Protect Democracy & Expose Western Liberal Democracy


This is a re-posting compilation of three pages of the very informative website Living Economies Forum about: The People-Centered Development Forum (PCDForum) organization:

The People-Centered Development Forum

LOOKING FOR THE PCDForum WEBSITE?

Our former pcdforum.org, davidkorten.org and greatturning.org sites are now integrated into this livingeconomies.org site. Most material from thse sites of current or historical relevance is available here. You will find most of the content from pcdforum.org (also pcdf.org and developmentforum.net) under the “About Us” or “Library” sections. If you having difficulty finding a particular favorite item, try our site search function at the top right of this page.  Also see “About Us.

Our History

David Korten

The People-Centered Development Forum (PCDForum) [see also “About Us“] is the legal name of our organization. We trace our origin to March 1987, when more than a hundred leaders of non-governmental organizations and other development professionals from forty-two countries met in London for a Symposium on “Development Alternatives: The Challenge for NGOs.” Participants concluded that conventional development has failed and that officially favored prescriptions disempower and impoverish the majority of people and destroy the environment.

It became evident to many of us that the leadership for change would not come from the World Bank, the IMF or official agencies that remained committed to failed prescriptions. Change would depend on voluntary citizen leaders acting outside the establishment.

The founders of the PCDForum were among a then small and lonely band that stood up to challenge the prevailing growth-centered economic development mode. Recognizing the need for a global support group, we launched the PCDForum on January 1, 1990. Our office was in the Makati financial district of Manila, Philippines. A few months after our founding we released Getting to the 21st Century: Voluntary Action and the Global Agenda authored by David C. Korten, to carry our framing message to the world:

The human burden on the earth’s ecosystem already exceeds sustainable limits. Growth-centered economic policies increase this burden, accelerate the breakdown of the earth’s regenerative systems, and intensify the competition between rich and poor for the earth’s remaining real wealth. The result is a three-fold human crisis of increasing poverty, environmental destruction, and social disintegration. Growth-centered development must be replaced with a development that strengthens the self-reliant capacity of people and communities to better use their own resources to meet their own needs. Because official aid agencies are captive to internal structures and imperatives that serve the flawed logic of growth-centered development, leadership for change must come from citizen volunteers motivated by life-centered values rather than conventional economic and political rewards.

From 1990 through 1997 the Forum maintained an Information Service that distributed path-breaking think-pieces to cooperating publications around the world. By the end of 1991, the Forum had signed on 86 leading intellectual activists from 31 countries to as contributing editors who made regular contributions. By the end of 1997, some 200 people had served as PCDForum Contributing Editors at one time or another. They were, however, no longer a lonely and isolated band and the PCDForum Information Service no longer fulfilled a distinctive role.

Recognizing that the issue went well beyond the dysfunctions of myopic official aid agencies that the United States is the primary driver of the dysfunction, we moved the Forum’s office from Manila to New York City in 1992 and gradually began to focus our attention on the institutions of corporate globalization.

In 1994 we joined a parallel conversation with a global group of activists who formed the International Forum on Globalization (IFG). For nearly 10 years, the IFG served as the leading voice of a growing global citizen resistance against corporate globalization.

The PCDForum launched When Corporations Rule the World, by David Korten in October 1995. It become an international best seller and opened the Forum’s access to radio, television, and mass print media reaching millions of people. The second edition, which was released in April 2001, documented the global resistance movement that emerged subsequent to the release of the first edition.

It became increasingly evident that although resistance against a destructive economic system is essential, it only slows the damage. Change depends on active citizen engagement in building alternatives. To this end, the Forum took a lead role in establishing YES! Magazine dedicated to advancing awareness of positive alternatives and assisting individuals in finding their place of contribution toward their realization.

In March 1999 we released The Post-Corporate World:
Life After Capitalism
, which applies principles derived from the study of living systems to the creation of economies that serve life rather than money. This led to our contribution in 1991 to founding the Business
Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) to support local organizers in rebuilding local economies grounded in living system principles.

A few months later, the historic November 1999 Seattle protest against the World Trade Organization (WTO) by a broad alliance of labor, religious, environmental, youth, peace, women’s, gay and lesbian, human rights, sustainable agriculture, food safety and other groups marked a defining moment in the emergence of what eventually became known as global civil society. Successful disruption of the WTO negotiations inspired millions of people around the world to participate in similar protest actions in an expression of global solidarity.

In 2005, we launched The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community to put these events into a larger evolutionary and historical context. We focused on communicating and mobilizing around the Great Turning framework until the global financial collapse of September 2008. The collapse focused global attention on Wall Street excesses and opened an unprecedented window of opportunity to address the need for economic system transformation.

We launched the 1st edition of Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth in January 2009 to make the case that reforming the Wall Street system is not an answer. It must be replaced. We simultaneously joined with the Institute for Policy Studies in DC, YES! Magazine, and BALLE to form the New Economy Working Group to further develop the New Economy framework and advance its implementation.

The updated and expanded 2nd edition of Agenda for a New Economy was released in June 2010 as a report of the New Economy Working Group.

The Forum’s Defining Books

These books represent the progression of my primary contributions to framing a New Economy grounded in living system principles. Agenda for a New Economy, The Great Turning, The Post-Corporate World, When Corporations Rule the World, and Getting to the 21st Century defined critical stages in the Forum’s now more than 20 year campaign to change the stories that frame the economic discourse of our time. <See The Forum and the Economic Story Revolution> Note that this list puts the most recent first. To follow their story in chronological sequence, start from the bottom with Getting to the 21st Century.

Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth
A Declaration of Independence from Wall Street.

Agenda for a New Economy 2nd edition cover“The most important book to emerge thus far on the economic crisis. David Korten provides real solutions.”

— Peter Barnes, cofounder of Working Assts and author of Capitalism 3.0

This updated and expanded 2nd edition of Agenda is my most current and comprehensive effort to lay out a holistic New Economy agenda and a path to its realization. It brings together the spiritual, evolutionary, and historical perspectives of The Great Turning, the living systems perspective of The Post-Corporate World, and the critical organizational systems analysis of the failings global corporate capitalism of the 1st edition of When Corporations Rule the World, and the insights into the emergence and dynamic of global civil society of the 2nd edition of Corporations. The underlying message is clear and simple: Wall Street is corrupt beyond repair and serves no useful functions now better addressed in other ways. It must be replaced.

This new edition of Agenda is issued as a report of the New Economy Working Group (NEWGroup), which I helped to form following the financial crash of 2008 to take to the next level the policy framework outlined in the first edition of Agenda. The result of a year and a half of NEWGroup effort is a considerably more coherent and holistic systems agenda. It launched on June 12, 2010 in Washington, DC in the shadow of the capital building.

Perhaps the most significant advance is in the treatment of the money system as a system of power and the examination of critical money system design options and their implications. This provides the basis for a more systemic and nuanced treatment of key design choices needed to shift the values focus from money to life and the locus of power from global financial institutions to people and place based communities—call it a transition to real markets and democracy.

The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community:

(2006) I wrote The Great Turning to put the economic crisis in its deeper spiritual, evolutionary, and historical context. It became evident following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Towers that the global citizen movement that emerged in response to the devastation wrought by corporate globalization needed a larger organizing framework. Events following the attack, drew attention to the fact that  the  rise of modern corporate power is only a modern manifestation of much deeper psychological, cultural, and institutional forces that have shaped the dominant human societies for 5,000 years. I joined with Nicanor Perlas from the Philippines and Vandana Shiva from India to examine the implications. We presented our conclusions in a discussion paper titled “Global Civil Society: The Path Ahead” released in November 2002. This paper in turn became a foundation for The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community.  For more on this book and why I wrote it see “Everybody Wants to Rules the World: David Korten on Putting an End to Global Competition,” an interview by Arnie Cooper published in The Sun, September 2007.

David Korten never fails to shake me out of my complacency, and reveal complacencies I didn’t even know I had. This work is a stunning and compassionate tour de force, calling on history, science, economics and our human goodwill to illuminate the fact that we are at a fundamental choice point. I can’t stop thinking about the issues he raises nor what I’m going to do with my awakened consciousness. Thank you David.
—Margaret J. Wheatley, author Leadership and the New Science

Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World is Possible

The International Forum on Globalization (IFG) played a defining role in exposing the reality of corporate globalization and inspiring the global resistance movement. It was one of my primary affiliations during this period and a major influence on my work. The IFG formed around a shared critique. As that critique gave impetus to popular mobilization around the world, other IFG members joined my call to move beyond resistance and seize the initiative by framing and advancing a positive alternative to the free-trade, market deregulation regime being advanced by the world’s transnational corporations. We decided to produce a book length report presenting such a framework. I was an active member of the international team of 21 movement leaders who produced Alternatives to Economic Globalization under the editorial leadership of John Cavanagh and Jerry Mander. Our report spells out a more coherent and fully developed alternatives to the current rules and institutions of economic globalization than any previous such effort.

The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism  (1999)

This visionary, life-affirming sequel to When Corporations Rule the world sold over 25,000 copies in eight languages.

As the emerging global resistance movement against corporate globalization’s assault against democracy, community, and the natural environment gained momentum, it became clear that any individual victory would be only temporary until the life-destructive economic system is replaced by a life-serving system. We needed a compelling framework to demonstrate the power and natural potential of a radically decentralized community rooted economic system that defines a positive alternative to the ills of both capitalism and socialism.

I found the needed framework in insights from a small band of biologists working at the cutting edge of biology who were unraveling the secrets of life’s extraordinary capacity self-organize, innovate, and ever advance the boundaries of the possible. Their path breaking findings about life’s capacity for creative self-organization became the foundation of The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism, which makes the translation from biological systems to economic systems to demonstrate the true potential of rule-based market economies that honor the foundational assumptions of grounded market theory.

When Corporations Rule the World (1995 & 2001)

Classic international best-seller with worldwide sales over 120,000 copies sold in fifteen languages.

As Fran and I moved from Manila to New York City in 1992, it was becoming ever more clear that the economic dysfunctions we witnessed in Asia were systemic, global, and a consequence a global consolidation of corporate power. Far from bringing universal prosperity, peace, and democracy, corporate globalization was spreading deprivation, violence, and political corruption.

I flew back to the Philippines in October for a ten day retreat in Baguio with a small group of Asian NGO leaders to reflect on  Asia’s development experience and its implications for future NGO strategies in the region. The conclusions of this retreat became the basis of a collective report titled “Economy, Ecology & Spirituality: A theory and Practice of Sustainability,” which outlined many of the ideas developed in my subsequent books and served as the foundation for  the first edition of When Corporations Rule the World.  One conclusion of this retreat that has shaped the work of the Forum ever since is that the need is not for an alternative theory of development, but rather a theory of a just and sustainable society that embraces the spiritual dimension of life and community.

I became involved in the earlier gatherings of the International Forum (IFG) in 1994 as I was completing the manuscript for the book, which was in turn influenced by those conversations with many of the leaders of what was to become a global resistance movement against corporate globalization, which was in turn shaped in part by the messages of the book. The first edition was launched in the Fall of 1995, just before the historic IFG teach-in at New York’s Riverside Church that brought the issue of corporate globalization to the fore of the consciousness of progressive leaders from throughout North America.

The first edition makes no mention of a global resistance movement, because it was not yet visible by the time of the launch. From the Fall of 1994 forward the resistance quickly grew in size and visibility. The success of the November 1999 demonstrations against the WTO in Seattle gave the movement global visibility, disrupted the process of multilateral trade negotiations, and energized ever larger protests. By 2000, When Corporations Rule the World had become an international classic. At the urging of my publisher I wrote an updated 2nd edition that launched in early 2001 with five new chapters on the further advance of the global corporate takeover and the nature and dynamic of the then powerful global resistance.

Getting to the 21st Century: Voluntary Action and the Global Agenda (1990)

I wrote or edited 6 books prior to Getting to the 21st Century, all addressed primarily to people working on problems of Third World development. This one represents a critical transition to a focus on global systems failure and the essential role of citizen action in addressing it. I was critical of the drive for growth at all costs, but growth was so at the forefront of the consciousness of the audience I hoped to reach that I equivocated with a call for a different kind of growth that begins with policies to increase equity and builds growth on that foundation. I largely finessed the larger issue, as so many economists still do, of what Herman Daly famously called the “impossibility theorem” that infinite growth is possible on a finite planet.

I continue, however, to hold to the book’s central message that our most powerful government institutions lack the capacity for self-transformation. Therefore, the essential transformational system change necessarily depends on the leadership of people willing to forgo conventional institutional financial and political rewards. Getting to the 21st Century thus anticipated the emergence of global civil society as a people power counter to the forces of corporate empire and framed the initial guiding vision of the People-Centered Development Forum (PCDF).

About Us

Our Website

This website integrates three previous sites maintained by David Korten and the People-Centered Developments Forum (PCDForum): davidkorten.org, greatturning.org and pcdforum.org. It serves as the web home of David Korten, the PCDForum, and the Forum’s work on the themes defined by our two most recent books: Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community.

Most websites reflect the chaos and clutter of modern sound-bite communication. Our goal with this Living Economies Forum Website is to help our visitors cut through the clutter to see and understand the big picture from a systems perspective. We undertake this challenge not as an academic exercise, but because we believe a systems framework is essential to effective action to create a future that works for all our children.

In addition, we have designed this site to serve as a portal to our partner organizations and to David Korten’s current thoughts and commentary on Twitter, Facebook, and his blog at yesmagazine.org.

Founded in 1990 as the People-Centered Development Forum, the Living Economies Forum works with and through partner organizations and a circle of extraordinary colleagues to articulate and communicate framing ideas that light the path to a New Economy grounded in positive living system principles that recognize life’s extraordinary capacity for cooperative self-organization.

We are a small organization with an ambitious vision and a proud history paralleling the historic emergence of global civil society. [See The Forum and the Economic Story Revolution.] We are currently based  in the United States near Seattle, Washington on Bainbridge Island.

Since the time of our founding, we have been a global leader in efforts to expose the fallacies and illusions relating to economic growth models, corporate led economic globalization, and the Wall Street phantom-wealth machine. We are currently focused on advancing awareness of New Economy alternatives based on real-democracy and real-markets.

Our Logo

Our spiral logo symbolizes life’s continuing process of renewal as the dying of the old gives way to the birthing of the new. It is evocative of the Ollin, an ancient Aztec symbol for movement and evolution. Here it signifies this historical moment when we humans may perceive and actualize new possibilities latent in our being.

Our Name

When the Forum was founded in 1990, our defining concern was that Third World development programs and policies too often gave greater priority to producing financial returns than to improving the lives of people. We observed millions of people being displaced from the lands and waters that were their source of livelihoods to make way for “development” projects that served those already better off.

We founded the People-Centered Development Forum to advance a dialogue aimed at making people the centerpiece of development. That was more than 20 years ago.

Our analysis, language, and reach have since evolved. To serve people, the economy must serve the whole of life and the very meaning of the term development has become corrupted beyond redemption. We must come to think of economies as flows of life energy rather than flows of money. Thus, we present ourselves here as the Living Economies Forum devoted to defining a living future of living communities, service by living economies comprised of living enterprises with living owners. We support living markets of the sort envisioned by Adam Smith, who recognized that markets work best when they are predominantly local and operate within a framework of shared moral principles and sensible rules.

Our Organization

We have two full-time staff. David Korten serves as president and Kat Gjovik serves as director of communications and outreach. We have a five member governing board, an international advisory board, four primary partner organizations, and a advisory panel of of Great Turning navigator advisers. We remain small by choice to maintain our ability to respond quickly and flexibly to emergent opportunities. We achieve scale by working with and through other organizations and influential colleagues, which allows us to achieve a level of influence far beyond our modest size.

Our Vision

We envision a planetary system of interlinked locally-rooted, living-wealth economies that mimic the living structures and dynamics of Earth’s biosphere and support ecological balance, a just distribution of Earth’s real wealth, and a living democracy inclusive of all beings.

Our Mission

We contribute to creating a New Economy supportive of this vision by working with and through partner organizations to:

  • Articulate its cultural and institutional design characteristics;
  • Raise public awareness of the possibilities, requirements, and path to its realization;
  • Develop supporting theory and practice;
  • Provide tools for civil society organizations engaged in advancing the necessary cultural and institutional transition.

Our Theory of Change

We believe that transformational system change is most likely to be achieved through a process of emergence and succession that draws inspiration from forest ecology. Organizational change practitioner Margaret Wheatley says it well.

Once an emergent phenomenon has appeared, it can’t be changed by working backwards, by changing the local parts that gave birth to it. You can only change an emergent phenomenon by creating a countervailing force of greater strength. This means that the work of change is to start over, to organize new local efforts, connect them to each other, and know that their values and practices can emerge as something even stronger.
—Margaret Wheatley

We see virtually no prospect that the Wall Street system will transform itself from within. Change depends on citizen’s working from outside the establishment to create from the bottom up a New Economy based on new values and institutions. As they grow the New Economy into being, it provides others with ever more  diverse and attractive opportunities to redirect their investment, employment, and shopping choices from the old to the new. As people thus redirect their life energy to the New Economy from the Old Economy, the New Economy becomes ever stronger and more vibrant.

Our Strategy

We think of ourselves as a movement building catalyst working with a select group of individual and organizational partners to advance a three-fold strategy for navigating a Great Turning from Empire to Earth Community.

The Forum Archive of selected publications and presentations provides a record of the earlier phases of our work when our focus was on the patterns of economic development in the world’s low income countries.

  1. Change the framing stories of the culture to accelerate the awakening of a new consciousness of our species potential to create vibrant self-organizing, life-serving societies and economies based on real markets and real democracy. YES! Magazine is our lead partner on changing the story.
  2. Create a new economic reality through citizen action to build from the bottom up a global system of local living economies. The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies is our lead partner on creating a new living economy reality.
  3. Change the rules to favor behavior and institutions that support ecological balance, equitable distribution, and living democracy over behavior and institutions that support environmental destruction, wealth concentration, and political corruption. The Institute for Policy Studies is our lead partner on changing the rules.

Historically, our primary contribution has been to element #1: changing the framing stories of the culture.  This aligns with our distinctive competence and will continue to be our primary focus. Geographically, our focus is on advancing the awakening in the United States—the world’s one remaining self-proclaimed Empire.

The source: the Living Economies Forum

You will find many articles of David Korten, co-founder and board chair of YES! Magazine, on his blog which is on YES! Magazine Blogs

YES! Magazine has Ongoing coverage of the people’s movement #OccupyWallStreet to take back our democracy and build a new economy.

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