, and cultural disintegration are closely interlinked. Understanding that the problems are interrelated can make them seem overwhelming, but finding the points at which they converge can, in fact, make our attempts to tackle them a great deal more effective. It is then just a question of pulling the right threads to affect the entire fabric, rather than having to deal with each problem individually.” (This is a wonderful description of the MC philosophy underlying the MC vision guiding the MC movement.) (Source: Lessons From Traditional Cultures, an article in The Futurist by Helena Norberg-Hodge)

It is then just a question of pulling the right threads to affect the entire fabric, rather than having to deal with each problem individually
It is then just a question of pulling the right threads to affect the entire fabric, rather than having to deal with each problem individually

Korten Wants Us to Replace the New Global Capitalism with Healthy Market Economies

The most promising alternatives to rape of the earth and degeneration of society center on applying the familiar principles of democratic governance and market economics to create societies that function in service to life and treat money as a facilitator, not the purpose, of our economic lives. Millions of people, unsung heroes of a new era, are already hard at work constructing the building blocks of a post-corporate–post-capitalist civilization. They are demonstrating alternatives far more viable than what we've previously known. The alternative to the social dysfunction is The Forest Through The Trees, and The Post-Corporate World provides a vision of what's needed for the global system of thriving, healthy market economies that function as extensions of healthy local ecosystems to meet the livelihood needs of people and communities.

Deforestation
Deforestation


Determined pioneers are doing many good works  such as restoring forests and watersheds
Determined pioneers are doing many good works such as restoring forests and watersheds

David Korten outlines these beacons of hope like so: "These determined pioneers are creating new political parties and movements, strengthening their communities, deepening their spiritual practice, discovering the joyous liberation of voluntary simplicity, building networks of locally rooted businesses, certifying socially and environmentally responsible products, restoring forests and watersheds, promoting public transportation and defining urban growth boundaries, serving as peacemakers between hostile groups, advancing organic agriculture, practicing holistic health, directing their investments to socially responsible businesses, organizing recycling campaigns, and demanding that trade agreements protect the rights of people and the environment."

The wise people who really 'get it' about the planet being propelled off a cliff, if we don't wise up, are present in every country
The wise people who really 'get it' about the planet being propelled off a cliff, if we don't wise up, are present in every country

Wise People Are Taking Direct Responsibility for the Health and Well-Being of Themselves, Their Families, Their Communities, and the Planet

But who are these wise people who really "get it" about the planet being propelled off a cliff if we don't wise up? The author knows: "They are present in every country. They come from every race, class, religion, and ethnic group. They include landless and illiterate peasants but also corporate executives; they include union members, shareholders, ranchers, teachers, housewives, small-business owners, farmers, local government officials, inner-city kids, loggers, wealthy intellectuals, and reformed gang leaders. The majority are women. Fed up with the failures of elitist leadership and distant bureaucracies, they are demonstrating the powerful potential of truly democratic forms of leadership in which people take direct responsibility for the health and well-being of themselves, their families, their communities, and the planet."

Korten wants us to localize economies, disperse economic power, and bring democracy closer to the people. (See The Quickening of America: Rebuilding Our Nation, Remaking Our Lives.) Currently, those in power are circumventing democratic processes and structures as they rule from the golden thrones of the shadow government. The actions of these elites " . . . constitute an increasingly effective attack on the institutions of democracy. In fact, the attack has succeeded to such a degree democracy is no more. See Democracy—an American Delusion. Without a bottom-up approach in which social problems are addressed by the citizenry, the society will continue a downward slide into Haves and Have-nots, empowered and disempowered, and more sexism, racism, crime, family problems, etc. So we can all abandon hopes that the government will rescue us. We must rescue ourselves!

We need to quit looking to social engineering superheroes and rely on local community efforts
We need to quit looking to social engineering superheroes and rely on local community efforts

Korten Saw World Bank and IMF "Aid" Wreck Lives, Environments, Economies, and Countries

Ethiopia, Nicaragua, the Philippines, and Indonesia are the countries Korten spent most of his life, trying to end the poverty of the world’s underdeveloped countries. So his eyes were opened and his perspective broadened by his good works. He saw something happening that was very discouraging:

A few of their people ended up in middle class houses, but only a few employed by developers. However, millions of people were living in dehumanizing destitution—many as a consequence of development’s intrusion into their lives. Our "aid" had wrecked their lives. Shocking numbers had been driven by development projects from homes and communities that had afforded them a modest but dignified living. Ironically, the dams, forestry projects, and many other interventions financed by the World Bank and other foreign "assistance" agencies had disrupted their lives for purposes that benefited not just those already better off but the leaders that sold out to the developers and the huge corporations that did the developing, which were really building things the people didn't want or need.

Environments were being stripped bare of life for the short-term profits of the rich people in the country and out. The deep social fabric of once-rich cultures was being ripped asunder. See The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption—John Perkins encountered the very same issue of aid doing more harm than good since its purpose was not to help these countries but grab their resources and put untold wealth into the pockets of the American corporatocracy (i.e., Bechtel and Halliburton).

Nearly everywhere in these exploited countries, inequality was increasing at an alarming rate. It was ever harder to escape the pollution, even in the gated compounds of the rich. Something was very wrong.

Income gaps kept increasing as development progressed, and, interestingly, the development created the same canyon between rich and poor as we now have in the United States of America
Income gaps kept increasing as development progressed, and, interestingly, the development created the same canyon between rich and poor as we now have in the United States of America

In When Corporations Rule the World, Korten tells us that "Economic globalization is neither in the human interest nor inevitable. It is axiomatic that political power aligns with economic power. The larger the economic unit, the larger its dominant players, and the more political power becomes concentrated in the largest corporations. The greater the political power of corporations and those aligned with them, the less the political power of the people, and the less meaningful democracy becomes. There is an alternative: to localize economies, disperse economic power, and bring democracy closer to the people." The greedy corporatocracy oligarchs are expanding their profits without regard to the social and environmental consequences borne by the larger society. Continuing with business as usual will almost certainly lead to economic, social, and environmental collapse. They don't care.

The greedy oligarch pigs are trying to gorge themselves at the trough so thoroughly that the rest of us get only tiny scraps to fight over, while the pigs laugh
The greedy oligarch pigs are trying to gorge themselves at the trough so thoroughly that the rest of us get only tiny scraps to fight over, while the pigs laugh

Korten Says Civil Societies Must Mobilize to Reclaim the Power Corporations and Global Financial Markets Have Usurped

Resolving the crisis, in Korten's opinion, depends on civil societies mobilizing to reclaim the power that corporations and global financial markets have usurped, but of course that is easier said than done. "Our best hope for the future lies with locally owned and managed economies that rely predominantly on local resources to meet the livelihood needs of their members in ways that maintain a balance with the earth." A number of citizen groups were beginning to take on corporate power and the related issues of international corporate-rights treaties disguised as trade agreements. This is another way of looking at the remedies for corporatocracy greed.


It's Past Time to Change U.S.'s Empire Building Dreams into Humanistic Empowerment Dreams

John Perkins is a classic case of a guy who went from being part of the world's problems (as an exploitative economic "hit man") to being part of its solutions. He created an organization for changing the way we in industrialized nations see the earth and our relationship to the earth. He was trying to reverse the process he had promoted as an economic hit man (EHM). He named his own nonprofit Dream Change, and he organized trips and workshops. He took people to live with indigenous teachers and he brought those teachers to the United States as well. Then he produced books, tapes, CDs, and films aimed at bridging the gaps between these two worlds. The Pachamama Alliance, another of his nonprofits, has raised millions of dollars to help various indigenous communities, much of it used to finance legal battles against oil companies who insisted on raping the land, cutting down tropical forests, polluting the environment, and putting the people into debt.

Korten began to turn more of his attention to fixing things and he became involved in establishing the Positive Futures Network (PFN), which publishes YES! A Journal of Positive Futures. YES! is dedicated to identifying and sharing the ideas of people who recognize the seriousness of our situation, are responding with initiatives that attack the problem at its core, and contribute to building a positive future. It helps people committed to creating a just, sustainable, and compassionate future link with one another. PFN and YES! continue to be a major focus of his attention because they provide answers to those who ask, “What can I do to make a positive difference?” YES! Magazine is a non-profit, ad-free magazine that covers topics of social justice, environmental sustainability, alternative economics, and peace.


David Korten's Background

David Korten is Chair and Co-founder of YES! magazine. He is president and founder of the Living Economies Forum, a board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, and a member of the Club of Rome. He holds MBA and PhD degrees from the Stanford Graduate school of Business and is a former faculty member of the Harvard Graduate School of Business. He was previously a Ford Foundation project specialist in Manila and Asia Regional Advisor on Development Management for the US Agency for International Development. David has authored numerous books, including Change the Story, Change the Future, Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, When Corporations Rule the World, and The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism. He is a regular guest on talk radio and television and a popular speaker at conferences around the world.

David Korten is a regular guest on talk radio and television and a popular speaker at conferences around the world
David Korten is a regular guest on talk radio and television and a popular speaker at conferences around the world

David Korten's Worldview

We are in the midst of a basic paradigm shift in science, from the metaphor of the machine to the metaphor of the living organism
We are in the midst of a basic paradigm shift in science, from the metaphor of the machine to the metaphor of the living organism

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho says we are in the midst of a basic paradigm shift in science, from the metaphor of the machine to the metaphor of the living organism. It proved to be one of those ideas that triggers a rush of intellectual insight during which myriad bits and pieces of data and insight suddenly coalesce in a way that gives them new power and coherence. If our stories make a difference in the way we live, our collective choice of the big story by which societies define the nature of reality and their relationship to it makes a very big difference in how societies organize themselves and define their goals. The difference Dr. Ho articulated between the machine metaphor and the organism metaphor jumped out as a key to sorting out the difference between the society we are and the society we have the potential to become. Fritjof Capra wants the new ecological-holistic paradigm to be adopted and the old mechanistic-reductionistic paradigm to be left behind. Ho and Capra are saying the same thing, except Ho also has some pseudo-scientific beliefs as well.

We are now at the beginning of a fundamental change of worldview in science and society, a change of paradigms as radical as the Copernican revolution.—Fritjof Capra

This is the book that launched the Copernican revolution
This is the book that launched the Copernican revolution. Copernican heliocentrism is the name given to the astronomical model developed by Nicolaus Copernicus and published in 1543. It positioned the Sun near the center of the Universe, motionless, with Earth and the other planets rotating around it in circular paths modified by epicycles and at uniform speeds.

Alvin Toffler wants people to adopt a Third Wave perspective (see The Third Wave) and use knowledge—highest level power—as the power source of choice rather than lower level power in the form of coercion and wealth. Fritjof Capra, in The Web of Life, wants the new ecological-holistic paradigm to be adopted and the old mechanistic-reductionistic paradigm to be left behind, with its focus of coercion, quantity, exploitation, domination and competition. This paradigm is now putting us on a path of self-destruction. In a way, these two social analysts are looking at the same elephant from two different perspectives, with Capra and Ho focusing on the philosophical, ecological, spiritual, feminist, holistic trunk, and Toffler focusing on the futurist ears, which concern themselves with politics, business, markets, trade, history, power, conflict and education. The work of each man complements the work of the other.

The path of knowledge is our only real choice if we are to survive—the mechanistic paradigm path (coercion, quantity, exploitation, domination, competition) leads to self-destruction
The path of knowledge is our only real choice if we are to survive—the mechanistic paradigm path (coercion, quantity, exploitation, domination, competition) leads to self-destruction

Capra, a physicist, adopted the ecological-holistic paradigm when he realized that the mechanistic side of physics was only a part of the story, so he developed the ecological-holistic perspective to complete the picture. Capra says: “To regain our full humanity, we have to regain our experience of connectedness with the entire web of life. This reconnecting . . . is the very essence of the spiritual grounding of deep ecology. . . . Reconnecting with the web of life means building and nurturing sustainable communities in which we can satisfy our needs and aspirations without diminishing the chances of future generations."

Deep ecology is an ecological and environmental philosophy promoting the inherent worth of living beings regardless of their instrumental utility to human needs, plus a radical restructuring of modern human societies in accordance with such ideas. Deep ecology argues that the natural world is a subtle balance of complex inter-relationships in which the existence of organisms is dependent on the existence of others within ecosystems. Human interference with or destruction of the natural world poses a threat therefore not only to humans but to all organisms constituting the natural order.

Deep ecology's core principle is the belief that the living environment as a whole should be respected and regarded as having certain inalienable legal rights to live and flourish, independent of its utilitarian instrumental benefits for human use. It describes itself as "deep" because it regards itself as looking more deeply into the actual reality of humanity's relationship with the natural world arriving at philosophically more profound conclusions than that of the prevailing view of ecology as a branch of biology.

Deep ecology's core principle is the belief that the living environment as a whole should be respected and this tropical forest is a great example of what to protect
Deep ecology's core principle is the belief that the living environment as a whole should be respected and this tropical forest is a great example of what to protect

Korten says that the time has come for a story that acknowledges life’s creative power and inspires us to strive for new levels of consciousness and function, which is what the new ecological-holistic paradigm is about, and what Ho's organism metaphor is about as well. He says there is substantial evidence that it is entirely natural for healthy humans to live fully and mindfully in service to the unfolding capacities of self, community, and the planet, but we have come to doubt this aspect of our own being due to the effects of old mechanistic-reductionistic paradigm which Ho calls the metaphor of the machine.


Korten Wants to Eliminate Limited-Liability For-Profit Public Corporations!

The author proposes the radical idea that curing the capitalist cancer to restore democracy, the market, and our human rights and freedoms will require virtually eliminating the institution of the limited-liability for-profit public corporation as we know it to create a post-corporate world through actions such as the following:

Curing the capitalist cancer to restore democracy, the market, and our human rights and freedoms will require virtually eliminating the institution of the limited-liability for-profit public corporation
Curing the capitalist cancer to restore democracy, the market, and our human rights and freedoms will require virtually eliminating the institution of the limited-liability for-profit public corporation
Note: if we don't get too far with the above radical agenda, we can try a few of the ideas here: In Supercapitalism, Robert Reich discusses and bemoans the negative social consequences of "supercapitalism" (the current system): widening inequality as most gains from economic growth go to the rich, reduced job security, community instability, loss of community, degradation of the environment, human rights abuses abroad, and lots of products that appeal to our animal instincts. The voices of lobbyists, lawyers, experts, and public relations specialists have drowned out the voices of the citizens, so how can the mechanisms of democracy work as originally designed? Reich says that corporations are not people and should no longer be granted the rights people have. They should not be allowed to participate in democratic decision making. He supports abolishing the corporate income tax, ending the practice of prosecuting corporations for criminal conduct, no longer expecting or insisting that companies be patriotic, not granting them standing to challenge duly enacted laws in court. Let everyone in every company pay taxes according to how much they make. Let those who do bad things at the behest of corporations be held liable. The excuse of "I was ordered to do it" will no longer hold water, any more than "I was just following orders" worked to excuse Eichmann for killing Jews; he was found guilty of all 15 counts against him.

Robert Reich
Robert Reich

Neither the Korten agenda nor the Reich agenda is likely to find traction any time soon, but we need to try our best anyway. He says we must choose between life after capitalism and severe global-scale social and environmental collapse. If we try to co-exist with the capitalist cancer it will stab us in the back when we're not looking. We need to be overcoming the temptation to sacrifice our spirits for a handful of silver.


Background and Dire Possibilities

To back up and see where we've been, let's note that neither Marxism's rigid collectivization nor capitalism's ruthless individualism are stable ideologies and neither will work to support the community designs of effective post-corporate world living. But the 20th century showed that collectivism is utterly corrupt from the ground up, so we need to replace our comparison with socialism vs. individualism or even welfare state vs. individualism. Welfare capitalism is capitalism that includes social welfare policies, which is what the U.S. has. But welfare capitalism is slipping away, due to competition from overseas cheap labor and outsourcing and global capitalism. The more welfare capitalism declines, the more the federal government will have to fill in the gap or exercise egregious controls if it doesn't, and the more America will look like either European socialism if they fill in the gap or fascism if they don't.

In fascism, there's a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism. If neocons continue robbing our citizens until we reach the extreme of neo-feudalism or some other rich-against-poor-and-no-one-in-the-middle scenario, it will take fascism to maintain control, which will mean weapon confiscation. We already have imperial Presidents and England still has some aristocracy, so U.S. aristocracy once they've turned us into serfs by robbing most of our wealth makes sense. If this happens here, we assume they'll use a slow procedure like when a frog is in cold water and the temperature is raised to boiling and the frog remains complacent, as opposed to putting a frog into boiling water making the frog violently protest and try to escape. Military weapons are already being furnished to police departments with the excuse of "in case of civil unrest." But many of us who can think have noticed that this militarization was concomitant with the disappearance of our rights, extreme surveillance system deployments, and the Constitution being violated and partially discarded by the Patriot Act.

The NSA is burning the Constitution and the War on Terror excuse is wearing a bit thin to citizens who even know what a democracy is or what the Constitution is
The NSA is burning the Constitution and the War on Terror excuse is wearing a bit thin to citizens who even know what a democracy is or what the Constitution is

In most democratic nations, state capitalism takes the form of welfare-state capitalism. For the market oriented capitalism of the United States, strong military and international organizations are used to enforce a hierarchical economic order around the globe. But unless capitalism is complemented by some welfare cushioning, it would soon fall prey to more revolutionary movements. The safety net was created to save capitalism from itself, not to attack capitalism. However, the forces of global capitalism are destroying the kind of society which allows and encourages stability, traditional families, and self-sufficient community. Capitalism destroys the very structure of the societies it enriches and global capitalism destroys it even more yet.

U.S. is a police state and a predatory power abroad, imposing thousands of deaths on our troops and hundreds of thousands of deaths on others, and wasting trillions of dollars of American taxpayers' money
U.S. is a police state and a predatory power abroad, imposing thousands of deaths on our troops and hundreds of thousands of deaths on others, and wasting trillions of dollars of American taxpayers' money

There are transitions from social-welfare states to social-control states around the world, and the USA is heading toward a social-control-oriented police state based on the premise that if you rob citizens by transferring their wealth to the corporatocracy oligarchs and shadow government neocons, you're soon going to be needing to control their unhappiness, protests, and rebellions, so you use a combination of surveillance, propaganda from the mainstream media, rights/freedoms reductions, and brute force. See How America Was Lost: From 9/11 to the Police/Welfare State, National Security and Double Government, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government, and The Rise of the American Corporate Security State.

The U.S. is run by neocons who utilize militarized accumulation and empire building. This involves making wars and undertaking interventions that unleash cycles of destruction and reconstruction, and generate enormous profits for an ever-expanding "military-prison-industrial-security-energy-financial complex." We are now living in a global war economy, but its most important feature is the robbing of wealth from the 99.9% (us) to fill the coffers of the 0.1% (them)—the oligarchs. See Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, The Neoconserative Threat to World Order: America's Perilous War for Hegemony, and Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance.

The nursery rhyme "Jack Sprat could eat no fat. His wife could eat no lean . . . ", etc., makes us all exclaim "these folks need to learn the word balance."

The reason community vs. individualism doesn't hit us the same way as achieving a healhy balance between fat and lean is that we are too close—we've drunk the capitalist Kool-Aid and are now like the fish who, when told about water, accuses us of smoking too much wacky tobacky: it sees no such thing (anymore than we see air). We believe in capitalism and individualism—period, although token lip service is paid to community. But effective community will not figure into unrestrained capitalism and individualism ideals, nor will effective post-corporate world living. Community is supposed to be the balance between civic involvement and individualism—a group of people doing their individualist thing in the context of community involvement—see The Responsive Communitarian Platform. Korten says there is no conflict between community and individuality—indeed in a healthy living system they support and strengthen one another; life is telling us that capitalism and communism/collectivism are both pathological extremes. Spock from Star Trek told us that "Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." But, again, balance should trump either option. See Why Do We Need Communities?.


The Cooperation of Community Requires Win-Win Character But People Are All Raised Win-Lose

But this superficial balance (community balanced by individualism) unravels when we dissect individualism and see that not only is there very little community involvement (see Bowling Alone and Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?), but the win-lose definition of individualism is inherently win-lose, the exact opposite of the definition needed for the cooperation of community. It's the zero-sum Donald Trump definition of individualism which states that "it's not whether you win or lose, but whether you win!" which is a way of saying that there is no intrinsic joy in doing or playing anything, there's only real joy if you kick someone's ass. This win-lose context is a perfect example of the hollowness of most steep-gradient-nurturance-raised people, who are run by oedipal and sibling rivalry emotions that drive them to succeed by climbing over the corpses of rivals, and in the process completely missing the point to life.

Individuals that succeed by climbing over the corpses of others are anti-people, anti-human, anti-community, and anti-life. This is what capitalism has turned into. Microsoft and Google relate to companies by killing them, acquiring them and then killing them, or acquiring them and assimilating them like a Borg spaceship so they no longer exist—and, yes, resistance IS futile. Like Trump says, it's not whether you win or lose, but whether you win, and no matter what megacorporations of the corporatocracy do with other companies, one thing's for sure: they insist on winning and this involves climbing over the corpses of rivals. Like gladiators. We have created an economic system with characteristics that most resemble those of a cancerous tumor. We need to get cured.

Gladiators illustrate what capitalism has turned into: killing others, which is an alienated death ideology, not a vibrant, dynamic life ideology like Korten's healthy market economy
Gladiators illustrate what capitalism has turned into: killing others, which is an alienated death ideology, not a vibrant, dynamic life ideology like Korten's healthy market economy

On average a hundred local stores will go out of business for each Wal-Mart opened, most of them family businesses that have served their communities for decades, sometimes generations. As the Borgs say: we will assimilate—resistance IS futile.

The message of Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence is at once simple and profound. We have a choice to give our lives over to making money to buy “stuff ” we neither want nor need. Or we can get clear on what brings us real happiness, take control of our spending, and get a life.

Small actions and choices can have major, although unpredictable, effects in determining what comes next. Among the possibilities is that the thousands of experiments and millions of choices to live more consciously will coalesce into a new civilization that fosters community, provides possibilities for meaning, and sustains life for the planet.—Sarah Vangelder


Healthy Life Needs Place-Based Communities That Reward Cooperation

The wisdom of healthy life in Korten's view is that it favors self-organization, is frugal and sharing, depends on inclusive and place-based communities, rewards cooperation, depends on boundaries, banks on diversity, creative individuality, and shared learning. Human economies can and should nurture cultural, social, and economic creativity and diversity and share information within and between place-based economies. These conditions are the keys to system resilience and creative transcendence. And the design of post-corporate world living would favor village and neighborhood clusters. We are living beings and our healthy function depends on our participation in a biocommunity, which by its nature is necessarily place-based, NOT cybercommunity, which can at best act as a support group. See Why Do We Need Communities?.

Elder care
Elder care

The author tells us that many of the designs for post-corporate world living are modeled on successful ecovillage and cohousing experiments. A typical pattern involves modest row houses of varied designs, based on local materials and adapted to local climate, clustered around courtyards with lawns, playgrounds, and flowerbeds. Spaces between housing units are used for small gardens, composting, and raising small animals, such as chickens and goats, for food. Most living clusters bring together members of all generations, with older folks helping with housework, gardening, and child care and families sharing in turn with elder care. Except for the composting and goats, his description could be an MC. See Links to Drawings of Various Microcommunity (MC) Configurations.

A typical MC configuration, with a central common space for childcare, elder care, meetings, and recreation
A typical MC configuration, with a central common space for childcare, elder care, meetings, and recreation

Television and Other Media Promote Exclusively Materialistic Values

The use of television to promote exclusively materialistic values has become a massive mental health and public health problem for the United States and the world, says Duane Elgin. See Your Children Are Under Attack, Media Sexploitation, The Responsive Communitarian Platform, Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion, and Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite.

The consensual seduction of the mainstream media with power, corporate power, government power . . . is something that, without the antidote of independent reporting and analysis that you [Alternet.org] do and others, we would be in . . . a dark, dark pit with no light shining on us
The consensual seduction of the mainstream media with power, corporate power, government power . . . is something that, without the antidote of independent reporting and analysis that you [Alternet.org] do and others, we would be in . . . a dark, dark pit with no light shining on us (Source: Bill Moyers Discusses Independent Media and Fighting Back Against Unbridled Corporate Greed and Power)


Credit card debt
Credit card debt


The culture has said a resounding yes to us being a materialistic society of mice being conditioned to want more stuff that we don’t really need—look at credit card debt
The culture has said a resounding yes to us being a materialistic society of mice being conditioned to want more stuff that we don’t really need—look at credit card debt


The use of television to promote exclusively materialistic values has become a massive mental health and public health problem for the United States and the world, says Duane Elgin
The use of television to promote exclusively materialistic values has become a massive mental health and public health problem for the United States and the world, says Duane Elgin

Capitalism as It Is Now Practised Undermines Democracy, Human Rights, the Environment, Freedom, Security, and Privacy

Korten says that we've been taught that the victory of capitalism is the triumph of the market and democracy. Capitalism is an engine of wealth creation. Freed from the oppressive hand of public regulation, market forces will cause the world’s great corporations to bring prosperity, democracy, a respect for human rights, and environmentally beneficial technologies to all the world. These are the corporatocracy's and mainstream media's words, but they are lies.

Freed from the oppressive hand of public regulation, we got big economic problems in the 1980s and 1990s, and then in 2007-2008 we got the delightful market crash called the financial crisis of 2007–08. Regulation (to stop predatory lending and misrating stocks and derivatives misuse) and the S&P people not being sellouts could have prevented it. Capitalism as it is now practised undermines democracy, human rights, the environment, freedom, security, and privacy. It allows social darwinism to rule. Corporations (especially big ones) bring more wealth to the wealthy, but economic tragedy to most people—those that got, get. Just looking at how the U.S. corporatocracy ravaged the cultures, governments, environments, security and freedoms of many Latin American countries and some African ones in the late 1900s shows the real effects of unrestricted capitalism. Capitalism is an engine of wealth creation for the wealthy, but for the average citizen, it's an engine of wealth reduction. Korten's book illuminates the ways in which the institutions of capitalism are programmed both to deny and to deepen our environmental and social crises (see The Index Of Leading Cultural Indicators).

Capitalism is an engine of wealth creation for the wealthy, but for the average citizen, it's an engine of wealth reduction—it's a wolf in sheep's clothing
Capitalism is an engine of wealth creation for the wealthy, but for the average citizen, it's an engine of wealth reduction—it's a wolf in sheep's clothing

Why does the little guy get the shaft while the megacorporations get the gold? Korten says that what we know as the global capitalist economy is dominated by a few financial speculators and a handful of globe-spanning megacorporations able to use their massive financial clout and media outreach to manipulate prices, determine what products will be available to consumers, absorb or drive competitors from the market, and reshape the values of popular culture to create demand for what corporations choose to offer.

Why does the little guy get the shaft while the megacorporations get the gold? Because the game is rigged against the small and for the big
Why does the little guy get the shaft while the megacorporations get the gold? Because the game is rigged against the small and for the big

Capitalism Compares Poorly to Healthy Market Economies

The author displays a very intuitive chart Capitalism Against the Market that compares various factors for either capitalism or healthy markets. It is obvious that capitalism invites alienated, antihuman values and feelings and strategies while healthy markets invite human values and feelings and strategies. The U.S. learned about the perils of monopolies in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, but since Reagan pushed deregulations on an unwary Congress, there have been all kinds of mergers and monopolies and exploiting, much to the detriment of free trade and healthy competition.

The only reason the deregulation Kool-Aid was drunk by Reagan and the public was that hugely effective and expensive P.R. agencies taught the Reagan administration how to serve the Kool-Aid with devastating effectiveness
The only reason the deregulation Kool-Aid was drunk by Reagan and the public was that hugely effective and expensive P.R. agencies taught the Reagan administration how to serve the Kool-Aid with devastating effectiveness

There is an all too common reality of capitalism’s ability to create an illusion of prosperity by creating a speculative frenzy while actually undermining real productive activity. Unfortunately, there is also a willingness of governments to align themselves behind finance capitalism’s destructive power. Finance capitalism is the subordination of processes of production to the accumulation of money profits in a financial system. The meaning of the term financial capitalism goes beyond the importance of financial intermediation in the modern capitalist economy. It also encompasses the significant influence of the wealth holders on the political process and the aims of economic policy. The 21st century predominance of finance capital has led to a preference for speculation—Casino Capitalism—over investment for entrepreneurial growth in the global economy. A useful servant but evil master, money gains our loyalty by promising what only life can deliver.

There has been a qualitative transformation in the capitalist economy from investment-backed entrepreneurialism to casino economics
There has been a qualitative transformation in the capitalist economy from investment-backed entrepreneurialism to casino economics

Just as psychological alienation is an unnatural separation of humans from their potentials due to conformity pressures by parents and teachers and peers that make humans' real selves seem unacceptable so humans neurotically create false selves to please others, a similar system of estrangement occurs in finance capitalism. Investment for entrepreneurial growth is the underlying fuel of healthy market economies that function as extensions of healthy local ecosystems to meet the livelihood needs of people and communities. But speculation (the practice of engaging in risky financial transactions in an attempt to profit from fluctuations in the market value of a tradable good such as a financial instrument) in itself is estrangement from healthy market dynamics, or market alienation, if you will. Financialization can be defined as the shift in the center of gravity of the capitalist economy, from production to finance. But the continuation of such a “casino economy” over decades—albeit interrupted by credit crunches, with the central banks intervening as lenders of last resort to keep the whole game going—represented nothing less than a qualitative transformation in the capitalist economy from investment-backed entrepreneurialism to casino economics. Korten bemoans this degeneration of economics that seems qualitatively similar to Jesus seeing temples being used for money changing rather than prayer so he drove the blasphemers out.

Korten bemoans this degeneration of economics that seems qualitatively similar to Jesus seeing temples being used for money changing rather than prayer so he drove the blasphemers out
Korten bemoans this degeneration of economics that seems qualitatively similar to Jesus seeing temples being used for money changing rather than prayer so he drove the blasphemers out

Over and over we see the crash of financial bubbles created by financial speculation and reckless bank lending. Korten's book deals with all these things capably, making a strong case for capitalism actually delivering a fatal blow not only to life, but also to democracy and the market. It needs replacing. The strongest aspect of his book is the thorough way he makes his anti-capitalism case, giving lots of relevant and convincing examples. The weakest aspect—which is not his fault—is when he tries to describe how the world can possibly go from where we are now to a post-corporate world. He's got his work cut out for him to get the public to accept his recipe for capitalism's replacement.


Korten's Plan Has Missing Pieces This Website Very Capably Furnishes

In our opinion, convincing people to reconfigure their materialistic attitudes and worldviews to more spiritual-humanistic attitudes and worldviews is impossible unless they have a detailed plan describing how they can achieve the maturity, character, being-cognition, awareness, self-actualization, and wisdom to grow into this humanistic level of being naturally. Otherwise, a book like Korten's with a plan like Korten's can and sometimes will convince people to WANT TO reconfigure their materialistic attitudes and worldviews to more spiritual-humanistic attitudes and worldviews, but such enlightenment is not a product of wishing, hoping, and wanting. Even though one may revamp one's worldview paradigm from mechanistic to organic (or as Capra would say, ecological-holistic), that will not precipitate humanistic growth that will support Korten's goal of a just, sustainable and compassionate society ready for true democracy and true community. Why?

Convincing people to reconfigure their materialistic attitudes and worldviews to more spiritual-humanistic attitudes and worldviews is impossible unless they have a damn good detailed plan
Convincing people to reconfigure their materialistic attitudes and worldviews to more spiritual-humanistic attitudes and worldviews is impossible unless they have a damn good detailed plan

Here it gets tricky. Americans are brought up saturated with win-lose parenting, win-lose education, win-lose recreation, and win-lose work life. All win-lose. Yet true, good, effective democracy and community are all about win-win humanism, the opposite of everything we know and have experienced in every aspect of our upbringing. Our parenting is steep-gradient nurturing—which is win-lose. Our education is based on competing with others for grades—which is win-lose. Our recreation, whether sports or board games, is all about competition—which is win-lose. And in our jobs we are pited against others striving to stay employed by successfully competing with others in dog-eat-dog fashion—which is win-lose. And of course it goes without saying that all of this life experience is training for the wonderful world of capitalism—which is once again win-lose.

Regulations as barriers to a healthy and vibrant economy was a major big lie, but from the 80s on we drank the Kool-Aid
Regulations as barriers to a healthy and vibrant economy was a major big lie, but from the 80s on we drank the Kool-Aid

Predatory capitalism (Predatory Capitalism and the System's Denial in the Face of Truth) and the new global capitalism and finance capitalism and bubble creation via risky speculation and dabbling in derivatives are just dirtier forms of the same win-lose. Companies are pitted against one another in a death struggle to squeeze more and more money from consumers and a few strategic errors can mean companies perish and workers are pounding the pavement looking for a stronger company—or maybe just any company—to work at. See Predatory Capitalism, Corruption and Militarism: What Lies Ahead in An Age of Neocon Rule?.

"Unregulated profit-seeking corporations cannot be trusted to protect the Public, because their main objective is to make profits, not to be a do-gooder for the Public. Whenever profit-making conflicts with the Public interest, profit-making wins! Thus they become Predators on the Public, not Protectors of the Public" (Source: Predatory Capitalism: When Corporations Go Unregulated)

Korten's book The Post-Corporate World is a great book full of wisdom and insight. It is an important book since it guides many who feel hopeless or helpless to use the examples of others like themselves to become empowered to act. Korten's goals are laudable. As are his intentions. But his plan of how we grow to be a post-corporate world has missing pieces. Happily, this website can fill them in. He admits that there is no easy bridge from here to there, no magic formula or ten-step plan to follow. But we fear that without filling in the missing pieces, his plan for a post-corporate world (a world that sounds very pleasant and inspiring) will mostly frustrate his readers more than empower, although his examples of people making small changes or successfully pressuring for them to occur are inspiring and will aid many.

So read Beyond Discipline to see how win-lose can change to win-win in education. And read Flat-gradient Nurturance versus Steep-gradient Nurturance to see how recreation and parenting and relationships can get a more humanistic win-win context. Read The Responsive Communitarian Platform to see the basis of creating win-win community, and why community is something incompatible with the character formed in American win-lose lifestyles, and what it will take to create win-win character so community and democracy are acually doable. And better yet and best of all, read The Forest Through The Trees to see precisely how win-lose can change to win-win in parenting (you'll love it!). With this reading done, you're now in a position to see how to precipitate win-win, humanistic growth that will support Korten's goal of a just, sustainable and compassionate society ready for true democracy and true community and ready to kiss the "cancer" of capitalism good-bye.

The Forest Through The Trees
The Forest Through The Trees