Who was that Richard Cornuelle?

Richard Cornuelle according to Ealy (2011) was a libertarian who believed that individuals have the power to come together and create their own destiny. This ability to self manage is much harder than it seems. We have relied on the institution of governments and corporations in a democratic sense to manage our lives. Cornuelle spent his entire career trying to change this reality. In his short biography of Cornuelle, Ealy (2011) provides a picture of a man “who cast an optimistic vision of how free and responsible individuals could come together to create flourishing and harmonious communities” (p510).

Richard C. Cornuelle - No rights implied

In the biography, Ealy focused on Cornuelle’s interest in freeing the independent sector and providing them with the tools to solve modern problems without government expansion (p. 512). These tools posited by Cornuelle should take form through the liberation of entrepreneurial talents that individuals and charities have the potential to create. Ealy described Cornuelle’s composition of a historical manifestation of the devolution of charities that in essence have become indistinguishable from governments and have centralized power away from communities (p. 514). The solution according to the article was to use the talents of social entrepreneurs to create more effective adaptive systems. In order to catalyze this approach, Ealy presented that “Cornuelle saw the need for social thought to be re-integrated and reconnected to the life of the society in ways that could ignite shared imagination and confidence in the future” (p. 515).

Cornuelle published a number of books in his career and I believe now I will seek one out in order to better understand his work. This might allow me to see what our role may be in continuing his work to liberate communities from our reliance on social systems to manage government services that enable our dependence on the system. In the meantime, I’ll keep paying my taxes!


 Ealy, L. T. (2011). Richard C. Cornuelle and the revolution of social responsibility. Society, 48, 510-516. doi:10.1007/s12115-011-9475-y

About johnthornburn

Masters in Leadership graduate from Royal Roads University. An Engagement specialist engaged in various avenues of organizational and community development. Currently interested in social innovation, planning and engagement. View all posts by johnthornburn

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