SNAPSHOT: “The Great Turning”, Korten

(Warning: this is a long post!)

The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, David Korten

From Publisher

In his classic international bestseller, When Corporations Rule the World, David Korten exposed the destructive and oppressive nature of the global corporate economy and helped spark a global resistance movement. Now, he shows that the problem runs deeper than corporate domination—with far greater consequences.

Here, Korten argues that corporate consolidation of power is merely one manifestation of what he calls “Empire”: the organization of society through hierarchy and violence that has largely held sway for the past 5,000 years. Empire has always resulted in misery for the many and fortune for the few, but now it threatens the very future of humanity. Korten points to global terrorism, climate change, and rising poverty as just a few of the signs that the burdens of Empire now exceed what people and planet will bear.

The Great Turning traces the roots of Empire to ancient times and charts the long evolution of its favored instruments of control, from monarchies and bureaucracies to the transnational institutions of the global economy. Korten also tells the parallel story of the attempt to develop a democratic alternative to Empire, beginning in Athens and continuing with the founding of the United States of America. But this remains an unfinished project—Korten documents how elitists with an imperial agenda have consistently sought to undermine the bold and inspiring “American experiment,“ beginning in the earliest days of the republic and continuing to the present day.

Empire is not inevitable, not the natural order of things—we can turn away from it. Korten draws on evidence from sources as varied as evolutionary theory, developmental psychology, and religious teachings to make the case that “Earth Community”—a life-centered, egalitarian, sustainable way of ordering human society based on democratic principles of partnership—is indeed possible. And he details a grassroots strategy for beginning the momentous turning toward a future of as-yet-unrealized human potential. The Great Turning illuminates our current predicament, provides a framework for grasping the potential of this historic moment, and shows us how to take action for the future of our planet, our communities, and ourselves.


Prologue: In Search of the Possible

1: The Choice
2: The Possibility
3: The Imperative
4: The Opportunity

5: When God Was a Woman
6: Ancient Empire
7: Modern Empire
8: Athenian Experiment

  9: Inauspicious Beginning
10: People Power Rebellion
11: Empire’s Victory
12: Struggle for justice
13: Wake-Up Call
14: Prisons of the Mind

15: Beyond Strict Father versus Ageing Clock
16: Creation’s Epic Journey
17: Joys of Earth Community
18: Stories for a New Era

19: Leading from Below
20: Building a Political Majority
21: Liberating Creative Potential
22: Change the Story, Change the Future

My Rough Notes

In its simplest terms, the theory underlying corporate-led economic globalization posits that human progress is best advanced by deregulating markets and eliminating economic borders to let unrestrained market forces determine economic priorities, allocate resources, and drive economic growth. It sounds like decentralization, but the reality is quite different. A market without rules and borders increases the freedom of the biggest and most economically powerful players to become even bigger and more powerful at the expense of the freedom and right to self-determination of people and communities. Corporations and financial markets make the decisions and reap the profits. Communities are left to deal with mounting human and environmental costs. 238-242

Break the trance, replace the values of an inauthentic culture with the values of an authentic culture grounded in a love of life rather than a love of money, and people will realign their life energy and bring forth the life-serving institutions of a new era. The key is to change the stories by which we define ourselves. selves. It is easier said than done, but I have found it to be a powerful strategic insight. 303-306

My intention in writing The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community is to provide a historically grounded frame for understanding the possibilities of the unique time in which we live and thereby enable able us to envision the path to a new era. Failing such understanding, we will continue to squander valuable time and resources on futile efforts to preserve or mend the cultures and institutions of a system that cannot be fixed and must be replaced.  321-324

Note that throughout The Great Turning I use the term Empire with a capital E as a label for the hierarchical ordering of human relationships based on the principle of domination. The mentality of Empire embraces material excess for the ruling classes, honors the dominator power of death and violence, denies the feminine principle, and suppresses realization of the potentials of human maturity. Similarly, I use the term Earth Community as a label for the egalitarian democratic ordering of relationships based on the principle of partnership. The mentality of Earth Community embraces material sufficiency for everyone, honors the generative power of life and love, seeks a balance of feminine and masculine principles, and nurtures a realization of the mature potential of our human nature. 324-328
[This last sentence sounds like a modern equivalent to Paul in his letter to the Galatians 3:28: ‘in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female’.]

SYNOPSIS OF THE ARGUMENT The human species is entering a period of dramatic and potentially devastating change as the result of forces of our own creation that are now largely beyond our control. It is within our means, however, to shape a positive outcome if we choose to embrace the resulting crisis as an opportunity to lift ourselves to a new level of species maturity and potential. The outcome will depend in large measure on the prevailing stories that shape our understanding of the traumatic time at hand-its causes and its possibilities. Perhaps the most difficult and yet essential aspect of this work is to change our stories. 332-336

[The church does not need to come up with a new story. It needs to recapture its original story, which is about Jesus who proclaims a rule of justice, love, and equality against the forces of domination. It is because we have lost that story that Korten feels the need to look elsewhere for a different sort of community than the church]

THE CULTURAL TURNING. The Great Turning begins with a cultural and spiritual awakening. Economic and political turning can only follow a turning in cultural values from money and material excess to life and spiritual fulfillment, from relationships of domination to relationships of partnership, from a belief in our limitations to a belief in our possibilities,, and from fearing our differences to rejoicing in our diversity.

THE ECONOMIC TURNING. The values shift of the cultural turning calls us to turn from measuring well-being by the size of our yachts and bank accounts to measuring well-being by the health of our families, communities, and natural environment. It leads us from economic policies that raise those at the top to policies that raise those at the bottom, from economic plutocracy to economic democracy, from hoarding to sharing, and from the rights of ownership to the responsibilities of stewardship.

THE POLITICAL TURNING. The economic turning creates the necessary conditions for a turn from a democracy of money to a democracy of people, from passive to active citizenship, from competition for individual advantage to cooperation for mutual advantage, from retributive justice to restorative justice, and from social order by coercion to social order by mutual responsibility and accountability. 349-356

The Great Turning is presented in five parts. Part I, “Choosing Our Future,” explores the choice at hand and the nature and implications of the distinctive imperatives and opportunities now before us.

Part II, “Sorrows of Empire,” reviews the conditions that led humans in an earlier time to turn away from a reverence for life and the regenerative power of the feminine to pursue the path of violence and domination. A synopsis of the imperial experience illustrates the self-replicating social dynamics of Empire, charts the transition from the institutions of monarchy to the institutions of the global economy as the favored instruments of imperial rule, and reveals the costs of Empire’s often overly idealized accomplishments. It also draws lessons from the early Athenian experiment in popular democracy and the insights of the great Athenian philosophers.

[Turning to the Athenians for an alternative is his substitute for turning to religion. Reason rather than faith.]

Part III, “America, the Unfinished Project,” turns to the United States and the history of the challenge now before us as a nation. In an effort to dispel the myths underlying a dangerous complacency about our institutions and global intentions, it takes a sober look at the reality that we have never been the democracy we imagine ourselves to be and we have always had imperial ambitions. It concludes with a look at the actions of a particularly corrupt and incompetent administration as a national wake-up call to confront the reality of our history and engage a popular mobilization to build the democratic society of our founding ideal.

Part IV, “The Great Turning,” outlines the scope of the work of the Great Turning by contrasting the stories and deep assumptions underlying lying the values and relationships of Empire and Earth Community that legitimate a hierarchy of domination and wealth concentration on the one hand, and networks of partnership, sharing, and mutual learning on the other. It draws on the deeper insights of both science and religion to make the case that learning and partnership are integral not only to life, but as well to the whole of Creation.

Part V, “Birthing Earth Community,” outlines a strategic framework for bringing forth a new era of Earth Community. It describes how self-organizing processes of citizen action, based on grassroots leadership, can advance an agenda of cultural, economic, and political democratization that roots power in people and liberates the creative potential of the species. It further makes the case that the foundation of a majoritarian political consensus based on family and community values and a concern for children is already in place. 369-379

Part I, “Choosing Our Future”

CHAPTER 1 Our Choice
The Choice
Life hostile & competitive Life supportive & cooperative
Humans flawed & dangerous Humans have many possibilities
Order by dominator hierarchy Order through partnership
Compete or die Cooperate and live
Love power Love life
Defend rights of the self Defend rights of all
Masculine dominant Gender balanced

Competing Narratives Empire and Earth Community flow from sharply contrasting worldviews.’ The narrative of Empire, which emphasizes the demonstrated human capacity for hatred, exclusion, competition, domination, and violence in the pursuit of domination, assumes humans are incapable of responsible self-direction and that social order must be imposed by coercive means. The narrative of Earth Community, which emphasizes the demonstrated human capacity for caring, compassion, cooperation, partnership, and community in the service of life, assumes a capacity for responsible self-direction and self-organization and thereby the possibility of creating radically democratic organizations and societies. These narratives represent two sides of a psychic tension that resides within each of us. One focuses on that which divides us and leads to fear and often violent competition. The other focuses on that which unites us and leads to trust and cooperation. 464-468

Relationships of Empire

Empire, which gives expression to the authoritarian impulse, features a drive for dominator power, to use Eisler’s term: the power to take, control, and destroy by coercive means. It organizes every relationship at every level of society according to a hierarchy of power, control, status, and privilege. The ever present focus is on attaining more power by coopting and monopolizing the power of the many below, often at great cost to the whole.’ Males have been socialized to specialize in the cultivation of dominator power. The cultural and institutional systems of Empire support a monopolization of resources by the ruling elites, whose lives become consumed in competing with one another for the top positions in the dominance hierarchy. Because power struggles are continuous and often treacherous, relationships commonly feature a substantial element of distrust, fear, and duplicity. Fear is Empire’s friend, as it creates a psychological need for certainty, control, and structured relationships that motivates acquiescence by those below.

Empire routinely extends rights and freedoms to those at the top of the hierarchy that it denies those on the bottom. By the logic of Empire’s narrative, the smartest, toughest players have the right and the duty to seize and hold power by whatever means are available to impose peace and order on an unruly world in the interest of all-a service for which they believe themselves to be rightfully rewarded with even greater power and wealth. The legitimating culture extols the virtues of the powerful winners, attributes the condition of the hapless losers to incompetence or a lack of character, and communicates a message that the only alternative to the power elite’s domination is chaos-along with a scornful insinuation that trust, compassion, and cooperation are for or be killed. Be a winner or be a loser. Rule or be ruled. Empire has its own golden rule: “He who has the gold rules.” So “Go for the gold,” and be sure you get more of it than your neighbor.

Once the basic winner-take-all dynamic is in place, it creates what political analyst Jonathan Schell calls an “adapt or die” system- more accurately a “compete or die” system- from which it becomes extremely difficult for either individuals or societies to break free, as thousands of years of human history demonstrate. Commit to the winner-take-all competition and submit to its draconian rules, or suffer the loser’s fate of oppression and exclusion.’ The high stakes create a powerful incentive to win by any means and exert a strong downward pressure on ethical standards, a pattern endlessly repeated at all levels of imperial societies. Once the cultural and institutional dynamics of Empire are in place, the generative choice of Earth Community is off the table.

The dynamics and consequences of Empire are documented in detail by Andrew Schmookler in his social science classic The Parable of the Tribes.’ In the parable, a number of peaceful tribes live together harmoniously for many generations, until one day a tribe with an aggressive warrior culture appears, begins to overrun the peaceful tribes, and forces them to embrace the ways of the violent tribe, run away, or be decimated. The pathology of Empire spreads from one society to another through this dynamic. The culture and institutions of the infected society undergo a gradual transformation from supporting and rewarding relations based on partnership to supporting those based on domination. Rulers are reduced to a choice: conquer and absorb the territory of their neighbors, or risk being conquered and absorbed by them. 478-502

Empire offers a Faustian bargain even for the winners. Wealth and power come at the expense of the qualities that make both winners and losers fully human. Empire is a psychological, as well as a social, affliction that is at once both cause and consequence of our collective failure to actualize the potential of our humanity. This failure presents a crucial barrier to making a collective human transition from the dominator relationships of Empire to the deeply democratic partnership relationships ships of Earth Community, because the successful negotiation of the transition will require the creative contribution of every person. 508-512

The cultural principles of Earth Community affirm the spiritual unity and interconnectedness of Creation. They favor respect for all beings, nonviolence, service to community, and the stewardship of common resources for the benefit of generations to come. The economic principles of Earth Community affirm the basic right of every person to a means of livelihood and the responsibility of each person to live in a balanced relationship with their place on Earth without expropriating the resources of others. They favor local control, self-reliance, and mutually beneficial trade and sharing. The political principles of Earth Community affirm the inherent worth and potential of all individuals and their right to a voice in the decisions that shape their lives, thereby favoring inclusive citizen engagement, cooperative problem solving, and restorative justice.  525-529

Victor Frankl quote:

There were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate…. Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.’ 1  535-538

Empire and Earth Community are generic names for two models of organizing human relationships at all levels of society, from relationships among nations to relations among family and work-group members. Empire orders relationships into dominator hierarchies that monopolize power in the hands of elites to expropriate the life energy, and thereby suppress the creative potential, of the rest. Earth Community orders relationships by partnership networks that distribute power equitably to nurture the well-being and creative potential of each individual and the whole of the community. Each model is within our means, and ultimately it is ours to choose between them.  547-550

Ch 2 The Possibility

According to conventional wisdom, hierarchies of dominance are required to bring order to human societies because we humans are by nature an inherently unruly and self-centered species prone to violence and lawlessness. We therefore require the discipline of a ruling class and the competition of an unregulated market to impose order. By telling only part of the story, this conventional wisdom becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,

Below I set out a five-stage map of the developmental pathway from the least mature to the most mature orders

First Order: Magical Consciousness The Magical Consciousness of a young child of two to six years of age experiences the world as fluid and subject to the whims of magical beings

Second Order: Imperial Consciousness The transition from Magical to Imperial Consciousness normally occurs somewhere around the age of six or seven, when the     discovery of order, regularity, and stability in the world     conforming to the expectations of authority figures

Third Order: Socialized Consciousness The transition from Imperial Consciousness to Socialized Consciousness normally begins around eleven or twelve. Coinciding with the onset of teenage rebellion against parental authority, it marks the transition to the internalization of the cultural norms    Socialized Consciousness defines itself by its relationships with others whose acceptance becomes a primary criterion for assessing self-worth.    ability to see one’s self through the eyes of another.

Fourth Order: Cultural Consciousness Adulthood commonly brings encounters with people who have cultural perspectives and beliefs different from those of one’s own identity groups. The initial reaction to such encounters is commonly a chauvinistic sense of cultural superiority and possibly an embrace of cultural absolutism: “The way of my people is the only right way.”    may come to recognize that culture is itself a social construct, that each culture has its own logic,   A Cultural Consciousness is rarely achieved before age thirty, and the majority of those who live in modern imperial societies never achieve it, partly because most corporations, political parties, churches, labor unions, and even educational institutions actively discourage it.     Persons who have achieved a Cultural Consciousness have an “Inclusive World” view that sees the possibility of creating inclusive, life-affirming societies that work for all.

Fifth Order: Spiritual Consciousness The Spiritual Consciousness, the highest expression of what it means to be human, manifests the awakening to Creation as a complex, multidimensional, dimensional, interconnected, continuously unfolding whole. It involves coming full circle back to the original sense of oneness of the womb experience, but with a richly nuanced appreciation for the complexity and grandeur of the whole of Creation    acquired by relating to diverse people and situations in search of an ever deeper understanding of life’s possibilities.

      Spiritual Consciousness is the consciousness of the elder states-person, teacher, tribal leader, or religious sage that supports an examined morality grounded in the universal principles of justice, love, and compassion common to the teachings of the most revered religious prophets.     The Spiritual Consciousness simply transcends the exclusiveness of conventional group loyalties to embrace an identity that is inclusive of the whole and all its many elements. 619-643

This creates a difficulty. Cultures and institutions afflicted with the addictions of Empire throw up active barriers to the acquisition of a mature consciousness and favor leaders who act from an Imperial Consciousness.. The Imperial Consciousness is a normal and essential stage in the developmental processes of children. In adults, however, it is sociopathic.

many of our most powerful institutions are in the hands of ethically challenged human beings.

Moral Autism For all the efforts of the corporate media to portray the scandals as the work of a few bad apples, it became clear that the corruption was on a grand scale and carried out by profoundly ethically challenged individuals.

When such adults appear among the lower socioeconomic classes, the ruling establishment commonly identifies them as sociopaths and confines them to a prison or mental institution. By contrast, when they appear among the higher socioeconomic classes, the ruling establishment is prone to judge them especially suited for positions of leadership in the political and corporate institutions of imperial power. 687-693

Those who lead an examined life grounded in a mature worldview understand complexity, identify with the well-being of the whole, have no interest in acquiring arbitrary power, and are unlikely to succumb to the manipulations of advertisers, propagandists, and demagogues.

Competing for the Swing Vote

Socialized Consciousness, which is the consciousness of most American adults, adapts to the values and social roles of the prevailing culture. It represents the swing voters, and it is pivotal to the cultural politics of the Great Turning


Chapter 4 points to evidence that the number of people operating from these higher orders of consciousness is growing rapidly

Empire’s Advantage Empire’s well-established cultural and institutional hegemony gives it a decided advantage. Empire also enjoys another important advantage: anyone who has reached the level of the Socialized Consciousness has experienced the world through the lens of the Imperial Consciousness and thus is familiar with its organizing principles. By contrast, only those who have moved beyond the Socialized Consciousness to a Cultural or Spiritual Consciousness can understand fully the deeply democratic possibilities of Earth Community.

Earth Community’s Advantage 

First, the drive to realize the fullness of our humanity is inherent in our nature. Second, a substantial majority of people have achieved a Socialized Consciousness or beyond and are therefore capable of understanding the concept of a public good that transcends narrowly defined individual interests and requires cooperation to achieve. Third, as elaborated in chapter 3, we face ecological and social imperatives distinctive to this moment in the human experience

Contrary to those who maintain that we humans are destined to lives of violence and greed, our nature embodies a wide range of potential. The possible levels of achievement range from the criminal sociopath who is unable to consider any need or interest other than his own to the profound social and spiritual sensibility and vision of a Jesus, Gandhi, Buddha, or Martin Luther King Jr.

The lower orders of Magical and Imperial Consciousness produce a culture of Empire. The higher orders of Cultural and Spiritual Consciousness produce a culture of Earth Community. The Socialized Consciousness, from which the majority of people operate, is capable of adapting to the values and expectations of either Empire or Earth Community, 741-743

CHAPTER 3 The Imperative

Far removed from the realities of the rapidly changing human context, conditioned by the beliefs of imperial culture, and constrained by the imperatives of imperial institutions, those who rule from the clouds attribute the growing threat to life, civilization, and the existing institutions of social order to external enemies and to those who question established authority.  757-759

During the twentieth century, the speed at which we humans acquired new technological powers to reshape our relationship to one another and the planet accelerated to a blur, arguably exceeding the sum of the technological advances of the previous twenty-six thousand centuries.


Just since 1950, in barely more than fifty years, the global human population more than doubled from 2.6 billion persons in 1950 to 6.4 billion in 2005.

By 2002, humans were consuming food, materials, and energy at a rate of about 1.2 Earth-equivalent planets.’ The difference between human consumption and the regenerative capacity of Earth is made up by depleting the natural capital of the planet-both nonrenewable capital, like minerals and fossil fuels, and renewable capital

The twentieth century has been Empire’s most profligate period of excess. We are poised to pay a terrible price.

(scanned this section)

CHAPTER 4 The Opportunity.

We are now experiencing a moment of significance far beyond what any of us can imagine…. The distorted dream of an industrial technological paradise is being replaced by the more viable dream of a mutually enhancing human presence within an ever-renewing organic-based Earth community. Thomas Berry

Perhaps nature’s most powerful metaphor for the Great Turning is the story of the metamorphosis of the monarch caterpillar to the monarch butterfly, popularized by evolution biologist Elisabet Sahtouris.

Until the last half century before the new millennium, it did not occur to people that they could have anything to do with creating their worldview. All through history, people thought the way they saw the world was the way the world really was – in other words, they saw their worldview as the true worldview view and all others as mistaken and therefore false.4

For five thousand years, successful imperial rulers have intuitively recognized that their power rests on their ability to fabricate a falsified culture that evokes fear, alienation, learned helplessness, and the dependence of the individual on the imperial power of a great ruler. The falsified culture induces a kind of cultural trance in which we are conditioned to deny the inherent human capacity for responsible self-direction, sharing, and cooperation that is an essential foundation of democratic self-rule. The trance creates an emotional bond with the leader, alienates us from one another and the living Earth, erodes relations of mutual self-help, help, and reduces us to a state of resigned dependence  1003-1006

From a recognition of the interconnectedness of life it is only a short step to an encounter with the yet deeper truth that all life flows forth from the same spiritual source and that Empire’s war against life is a war against ourselves. This awakening of a spiritual consciousness has profound practical implications, as it is the foundation of the cultural turning:

  • From a belief that Earth belongs to humans and is ours to consume as suits our fancy to an understanding that Earth is our sacred home and that it is our responsibility to be respectful partners.
    • From a belief that we humans are by nature incapable of responsible self-governance to an understanding that our nature embodies many possibilities, including the potential for responsible self-governance and democratic citizenship.
    • From a belief that those who differ from us pose a threat to our security and way of life to an understanding that all persons are born of the same sacred sprit with an equal right to respect and the pursuit of happiness and that cultural and racial diversity is a source of learning and creative potential.
    • From a self-justifying belief that those who align with us are the champions of good and those who oppose us are evil enemies to an understanding that we are all both victims and perpetrators of the violence inherent in the structures of Empire.

surveys showing that a growing segment of the U.S. adult population is embracing a new culture that values social inclusion, environmental stewardship, and spiritual practice. They call the holders of the new culture Cultural Creatives

Ray and Anderson estimate that roughly half of all Cultural Creatives combine a deep commitment to social and environmental values with some form of spiritual practice- embracing an integral spirituality that connects them with the whole of Creation in both its inner and outer manifestations.

Spiritual Creatives are not only leading the growing resistance against the global violence and economic injustice of Empire. They are also leading the proactive work of growing the imaginal buds of Earth Community. Leadership in the pro-democracy, peace, environmental, human and civil rights, economic justice, gender equality, holistic health, gay rights, organic agriculture, and voluntary simplicity movements comes from within the Spiritual Creative ranks. 1050-1052

the People’s Earth Declaration: A Proactive Agenda for the Future. It ends with the following commitment:

We, the people of the world, will mobilize the forces of transnational civil society behind a widely shared agenda that bonds our many social movements in pursuit of just, sustainable, and participatory human societies. In so doing, we are forging our own instruments and processes for redefining the nature and meaning of human progress and for transforming those institutions that no longer respond to our needs. We welcome to our cause all people who share our commitment to peaceful and democratic change in the interest of our living planet and the human societies it sustains.1111-15

Modern humans have been around for some two hundred thousand years. It is only during the most recent five thousand years that a drive for dominator power brought forth the era of Empire and its reckless squandering of lives, resources, and human possibility to support the privilege and extravagance of the few.

Slavery and poverty are not, however, acts of nature. They are social constructs that create an intentional and pervasive condition of exclusion. No ruling class in five thousand years has delivered on a promise to eliminate either poverty or slavery and its equivalents, because to do so would mean the elimination of elite privilege.

There is no elite class without a servant class. The maintenance of a dominator system depends on violence or the threat of violence to maintain the extreme class division.

Part II Sorrows of Empire

By the accounts of Empire’s historians, civilization, history, and human progress began with the consolidation of dominator power in the first great Empires. Much is made of the glorious accomplishments and heroic battles of the rise and fall of subsequent imperial civilizations. Rather less is said about the years of democratic reform. The deeper human truth is that Empire marked a destructive and self-limiting detour from the path to realizing the possibilities of our human nature.

To liberate ourselves from Empire’s self-limiting patterns of domination we must understand their dynamics, acknowledge their destructive consequences, and embrace the truth of the human possibilities that Empire has long denied. We must also recognize the limitations of the contemporary human experiment in democracy and the process by which the institutions of imperial states have morphed into the institutions of imperial corporations to present a more benign appearance while leaving the underlying structures of domination in place.

A brief historical survey is in order to remind ourselves of how brutally destructive Empire has been for all but the favored elites who rule from their perches high in the clouds and to deepen our understanding of the nature, dilemmas, and possibilities of the mature democracies of Earth Community. This review is also a useful reminder of how difficult it is to break free from Empire once its play-or-die dynamic is established.

5: When God Was a Woman
 [Skipped making notes on this chapter.]
  Settled Agriculture
  Temples of the Goddess
  Rejecting the Feminine
  Domesticating People
  Small Is Equitable
  Beyond Kinship
  Perils of Coercive Power
  Security in the Service of Life
  Spiritual Identity

6: Ancient Empire

Even as Empire invented the technologies to construct great works, it also invented the technologies to destroy them more quickly and completely. Even more troublesome is Empire’s propensity to impose a cultural context that suppresses the development to maturity of the human man consciousness.

In short, the benefits of Empire have been as overstated as its costs have been understated. Beneath Empire’s carefully constructed myth of beneficent progress lies a dark truth of five thousand years of diminished human progress.

The focus of my concern is on the ancient empires of the Middle East and Mediterranean and the modern empires of western Europe and North America to which they gave way, for these are the empires that have shaped the modern human experience and brought the species to the brink of self-destruction.


As they consolidated their power, the kings of the rival city-states began gan to compete for dominance. The region was unified under a single king around 2800 BCE, but the competition for power continued, leaving the region divided and vulnerable to external conquerors. Over the centuries, succeeding imperial dynasties rose and fell. Some were the creations of foreign invaders and others of local revolts. The greatest of the rulers of this period set new standards for both grandeur and ruthless brutality as successive waves of invasion, revolt, and conquest built great cities, destroyed them, and rebuilt them again at an enormous cost in lives and resources.

  The Republic
  Myth of the Roman Peace
  Historic Irony

7: Modern Empire
  Chartered Corporations
  Institutional Sociopaths
  End of Monarchy
  End of Colonialism
  Grand Plan
  Easy Credit
  Adjusting the Poor
  Deeper in Debt
  The Ultimate Con
  Money from Money
  Pervasive Bias
8: Athenian Experiment
  Rise and Fall
  The Good Society
  The Republic
  Civil Society
  Collective Wisdom
  For Men like Me
  Enduring Principles

Part III America, the Unfinished Product

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