The Post-Corporate World | David C. Korten

Summary of: The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism
By: David C. Korten


In ‘The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism’, David C. Korten guides readers through an awakening to understanding the values of life and the importance of balance, synergy, and harmony within our world. At the same time, he outlines the dangers posed by the world of money and capitalism, which focuses on unrestrained growth, exploitation, and the objectification of life. Korten takes time to analyze the fundamental concepts of capitalism and elaborates on the essential building blocks that help preserve life on Earth. He targets the pressing issue of climate change, environmental degradation and the widening socio-economic gap, urging readers to shift their focus towards community, self-organization, sustainability, and cooperation.

Earth’s Crisis Calls for Awakening

The book argues that we have come to a critical point in the existence of our planet. It urges us to assume responsibility before it is too late, advocating for a political and spiritual awakening. The author emphasizes the need to prioritize the spirit over material wealth to avoid damage beyond repair. The call to action is for humanity to seize control of its destiny and work collectively towards a sustainable future. The message is clear: we must act now to revive Earth before it’s too late.

The Battle Between Two Songs

The book explores the clash of two worlds – the world of life and the world of money – and their impact on humankind. The world of life embodies the fundamental building blocks necessary for life while the world of money thrives on sustained growth in trade, profits and tax receipts. While the former promotes balance and respect, the latter puts a price on everything, including life and dominates our existence. The battle for the soul of humankind between these two songs is ongoing, and the book delves into the ensuing consequences and possible solutions.

The Illusion of Capitalism

The book’s section explores the hidden facets of capitalism that limit global economic success. It begins by explaining the original concept of capitalism and how it differs from its present-day manifestation. The economic structure today only benefits the privileged minority, which goes against Adam Smith’s democratic, self-managed economy. Capitalism pretends to support a healthy market economy, masking the harmful effects it has on society. The section explains the conditions needed for an ideal market economy: balance, full information, national investments, and the creation of productive capital. Then, the author deftly compares this with the myth of King Midas, who learned a valuable lesson that money is worthless if it destroys life. The book goes ahead to reveal how capitalism aggravates environmental and social problems while prioritizing financial gains over life.

The Illusion of GDP Growth

The calculation of GDP involves depreciation being counted as a positive contribution to output, leading to an illusion of growth. The depletion of nonrenewable resources is not subtracted from GDP growth, and corporations’ profits come at the cost of society. The triumph of capitalism is at the expense of the majority.

Depletion of Capital

Natural, human, social, and institutional capital deplete as a result of unsustainable practices including strip-mining, over-fishing, substandard working conditions, hazardous waste dumping and corporate bailouts resulting in the weakening of environmental, health, and labor standards that are fundamental to the long-term health of society. Communities feel the negative effects of businesses that relocate in search of lower operating costs, union-breaking, and lower wages, leading to social capital depletion. Workers are at risk of ailments caused by subpar working conditions that lead to human capital depletion. Additionally, millions of dollars are spent on campaigns to win public subsidies for businesses, resulting in institutional capital depletion.

Learning from Nature

The natural world offers valuable lessons about self-organization, cooperation, and sustainability. Life rewards those who prioritize frugality, equitable resource-sharing, and recycling. The key to a sustainable human economy is to align with nature’s principles of freedom of choice, cooperation, and diversity. In contrast, capitalist systems that prioritize individual gain and control are unsustainable and detrimental to the whole. To create a thriving economy, it is imperative to champion the needs of the community as a whole, adapt to physical surroundings, and foster creativity and diversity. Ultimately, we need to view our economy as a shared living capital that depends on our collective ability to learn from and cooperate with the natural world.

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