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David C. Korten

Modern communications technologies have created awareness nearly everywhere that all people share one fragile planetary ecosystem and are suffering in similar ways from the failure of the mega-institutions. This awareness, along with the ability for instantaneous communication through phone, fax and computer, has created a foundation for co-operation and solidarity among the world's people wholly without precedent in human history. A sense that the well-being of each increasingly depends on the well-being of all is beginning to take hold as the foundation of grassroots alliances aimed at strengthening local control and the rights and well-being of ordinary citizens everywhere.

The emergent social forces find expression in local initiatives aimed at regenerating local economies, ecosystems and communities. As people reclaim responsibility, they are also reclaiming their sovereignty, reasserting their basic rights over local resources, challenging the abuses of absentee corporations, and telling non-performing governments to reduce their tax burden. They are also beginning to reach out in search of new alliances, both nationally and internationally, with those engaged in similar self-help initiatives.

These countless initiatives and the co-operative networks that are melding them into a growing political force are the building blocks of a process of globalization-from-below that may well result in a bottom-up reconstruction of our dominant political and economic institutions. As this process unfolds, it will become increasingly clear that the mega institutions that have broken free from their own roots cannot long survive. Floating in space they can only consume themselves while the people they have abandoned work to fill the gap left in the social ecology with new institutions rooted in place and community.

David C. Korten, President of The People-Centered Development Forum

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