Thursday, February 26, 2009

Economic Hit Man - Epilogue


We have arrived at the end of this book, and also at a beginning . You are probably wondering where to go next, what you can do to stop the corporatocracy and to end this insane and self-destructive march to global empire . You are ready to leave the book behind and pounce on the world.

You want ideas, and I could offer you some .

I could point out that the chapter you just read, about Bechtel and Halliburton in Iraq, is old news . By the time you read it, it may seem redundant. However, the significance of those newspaper articles goes far beyond the timeliness of their content . That chapter, I hope, will change the way you view the news, help you to read between the lines of every newspaper article that comes before you and to question the deeper implications of every radio and television report you tune in to.

Things are not as they appear. NBC is owned by General Electric , ABC by Disney, CBS by Viacom, and CNN is part of the huge AOL Time Warner conglomerate. Most of our newspapers, magazines, and publishing houses are owned — and manipulated —by gigantic international corporations . Our media is part of the corporatocracy. The officers and directors who control nearly all our communications outlets know their places ; they are taught throughout life that one of their most important jobs is to perpetuate, strengthen, and expand the system they have inherited . They are very efficient at doing so, and when opposed, they can be ruthless . So the burden falls on you to see the truth beneath the veneer and to expose it . Speak it to your family and friends ; spread the word .

I could give you a list of practical things to do . For instance, cu t back on your oil consumption . In 1990, before we first invaded Iraq , we imported 8 million barrels of oil ; by 2003 and the second invasion, this had increased more than 50 percent, to over 12 million barrels .' The next time you are tempted to go shopping, read a boo k instead, exercise, or meditate . Downsize your home, wardrobe, car , office, and most everything else in your life . Protest against "free" trade agreements and against companies that exploit desperate people in sweatshops or that pillage the environment .

I could tell you that there is great hope within the current system, that there is nothing inherently wrong with banks, corporations, and governments — or with the people who manage them — and that they certainly do not have to compose a corporatocracy . I could go into detail about how the problems confronting us today are not the result of malicious institutions ; rather, they stem from fallacious concepts about economic development . The fault lies not in the institutions themselves, but in our perceptions of the manner in which they function and interact with one another, and of the role their managers play in that process.

In fact, those highly effective worldwide communications and distribution networks could be used to bring about positive and compassionate changes . Imagine if the Nike swoosh, MacDonald's arches, and Coca-Cola logo became symbols of companies whose primary goals were to clothe and feed the world's poor in environmentally beneficial ways . This is no more unrealistic than putting a man on the moon, breaking up the Soviet Union, or creating the infrastructure that allows those companies to reach every corner of the planet. We need a revolution in our approach to education, to empower ourselves and our children to think, to question, and to dare to act. You can set an example . Be a teacher and a student ; inspire everyone around you through your example .

I could encourage you to take specific actions that will impact the institutions in your life . Speak out whenever any forum presents itself, write letters and e-mails, phone in questions and concerns, vote for enlightened school boards, county commissions, and local ordinances. When you must shop, do it consciously ; get personally involved . I could remind you of what the Shuars told me in 1990, that the world is as you dream it, and that we can trade in that old nightmare of polluting industries, clogged highways, and overcrowded cities for a new dream based on Earth-honoring and socially responsible principles of sustainability and equality. It is within our power to transform ourselves, to change the paradigm .

I could enumerate the amazing opportunities we have available to us for creating a better world, right now : enough food and water for everyone ; medicines to cure diseases and to prevent epidemics that needlessly plague millions of people today ; transportation systems

that can deliver life 's essentials to even the most remote corners of the planet ; the ability to raise literacy levels and to provide Internet services that could make it possible for every person on the planet to communicate with every other person ; tools for conflict resolution that could render wars obsolete ; technologies that explore both the vastness of space and the most minute, subatomic energy, which could then be applied to developing more ecologic and efficient homes for everyone ; sufficient resources to accomplish all of the above; and much more.

I could suggest steps for you to take immediately, to help others understand the crises and the opportunities .

Offer study groups about Confessions of an Economic Hit Man at your local bookstore or library, or both (a guideline for doing this is available at .

Develop a presentation for a nearby elementary school on your favorite subject (sports, cooking, ants — almost anything), and use it to help students wake up to the true nature of the society they are inheriting .

Send e-mails to all the addresses in your file, expressing feelings triggered by this and other books you read .

But I suspect you have already thought of most of these things . You just need to pick a couple that most appeal to you and do them , and to realize that all of these are part of a much greater commitment that you and I must make . We must commit ourselves absolutely and unequivocally to shaking ourselves and everyone around us awake. We must hear the wisdom of the prophecies, open our hearts and minds to the possibilities, become conscious, and then take action .

However, this book is not a prescription ; it is a confession, pure and simple. It is the confession of a man who allowed himself to become a pawn, an economic hit man ; a man who bought into a corrupt system because it offered so many perks, and because buying in was easy to justify ; a man who knew better but who could always find excuses for his own greed, for exploiting desperate people and pillaging the planet ; a man who took full advantage of the fact that he was born into one of the wealthiest societies history has ever known, and who also could pity himself because his parents were not at the top of the pyramid ; a man who listened to his teachers , read the textbooks on economic development, and then followed the example of other men and women who legitimatize every action that promotes global empire, even if that action results in murder, genocide, and environmental destruction ; a man who trained others to follow in his footsteps . It is my confession .

The fact that you have read this far indicates that you can relate on some personal level to my confession, that you and I share a lot in common. We may have traveled different roads, but we have driven similar vehicles, used the same fuels, and stopped to eat at restaurants owned by the same corporations.

For me, confessing was an essential part of my personal wake-up call. Like all confessions, it is the first step toward redemption .

Now it is your turn. You need to make your own confession . When you come clean on who you are, why you are here during this time in history, why you have done the things you have — the ones you are proud of, and those others—and where you intend to go next, you will experience an immediate sense of relief . It may be nothing less than euphoric.

Believe me when I say that writing this book has been deeply emotional, and often a painful and humiliating experience . It has been frightening in a way nothing I ever faced before has been frightening . But it has opened me to a sense of relief I have never known until now, a feeling I can only describe as ecstatic .

Ask yourself these questions . What do I need to confess? How have I deceived myself and others? Where have I deferred? Why have I allowed myself to be sucked into a system that I know is unbalanced? What will I do to make sure our children, and all children everywhere, are able to fulfill the dream of our Founding Fathers, the dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? What course will I take to end the needless starvation, and make sure there is never again a day like September 11? How can I help our children understand that people who live gluttonous, unbalanced lives should be pitied but never, ever emulated, even if those people present themselves, through the media they control, as cultural icons and try to convince us that penthouses and yachts bring happiness? What changes will I commit to making in my attitudes and perceptions ? What forums will I use to teach others and to learn more on my own ?

These are the essential questions of our time . Each of us needs to answer them in our own way and to express our answers clearly, unequivocally. Paine and Jefferson and all the other patriots are watching over our shoulders. Their words continue to inspire us today. The spirits of those men and women who left their farms and fishing boats and headed out to confront the mighty British Empire , and of those who fought to emancipate the slaves during the Civil War, and of those who sacrificed their lives to protect the world from fascism, speak to us . As do the spirits of the ones who stayed at home and produced the food and clothes and gave their moral support , and of all the men and women who have defended what was won on those battlefields : the teachers, poets, artists, entrepreneurs, health workers, the manual laborers . .. you and me .

The hour is ours . It is now time for each and every one of us to step up to the battle line, to ask the important questions, to search our souls for our own answers, and to take action.

The coincidences of your life, and the choices you have made in response to them, have brought you to this point ...

- pages 221-225, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins

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