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When Corporations Rule the World Paperback – May 10, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This well-documented, apocalyptic tome describes the global spread of corporate power as a malignant cancer exercising a market tyranny that is gradually destroying lives, democratic institutions and the ecosystem for the benefit of greedy companies and investors. Korten (Getting to the 21st Century) points out his conservative roots and business credentials?and then proceeds to finger such classic conspiracy-theory scapegoats as the Trilateral Commission and Council on Foreign Relations as the planning agents of the new world economic order he decries. Korten, founder of the People-Centered Development Forum, prescribes a reordering of developmental priorities to restore local control and benefits. Suggested reforms include shifting tax policies to punish greed and reward social responsibility, placing a 100% reserve requirement on demand deposits at banks and closing the World Bank, which he claims encourages indebtedness in nations that can't afford it.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Korten (Getting to the Twenty-First Century, Kumarian Pr., 1990) brings impressive credentials to the task of blaming large international corporations for many of the social and environmental problems confronting people all over the world. Using numerous well-researched examples, Korten argues that not only do today's corporations exploit labor and the environment, but governments (particularly the U.S. government), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, aid and abet this exploitation through policies that favor capitalists over workers and small business. Although Korten speaks from an obviously liberal position, in an era when conservative political voices declare an unswerving faith in the benefits of unfettered free markets, a voice from the opposition offers a welcome balance. Recommended for public and academic libraries.?Andrea C. Dragon, Coll. of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station,
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Kumarian Press; 2nd edition (May 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887208046
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887208048
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #492,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In addition to an active schedule of writing and speaking on global and national issues, I serve as president of the Living Economies Forum, chair of the board of YES! Magazine (, co-chair the New Economy Working Group (, founding board member emeritus of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (, and a member of the Club of Rome ( I hold MBA and Ph.D. degrees from the Stanford Business School, taught at the Harvard Business School, served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force, and have 30 years experience as a development professional in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

My books include the international best seller, When Corporations Rule the World (watch for the 20th anniversary edition to be released in June 2015): Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth; Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth; The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community; and The Post Corporate World: Life After Capitalism.

For more information and periodic updates, visit my website You can also follow me on Twitter - @dkorten - and Facebook.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 129 people found the following review helpful By on September 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
No book or university course has provided me such a concise description with compelling examples, measures and details of the workings and history of the global economy.
The title could have been simply "Corporations Rule the World".
First and foremost, the book provides a foundation for thinking about sustainable business, ones' role in society, day-to-day habits and our collective need to create a future for our children.
Take note, however, that the book is worth a read in a very pragmatic and personal way, as a primer for investors.
I was given the book on Aug 17 '98 and finished it by the 22nd. In recent years, I had placed all of my hard earned cash, and some inheritence from hardworking grandparents -- for convenience sake -- in the hands of fund managers dealing in "blue chip" companies in the global equity markets. Understanding something from Kortens' book, and his apt description of the world now around us...I sold all of those equities and funds on the 24'th. The markets collapsed on the 25'th. I'll go back to directing my own investments with the cash I've saved -- thanks to a timely reading of Korten's informative book.
Kortens' work is as brilliant as a Hitchcock movie -- providing space for the reader to fill in the "gaps", to "get" his global picture in a personal way. Korten avoids confronting readers with the simple statement that WE ARE corporations. We ARE government and we ARE civil society -- however healthy or sick...
Having said that, Korten's book is entertaining and frightening because he is fact-based and truthful.
Unlike other book reviewers, I generally accept and enjoy pondering Korten's ideas.
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84 of 89 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on April 28, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The fact that transnational corporations and their agendas have come to dominate cultural, political, and economic life on a global scale can hardly be disputed. These powerful corporations have used national governments and government-created international bodies to create a legislative and institutional regime that accedes to and actively promotes and implements a "free-market" ideology. This book is largely concerned with detailing the tremendous costs to the political, economic, and social fabric of the entire global community as corporations have become ever more capable under this ideological regime in extracting wealth and generating huge profits on a worldwide basis. The author sees poverty, social and political disintegration, and environmental degradation as the main consequences of this global corporate ascendance.
The ability of corporations to penetrate the political and cultural sectors of our society is hardly a late twentieth century phenomenon. Despite the founders' efforts to contain corporations by explicit and revocable state charters, emerging industrialists in the post-Civil War era became powerful enough to sway legislators and the judiciary to act in their behalf. Not only did corporations generally gain rights to perpetuity, but the Supreme Court declared corporations to be legal persons entitled to the same rights as ordinary citizens, in addition to limited liability. By the late 1920s capitalism had largely emerged triumphant over worker and community interests. Consumerism was instilled as the only legitimate avenue for realizing individualized "freedom.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By J. Beck on May 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just finished it tonight, and am overall impressed with all but the last section of the book. I came into this wanting to know why American democracy seems to be decaying at the behest of corporate greed and voter apathy, and feel this tome addresses these issues in a very well documented and reasoned way. I think it helps to state some of the various Green/economic issues that are behind the anti-globalization movements, and gives the movement a much more credible footing to use.

Oddly enough, I don't think anyone needs to be convinced that what major, multi-national corporations are doing to people and the planet are not good for the long-term viability of either. Still, Korten classifies the wrongdoings and gives them context, in a very methodical way. Sometimes it seems to drag, but that's because the problem is big and has many aspects to see before you can fully appreciate its scope.

The only place I had trouble was at the end, where the author suggests solutions to current corporate economic dominiation. The suggestion of a greater role of local economics and action makes sense to me, and probably to others. It's when he starts suggesting a life "driven not by the love of money, but by a love of life" that I start to groan. Such imprecise feel-good prescriptions (though well intended) don't really get us closer to corrective actions. To his credit, there are more concrete suggestions that we can follow (recycle/reuse, buy organic, etc), but they could be stated more coherently.

Still, this is a good primer for understanding the workings of both corporations and the IMF/World Bank in the global economy. Definitely worth the read.
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