This went out on November 26, just after the September 2008 financial crash and the November 2008 election of President Obama. It seemed an ideal moment for real change.
My apology for being totally out of touch for so long. Following publication of The Great Turning: From Empire I launched into the most active speaking tour of my life. The more stupid and destructive the policies of the U.S. government became under the misadministration of George W. the more I felt the need to focus the energies of the PCDForum on domestic education to spread awareness of the imperative and opportunity to move the United States beyond Empire. I have also been devoting a good deal of attention to YES! magazine and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), both of which are thriving and playing ever more critical roles in mobilizing action around a new vision of human and national possibility.
The Moment We Have Been Anticipating
Since our founding, the PCDForum has been spreading the message that we humans were heading over an environmental and economic cliff. The future we anticipated is here with evidence of environmental, social, and economic collapse all around us. The consequences are tragic with no real end in sight. The good news is that the economic collapse has captured attention in ways even the violent weather events of climate change have not. This combines with a breakthrough election outcome to create an extraordinary opportunity. We launched the PCDForum in 1990 to challenge conventional development wisdom and advance an alternative vision. The current collapse should serve as the ultimate stake in the heart of the neoliberal Washington Consensus. The most important part of our work as the PCDForum, which is to advance a new values based vision of economic possibility, is just beginning.
The U.S. Election
I am thrilled by the outcome of our recent election and the transition to President Barack Obama. It feels like a long overdue step to national maturity. Having a multicultural U.S. president whose life is grounded in a diverse international experience and understanding is an epic historic breakthrough. Fran and I knew Obama’s mother when we lived in Indonesia. Her office was directly next door to Fran’s in the Jakarta Ford Foundation Office. We never met Barack as he was living in Hawaii at the time, but we have a good sense of his early life experience, which was much like that of our own children. The election of this extraordinary man combines with the economic crisis to create an unprecedented opportunity to advance the deep change for which we have all been working.
Two Articles Framing the New Economy
I’m sending out the message below to a number of friends and colleagues about forthcoming articles in YES! and Tikkun that together present my most complete and radical framing of a new economy policy agenda. These articles address questions the economic summit just concluded in Washington, DC never asked. Hopefully the new administration will be more open and forward looking. Please share the message below with others as you are able.
Kat Gjovik, who coordinates the Great Turning Initiative communications and outreach effort will be sending out our first Great Turning Initiative newsletter next week, with links to these pieces. Susan Gleason of YES! is at this moment sending out the YES! article to a wide array of media and web contacts. YES! has become quite effective in stimulating viral web dissemination of our key articles and we hope this one will have a wide reach.
In follow-on to the publication of these articles, the Forum will be working with the Institute for Policy Studies in DC, YES! magazine, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, and others to create a New Economy Working Group that will develop and promote an economic agenda along the lines suggested by these two articles.
Since 2006 the Forum’s focus has been on popularizing the Great Turning from Empire to Earth Community frame as a way to deepen understanding of the nature of our time and the work at hand. We maintain the PCDForum website as largely archival. The Great Turning Initiative website supports our outreach efforts. I document my current thinking and activities on www.davidkorten.org.
I’d love to hear from you with reactions to these articles, thoughts on further development of the new economy agenda, news of your own work in this exceptional time of possibility, particular as it relates to the New Economy Initiative.
A New Economy Initiative
Our economic system has failed on every dimension: environmental, social, and financial. The current financial collapse is only the tip of the iceberg, but it provides an incontestable demonstration that our existing economic system has failed even on its own terms. Spending trillions of dollars in an effort to restore this system to its original condition is a reckless waste of time and resources. The more intelligent course is to acknowledge the failure and set about to redesign our economic system from the bottom-up to align with the realities and opportunities of the 21st century.
The essential role of government in this epic undertaking is to create a supportive policy framework within which people, communities, entrepreneurs, and responsible investors can bring forth this new economy free from the disruption of Wall Street institutions engaged in reckless speculation, corporate asset stripping, and predatory lending to extract unearned profits. Justified public outrage against Wall Street creates an opportune moment to eliminate this unnecessary economic burden. It requires a new policy framework favoring Main Street businesses and workers engaged in the socially and environmentally responsible production of goods and services that improve the lives of all.
I have written articles for the forthcoming issues of YES! and Tikkun magazines outlining a bold agenda for government action to put the needed framework in place. Both articles are now available on the web in final form and these links may be freely shared.
- David Korten, “Beyond the Bailout: Agenda for a New Economy,” YES!, Winter 2009 outlines an essential five-part policy framework to facilitate the work of responsible businesses, investors, civic organizations, and local governments engaged in growing a 21st century economy from the bottom up. PDF. See also the new YES! magazine web page featuring a number of YES! articles on the New Economy. YES! magazine is planning to devote its Summer 2009 issue to this theme.
- David Korten, ”After the Meltdown: Economic Redesign for the 21st Century,” Tikkun, November-December 2008 is explicitly addressed to President-elect Obama and includes my high dream for the economic address to the nation I hope he might deliver soon after his inauguration.