The Great Turning:
From Empire to Earth Community
Dr. David Korten
Hope for the human future rests, therefore, not with institutions of power, but with the millions of individuals all around the world who are awakening, as if from a deep trance, to the reality of our collective crisis.
The human species faces an apparent paradox. We have embraced economic growth as our primary indicator of human progress. Yet as economic output and consumption grow the number of people forced into lives of dehumanizing deprivation increases and the quality of life of all but the wealthiest among us declines.
The reason is as simple as it is disturbing. Sometime toward the end of the Twentieth Century the human species passed over a critical threshold in its relationship to our home planet. Humanity's collective demand on the regenerative capacity of Earth's ecosystem grew to exceed the limit of what can be sustained. The more the economy grows the greater the demand, the more rapid the depletion of the living systems that are the source of all real wealth, and the more intense the unequal competition between rich and poor for what remains—a competition the poor invariably lose.
Travellers on a living spaceship, humans continue to live like cowboys on an open frontier—living out an old story in a new era. In deep denial and captive to the imperatives of global corporations and financial markets that value money more than life, those who hold positions of institutional power remain resolutely committed to policies that enrich themselves, but impoverish people, community, and planet. To create a world that works for all, public policy must give priority not to aggregate growth, but to using the resources of planet and society equitably and sustainably to provide healthy, fulfilling lives for all people and other living beings. It means reorganizing economic life to produce more of the things that people need—like food, shelter, clothing, education, and health care—and less of the costly things we do not—like military hardware, pollution, traffic jams, and crime.
Hope for the human future rests, therefore, not with institutions of power, but with the millions of individuals all around the world who are awakening, as if from a deep trance, to the reality of our collective crisis. Acting out of love, compassion, and a deep sense of responsibility to people and planet, they are rejecting the disempowering mantra that there is no alternative to a dysfunctional status quo, putting their bodies on the line to stall the forces of corporate globalization, and living a new story into being. They see the human future as a matter of choice, not destiny, and seek a world that works for every person and the whole of life.
Historically rooted in the struggle for economic justice for all people, the People-Centered Development Forum (PCDForum) is dedicated to nurturing this awakening and the alliance building that follows. It works in cooperation with civil society groups around the world to articulate and tell a story for our time that exposes the causes of our collective crisis and points to the possibility of creating a post-corporate, post-capitalist world of living democracies, mindful market economies, and authentic cultures. It reaches out to a global constituency through its books, articles, and public presentations.
The PCDForum's new lead publication, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, by Dr. David C. Korten, PCDForum founder and president, makes the argument that the contemporary consolidation of corporate 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 and offers a new framework to understand our current predicament, grasp the potential of this historical moment, and take action for the future of our planet, our communities, and ourselves. Groups across the United States and Canada are organizing Earth Community Dialogues based on the frameworks of The Great Turning. Information and supporting details are available at: www.thegreatturning.net. You will also find Great Turning resources at YES! magazine (www.yesmagazine.org).
Previous Forum publications include When Corporations Rule the World, which addresses the nature and consequences of corporate globalization and exposes the inherently anti-democratic and anti-market nature of the public traded, limited liability corporation. The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism, presents a framework for democratic, market-based alternatives that embody principles derived from the study of healthy living systems. The Forum's Living Economies Program is framing and documenting strategies for replacing the culture and institutions of a global suicide economy with the culture and institutions of a planetary system of living economies through a process of succession and displacement.
The Forum works in close partnership with the Positive Futures Network, publishers of YES! A Journal of Positive Futures, which is dedicated to enhancing awareness and facilitating alliance building in the cause of transforming a world dedicated to the love of money to a world dedicated to the love of life. As the PCDForum itself offers no public membership, those who wish to be personally involved are urged to contact the Positive Futures Network and subscribe to YES!
We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future ... To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth Community with a common destiny.
—The Earth Charter (2000)
David Korten, author, lecturer, and engaged citizen, is travelling throughout the US and Canada presenting the ideas of The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community—a powerful framework for understanding the critical choices before us. His speaking engagements in 2007 range from keynote addresses at major conferences, to grassroots Earth Community Dialogues, and large public presentations. For further information contact Positive Futures Network, PO Box 10818, Bainbridge Island, WA, 98110, USA, phone (206) 842-0216, toll free 1-800-937-4451, or visit www.davidkorten.com and www.yesmagazine.org.