5.0 out of 5 stars Brings Us Full Circle — Valuable as Remedial Education for All, June 27, 2015
David Korten has been one of my heroes and indirect mentors through his books for over a decade. His book The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community resonated deeply with me, and I completely agree that the premise of that book, to wit, people are the new (restored) super-power actualized through local resilience and global community.
This book takes on great importance as we reflect on the United Nations and its Sustainability Development Goals (SDG), combined with The Most Holy Father agreeing to visit the UN in September to deliver and encyclical that has been leaked, on climate change. This book can be considered the middle book, the book that brings a largely unconscious public, generally poorly read, up to speed with “the new story.” It is not a new story, as one reviewer archly observes, it is in fact the original story harking back to a time when our indigenous ancestors respected the Mother Earth, observed plants and animals as co-equal intelligence, forgot nothing through oral history, and generally acted as stewards of the earth. One of the best books showing before (Mayan, Aztec) and after (guns, germs, steel) is 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.
As I read through this book — stating with the index and notes as I usually do with books I know are vital — I was stunned to see the author include me in the notes for the first chapter, and more specifically the profile of me by Nafeez Ahmed, then a Guardian author and also the author of the very important A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It. What David Korton does not say in his note is the the overview I provide is a very explicit Graphic: Preconditions of Revolution in the USA Today, easily found online by searching for the post title. I could not be more pleased, and will also say, as a “Naked Truth” kind of guy who had to attend the Findhorn Summit on “The New Story” to better appreciate the limitation of the Naked Truth approach, that I appreciate this book all the more for having learned over the years that the facts simply will not make the case — the public needs a story.
I am moderately encouraged by this book and by signs I see of both emerging public power and emerging new open source everything technologies. What I do not see in this book is true cost economics. I am working my way through a book that complements this one, by my former political science professor Charles Bednar, Transforming the Dream: Ecologism and the Shaping of an Alternative American Vision, and I see already that the books go well together. The latter makes the point that our techno-industrial paradigm is at the end of its useful life, and a new paradigm, ecologism (based on the work of Herman Daly, among others, see especially For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future).
This past week it was my privilege to be the primary expert in residence for a NATO workshop on strategic foresight — I have published my interventions at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog as “NATO Strategic Foresight Wrap-Up” and anyone can gain an account at the Innovation Hub — and our general conclusion is totally consistent with what David Korten is saying that Charles Bednar and others (Richard Wolf, Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism (City Lights Open Media) Peter Linebaugh, Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (Spectre) for example) are saying: the old paradigm is dead — it is toxic. The new paradigm must focus on humanity, on life, on sustainable development. The time has come to abandon the scientific reductionism (cf. Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West) and the merger of political and financial crime (cf. Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History) and get on with honest self-governance such as Elinor Ostrom won a Novel Prize in documenting, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions).
Where the book falls short is in not providing the specifics of where we need to go as a public. I would start with electoral reform in the USA and the UK. As Bob Seelert, CEO of Satchi and Satchi Worldwide out of NYC likes to say, “When things are not going well, until you get the truth out on the table, no matter how ugly, you are not in a position to deal with it.” As the most published intelligence reformer in the English language I have spent a quarter century championing ethical evidence-based decision-support over spies and lies, and it was not until Tom Steyer confessed publicly that all his money on climate change was wasted, that I realized that in the absence of honest government no issue is going to get a fair hearing.
I would be very pleased if the author’s next book completed the trilogy will a practical focus “what is to be done?” For me it is obvious — an Open Source Agency that in turn funds a World Brain Institute, a School of Future-Oriented Hybrid Governance, and a United Nations Open-Source Decision-Support Information Network (UNODIN). My invited paper for the UN is easily found online (and is here at Amazon), my article for Spanda on Applied Collective Intelligence is free online, and my keynote to the Ecuadorean intelligence community of November 2014 also. These efforts of my own complement this book by David Korten, and could be a starting point for a practical revolution that integrates CrisisMappers, Buycott.com, Provenance.org, and a few other bits and pieces to create a hand-held true-cost “app” that buries specific corporations and anything owned by the Koch Brothers, overnight.
Holistic analytics, true cost economics, and open source everything engineering are the “naked truth” counterpoint to the “new story” that David Korten has placed before us. I cannot over-state the value of what he has done, it needed doing, needs more doing and it needs sharing. On this foundation, and I am out of links but want to salute Vaclav Havel’s Power of the Powerless and Howard Zinn’s A Power Governments Cannot Suppress, it is possible for We the People to abandon the paradigm that concentrates and celebrates money, and begin again to celebrate the paradigm that values all life and celebrates all life.
This book is a triumph and I pray it leads to the resurrection of intelligence with integrity among the sleep-walking public aptly pigeon-holed by Chris Hedges, another of my heroes, in his book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.
Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
OPEN POWER: Electoral Reform Act of 2015 – Open Source Activist Tool-Kit