Willis Harman (August 16, 1918 – January 30, 1997) was an American engineer, social scientist, academic, futurist, writer, and visionary. He is best remembered for his work with SRI International, for being president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California, and for his work in raising consciousness within the international business community.Below is an excerpt from "Business and Social Responsibility: An Interview with Willis Harman," by Scott London:
London: By extension, then, things should begin to change as people start to change and question their own assumptions.
Harman: There are certainly long-term forces that suggest, at least in the long-term, it's all got to change, and the role of business has to be different. The role of business has to be one that shares in the total responsibility of the planet. It may take many decades for that sort of change to happen. But there are many, many areas in which there could be a severe crisis of one sort or another that would cause people to feel jolted and say, "We'd better reassess things a whole lot faster." This could a very severe environmental disaster or a severe financial situation. For example, the debt structure around the world might bring about something like this. And another likely place is the whole currency and gambling system around the world.
London: Do you mean the stock market?
Harman: The stock market and its derivatives in all sorts of other things. 25 or 30 years ago, international exchanges of currency were almost entirely related to goods and services. In other words, the global economy was about what we used to call trade. Now the global economy is over 97 percent speculation in one name or another. Only about 2.5 percent of the exchanges have anything to do with goods or services or anything that is directly related to the well-being of human beings. The Berings Bank went down because of this kind of speculation. The Japanese economy was severely hit by an earthquake, and somebody made a bad guess — and out went the bank in London. That could happen on a large scale.
London: You mentioned currency speculation. From what I understand, this is a fairly new development tied to the fact that the value of money is no longer determined by gold and silver.
Harman: In the early 1970s, all of the major currencies of the world shifted from being based on gold and silver to being debt-based — money borrowed into existence from national banks. What on Earth does this mean, that the total nature of currency shifted? Nobody voted on it, it just happened. Nobody has thought through what the consequences of that might be. I think one of the consequences is that the whole international currency system is very precarious now. That doesn't mean that I'm predicting it will collapse next year, or ten years from now or next week. But it is much more possible now than it might have been before.