Don’t keep silent about things that matter…

Sunday night actor and activist Jesse Williams was the recipient of the Humanitarian Award at BET’s 16th annual awards show. In a speech that left the internet buzzing, Williams simultaneously uplifting the oft and maliciously neglected demographic of Black women, demanded white people do the work of dismantling the system of oppression designed and maintained for their exclusive […]

via Heard It All Before: On Jesse Williams and Biracial Privilege — THE KINFOLK KOLLECTIVE

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Interesting perspective…

Thanks to an ever-growing number of international agreements, the taxes and tariffs that once slowed international trade are disappearing, making it easier to import, export, and do business across state lines. Increasingly, we do business in a borderless world. Wealthy people don’t just do business in a borderless world–they live in it. They have their…

via Brexit changes nothing for the elite and their capital, but ordinary Brits will have no place left to turn — Quartz

NEW-AGE IMPERIALISM

Hello There 🙂

Apologies for the infrequency of my posts. I use the term infrequency rather loosely considering I have made only one post. But fret not, that all changes today.

Today’s topic of interest, John Perkins book “The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” written 12 years ago in 2004. (Take a second to process that 2004 is actually over a decade ago). I cannot believe I stumbled upon this book that has been lying dormant in one of numerous academic folders labelled ‘Read This’. I cannot believe that I am only reading this now (Actually read it in 10 hours). More than anything I cannot believe that the world and civilization as we know it has not come to a grinding halt, as a result of the revelations of this book. To give you an idea of its contents, allow me to quote from the preface:

“Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the US 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.”

Perkins provides a useful account of how he engaged in a world shrouded in secrecy and misinformation, which existed solely to advance the imperialistic agenda of the American state. In so doing he consciously aided and in the rape and pillaging of numerous Latin American states, indebting them to the infamous money lenders of the era, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He most certainly has a gift when it comes to writing, because he has successfully managed to weave a tragic tale of deception, greed and absolute power run amok in such a human and altruistic way that one cannot read the pages without ‘feeling’. And to feel is an important thing. Feeling inspires one to action. It is my hope that you will give the book a read and let me know if it struck a chord with you. Forward it to friends and family and get their opinions. In this post I will do my best to summarize the key takeaways that I hope you will reflect and comment on.

The ‘corporatocracy’ referred to is the interconnected web of banks, international, local, non-governmental and state institutions that work together to accomplish the end goal of a global empire; whose epicenter resides in the territory of the United States. Simply put, you and I may very well be contributors to this subtle form of imperialism by unknowingly lending our services to these well-established conglomerates of law firms, oil companies and think tanks who exist for the sole purpose of extricating the highest possible profits for a select cadre of stakeholders. This is done with no consideration of the human faces behind some of the decisions that are arrived at. This point is reiterated by Perkins:

Executives at our most respected companies hire people at near-slave wages to toil under inhuman conditions in Asian sweatshops. Oil companies wantonly pump toxins into rain forest rivers, consciously killing people, animals, and plants, and committing genocide among ancient cultures. The pharmaceutical industry denies lifesaving medicines to millions of HIV-infected Africans. Twelve million families in our own United States worry about their next meal.

The power of this book, even in 2016, is the fact that it is thought provoking. Whether you believe whole-heartedly in the incendiary remarks Perkins makes, or decide to chalk it up to mere conjecture; here are some of the more ominous correlations that I would hope you would contemplate upon:

  • ‘FREE MEDIA’? How much of the information we receive is actually unbiased and factual? We live in a time and age where CNN and NBC are headed by private firms. Implication: information can be massaged to fit a particular narrative. Solution: read widely in order to get a holistic picture, don’t rely strictly on ‘popular’/ ‘credible’ media houses.

Isn’t it interesting that in order to get information on the war in South Sudan we immediately defer to Al Jazeera and the BBC. Why can’t the African Union come up with a media platform that highlights stories of concern about the Continent?

  • FOREIGN ‘AID’? Perkins elucidates the false premise that aid is good because it leads to development and economic growth. Economic growth should not be synonymous with the growth of the purchasing power of political elites. If the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, the system is in need of revision.

Take a look at Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid and/or this article on the false image of economic growth as depicted by Kenya in this analysis.

  • POWER? Is there no hope for developing nations that have found themselves ensnared in the loan repayment cycle? If it isn’t foreign powers exploiting state resources in the name of debt compensation it is inept political leaders squandering aid proceeds and leaving later generations with the debt burden.

Will challengers of the status quo (Patrice Lumumba/Robert Ouko/Omar Torrijos/Mohammed Mossadegh) always face the same fate? Is there a way that support can be rallied for the cause of justice and equality?

  • ELITES? The wealth and resource accumulation among a handful of families is as evident now as it was when Perkins penned down his thoughts. This has been reinforced more recently by the Panama Papers leak. Billions of dollars that could single-handedly contribute to alleviating poverty, hunger and illness remain stashed away in overseas banks. Beyond the money itself, the echelons of power continue to not only be male dominated but also dominated by the same males. One man ostensibly moves from being a Multinational Company Director, to Defense Minister, to Head of State on a planet with human resource numbers in the billions.

Why are theories such as the Dependency theory and the age old Marxism and Communism consistently undermined despite highly relatable precepts? How do Latin American/African scholastic views on the above differ from eurocentric ones?

  • DRUG TRADE AND TERRORISM. Perkins brings to the fore point rarely focused upon in academic and policy circles. Rebels in countries like Colombia and Afghanistan have been driven to growing coca and poppies because there is no other sustainable source of income. Rebels in countries like Ecuador are rebelling against the destruction of their cultures and indigenous lands and selling drugs to buy Kalashnikovs and American-manufactured guns to win the war. Terrorists are tired of putting up with years of blatant US intervention in the Middle East which has most often been characterized by unendorsed invasions (Iraq and Kuwait), support to despots (Saddam Hussein and the Saudi Kingdom) and outright assassinations of revolutionaries like Mohammad Mossadegh.

There are root causes (political, social and economic in nature) that drive normal hardworking citizens to engage in uncharacteristic behavior in order to survive.

  • THE 51ST STATE. Perkins makes a compelling case for the uncharacteristic support Saudi Arabia has enjoyed from the US. His basic premise is that a mutual pact was entered into whereby American firms would transport Saudi Arabia into the future by modernizing every aspect of the country. Saudi Arabia would only need to ensure that American firms retained these lucrative billion dollar deals and assuredly have a powerful ally whenever they advanced any foreign policy agendas.
  • WAR FOR RESOURCE DOMINATION. Perhaps the most sinister observations made were those relating to key states and their contribution to American aggrandizement. Take for instance Panama, leaders died and dictators were supported all because the US could not lose the Canal Zone. “Whoever controls Iraq controls the Middle East”. Not only does it have oil but it contains the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, critical water sources in a by and large desert region. Colombia is also a crucial state as it caters to a number of American needs in terms or imports and is also a market for burgeoning services from the US such as construction and the drug trade.

What has been the historical nature of the governments in these countries? Why are they seemingly inextricably mired in war and violence? 

These are just some of the issues that stood out for me. What are your views on this? Let’s not forget our own collusion in sustaining a system that continues to disenfranchise the weak.

“It’s no measure of health to be well- adjusted to a profoundly sick society “-Jidda Krishnamurti

{SOURCES HAVE BEEN LINKED THROUGHOUT THE DOCUMENT}