More on David Korten and the Great Turning
Here’s a little autobiographical background on David expressed in an interview:
I want to call attention to his answer to a question about whether or how his values growing up in the late Depression and WWII in what he considered a "conservative values" environment may have changed over time.
Interviewer: …though you’ve gone through this huge journey, do you feel that the fundamental values you held when you were young have changed?
David Korten: Well this is what’s… what’s a very fascinating aspect of my experience, because the values that I grew up with, of community, family, of personal responsibility, of local control… I mean these are things that I grew up with understanding were conservative values. Most of what I do now would be considered Progressive, er ah, Liberal in that I clearly see an important role for government, yet those core values — including the idea that business should be a service to the community — those are the underlying values.
So in the present societal obsession with sorting ourselves into political categories someone might summarize that David is a progressive with conservative values.
While I wouldn’t put it exactly that way, I think I grasp the sentiment. Sometimes, though, summarizing and categorizing does a disservice to what’s being called to attention. So, with no intention to be critical of those who want to sort things out and categorize ourselves in these ways, I want to take a stab at describing
what I see in Korten’s own life evolution as expressed in his words and
his works, how what I see relates to the liberal and conservative conceptualizing
through time, and to Korten’s idea of the "Great Turning." Wow, that’s
a handful, maybe I can’t do all of that here. Anyway…
One way of saying it is, we are potentially all these values but we may sort out which ones we want to be or to emphasize at different times depending on our perception and our held beliefs in given circumstances. That’s not a new statement by any means, George Lakoff makes the same arguments in his various books describing the strong protective parenting and the nurturing parenting, which he describes as a kind of mix and match relative to his explanation of expressions of conservative
and liberal values in society. Note that when I say "held beliefs" I
am talking about something that can be taking place individually on a continuum of consciousness, from a kind of taken-for-granted subconscious attitude that one might project as an unassailable "truth" about oneself to a very objective form of consciousness that sees a belief as a construction of thought that becomes a relative and potentially flexible position.
I tend to see these values and concepts as a cultural tool kit.
That’s relative to my own life process which seems to somewhat parallel
Korten’s, where in my education I veered off into cultural anthropology from my goal of getting a degree in literature when I got back from Vietnam. I couldn’t help myself it was so fascinating to think about what this tool kit — this concept of culture — is. And in thinking about it, recognizing that we are all basically the same human beings underneath, capable of being identified
by any culture if we’ve been raised in it, each of us with these
different styles and patterns of being to which we become deeply
attached, and into which we often project our identities with all the passion and energy that goes with owning a piece of property and defending it from perceived threats.
So that’s a stab at trying to describe what’s stewing around inside individuals.
Socially we have a process going on where as a group we develop these
symbols and metaphors and through time the tend to revolve. My guess
is that’s taking place due to so many factors that a succinct description of why is impossible.
What I wanted to bring out when I posted that above interview where Korten talks about his own metamorphosis
through his life was this odd situation I see. It’s odd to me because
I’m old enough to have lived in the cultural norms that were shared in
the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, Nineties, and now the first decade of 2000. And while I find it consciously
difficult to identify myself according to the latest popular political
labels, I find that what I express about what I think is important
about the world does get me labeled. And I am often frustrated by that process in my efforts to communicate. That’s a given in society it seems, at least from my perspective, because I find that people vary in their range of expressed awareness about how they apply labels and what they mean.
What’s odd is my values are fundamentally about those very same one’s Korten has expressed: family, community, local control, personal responsibility, and the idea that the business is in a consciously reciprocal relationship with community, and by being conscious of reciprocity and the system of shared connections, a kind of humbleness
comes about in all parties, both the business owner who opens his or
her doors to the public, and the public who has this service at its
disposal to appreciate. I remember credos expressed like: "the
customer is always right." As a kid I don’t remember very many shrill
customers haranging the shop owners in return, there was respect on the
part of the customer because that respect was extended to them. Then
somewhere along the line that seems to have disappeared. Now herds of customers trample security guards to death in an effort to get a special price on a flat screen television.