Part of a series & book, this post quotes extensively from a classic by author John Perkins who self-identifies as an EHM, a term used by those in his industry. These quotes ably describe the way that Evil is outworked in the business & political sectors. In this post I take quotes directly from John’s first-released 2004 edition and in the next post quote from his updated version released a decade later. Enjoy.
Author and ex-EHM John Perkins defines the subject at the outset of his classic work:
Economic hitmen (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization. I should know; I was an EHM. – Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins, August 2004
The 2004 classic, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, spent 73 weeks on the New York Times best seller list [and has been translated into three dozen languages].
The job description matches my experiences when engaging with Samoa, watching how the Prime Minister Tuila’epa too employed the exact same tactics as this EHM did, increasing the indebtedness of his nation beyond comprehension and their capacity to ever repay, let alone service the debt.
Claudine [John’s recruiter] pulled no punches when describing what I would be called upon to do. My job, she said, was “to encourage world leaders to become part of a vast network that promotes U.S. commercial interests. In the end, those leaders become ensnared in a web of debt that ensures their loyalty. We can draw on them whenever we desire — to satisfy our political, economic, or military needs. In turn, they bolster their political positions by bringing industrial parks, power plants, and airports to their people. The owners of U.S. engineering/construction companies become fabulously wealthy.”
This system (and it is a system) does much evil in the name of progress. The huge buildings that enslaved the people of Samoa took more to service by way of air conditioning costs alone than the people could afford! Let alone debt servicing and certainly not any capital expenditure repayment!
John talks more of this system:
Some would blame our current problems on an organized conspiracy. I wish it were so simple. Members of a conspiracy can be rooted out and brought to justice. This system, however, is fueled by something far more dangerous than conspiracy. It is driven not by a small band of men but by a concept that has become accepted as gospel: the idea that all economic growth benefits humankind and that the greater the growth, the more widespread the benefits. This belief also has a corollary: that those people who excel at stoking the fires of economic growth should be exalted and rewarded, while those born at the fringes are available for exploitation. The concept is, of course, erroneous. We know that in many countries economic growth benefits only a small portion of the population and may in fact result in increasingly desperate circumstances for the majority. This effect is reinforced by the corollary belief that the captains of industry who drive this system should enjoy a special status, a belief that is the root of many of our current problems and is perhaps also the reason why conspiracy theories abound. When men and women are rewarded for greed, greed becomes a corrupting motivator. When we equate the gluttonous consumption of the earth’s resources with a status approaching sainthood, when we teach our children to emulate people who live unbalanced lives, and when we define huge sections of the population as subservient to an elite minority, we ask for trouble. And we get it.
While this quote is philosophical in nature, the results are plainly visible.
In their drive to advance the global empire, corporations, banks, and governments (collectively the corporatocracy) use their financial and political muscle to ensure that our schools, businesses, and media support both the fallacious concept and its corollary. They have brought us to a point where our global culture is a monstrous machine that requires exponentially increasing amounts of fuel and maintenance, so much so that in the end it will have consumed everything in sight and will be left with no choice but to devour itself. The corporatocracy is not a conspiracy, but its members do endorse common values and goals. One of corporatocracy’s most important functions is to perpetuate and continually expand and strengthen the system. The lives of those who “make it,” and their accoutrements — their mansions, yachts, and private jets — are presented as models to inspire us all to consume, consume, consume. Every opportunity is taken to convince us that purchasing things is our civic duty, that pillaging the earth is good for the economy and therefore serves our higher interests. People like me are paid outrageously high salaries to do the system’s bidding. If we falter, a more malicious form of hit man, the jackal, steps to the plate. And if the jackal fails, then the job falls to the military.
John reports from his activities and generation how this has outworked. It has not changed in the years since, although it has morphed into what is now called the war with the Deep State.
For them, this is a war about the survival of their children and cultures, while for us it is about power, money, and natural resources. It is one part of the struggle for world domination and the dream of a few greedy men, global empire. That is what we EHM s do best: we build a global empire. We are an elite group of men and women who utilize international financial organizations to foment conditions that make other nations subservient to the corporatocracy running our biggest corporations, our government, and our banks. Like our counterparts in the Mafia, EHM s provide favors. These take the form of loans to develop infrastructure — electric generating plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks. A condition of such loans is that engineering and construction companies from our own country must build all these projects. In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston, or San Francisco. Despite the fact that the money is returned almost immediately to corporations that are members of the corporatocracy (the creditor), the recipient country is required to pay it all back, principal plus interest. If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years. When this happens, then like the Mafia we demand our pound of flesh. This often includes one or more of the following: control over United Nations votes, the installation of military bases, or access to precious resources such as oil or the Panama Canal. Of course, the debtor still owes us the money—and another country is added to our global empire.
John’s experiences were with the US. Chinese influence in Samoa mirrored this, and the United Nations globalist agenda remained the same.
The subtlety of this modern empire building puts the Roman centurions, the Spanish conquistadors, and the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European colonial powers to shame. We EHMs are crafty; we learned from history. Today we do not carry swords. We do not wear armor or clothes that set us apart. In countries like Ecuador, Nigeria, and Indonesia, we dress like local schoolteachers and shop owners. In Washington and Paris, we look like government bureaucrats and bankers. We appear humble, normal. We visit project sites and stroll through impoverished villages. We profess altruism, talk with local papers about the wonderful humanitarian things we are doing. We cover the conference tables of government committees with our spreadsheets and financial projections, and we lecture at the Harvard Business School about the miracles of macroeconomics. We are on the record, in the open. Or so we portray ourselves and so are we accepted. It is how the system works. We seldom resort to anything illegal because the system itself is built on subterfuge, and the system is by definition legitimate. However — and this is a very large caveat — if we fail, an even more sinister breed steps in, ones we EHM s refer to as the jackals, men who trace their heritage directly to those earlier empires. The jackals are always there, lurking in the shadows. When they emerge, heads of state are overthrown or die in violent “accidents.” And if by chance the jackals fail, as they failed in Afghanistan and Iraq, then the old models resurface. When the jackals fail, young Americans are sent in to kill and to die.
A danger to most reading here is to gloss over this as reading a work of fiction. We can see this as something out of a movie, and not real, but when you live among it; when your neighbours, family and friends (and in my case I) have to pay this price, the above words are real and the ones involved are seen for what they really are – those empowering evil.
John talks about his own struggle . . .
At first, all the attention went to my head. I began to think of myself as a Merlin who could wave his wand over a country, causing it suddenly to light up, industries sprouting like flowers. Then I became disillusioned. I questioned my own motives and those of all the people I worked with. It seemed that a glorified title or a PhD did little to help a person understand the plight of a leper living beside a cesspool in Jakarta, and I doubted that a knack for manipulating statistics enabled a person to see into the future. The better I came to know those who made the decisions that shape the world, the more skeptical I became about their abilities and their goals. Looking at the faces around the meeting room tables, I found myself struggling very hard to restrain my anger. Eventually, however, this perspective also changed. I came to understand that most of those men believed they were doing the right thing. Like Charlie, they were convinced that communism and terrorism were evil forces — rather than the predictable reactions to decisions they and their predecessors had made — and that they had a duty to their country, to their offspring, and to God to convert the world to capitalism. They also clung to the principle of survival of the fittest; if they happened to enjoy the good fortune to have been born into a privileged class instead of inside a cardboard shack, then they saw it as an obligation to pass this heritage on to their progeny. I vacillated between viewing such people as an actual conspiracy and simply seeing them as a tight-knit fraternity bent on dominating the world. Nonetheless, over time I began to liken them to the plantation owners of the pre-Civil War South. They were men drawn together in a loose association by common beliefs and shared self interest, rather than an exclusive group meeting in clandestine hideaways with focused and sinister intent.
The Christian message destroys this casual approach to greed, sin and evil. God calls us individually to doing the honourable thing. This then takes us from focusing on the individual to the wider society. John also dealt with the wider issues.
I also began to wonder who benefits from war and the mass production of weapons, from the damming of rivers and the destruction of indigenous environments and cultures. I began to look at who benefits when hundreds of thousands of people die from insufficient food, polluted water, or curable diseases. Slowly, I came to realize that in the long run no one benefits, but in the short term those at the top of the pyramid — my bosses and me — appear to benefit, at least materially.
He progressed and developed his work, justifying evil to himself.
I brought a young MIT mathematician, Dr. Nadipuram Prasad, into my department and gave him a budget. Within six months he developed the Markov method for econometric modeling. Together we hammered out a series of technical papers that presented Markov as a revolutionary method for forecasting the impact of infrastructure investment on economic development. It was exactly what we wanted: a tool that scientifically “proved” we were doing countries a favor by helping them incur debts they would never be able to pay off. In addition, only a highly skilled econometrician with lots of time and money could possibly comprehend the intricacies of Markov or question its conclusions. The papers were published by several prestigious organizations, and we formally presented them at conferences and universities in a number of countries. The papers — and we — became famous throughout the industry.
John’s experiences were in central and southern America:
Like Torrijos, Roídos was not a Communist, but rather stood for the right of his country to determine its own destiny. And as they had with Torrijos, pundits predicted that big business and Washington would never tolerate Roídos as president, that if elected he would meet a fate similar to that of Guatemala’s Arbenz or Chile’s Allende. It seemed to me that the two men together might spearhead a new movement in Latin American politics and that this movement might form the foundation of changes that could affect every nation on the planet. These men were not Castras or Gadhafis. They were not associated with Russia or China or, as in Allende’s case, with the international Socialist movement. They were popular, intelligent, charismatic leaders who were pragmatic instead of dogmatic. They were nationalistic but not anti-American. If corporatocracy was built on three pillars — major corporations, international banks, and colluding governments — Roídos and Torrijos held out the possibility of removing the pillar of government collusion.
Note this description – business, banks & authority. Evil is empowered by the ‘little’ people authorising their politicians to act on their behalf; who are paid for by the business & banking community. The deception is that democracy is godly (it’s not) and that government’s borrowing at interest is necessary. Again, it’s not. Take the power away from the politicians and their legitimacy for enslavement of interest-bearing monetary systems falls away too.
The EHM concept had expanded to include all manner of executives in a wide variety of businesses. They may not have been recruited or profiled by the NSA , but they were performing similar functions. The only difference now was that the corporate executive EHMs did not necessarily involve themselves with the use of funds from the international banking community. While the old branch, my branch, continued to thrive, the new version took on aspects that were even more sinister. During the 1980s, young men and women rose up through the ranks of middle management believing that any means justified the end: an enhanced bottom line. Global empire was sim – ply a pathway to increased profits.
The Christian worldview does not accept that an end justifies the means. The contrary is so with enhancements – the biblical method of obedience to a godly process actually brings a more blessed end result!
What was going on in the energy [oil] field was symbolic of a trend that was affecting the whole world. Concerns about social welfare, the environment, and other quality-of-life issues took a backseat to greed. In the process, an overwhelming emphasis was placed on promoting private businesses. At first, this was justified on theoretical bases, including the idea that capitalism was superior to and would deter communism. Eventually, however, such justification was unneeded. It was simply accepted a priori that there was something inherently better about projects owned by wealthy investors rather than by governments. International organizations such as the World Bank bought into this notion, advocating deregulation and privatization of water and sewer systems, communications networks, utility grids, and other facilities that up until then had been managed by governments.
I find John’s analysis here a little light in that if you take his words literally then it appears to have evolved naturally, or by chance. I’d consider this more a planned development in that evil works insidiously to infiltrate and pervert. I would think that there was and is clear intent to move power into the elite’s control. IMHO, this was deliberate.
As I worked on the book, I was stunned by the magnitude of what we EHMs had accomplished, in so many places. I tried to concentrate on a few countries that stood out, but the list of places where I had worked and which were worse off afterward was astounding. I also was horrified by the extent of my own corruption. I had done a great deal of soul searching, yet I realized that while I was in the midst of it I had been so focused on my daily activities that I had not seen the larger perspective… Now, the act of writing this book gave me an overview. I understood how easy it had been not to see the larger picture and therefore to miss the true significance of my actions. How simple this sounds, and how self-evident; yet, how insidious the nature of these experiences.
I too experienced this same shock of seeing how far my moral compass had moved when working in a corporate environment. Commission-only, profit-based thinking does indeed corrupt. Fortunately, it is often the more successful of us in that environment that wake up and smell the roses.
For me it conjures the image of a The United States Invades Panama 179 soldier. In the beginning, he is naive. He may question the morality of killing other people, but mostly he has to deal with his own fear, has to focus on survival. After he kills his first enemy, he is overwhelmed with emotions. He may wonder about the family of the dead man and feel a sense of remorse. But as time goes on and he participates in more battles, kills more people, he becomes hardened. He is transformed into a professional soldier. I had become a professional soldier.
John again gets personal and this shows integrity on his part. It also helped him understand the nature of evil:
Admitting that fact opened the door for a better understanding of the process by which crimes are committed and empires are built. I could now comprehend why so many people have committed atrocious acts — how, for example, good, family-loving Iranians could work for the shah’s brutal secret police, how good Germans could follow the orders of Hitler, how good American men and women could bomb Panama City.
John’s description of the genesis of Venezuala’s current woes is compelling, especially seeing what has happened in the decades since:
Venezuela was a classic case. However, as I watched events unfolding there, I was struck by the fact that the truly significant battle lines were being drawn in yet another country. They were significant not because they represented more in terms of dollars or human lives, but because they involved issues that went far beyond the materialistic goals that generally define empires. These battle lines extended beyond the armies of bankers, business executives, and politicians, deep into the soul of modern civilization. And they were being established in a country I had come to know and love, the one where I had first worked as a Peace Corps volunteer: Ecuador. In the years since I first went there, in 1968, this tiny country had evolved into the quintessential victim of the corporatocracy. My contemporaries and I, and our modern corporate equivalents, had managed to bring it to virtual bankruptcy. We loaned it billions of dollars so it could hire our engineering and construction firms to build projects that would help its richest families. As a result, in those three decades, the official poverty level grew from 50 to 70 percent, under- or unemployment increased from 15 to 70 percent, public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion, and the share of national resources allocated to the poorest citizens declined from 20 percent to 6 percent. Today, Ecuador must devote nearly 50 percent of its national budget simply to paving off its debts — instead of to helping the millions of its citizens who are officially classified as dangerously impoverished.
And Ecuador too, good people taking their time to out work evil . . .
The situation in Ecuador clearly demonstrates that this was not the result of a conspiracy; it was a process that had occurred during both Democratic and Republican administrations, a process that had involved all the major multinational banks, many corporations, and foreign aid missions from a multitude of countries. The United States played the lead role, but we had not acted alone. During those three decades, thousands of men and women participated in bringing Ecuador to the tenuous position it found itself in at the beginning of the millennium. Some of them, like me, had been aware of what they were doing, but the vast majority had merely performed the tasks they had been taught in business, engineering, and law schools, or had followed the lead of bosses in my mold, who demonstrated the system by their own greedy example and through rewards and punishments calculated to perpetuate it. Such participants saw the parts they played as benign, at worst; i n the most optimistic view, they were helping an impoverished nation. Although unconscious, deceived, and —in many cases —self-deluded, these players were not members of any clandestine conspiracy; rather, they were the product of a system that promotes the most subtle and effective form of imperialism the world has ever witnessed. No one had to go out and seek men and women who could be bribed or threatened—they had already been recruited by companies, banks, and government agencies. The bribes consisted of salaries, bonuses, pensions, and insurance policies; the threats were based on social mores, peer pressure, and unspoken questions about the future of their children’s education. The system had succeeded spectacularly. By the time the new millennium rolled in, Ecuador was thoroughly entrapped. We had her, just as a Mafia don has the man whose daughter’s wedding and small business he has financed and then refinanced. Like any good Mafiosi, we had taken our time. We could afford to be patient, knowing that beneath Ecuador’s rain forests lies a sea of oil, knowing that the proper day would come.
John continues talking about the USD which is correct to a point because of his US focus but it matters not which currency is the reserve currency, more that there is enslavement through the charging of interest. Any currency that is based upon usury is an enslavement technique used by the lender. Scripture makes this clear through its clear prohibition, except to be used by the ancient Israelites against their enemies.
In the final analysis, the global empire depends to a large extent on the fact that the dollar acts as the standard world currency, and that the United States Mint has the right to print those dollars. Thus, we make loans to countries like Ecuador with the full knowledge that they will never repay them; in fact, we do not want them to honor their debts, since the nonpayment is what gives us our leverage, our pound of flesh. Under normal conditions, we would run the risk of eventually decimating our own funds; after all, no creditor can afford too many defaulted loans. However, ours are not normal circumstances. The United States prints currency that is not backed by gold. Indeed, it is not backed by anything other than a general worldwide confidence in our economy and our ability to marshal the forces and resources of the empire we have created to support us. The ability to print currency gives us immense power. It means, among other things, that we can continue to make loans that will never be repaid —an d that we ourselves can accumulate huge debts.
It’s personal, you and me . . .
The real story of modern empire — of the corporatocracy that exploits desperate people and is executing history’s most brutal, selfish, and ultimately self-destructive resource-grab — has little to do with what was exposed in the newspapers that morning and has everything to do with us. An d that, of course, explains why we have such difficulty listening to the real story. We prefer to believe the myth that thousands of years of human social evolution has finally perfected the ideal economic system, rather than to face the fact we have merely bought into a false concept and accepted it as gospel. We have convinced ourselves that all economic growth benefits humankind, and that the greater the growth, the more widespread the benefits. Finally, we have persuaded one another that the corollary to this concept is valid and morally just: that people who excel at stoking the fires of economic growth should be exalted and rewarded, while those born at the fringes are available for exploitation… EHMs , jackals, and armies flourish for as long as their activities can be shown to generate economic growth —and they almost always demonstrate such growth. Thanks to the biased “sciences” of forecasting, econometrics, and statistics, if you bomb a city and then rebuild it, the data shows a huge spike in economic growth. The real story is that we are living a lie.
The truth be told here.
It would he great if we could just blame it all on a conspiracy, but we cannot. The empire depends on the efficacy of big banks, corporations, and governments—the corporatocracy—but it is not a conspiracy. This corporatocracy is ourselves —we make it happen—which, of course, is why most of us find it difficult to stand up and oppose it. We would rather glimpse conspirators lurking in the shadows, because most of us work for one of those banks, corporations, or governments, or in some way are dependent on them for the goods and services they produce and market. We cannot bring ourselves to bite the hand of the master who feeds us.
And therein lies the reason that evil perpetuates itself. Good people – Ewen Me – who do nothing, because they choose not to pay the price.
In the next post I share quotes from John’s update from 2015.