David Korten 3-Pack
"They strutted up and down the avenue, throwing out their chests and bidding the world stand to one side. They were 100 percent American big businessmen who took back talk from nobody. Now they take a handout wherever they can get it. Billions will be ladled into the mouths of these very individualistic big businessmen who, five years ago, were yelling their heads off about 'No government interference with business.' Now, they have put both feet in the public treasury trough and are yelling their heads off for government funds." Could be today's headlines, right? Not quite. It's from the "Progressive" magazine in 1934. History is instructive. The current meltdown could be seized as an opportunity to fundamentally alter our economy rather than restoring the unsustainable status quo ante with a few cosmetic changes. We can choose. Money or Life?
The Occupy Wall Street movement is growing. Mumia Abu-Jamal from his jail cell writes: "In Lower Manhattan's Zucotti Park, renamed 'Liberty Square' by the demonstrators, the cast of thousands swell in rebellion against the betrayals by the banks, Wall Street's relentless greed, the plague of joblessness and the craven servility of the political class, both Republicans and Democrats, to their moneyed masters. In short, the central focus of their protest is capitalism, greed writ large. Begun mostly by unemployed urban youth, it has drawn the presence and support of public workers, students, teachers and a considerable number of gray hairs. That's because social discontent is so widespread that it is spreading like wildfire. From Wall Street to Denver, Los Angeles, and beyond. Demonstrations are springing up like mushrooms after a storm, in protest to crony capitalism."
Since the beginning of time people have been telling stories from Gilgamesh in Iraq to The Odyssey in Greece. These tales convey lessons and societal values and warnings about arrogance. The U.S. spins its own yarns. Take say, the one about brave pioneers who fought off savage Indians to settle the country and establish dominion from coast to coast. That Indians were defending their land against invasion is, well, an inconvenient fact. Fast forward to today and there are stories about the economy. If you work hard enough you’ll be justly rewarded. Money is everything. The market is all knowing. Bow before it. Worship it. The Earth is simply a source of raw materials. Inequality and environmental destruction are unfortunate but unavoidable. How do you change the narrative, change the story to reflect an ethical, compassionate and nurturing worldview?
David Korten was an insider in the development establishment for several decades. He worked for the Ford Foundation and USAID and taught at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business. Having severed his ties to the past, today he is a leading voice for economic and social justice. He is co-founder and board chair of YES! magazine. He is the author of When Corporations Rule the World, The Great Turning and Change the Story, Change the Future.