a stable prosperity. What I would be for is a lot of little invention.

I believe the market's ability to sort out what works and what doesn't is pretty effective. It is not so effective to opening the door to the ideas which are not profitable but which reasonable people can understand fulfill a public need and will also be profitable one day. We need to start thinking again in those terms -- and there are some states doing this and there are some companies doing it.

This leads to another of my points in the book, which is that I don't think people grasp the dimensions, the enormity of the ecological and environmental problems that are bearing down upon us. And I don't just mean the United States, I mean the world. If you believe that as I do, and a lot of people do, government has to take the lead here. You can't expect a General Motors or a DuPont Chemical to invent that future for just obvious, practical reasons. It destroys their income in the present. And any corporation, I don't care how principled they are, is going to be reluctant to do this.

GT: Going back to the logic question for a minute, there also seems to be a fundamental philosophical issue here. If you look at the world as a fixed market, developing in some areas and therefore expanding, but still as an kind of pie that gets cut up, then to get a significantly bigger slice of the pie also means someone else has to lose out by getting less. But what you are talking about is a somewhat different view. The historic precedents of what has really driven prosperity has been creation of new things, creating new pies if you like, through invention and government funding of the development and production of these inventions.

Greider: This is hard for a lot of people to grasp and I try in different ways in the book to make it clear to people, but it is easier to see, in some ways, in the creation going on. Because there are fabulous new inventions and countries that were once very poor are coming on stream as manufacturers and so forth. You can see the evidence of that fairly clearly. What is a little more difficult to see is what you are calling the win-lose situation because the economic numbers don't seem to show that -- the economy is still growing, etc. -- and the displacements which are immense and damaging are concealed within that. My argument in the book is that -- and this is really the promise of our moment in history -- is that if people can get outside their bound local identities or national identities or the more conventional understandings of how things work and say, 'Wait a minute. We really all are now in this together and to stabilize our prosperity, to work out a new format for it, we do have to attend to those people on the other end, not just their work and wages and living conditions, but also their role in this larger economic system.' In fact, as we know, there is no institution existing in the world to do that. You have to do it from a national and local level. That is how the world is organized.

This sounds corny to people, but I almost think it is a sense of consciousness. And as I argue in the book, commerce and finance of multinational corporations are the vehicle for opening up this new possibility. And a lot of people who are critics -- and I count myself as one of them -- have a really hard time acknowledging that really positive potential which is now before us in the world.

Blake Harris  |  Editor