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June 28, 2007

The Great Turning

Oliver Markley hosted a discussion of the concepts in this book last night in Austin. It prompted an interesting discussion about the problems of American society and democracy. I'd be interested in any comments you may have about this book if you've read it.

The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community by David Korten, Berrett-Koehler, 2006

The following are excerpts from documents prepared by Oliver Markley:

SYNOPSIS OF THE ARGUMENT (selections from pp. 18 - 22)

The human species is entering a period of dramatic and potentially devastating change as the result of forces of our own creation that are now largely beyond our control. It is within our means, however, to shape a positive outcome if we choose to embrace the resulting crisis as an op¬portunity to lift ourselves to a new level of species maturity and potential.

THE CULTURAL TURNING. The Great Turning begins with a cultural and spiritual awakening. Economic and political turning can only follow a turning in cultural values from money and material excess to life and spiritual fulfillment, from relationships of domination to relationships of partnership, from a belief in our limitations to a belief in our possi¬bilities, and from fearing our differences to rejoicing in our diversity.

THE ECONOMIC TURNING. The values shift of the cultural turning calls us to turn from measuring well-being by the size of our yachts and bank accounts to measuring well-being by the health of our families, communities, and natural environment. It leads us from economic policies that raise those at the top to policies that raise those at the bot¬tom, from economic plutocracy to economic democracy, from hoarding to sharing, and from the rights of ownership to the responsibilities of stewardship.

THE POLITICAL TURNING. The economic turning creates the neces¬sary conditions for a turn from a democracy of money to a democracy of people, from passive to active citizenship, from competition for in¬dividual advantage to cooperation for mutual advantage, from retribu¬tive justice to restorative justice, and from social order by coercion to social order by mutual responsibility and accountability.

The outcome will depend in large measure on the prevailing stories that shape our understanding of the traumatic time at hand—its causes and its possibilities. Perhaps the most difficult and yet essential aspect of this work is to change our stories. …

The power of the institutions of economic and political domination depends on their ability to perpetuate a falsified and inauthentic cultural trance based on beliefs and values at odds with reality. Break the trance, replace the values of an inauthentic culture with the values of an authentic cul¬ture grounded in a love of life rather than a love of money, and people will realign their life energy and bring forth the life-serving institutions of a new era. The key is to change the stories by which we define ourselves. It is easier said than done, but I have found it to be a powerful strategic insight. [Emphasis added.]

Posted by Paul Schumann at June 28, 2007 9:34 AM


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