When Corporations Rule the World – David C. Korten

“A criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation.” Howard Scott

http://www.davidkorten.org/ ; http://livingeconomiesforum.org/                   Quote

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Korten David C. Korten (born 1937) is an American economist, author, and former Professor of the Harvard University Graduate School of Business, political activist and prominent critic of corporate globalization, “by training and inclination a student of psychology and behavioral systems”.[1] His best-known publication is When Corporations Rule the World (1995 and 2001).


  • Getting to the 21st Century: Voluntary Action and the Global Agenda (1990)
  • When Corporations Rule the World (1995 / Second Edition 2001)
  • The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism
  • Globalizing Civil Society: Reclaiming Our Right to Power
  • The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community. Berrett-Koehler. 2006-04-28. ISBN 1-887208-07-0.
  • Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth 2009 Berrett-Koehler ISBN 9781605092898


When Corporations Rule the World is an anti-globalization book by David Korten. Korten examines the evolution of corporations in the United States and argues that corporate libertarians have ‘twisted’ the ideas of free market economist Adam Smith‘s view of the role of private companies.

Korten critiques current methods of economic development led by the Bretton Woods institutions and asserts his desire to rebalance the power of multinational corporations with concern for environment sustainability and what he terms “people-centered development”. He advocates a 50% tax on advertising to counter-attack what he calls “An active propaganda machinery controlled by the world’s largest corporations constantly reassures us that consumerism is the path to happiness, governmental restraint of market excess is the cause of our distress, and economic globalization is both a historical inevitability and a boon to the human species.” [1]

Korten criticises consumerism, market deregulation, free trade, privatization and what he sees as the global consolidation of corporate power. Above all he rejects any focus on money as the purpose of economic life. His prescriptions include excluding corporations from political participation, increased state and global control of international corporations and finance, rendering financial speculation unprofitable and creating local economies that rely on local resources, rather than international trade.

In an article entitled “A Corporate Believer’s Turnabout” which appeared in the New York Times on November 25, 2001 writer Suzanne McCoy noted that Korten already practised what he preached in the book. “The Kortens live on Bainbridge Island, Wash., a spot in the Puget Sound near Seattle that Dr. Korten calls the ‘land of ecotopia.’ He can practice some of his suggestions here, he said, like buying wine from producers he knows personally.” [2]

In a review of the book in Left Business Observer #71 in January 1996, Doug Henwood observed that Korten “offers a vision of ‘a market economy composed primarily, though not exclusively, of family enterprises, small-scale co-ops, worker-owned firms, and neighborhood and municipal corporations.’ Much of this is desirable. But it would be impossible to run a complex economy on this scale only; it’s easy to imagine furniture being made this way, but not trains and computers. If Korten means to do away with trains and computers, he should tell us.” [3]


Building an Elite Consensus
Buying Out Democracy
Rise of Corporate Power in America
The Moral Justification of Injustice
The Decline of Democratic Pluralism
Adjusting the poor
Guaranteeing Corporate Rights
Race to the Bottom
An Awakened Civil Society


” With unfailing consistancy, U.S. intervention has been on the side of the rich and powerful of various nations at the expense of the poor and needy. Rather than strengthening democracies, U.S. leaders have overthrown numerous democratically elected governments or other populist regimes in dozens of countries … whenever these nations give evidence of putting the interests of their people ahead of the interests of multinational corporate interests. ” Michael Parenti, political scientist and author
“We are witnessing an unprecedented transfer of power from people and their governments to global institutions whose allegiance is to abstract free-market principle, and whose favored citizens are soulless corporate entities that have the power to shape and break nations.” Joel Bleifuss
” The Pentagon budget is part of the funnel by which public funds are transferred to the high-tech industries. ” Noam Chomsky
“True, the white man brought great change. But the varied fruits of his civilization, though highly colored and inviting, are sickening and deadening. And if it be the part of civilization to maim, rob, and thwart, then what is progress?” Chief Luther Standing Bear, 1933
” There is …a huge tacit conspiracy between the U.S. government, its agencies and its multinational corporations, on the one hand, and local business and military cliques in the Third World, on the other, to assume complete control of these countries and “develop” them on a joint venture basis. The military leaders of the Third World were carefully nurtured by the U.S. security establishment to serve as the “enforcers” of this joint venture partnership, and they have been duly supplied with machine guns and the latest data on methods of interrogation of subversives.” Edward Herman, economist and media analy
” As an economy measures performance in terms of the creation of money, people become a major source of inefficiency. “
“Corporations have been enthroned …. An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people… until wealth is aggregated in a few hands … and the Republic is destroyed.” Abraham Lincoln, American president, 1861-1865
” What we have is not a market economy. It is a corporately planned and controlled economy. ”
” We have a world in which a handful of corporations, dettached from any link to any place or community, have extended their power beyond the reach of most governments. “
” The U.S. has a centrally-planned economy, in many ways more tightly controlled than any state-planned economy that we have seen. “
” The political system … [is] enormously expensive. The only way you can raise the money to win an election is by appealing to corporate interests, which then means you’re in their debt and have to focus on their agendas.”
David Korten, economist and internationalist

About Alex Imreh

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