David Korten’s classic bestseller, When Corporations Rule the World, was one of the first books to articulate the destructive and oppressive nature of the global corporate economy. Now, ten years later, Korten shows that the problem runs deeper than corporate domination—with far greater consequences.
In The Great Turning, Korten argues that corporate consolidation of power is merely a contemporary manifestation of what he calls “Empire”: the organization of society by hierarchies of domination grounded in violent chauvinisms of race, gender, religion, nationality, language, and class. The result has been the same for 5,000 years, fortune for the few and misery for the many. Increasingly destructive of children, family, community, and nature, the way of Empire is leading to environmental and social collapse.
The Great Turning makes the case that we humans are a choice making species that at this defining moment faces both the opportunity and the imperative to choose our future as a conscious collective act. We can no longer deny the need nor delay our response. A mounting perfect economic storm is fast approaching. A convergence of climate change, peak oil, and the financial instability inherent in an unbalanced global trading system will bring an unraveling of the corporate-led global economy and a dramatic restructuring of every aspect of modern life.
We cannot avoid the unraveling. We can, however, turn a potentially terminal crisis into an epic opportunity to bring forth a new era of Earth Community grounded in the life-affirming cultural values shared by most all the world’s people and eloquently articulated in the Earth Charter.
The Great Turning is an essential resource for those who understand this need and are prepared to engage what Thomas Berry calls the Great Work. It cuts through the complexity of our time to illuminate a simple, but elegant truth. We humans live by stories. We are held captive to the ways of Empire by a cultural trance of our own creation maintained by stories that deny the higher possibilities of our human nature—including our capacities for compassion, cooperation, responsible self-direction, and self-organizing partnership.
Changing our future begins with changing our stories. A work already underway, it ultimately calls out for the participation of every person on the planet. The Great Turning points the way to the inspiring outcome within our reach.
Table of Contents
Prologue: In Search of the Possible
Part I: Choosing Our Future
1. The Choice
2. The Possibility
3. The Imperative
4. The Opportunity
Part II: Sorrows of Empire
5. When God Was a Woman
6. Ancient Empire
7. Modern Empire
8. Athenian Experiment
Part III: America, The Unfinished Project
9. Inauspicious Beginning
10. People Power Rebellion
11. Empire’s Victory
12. Struggle for Justice
13. Wake Up Call
14. Prisons of the Mind
Part IV: The Great Turning
15. Beyond Strict Father Vs Aging Clock
16. Creation’s Epic Journey
17. Joys of Earth Community
18. Stories for a New Era
Part V: Birthing Earth Community
19. Leading from Below (excerpt)
20. Building A Political Majority (excerpt)
21. Liberating Creative Potential
22. Change the Story, Change the Future