This is Exactly the Impossible and Unachievable Change We Need

Love Conversation Community
A bit of a homework assignment for you today, dear readers:

  1. Please take a look at this wonderful 4-page article by David Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World. This was the presentation David made at the conference I attended in Boston a couple of weeks ago. In it, David does the following:
    • Correctly identifies the causes of the social and environmental crises now facing us: overpopulation, overconsumption of resources, inequality and ‘institutional pathology’ (the fact that ‘private-benefit’ corporations are designed to increase consumption and inequality, instead of to advance the public good)
    • Prescribes what is needed: reduced consumption, redistributed wealth and power, reallocation of resources from harmful to beneficial uses, increasing ‘natural capital’ while reducing financial capital, and freeing up knowledge (removing intellectual property rights) to accelerate social innovation, adaptation and learning.
    • Calls for the breaking up and replacement of ‘private benefit’ corporations with rechartered ‘public benefit’ corporations with a mandate to produce what is needed for social and environmental health and well-being instead of to produce as much as possible as profitably as possible; these would serve as catalysts for the creation of a new decentralized, self-organizing economy consisting of self-reliant community-based economies, comprised in turn of locally-rooted, human-scale, fair-trade enterprises (what I have called ‘Natural Enterprises’).
    • Calls for leadership of citizens who reject capitalism ‘working from outside the existing institutions of elite power’, to educate others and demand ‘strong, active, democratically accountable governments to set and enforce rules’ to create this new economy.
  2. Then please take a look at my article from Tuesday, which the graphic above is from. You’ll notice that what Korten is calling for is precisely the model corresponding to the Natural social worldview in the lower left of this graphic: Natural Enterprises making up a Natural Economy operating within devolved-power, self-sufficient Natural Communities. 

What’s your reaction to Korten’s proposal? Mine was that it’s exactly the impossible and unachievable change we need. Citizens just don’t rise up against a dysfunctional socio-economic-political system and replace it with something else. And if they did, they would be fighting the government of the day to the death, since that government exists precisely to defend and sustain the existing dysfunctional economy. We are not going to have a collective anti-capitalist uprising and revolution, and even if we were governments certainly wouldn’t be responsive to it.

Let me say it again: Whether you want to change the political or economic system, save the whales, stop global warming, reform education, spark innovation or anything else, the answer is in how meaning, and understanding of what needs to be done, emerges from conversation in community with people you love, people who care.

That’s the way you see the solution to problems when you take the ‘feminine’ Natural social worldview in the lower right of the graphic above. If (let’s be optimistic, when) communities start having conversations about this, and start to really care about it, so it goes from the ‘nice to do’ list (that never gets done) to the ‘have to do’ list (that does get done) — when that happens, the kind of emergence of ‘what needs to be done’ is unlikely to be revolution, mass uprising, or pressuring of governments. The consensus on ‘What needs to be done’ is more likely to be a walking away from the existing economy, a refusal to do business with ‘private-benefit’ corporations, and the creation of local, mostly women-run cooperatives, Natural Enterprises within a cooperative local Natural Economy. We’ll just drop out of the industrial economy, and starve it to death. It’s our consumption that drives the current dysfunctional economy, after all.

I wonder if I can persuade my publisher, Chelsea Green, to give copies of my book on Natural Enterprise awayfree to aspiring women entrepreneurs.

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7 Responses to This is Exactly the Impossible and Unachievable Change We Need

  1. Mariella says:

    What moves us human beings is need… need produces a desequilibrium that makes us act …. so ¿how are we going to act towards these changes if we do not know we need them?

  2. Siona says:

    I have much more to say about this, but I’ll leave just a quick thought. It’s not ‘feminine’ as an alternative to ‘masculine,’ but the ability to balance and hold and revere both. The two poles need each other. I know you recognize this, but it’s so easy sometimes to sound as though one is being promoted over the other. ‘Feminine’ is not a solution. There is no solution. There’s only the ongoing play between both, and the process of keeping that game in motion. I’m only sorry that my intuition around that need for dialog between the two ‘voices’ or approaches is so deep as to be hard to express.

  3. Siona says:

    (Also, so much of your writing here–not to mention your process–reminds me of Jung’s work around masculine and feminine archetypes and the integration into wholeness at both the personal and collective levels. I’m not sure whether you’ve explored his thinking much, but it might provide you with a bit of language to work with around these topics, especially given that you already share his sensibilities around masks and personas…)

  4. Mike says:

    Dave, will your book be available as a free downloadable pdf? Such as Yochai Benkler did with _Wealth of Networks_ or Cory Doctorow does with all his works?I’ll gladly pay for a copy of your book, if you give it away for free first. I’ve purchased two or three of Doctorow’s works, even though I already read them in pdf form. I have no intention of reading them again, I’ll likely give them away.Having to actually work (using energy, generating heat) to buy a dead-tree version of something that should be free seems like a waste to me. Nonetheless, I’ll but a copy — just to put some coin in your pocket — if I can read it free first.Cory Doctorow has some good arguments for lesser-known authors to give their works away.

  5. Paul says:

    I’m glad you summarized Korten’s speech, because I don’t want to read another of his treatises. He is a good writer, seems smart, points to the right problems in the political/economic realm, but the proposals seem merely ideals to me. I think you’re right to turn away from the grand attempts at social engineering–exercises in wishful thinking–since these planners don’t know how to overcome the enormous popular resistance to those “progressive” or radical ideas/perspectives/values that seem so obvious to them. Dave, you claim that “meaning, and understanding of what needs to be done, emerges from conversation in community with people you love, people who care.” At least that formula is aiming closer to our personal reality, what makes us tick, while still allowing connections back to the larger social reality. And I’m sympathetic to a communal approach, rather than merely individual or a mass movement.But I don’t know how to just walk away from the economy, and how to bring others with me. In conversation with colleagues (more than half are women) at the non-profit where I work–caring progressives offering services to poor people who can really use the help–we don’t seem able to create a common understanding of what needs to be done. They believe the world is going to hell, or Clinton might be able to reverse the tide, or shopping and marriage is their best hope for happiness (but a lottery win and a good man better come along soon), or there’s nothing left but to plan for retirement and try to get their kids through college. Polyamorous, communal enterprise is completely foreign to them, as they seek security in lifelong monogamy and in (hopefully) steady jobs that keep the money flowing, though funds are always inadequate. A crash will make them more scared, but I’m afraid neither wiser nor more adventurous. Where do I find my comrades who can Let-Ourselves-Change?As your focus shifts to the people you love and you discover what needs to be done with them, I’ll watch with interest and with envy for your passion. Love on!

  6. lugon says:

    Siona’s comments remind me of Riane Eisler’s seminal book: “The chalice and the blade”. had to use the word “gylanic” to describe “woman-man balanced” societies.

  7. Vish Goda says:

    I am very impressed with David’s article. I do agree that we have taken the concept of private-benefit corporation, a little too far. In that, everything is fair in the name of the corporation and the next quarter. What happens beyond that does’nt really matter – does it?. I myself am getting close to product release, that I hope will set a new direction for our children. I refused to seek venture funding primarily, because, I did not want profit motives to drive its development and success. Rather, I wanted the value it generates for its community to motivate them to drive its financial success. I did not also, want the model to depend on vendors and corporations annoyingly peddling their products and services, but instead, for the community to set the standards for what should be peddled and what should not.The idea being that when the community does make it a success, I want most of the revenue it generates to be shared within the community, based of course, on their individual levels of contribution towards its success.However, what I am finding is that, for me to get even the community interested, the product needs a “social facelift”, meaning, it has to appear financially successful.The fundamental problem behind all this is that we are a society of consumers – even of wealth. There is very little motivation to go through the pains of creating something collectively and nurture it to success – the right, even if longer, way – but rather, there is a mentality to lay in wait for a good bargain. So, what I do have to end up doing is look for the funding that I will need to see it through it’s initial stages of release. There are investors who are interested but only a couple, who like the “revenue sharing” concept. And all of them are looking for a quick buck – they want everyone involved. Its a catch 22 situation. I must first start as a traditional private-benefit organization, in order to become a community-oriented model that I want itto become.

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