Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by David C. Korten

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-887208-00-3
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler

 In this quixotic manifesto, development consultant Korten (founder of a Manhattan-based organization called the People- Centered Development Forum) has rather a lot to say against multinational corporations and for empowered communities sustaining themselves with traditional values and the judicious use of local resources. Laying virtually all the ills that planet Earth is heir to``violence, extreme competitiveness, suicide, drug abuse, greed, and environmental degradation''on the doorstep of commercial enterprise, the author decries the price of economic globalization. Nor does Korten much care for free capital markets, the putatively malign influence of money, television, large retailers, a host of transnational institutions (IMF, World Bank), allegedly elitist associations (Business Roundtable, Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission), and patent protection for genetic materials (reverently referred to as life forms). On the plus side of the author's ledger, there is sporadic praise for small, cohesive, and self-reliant societies organized in accordance with such principles as environmental sustainability, economic justice, biological and cultural diversity, and people's sovereignty. In the author's view, getting there from here will require some radical changes in the status quo. Among other arresting recommendations, he would abrogate the political rights of corporations, eliminate tax deductions for other than informational advertising, impose a tax on all financial transactions (to discourage speculative trading), give preferential treatment to community banks, levy taxes on packaging and other activities that presumably contribute to socioenvironmental problems, provide a guaranteed income for all, and ensure equitable allocations of paid employment. While vague as to just when his turn-back-the-clock millennium might occur, Korten professes to have no doubt that, with grassroots support growing, it is on the way. A communitarian tract longer on anticorporate bias than constructive proposals as to how a new age might be ushered in.