Yesterday morning, my beloved made a poignant and powerful comment. She had been reading the masterful book by Donal Anthony Foley Marian Apparitions, The Bible and the Modern World. And she was realising deeply how the lost authority of the Church had created a vacuum – a vacuum of Order. From a society once ordered by the Church, we had arrived at a society now ordered by Corporations.
And in saying words to this effect, she invoked the title of another masterful book I had read years ago: When Corporations Rule the World by David C. Korten.
Perhaps some of my readers will wonder why I praise such a book. The author is hardly writing from a Catholic perspective, let alone a traditional one. He shares many of the secular assumptions, which it seems to me are at the very root of our culture´s crisis. And if he has a spirituality to offer, it is one that borders on New Age spirituality – borders it, without mercifully, I think, fully crossing over.
Nonetheless, Korten seems to evince something like a New Age optimism, to the effect that if “we all pull together” we can overcome Corporate Rule of Planet Earth with human goodwill and perhaps a vague and ill-defined religionless spirituality …
As those who know this site will readily realise, all of this flies against what this reviewer believes! And of inestimably more importance than this reviewer’s opinion, it flies against much that the Church is proposing.
Yet with all these caveats in mind, I have to say that I still think the author has done a superb job on several fronts, at least. For he makes it very, very clear that what is ordering our world ever increasingly are the corporations, corporations which are rarely themselves ordered to anything Transcendent – but rather to the bottom line .
How many people I have met who seem to think that our new era is free, far freer than when we were “controlled” by the Clergy.
This is a book that can serve to awaken us to how very much we are being controlled today. How very much this supposed new era of freedom is in process of becoming the most unfree society the West has ever known …
And any Catholic who understands the history of the Church sufficiently deeply, can see that so often, rather than the Church trying to control us, it was the opposite: that the Church was trying to protect us from enslavement.
And this is still the case today. For it seems to me that such a concern was very much in the heart of the Holy Father, when he issued recently his third encyclical Caritas in Veritate– that the world needed Higher Order to prevent us being completely bullied and subdued by what St. John Paul II used to call Economism.
There are books that I have come to designate by the somewhat odd title of tree trunk. This is to say that when I want to get to grips with the main thrust of a subject, and do want not to get caught up in branches to the side or even foliage – that is, I do not want to be sidetracked by minutiae and esoterica – I search for a good tree trunk.
When Corporations Rule the World is the best tree trunk I know on its subject. Korten who has many years of experience within the business milieu, speaks with the authority of an expert. Indeed the Noble Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu summed up my perception of the author with his own endorsement: “This is a ‘must read’ book–a searing indictment of an unjust international economic order, not by a wild-eyed idealistic left-winger, but by a sober scion of the establishment with impeccable credentials.”
In a very enlightening, very engaging way the author takes us through the historical stages and developments that have led us further and further into a situation of decreasing political order and increasing corporate liberation – liberation that is to achieve ever greater powers of control over both governments and people.
Yes I have been helped by this book. And I trust it can help others too. And to that end I should like to quote something I wrote years ago for Amazon. com. Now these are long-ago words of a more naive and more liberal Catholic version of myself – but I stand by them.
I read this book feeling that I had found a mentor in this book, a man I could trust. A man whose heart was wide open. Whose thinking was careful. Whose credentials were deep. Whose tone was sober and unusually non-polemical and constructive. I knew I was reading a man who was not simply ranting, but was deeply committed to the human spirit, and who had actively dedicated his life to alleviating human suffering.
For this, and for all the other reasons cited in the positive reviews below, I absolutely urge you to read this book. It is profound and human and addresses the most burning issues of our times. It is absolutely the best book I know on this subject. I find myself almost begging people to read it … “
What can I say now? These days, I have less faith than ever in Korten´s Enlightenment influenced paradigm.
But I still think his is a noble, caring soul with a very great deal to give us in terms of diagnosing the malady of what he calls corporate libertarianism. Yes about the PROBLEM he speaks I believe with real authority and insight.
But as to the HEALING he proposes, I confess I have far less faith. In the others words, this book still comes very highly recommended by me for its descriptive value. Even if it for its prescriptive value, I cannot help but feel it falls short of the mark.
Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck
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