21 September 2009

Agenda for a New Economy - Review

Excerpt from review by Richard Clark of David Korten's book

'For all the societal and personal pain created by the recent financial collapse, it is in the larger view a blessing because it demonstrates so conclusively that the economy we had come to worship as an engine of perpetual wealth-creation was based on little more than fraud, delusion and self-deception. And now we have in this book the outlines of a path to a new economy.

Kortens basic message is that we can change the course of history by changing the `stories' (i.e. the assumptions and theories) that currently frame America's dominant culture. These currently prevailing `stories' celebrate the individualism, violence, greed linked to the pathologies of our collective human immaturity, while at the same time denying the potentials for community, love, and nurturing service that define the more mature aspects of human nature.

The turning from domination by Empire community to a more democratically based Earth community depends on changing these stories through conversations that make public the transformative inner wisdom we possess as individuals. Institutional change will follow from that.

The root causes of our current socioeconomic crisis are three-fold.

1. Overconsumption: Growth in human consumption, resulting from a combination of population growth and growth in consumption per capita is depleting the natural life support system of the planet, disrupting natural water cycles and climate systems, thereby posing an ever greater threat to ever more Earths inhabitants, human and otherwise.

2. Inequality: An unconscionable and growing concentration of financial power, in a world of ever more intense competition (for a declining base of material wealth) is eroding the social fabric to the point of widespread social breakdown. Hence the growing number of children who die each year, the vast majority from easily preventable reasons.

3. Pathological Governing Institutions: The most powerful institutions on the planet, global financial markets and the transnational corporations that serve them, are institutions of an empire dedicated to growing consumption and ever larger measures of inequality. These institutions convert real capital into financial capital to increase the relative economic power of those who live by money, while at the same time depressing ever more the wages of those who produce real value through their labor. These same deadly institutions respond to environmental and social crises with palliatives that sidestep the need to reduce overall consumption and reallocate resources from rich to poor - to do otherwise would be contrary to their legal and financial imperatives. So it is folly to expect the institutions that got us into the crisis to get us out of it.'

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