Cover image for When corporations rule the world
When corporations rule the world
Korten, David C.
Personal Author:
Paperback edition.
Publication Information:
West Hartford, Conn. : Kumarian Press ; San Francisco, Calif. : Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1996.
Physical Description:
x, 374 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD2326 .K647 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Our Choice: Democracy or Corporate Rule

A handful of corporations and financial institutions command an ever-greater concentration of economic and political power in an assault against markets, democracy, and life. It's a "suicide economy," says David Korten, that destroys the very foundations of its own existence.

The bestselling 1995 edition of When Corporations Rule the World helped launch a global resistance against corporate domination. In this twentieth-anniversary edition, Korten shares insights from his personal experience as a participant in the growing movement for a New Economy. A new introduction documents the further concentration of wealth and corporate power since 1995 and explores why our institutions resolutely resist even modest reform. A new conclusion chapter outlines high-leverage opportunities for breakthrough change.

Author Notes

David C. Korten is a cofounder and board chair of YES! Magazine, a cochair of the New Economy Working Group, the founder and president of the Living Economies Forum, a member of the Club of Rome, a founding board member emeritus of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, a former associate of the International Forum on Globalization, and a former Harvard Business School professor.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Beginning in the 1960s, social, economic, and political observers have expressed concern over the role of multinational corporations. As the global economy has evolved, it is the transnational corporation that provokes apprehension. In The New Realities (1989), Peter Drucker issued the early warning that the advent of the transnational company heralded a structural change in the world economy. Now Korten sounds loud the alarm. He blames the corporate quest for short-term financial gain for creating a "market tyranny that is extending its reach across the planet like a cancer, colonizing ever more of the planet's living spaces, destroying livelihoods, displacing people, rendering democratic institutions impotent, and feeding on life." The solution, he argues, is to "re-create societies that nurture cultural and biological diversity [and get] corporations out of politics . . . creating localized economies." Korten's critique and his solutions are bold and unequivocal. --David Rouse

Publisher's Weekly Review

This well-documented, apocalyptic tome describes the global spread of corporate power as a malignant cancer exercising a market tyranny that is gradually destroying lives, democratic institutions and the ecosystem for the benefit of greedy companies and investors. Korten (Getting to the 21st Century) points out his conservative roots and business credentials‘and then proceeds to finger such classic conspiracy-theory scapegoats as the Trilateral Commission and Council on Foreign Relations as the planning agents of the new world economic order he decries. Korten, founder of the People-Centered Development Forum, prescribes a reordering of developmental priorities to restore local control and benefits. Suggested reforms include shifting tax policies to punish greed and reward social responsibility, placing a 100% reserve requirement on demand deposits at banks and closing the World Bank, which he claims encourages indebtedness in nations that can't afford it. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Korten (Getting to the Twenty-First Century, Kumarian Pr., 1990) brings impressive credentials to the task of blaming large international corporations for many of the social and environmental problems confronting people all over the world. Using numerous well-researched examples, Korten argues that not only do today's corporations exploit labor and the environment, but governments (particularly the U.S. government), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, aid and abet this exploitation through policies that favor capitalists over workers and small business. Although Korten speaks from an obviously liberal position, in an era when conservative political voices declare an unswerving faith in the benefits of unfettered free markets, a voice from the opposition offers a welcome balance. Recommended for public and academic libraries.‘Andrea C. Dragon, Coll. of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, N.J. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Korten, a former academic with years of international development experience, paints a frightening picture of a world controlled by huge corporations. Many readers will agree with some of his arguments and strongly disagree with others. A major cause of many of the earth's problems, he says, is the dramatic growth in the power of the large global business corporation relative to that of the individual. Korten cites many examples of the consequences of such growth, such as ecological damage and the replacement of human culture with marketing culture. Traditional free-enterprise economic assumptions concerning growth, free trade, efficiency, and the proper role of government are challenged as placing the rights and freedoms of corporations ahead of those of individuals. Although powerfully written and persuasive, the arguments are somewhat diluted by occasional shallow reasoning and weak examples. The controversial presentation is balanced by a thought-provoking set of recommendations. All levels. L. J. Cumbo; Emory and Henry College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prologue: A Story for the Third Millenniump. 1
Part I The Deadly Talep. 19
1. The Sirens' Songp. 21
2. The Naked Emperorp. 37
3. The Midas Cursep. 65
Part II Life's Storyp. 85
4. The Incredible Journeyp. 87
5. Organism as Metaphorp. 103
6. Embracing Life's Wisdomp. 119
Part III Envisioning a Post-Corporate Worldp. 135
7. Responsible Freedomp. 137
8. Mindful Marketsp. 151
9. Economic Democracyp. 163
10. The Rights of Living Personsp. 183
Part IV Coming Home to Lifep. 209
11. Culture Shiftp. 211
12. The New Storytellersp. 225
13. Life Choicesp. 243
14. Engaging the Futurep. 261
Epilogue: Planetary Consciousnessp. 277
Notesp. 283
Indexp. 305
About the Authorp. 317