I quote here extensively from John Perkins’ updated classic, The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and show how his first work, while solid lacked the depth that any study of evil requires. Insidious, comprehensive, deceptive, ubiquitous, tempting are all suitable descriptions of this form of corporate evil that puts profits ahead of process. John’s solution (although unstated as such) is godly in that it requires individual accountability.
In a previous post I quoted extensively from John Perkins’ classic work, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, showing how the greed of corporates enabled evil. Economic Hit Men like John (EHM’s as they call themselves) have not only morphed into mainstream, they have also multiplied exponentially. Two things make this more relevant to this series: a) John’s increased awareness of what he did as an EHM, and b) The normalisation of the excesses of capitalism that is now the norm in society. Evil is having its way and must implode sooner or later. Whether this is sooner (as many alternative sources believe with Donald Trump’s imminent return to power) or later (which is my take) is yet to be determined. Personally, I think that the New Age movement’s push for increased “global consciousness” whatever that means, needs to be given a chance to be seen for what it is (i.e. mankind’s efforts to better mankind without reference to the Creator). This may take a generation, or two, or ten to outwork!
In the introduction to his updated version John explains that he thinks that “It is also time for a new edition because the world has changed radically.”
The EHM system — based primarily on debt and fear — is even more treacherous now than it was in 2004. The EHMs have radically expanded their ranks and have adopted new disguises and tools. And we in the United States have been “hit” — badly. The entire world has been hit. We know that we teeter on the edge of disaster — economic, political, social, and environmental disaster. We must change. This story must be told. We live in a time of terrible crisis — and tremendous opportunity. The story of this particular economic hit man is the story of how we got to where we are and why we currently face crises that often seem insurmountable.John Perkins, October 2015
John’s take on reality does not come from a Christian perspective, thus we differ in some important regards, but a lot of his analysis does concur with the biblical worldview. For example even though he doesn’t actually say this based on his recognition of his conscience (a major part of his first book) he does accept that there is such a thing as a right and a wrong; and that we are individually accountable for our actions. He also sees individuals acting together as the solution and this is also the way of the Master, working “with the one”. In this regard, his analysis that follows is IMHO astute.
The EHMs succeed because we collaborate with them. They seduce, cajole, and threaten us, but they win only when we look the other way or simply give in to their tactics …
He continues with his assessment of changes in the decade between the two versions:
The treacherous cancer beneath the surface, which was revealed in the original Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, has metasta-sized. It has spread from the economically developing countries to the United States and the rest of the world; it attacks the very foundations of democracy and the planet’s lifesupport systems. All the EHM and jackal tools — false economics, false promises, threats, bribes, extortion, debt, deception, coups, assassinations, unbridled military power — are used around the world today, even more than during the era I exposed more than a decade ago. Although this cancer has spread widely and deeply, most people still aren’t aware of it; yet all of us are impacted by the collapse it has caused. It has become the dominant system of economics, government, and society today.
And his analysis of the system hits to the heart of evil – pride. He doesn’t get that deep but almost. He does though highlight that trickery and deception are used to fool us:
Fear and debt drive this system. We are hammered with messages that terrify us into believing that we must pay any price, assume any debt, to stop the enemies who, we are told, lurk at our doorsteps. The problem comes from somewhere else. Insurgents. Terrorists. “Them.” And its solution requires spending massive amounts of money on goods and services produced by what I call the corporatocracy — vast networks of corporations, banks, colluding governments, and the rich and powerful people tied to them. We go deeply into debt; our country and its financial henchmen at the World Bank and its sister institutions coerce other countries to go deeply into debt; debt enslaves us and it enslaves those countries. These strategies have created a “death economy” — one based on wars or the threat of war, debt, and the rape of the earth’s resources. It is an unsustainable economy that depletes at ever-increasing rates the very resources upon which it depends and at the same time poisons the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat. Although the death economy is built on a form of capitalism, it is important to note that the word capitalism refers to an economic and political system in which trade and industry are controlled by private owners rather than the state. It includes local farmers’ markets as well as this very dangerous form of global corporate capitalism, controlled by the corporatocracy, which is predatory by nature, has created a death economy, and ultimately is self-destructive.
In the following section he points out evidence of global conspiracy but seeks to break it down into smaller conspiracies. This oversight IMHO is because he cannot see, or has not considered the spiritual. The instant that he acknowledges that there is indeed an overarching conspiracy launched as an attack on Adam & Eve, he will then see how it all falls into place and indeed it is all “so simple”!
Some would blame our current problems on an organized global conspiracy. I wish it were so simple. Although, as I point out later, there are hundreds of conspiracies — not just one grand conspiracy — that affect all of us, this EHM system is fueled by something far more dangerous than a global conspiracy. It is driven by concepts that have become accepted as gospel. We believe that all economic growth benefits humankind and that the greater the growth, the more widespread the benefits. Similarly, we believe 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. And we believe that any means — including those used by today’s EHMs and jackals — are justified to promote economic growth; preserve our comfortable, affluent Western way of life; and wage war against anyone (such as Islamic terrorists) who might threaten our economic well-being, comfort, and security … What I had not anticipated was the flexibility in the EHM system or its absolute determination to defend and promote the death economy. I had not anticipated the rise of an entirely new class of EHMs and jackals.
This next section demonstrates a logical fallacy, one that is critical for conspiracy deniers to understand, called a Strawman argument (and more). What this experienced man is doing is redefining the world by his experiences. We all do this but in this case it brings about failure. Fortunately John explains exactly what he believes and more importantly does not believe and this helps us define things so that we can see where the issues lie. He says,
I still do not believe in the grand conspiracy theory. In my experience, there is no secret club of individuals who get together to plot illegal, world dominating strategies.
This is the strawman, because to the Christian whether he is right or wrong about a “secret club …” doesn’t matter. Sitting above all of this is a greater conspiracy – the fight of evil taking on God by way of temptation. That exists for real as John admits now …
However, I do know that part of the power of the EHM system is that it foments many small conspiracies. By “small,” I mean that they are focused on specific objectives. Such conspiracies — secret actions to accomplish illegal goals — happened when I was just beginning school, such as the CIA coup that replaced the democratically elected Iranian prime minister, Mossadegh, with the shah, in 1953. They continued during my high school years; consider the CIA-supported Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, in 1963. But I became most aware of them when I was an EHM and the CIA arranged the assassinations of my two clients, Ecuador’s Roldós and Panama’s Torrijos, in 1981. Then, as I began writing the original of this book in 2002, there was the US-led conspiracy to overthrow Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez. After that came the conspiratorial lie about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This was followed by a flurry of conspiracies against leaders and governments in the Middle East and Africa. While I was an EHM, the goals of most conspiracies were to further US and corporate interests in the economically developing countries — to do whatever it took, including overthrowing or killing government leaders, to enable our companies to exploit resources.
And there you have it. John essentially admits to, then ascribes the “smaller [deceptive] conspiracies” to evil. It requires simple faith then to match those perfectly valid perceptions to a greater conspiracy. Who cares whether it is the Illuminati, Rothschild’s or the Vatican and the Phoenician families who are a “secret club of individuals who get together to plot illegal, world dominating strategies” or whether this is for real? I accept that indeed the money men of the world work with the businessmen of the world who most certainly do work with the politicians of the world and that they indeed do attempt to leverage their positions for their increased power and wealth. Evil certainly exists and logically you simply can’t prove a negative!
I came to understand … that my most important lesson since the publication of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was similar to the one I had learned as a Peace Corps volunteer working with Andean brick makers: the only reason the EHM system works is because the rest of us give it permission to work. At best, we look the other way; at worst, we actively support it.
Amen! But this is way more than just the power of positive thinking here. John recounts the story of a banker who challenged him to consider corruption back home in the USA, not just elsewhere where John performed his EHM work.
“We use the same tools as you EHMs — on our own folks.” He [this banker] proceeded to tell me that in recent years bankers had convinced clients to purchase houses that were beyond their means. “A young newlywed couple comes in,” he said, “and asks for a mortgage on a $300,000 home. We convince them to buy a $500,000 one.” He swished the wine in his glass and studied the residue. “We say, ‘You may have to tighten your belt a little, but soon your house will be worth a million dollars.’” He shook his head sadly. “They’ve been told to trust their banker. Used to be that people in my position would try to talk prospective debtors down, not up. We were supposed to do everything to avoid foreclosures. But that all changed.
“Drink, dance, consume, and be merry. For us bankers, it was money, money, money. We tried to instill in our clients the idea that there is no tomorrow. Bin Laden will kill us all. So go into debt, buy that big house, fancy car . . .” He took a sip of wine. “When the bottom fell out of the market, the banks foreclosed, repackaged the loans, and ended up earning huge returns, while that young couple and thousands like them filed for bankruptcy.”
Greed, passed off as good, smart business. John continued sharing stories of corruption in business then repeated troubles within the financial sector:
The Libor is used to calculate payments on hundreds of trillions of dollars’ worth of loans and other investments. It had been accepted as an objectively and mathematically derived benchmark for establishing interest rates. However, it now was revealed that the Libor had been illegally manipulated by the banks from 1991 until 2012. As a result, the bankers accumulated immeasurable sums of illicit profits.
And this was trillions, not just mere billions!
In the 1970s, economic hit men were executives and consultants at a few multinational corporations and consulting companies. Today’s EHMs are executives and consultants at thousands of multinational corporations, consulting companies, investment funds, industry groups, and associations — as well as an army of lobbyists that represents all of these. The similarities of the EHMs of the past to those of the present, as well as the differences between them, were on my mind in April 2013.
A major change is that this EHM system, today, is also at work in the United States and other economically developed countries. It is everywhere. And there are many more variations on each of these tools. There are hundreds of thousands more EHMs spread around the world. They have created a truly global empire. They are working in the open as well as in the shadows. This system has become so widely and deeply entrenched that it is the normal way of doing business and therefore is not alarming to most people. These men and women convince government officials to give them favorable tax and regulatory treatment. They force countries to compete against one another for the opportunity to host their facilities. Their ability to locate their production plants in one country, their tax-sheltered banking in a second, their phone call centers in a third, and their headquarters in a fourth gives them immense leverage. Countries must vie with one another to offer the most lenient environmental and social regulations and the lowest wage and tax rates. In many cases, governments swamp themselves with debt so they can offer perks to subsidize corporations. In the past decade we’ve watched this happen to countries such as Iceland, Spain, Ireland, and Greece, in addition to the economically developing countries, where it has been going on longer. When the subtler approaches fail, government officials learn that some damaging aspect of their personal lives, which they thought was secret, will be exposed or even, in some cases, fabricated. Another change is evident in the justification used for the EHM tactics. Then, it was protecting the world from Communist take-over, from the Vietcong and other revolutionary groups, or from threats to our affluent American way of life. Today, the justification is stopping terrorists, fighting Islamic extremists, promoting economic growth, or saving our affluent way of life.
Sad . . .
“Yes,” he said. “Fear, debt, and another very important strategy: divide and conquer.” … I asked what he thought it would take to transform the death economy into a life economy. “You have to go after the businessmen, the CEOs and major stockholders of the multinationals that run the world. They are the roots of the problem.”
I agree. The HOW to “go after” them though is the real issue for me.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch described the banks’ foreign currency scheme as “a brazen display of collusion and foreign exchange rate market manipulation.” She went on to call it a “breathtaking conspiracy.” The words collusion and conspiracy, spoken by the US attorney general, are especially telling, given that they were used in reference to the secret collaboration of banks that for years had been considered some of the most trusted businesses in the world. The actions of the banks demonstrate that everything — conspiracy, collusion, fraud, unfair competitive practices — is justified by the corporatocracy, so long as it earns large profits.
I was struck by the contrasts between the ways we EHMs had operated and the ruthlessness of the modern bankers. In my day, we worked hard to justify debts. We crafted fancy econometric models to demonstrate that our projects would generate economic growth in the targeted countries. In addition to convincing the citizens of those countries, we also needed to convince ourselves. These modern EHMs did not find it necessary to justify their actions. They were blatant. They were defiant. They were utterly ruthless. They relished their roles as bandits and mafiosi, bragged about being part of a cartel. It shocked and infuriated me to see that this new breed took pride in exploiting everyone else. Then, slowly, I realized that my anger was not limited to the bankers. It included the regulators. This conspiracy had operated with impunity for at least five years. Who was watching? The lack of oversight was testament to the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” attitude that is pervasive among government agencies. It is another aspect of the EHM system. Those in charge believe they are entitled to do whatever it takes to help the banks — and other corporations — realize the goal of maximizing profits, regardless of the social or environmental consequences.
My colleagues and I did whatever we thought it would take to expand the corporate, capitalist empire. That was the real goal. The World Bank motto was a subterfuge. We convinced government leaders that unless they accepted our loans and paid us to train their militaries and build up their infrastructures, their citizens would be ruled by brutal Stalin-style dictators. Corporate capitalism would boost them out of the dark ages of feudalism and into the modern era of US-driven prosperity. It is a system that has mushroomed since Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was first published. Today, in addition to the World Bank, it is promoted by the private banks — by the individuals who admit to criminal activities and, instead of prison terms, receive multimillion-dollar bonuses. They and their corporate colleagues convince people around the world that success is defined by personal assets rather than by contributions to the greater community, that privatization and deregulation protect the public, that government assistance for the needy is wasteful and counterproductive, that personal debt is better than government investment in social services, and that men and women who live in mansions and travel in private jets and luxury yachts are icons to be emulated.
Activities that would have been viewed as immoral, unacceptable, and illegal in the United States in my EHM days are now standard practice. They may be covered in a patina of oblique rhetoric, but beneath that surface, the same old tools — including a combination of threats, bribes, falsified reports, extortion, sex, and sometimes violence — are applied at the highest levels of business and government. EHMs are ubiquitous.
Most of these politicians, along with thousands of other men and women who pass through the “revolving door,” don’t call themselves lobbyists. They work for law firms and go by euphemistic titles such as “counselor,” “consultant,” or “adviser in government affairs” — just as I officially was “chief economist” for a highly regarded consulting firm. However, their real job, as mine was, is to con governments and the public into submitting to policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer. They are EHMs, paid to support the corporatocracy, expand the corporate empire, and spread the tentacles of the death economy across the planet. They hide in the shadows, yet their influence is immeasurable.
Boeing leveraged their power to secure major tax and other advantages from the local authorities.
The lack of transparency, the secrecy surrounding the influence peddling of lobbyists, makes it impossible to accurately measure the full impact of such activities. However, each of the biggest companies doing business in the United States today has upward of one hundred lobbyists. The way Boeing manipulated Washington State officials illustrates the methods used by a special class of EHMs known as “site location consultants.” Although they technically could be classified as lobbyists, they are highly specialized. For years, they have been involved in the economically developing countries. However, today, as the Boeing case shows, they are a major factor in the United States. Business schools and planners may claim that corporate decisions about locating their job-creating facilities are based on rational analyses of such objective factors as proximity to suppliers and customers, labor markets, existing infrastructure conditions of transportation networks, and the price of energy, but the greatest determinant in many cases has become the deal made with local governments. Site location consultants play to fears that communities will be rejected unless they offer the most lenient environmental and social regulations, the lowest tax rates, and other incentives. Although public officials are usually eager to arrange such deals, they overlook the long-term consequences — deteriorating schools, roads, recreational facilities, and natural resources — even though, ironically, such community assets benefit the entire community, including the corporation’s own employees.
And the rise and use too of vulture funds is a more recent development.
Vulture funds are one more example of how this EHM cancer has metastasized. After a country has defaulted and fallen into a state of economic chaos, these funds purchase that country’s debt for a few cents on the dollar. Then, when the country’s economy begins to recover, the funds demand payment of the debt, plus interest, often tacking on additional fees. Many take this a step further by suing businesses that try to work with the target country, thus compounding the damage by scaring off potential investors.
In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, I portrayed the World Bank and its affiliates as organizations that use debt to enslave nations. That certainly was and is correct. Since then, however, the vulture funds have elevated debt-asslavery to new levels. Like so many activities promoted by EHMs, vulture funds not only devastate their target countries but also destabilize the global economy.
Drone use was covered.
The ability and willingness of the corporatocracy to spy on our every movement and to take action — including imprisonment without habeas corpus, or assassination — when we do anything perceived as a threat to its greed-driven power is virtually unlimited. And totally undemocratic. Its lobbyists own our elected officials. Its special operations teams conduct illegal assassinations. Its low-flying pilots and robot jackals monitor our phone and Internet conversations. All of this is part of the corporatocracy’s determination to do whatever it deems it will take to maintain control.
After the demise of the Soviet Union, the new corporate barons believed they had license to do whatever they deemed it would take to realize their goal of maximizing profits, including corrupting politicians and manipulating the legal system. “Aid” organizations such as the World Bank increased the interest rates on loans, made political demands, and imposed conditionalities on the debtor countries, influencing the way they governed themselves and related to the United States and the corporations. It did not take long for people in those nations to recognize that they were being exploited. However, they had nowhere to turn, no counterbalancing power. The Soviet Union was gone. The economically developing countries had no choice but to give in and feel abused and resentful.
I watched this in real-time in Samoa with my relationship with the Prime Minister Tuila’epa. I’ve shared previously that in 2010 I attempted to balance the UN’s bribery of many smaller nations in Cancun, Mexico. Tui however simply told me after having read my 3,000 word report over the weekend, “Dennis, I just want the money!” I’m sure he got his personal share as well as the millions that came in for Tsunami relief, or was it Climate Change purposes? [sarcasm of course!].
Then, almost overnight, China emerged as a new world power. Its meteoric rise as an economic giant and major player in international manufacturing and trade thrust it onto the world stage as that counterbalance. China appears to have learned from mistakes made by the United States, its allies, and the corporatocracy. Chinese loans usually are not accompanied by draconian demands — the conditionalities of World Bank and IMF deals — such as voting for specific UN policies, trading only in dollars, or allowing the establishment of military bases occupied by foreign troops. China makes promises that the factories it builds will continue to operate in the long term. It remains to be seen whether such promises will be kept, but the United States promotes “free trade” agreements that do exactly the opposite. However, despite China’s apparent aptitude at doing it better than the United States and its allies, the simple fact remains that China is using debt — massive amounts of it — to further its own EHM system, to control countries and their resources.
Again I watched this too in realtime as Chinese influence abounded in Samoa. I could and have shared many a story about power, the abuse of power and societal change in this regard.
It [the solution according to John Perkins] isn’t about changing the mechanics of economics. It is about changing the ideas, the dogmas that have driven economics for centuries: debt and fear, insufficiency, divide and conquer. It is about moving from ideas about merely being sustainable to ones that include regenerating areas devastated by agriculture, mining, and other destructive activities. It is about revolution. The transition from a death economy to a life economy is truly about a change in consciousness — a consciousness revolution.
This is true to a point but it uses New Age concepts that to me fall far short of a true and lasting solution. A global consciousness change may indeed occur – be this called a Christ-consciousness, an ET engineered event, a spiritual awakening akin the arise of Aquarius or whatever will be welcome but according to Jesus if it fails to bring the glory to the true Father, the Lord as the Christian God then it must always fail in its redeeming role. It will like all other revolutions simply reset the stage for the same cycles to repeat.
John’s following words of wisdom come from the central-American jungle, “The world is as we dream it”.
… and we’ve been living a dream that combines excessive materialism with a divide-and-conquer, them-versus-us mentality. “If I am to have more stuff,” we’ve told ourselves, “I must take from them.” It is time to change that mind-set. It is time to act in ways that support a new dream. .. It is the dream that indigenous people and spiritual teachers — from Mother Teresa to the Dalai Lama, from the Buddha to Pope Francis — have always dreamed. It is a dream of love — for ourselves, for each other, for nature, and for the planet. It is a dream that tells us to replace the old dream of a death economy with a new dream of a life economy.
He concludes with an apt description of how evil enters and controls:
This book has described the four pillars of modern empire: fear, debt, insufficiency (the temptation to keep consuming more), and the divide-and conquer mind-set. The idea that anything and everything is justified — coups and assassinations, drone strikes, NSA eavesdropping — as long as it props up those four pillars has shackled us to a feudal and corrupt system. It is a system that cannot be sustained.
The Good Book explains that “the system” is corrupted. It is the Lord’s way to speak the truth, then to bless or curse according to our faith. It is our response that matters. Obedience brings blessing. Pride brings a curse.
Humility is required for the former. An implosion is inevitable for the latter.