When Corporations Rule the World
David C. Korten
Copublished 1995 in the United States of America
by Kumarian Press, Inc. And Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

The point of departure of "When Corporations Rule the World" is the evidence that we are experiencing accelerating social and environmental disintegration in nearly every country of the world - as revealed by a rise in poverty, unemployment, inequality, violent crime, failing families, and environmental degradation.  These problems stem in part from a fivefold increase in economic output since 1950 that has pushed human demands on the ecosystem beyond what the planet is capable of sustaining.  The continued quest for economic growth as the organizing principle of public policy is accelerating the breakdown of the ecosystem's regenerative capacities and the social fabric that sustains human community; at the same time, it is intensifying the competition for resources between rich and poor - a competition that the poor invariably lose.

Governments seem wholly incapable of responding, and public frustration is turning to rage.  It is more than a failure of government bureaucracies, however.  It is a crisis of governance born of a convergence of ideological, political, and technological forces behind a process of economic globalization that is shifting power away from governments responsible for the public good and toward a handful of corporations and financial institutions driven by a single imperative-the quest for short-term financial gain.  This has concentrated massive economic and political power in the hands of an elite few whose absolute share of the products of a declining pool of natural wealth continues to increase at a substantial rate-thus reassuring them that the system is working perfectly well.

Those who bear the costs of the system's dysfunctions have been stripped of decision-making power and are held in a state of confusion regarding the cause of their distress by corporate-dominated media that incessantly bombard them with interpretations of the resulting crisis based on the perceptions of the power holders.  An active propaganda machinery controlled by the world's largest corporations constantly reassures us that consumerism is the path to happiness, governmental restraint of market excess is the cause our distress, and economic globalization is both a historical inevitability and a boon to the human species.  In fact, these are all myths propagated to justify profligate greed and mask the extent to which the global transformation of human institutions is a consequence of the sophisticated, well-funded, and intentional interventions of a small elite whose money enables them to live in a world of illusion apart from the rest of humanity.


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