(originally recorded 2010 The Hillary Raimo Show on Achieve Radio)
Hillary Raimo: My Guest tonight, John Perkins first book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was a ground breaking story about corporate greed in America. It’s destructive global influence on developing third world countries and the role he, himself played in that destruction. The book spent nearly a year on the New York Times Bestseller List and went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed nonfiction books of the year.
Perkins goes into even more depth in this book, The Secret History of the American Empire. About the machiavellian manipulation of the global economy by what he calls the corporatocracy of America. And what we as responsible citizens can do to help put a stop to it.
In his other book Hoodwinked, he pulls back the curtain on the real cause of the current global financial meltdown. He shows how we’ve been “hoodwinked” by the CEO’s who run the corporatocracy. Those few corporations that control the vast amounts of capital, land and resources around the globe and the politicians they manipulate. Theses corporate fat cats, John explains, have sold us all on what he calls predatory capitalism.
John Perkins: Thanks, Hillary. It’s my pleasure to be here.
Hillary Raimo: Well I have a lot of questions for you tonight. Lets start with what exactly is an economic hit man?
John Perkins: Well Hillary, I think it’s fair to say that we economic hit men have created the worlds first truly global empire. Primarily without the military for the first time in history, with true economics. Although we have many different approaches to doing this, I think the most common one would be to identify countries with resources corporations covet like oil and generate huge loans to that country for the world bank or one of its sister organizations.
Yet the money doesn’t go to the country, it instead goes to our own corporations that build power plants and highways, industrial parks. Big infrastructure projects that, of course bring in a lot of money to those corporations. And help a few wealthy families in those countries. But do not help the majority of the people, who are too poor to benefit from them. And yet those people, the citizens of the country are left holding a debt they can’t possibly repay.
So we go back to the country at some point and say since you can’t repay your debt, sell your oil real cheap to our oil companies or whatever the resource is, without any environmental restrictions, vote with us in the United Nations, allow us to build military base on your land. Really be part of our empire.
And when the few cases when we fail, and I talk in my books about how I failed with the President of Ecuador, Jamie Roldos and the Panamanian President, Omar Torrijos. I wasn’t able to corrupt and I wasn’t able to get them to accept these deals, to play the game. They were both assassinated by people we call jackals. And these are men or women who either are with rogue governments or assassinate their leaders. They step in when, in the few instances when we economic hit men fail.
Hillary Raimo: So you are saying the big corporations have become so large and have gained so much power that they are able to act like private governments and are going in and exploiting these people?
John Perkins: Yeah, the big corporations run the government. It’s not the other way around unfortunately. I think, well I don’t know if it’s unfortunate or not, but it’s just the way things are. And that’s changed in my lifetime really. They used to be, when we looked at the world as this globe of roughly 200 countries, a few of those countries have a lot of power, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States. But today we better envision the globe, still roughly 200 countries, but these huge clouds drifting around it. These are the big corporations. And they don’t know any national boundaries or listen to any specific sets of laws. They strike deals with whatever country satisfies them, or whatever one has the resources or markets they’re interested in exploiting. They’re really calling the shots. They own the mainstream media. They own most of the politicians one way or another around the world. They really are the new power.
We are at a time in history, Hillary that kind of like when, the city states became nations. Except this time the nations are becoming irreverent, it’s the big corporations that are ruling.
Hillary Raimo: John, how did you get involved in this kind of work?
John Perkins: Well, I was recruited by the National Security Agency when I was still in business school in Boston in the late 60’s. Went through a whole series of tests, personality tests, lie director tests. And they identified me as a guy that would make a good economic hit man. I was a good con man they thought. And with credentials, from a [inaudible 00:05:32] kind of business school. And they also identified several weaknesses that would make it easy to hook me. And I talk in detail in the books about these, but I think I can summarize them by saying I think it’s the three big things of our culture, sex, power, and money. I was a very young man, I was infected with all of those charges. I wanted sex, and I wanted power, I wanted money. And they offered, and they still offered all of them.
Hillary Raimo: They seduce you in, set you up by exploiting what they consider weaknesses. Do they actively search out people in schools? How do they find people like you to do these jobs? Are they always watching?
John Perkins: Well, I can’t really answer that question cause I don’t know what their policy is. But in my particular case, I was married to a woman whose father was very high up in the Navy department. I was trying to avoid Vietnam, and this was back in the late 60’s. My father-in-law’s best friend was very high up in the National Security Agency, which had a potential for being drafted preferable. So he arranged for me to go in for interviews. And once I’m in there, I’m going through the lie detector tests and the personality tests and at that point they identified me as being ideal for this kind of a job. That something else they might have identified as being the perfect guy to be spotted behind the scenes in North Korea, I don’t know. But for me, this is a personality that they saw in me.
Hillary Raimo: So some people would say, this is a conspiracy. You hear the word illuminati all over the internet. What are your thoughts on that?
John Perkins: I have no proof of that at all. And no reason to believe that. I don’t suppose I have any real reason not to believe it. I certainly never been at those levels or seen anything like that. What I see instead is a fairly small group of corporate executives that I call the corporatocracy. Men primarily and a few women who run our biggest multinational corporations. All being driven by one goal, one common goal, and that is to maximize profits, regardless of the social and environmental costs. Simply put, maximize profits.
And they don’t have to get together and conspire to do anything illegal, a lot of them don’t even know each other. But they’re all headed for that same goal. So while you may have Exxon and Chevron, they’re competing for your dollar at the gas pump, the fact of the matter is, when it comes to new regulations for example, new regulations are going to be imposed as a result of the terrible accident in the gulf. The powers are all going to come together and fight as one family in Congress. Not to have water restrictions or at to least minimize that.
And you’ll say the same thing about Nike or Reebok and Adidas and those companies. When push comes to shove, they come together. Then they compete in the market. This doesn’t imply that there is a conspiracy but there certainly is the common shared goal. And they all recognize that and fight very hard to preserve that goal.
And in addition to maximizing profits regardless of social and environmental costs, the other part of that is something Milton Freedmen, what I call predatory capitalism, fought very hard for. And that is to cost or reduce regulations. Businesses don’t want to be regulated. So they all fight hard not to be regulated.
Hillary Raimo: To maximize their profits.
John Perkins: Maximize profits and avoid regulation and privatize everything. Convince the government that private business should run basically everything, including the military in Afghanistan.
Hillary Raimo: In your opinion what is going on in the gulf right now? Is this just a matter of total lack of respect for the environment and about maximizing profits? is it just that cut and dry?
John Perkins: Well it tells you the power of oil companies. And you have to remember that the oil companies are by no means alone, the banking industry, the insurance industry, the health industry, and the engineering industry, all the [inaudible 00:09:59] industry that revolve around all those that I just named. Are all highly dependent on oil. And they step to the plate to defend oil. And they realize how important oil is to them. Not to mention the transportation sector or the utility sector. So many sectors are dependent on oil. So you can see right here the power base that a company like BP has and all the oil companies.
And I think it’s important for us to understand that this well, that this leak that’s going on right now could conceivably never be stopped. I don’t think that’s likely but we have to face the possibility that such a catastrophe could happen. It could destroy the oceans. It could destroy life as we know it on earth. It’s one well. It’s a possibility. So while we are all worried about Iran having nuclear weapons and what’s North Korea is doing, etc, etc.
We ought to be a lot more concerned about what these big corporations are doing and it’s an accident theoretically. But obviously some very poor decisions were made that were all based on greed. Or based on the idea of maximizing profits. And we really, really need to look at that and the danger to our planet.
I think the other thing we should be looking at, Hillary, is understanding that actually Texaco, which is now owned by Chevron, has a worse catastrophe in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The last I heard the amount of toxin waste that was spilled in the Amazon by Texaco were roughly 3 times more than what’s got into the gulf so far. That changes everyday, so I’m not sure what the number is today. But that was intentional, Texaco did this as a matter of policy. It wasn’t an accident. In the largest environmental lawsuit in the history of the world now was filed against Texaco on behalf of 30,000….
Hillary Raimo: How did they do it on purpose John? Can you explain that? Why would they do that on purpose?
John Perkins: Well it’s deep in the Amazon and when a drill is drilled for oil they have a lot of oil that comes up that they never use. That they flare off, that they spill off. Under most regulations they have to take care of that and somehow they have to manage it. But in those days in the Ecuadorian Amazon they get away without managing at all. They just dumped it into huge pools. So now you’ve got huge lakes out there. I’ve seen these that are just toxic waste oil and other toxic waste from oil producing. And at the time Ecuador was run by dictators, military dictatorship that was put into power by the CIA. And allowed Texaco to get away with this.
It was not a democratic elected government, it was a US puppet government. I was there. It was in the late 60’s and the 70’s I was there first as a peace corp volunteer and then as an economic hit man at the time. And the current president of Ecuador is extremely incensed over this. And there’s no question that Exxon, no Texaco, excuse me, needs to pay up. The fact of the matter is people are still buying because Texaco is hard balling us and refusing to settle this case and refusing to take responsibility. And it’s Texaco, and as I’ve said before, it’s now owned by Chevron. So it’s really Chevron these days. It’s a terrible catastrophe. And the executives at Chevron are doing nothing today to resolve this problem.
And yet we don’t even hear about them in the United States. And that’s probably my point, Hillary. That these things go on all the time in Africa, in Indonesia, in Latin America, all over the world that we don’t even pay attention to. We just say, well, okay what the heck. Just keep pumping oil and give it to me cheep.
So I hate to say this, and I want to be very careful that I don’t get misunderstood. If there has to be such a terrible oil spill. I’m sorry there is. But if there has to be I think the world is blessed that it happened off the shores of the United States. Because we are the largest consumer of oil in the world. We are the most powerful and wealthiest nation in the world. And now we are understanding the implications of things that have been happening on many different scales throughout the rest of the world, the third world for years and years and years and we haven’t even noticed.
Hillary Raimo: Very sad. Do you think this will wake people up?
John Perkins: Yes, I think that should be a very strong positive benefit that comes out of this. I fear, however is that the oil companies and many other powerful interests, many politicians will tell us that all we need to do is ban off shore drilling in the United States. And that would be a terrible mistake because if we don’t cut back demand for oil that means that we’ll just take the same disaster some place else. We’ll go back deep into the Amazon, we’ll go into the deadest of the Middle East, we’ll go into the jungles of Indonesia.
And that’s not a solution. So we have to be very careful, I think, that we don’t just say, well the solution is no more off shore drilling in the gulf or any place in the United States. We have to truly understand this as being a message that there’s a virus around the world. I call it the mutant viral form of predatory capitalism. And very much symbolized by this oil spill, is spreading throughout the gulf and could spread throughout the oceans of the world. There is this spreading viral capitalism that is very, very destructive and is a failed system really. And it’s a system in essence threatening to truly destroy our planet whether it’s oil or something else.
You know we had the disaster in Nepal in India back a number of years ago. We’ve had many of these sorts of things around the world. It’s time we really woke up and said, you know we’ve got to change our consciousness. We’ve got to take as our first priority creating a just and peaceful world for every child on this planet.
Hillary Raimo: These companies have become so gigantic, they have so much power and so much influence in the current system. How does an average person change anything?
John Perkins: Well I think, Hillary, we have a lot more power than we realize. And my most recent book, Hoodwinked, is the devoted to addressing that. What can we do? What can you do? What can all of your listeners do? And obviously I can’t cover the whole book in this radio program. So I suggest people read the book if they’re really interested.
But to summarize it. There’s five different areas and perhaps the most important one is that we as consumers have a great deal of power. These big corporations exist only because we support them one way or another. We buy their goods and services or our tax dollars do. Now this is a global empire, but it’s the first one in history that hasn’t been created by the military. Nobody is forced to buy from Nike, or from Exxon, or from BP. Nobody is forced to buy any of these things. And if we recognize the market place is democratic and that every time we buy something or choose not to, we’re casting a vote. And if we express our opinions to the bias…
Let me give you an example. If everyone of your listeners when we get off this program, goes to their computer and sends an email to Nike and says I’m not buying anymore Nike products because I know you still have sweat shops and slave labor in Indonesia. I’m not going to buy any of those products until you pay those people fair wages and give them decent working conditions. I’m not asking for you to get out of Indonesia and turn those people out of jobs. I’m asking you to give them fair wages and give them decent living conditions and health insurance. If we all did this, Nike would have to come around.
We have that power. We got rid of apartheid in South Africa by boycotting businesses that supported it. We got companies to clean up terribly polluted rivers all over the United States back in the 70’s. More Recently we got them to get rid of trans fats in foods and very recently antibiotics in chickens. But now we need to ratchet this up a notch and say, we’re not going to buy from any company that is not committed to creating a sustainable just and peaceful world. That’s got to be the commitment. In order to be perfect at it, that has to be their commitment. I’m only going to buy from companies like that and I have made that commitment we can do that. And send them emails. Let them know because they do read those. Somebody reads them, the CEO’s don’t read the emails, but he does get a matrix once a week or so. To tell him what kind of emails are coming in and it matters. It’s important to them.
Hillary Raimo: We’re going to go to the phone lines. We have a caller on the line from Alberta, Canada. Jay thanks for calling in. You have a question?
Jay: Yes I do Hillary. Thanks so much. Hey John, I just wondered, regarding the oil in the gulf, when this thing, if they can’t cap this and all these gallons and gallons of oil going to actually be leaking out of there. I just wonder if it’s going to shock the oil futures market because, like the Saudi’s need $55 a barrel over and above what’s going on right now in order to keep their countries sustainable and going. And if they find out that there’s more oil than their creating a shortage for and it goes down and it effects the Saudi’s plus our economy in Alberta too is based on oil. And just wondered what it’s going to do to the American economy too. I just find that there’s more and more stuff than oils going to do even environmental effects in Florida and the pan handle there. It’s going to devastate the economic, you know the fruit and vegetable market and the tourism market. I just wondered what your views on that.
John Perkins: Well certainly, yes. We don’t know the full impact at this point. And I was involved in a discussion a few days ago, on that point we were talking about peak oil. And this whole idea that there’s this unlimited supply and in a way people were saying on this channel that this endless well is showing us that there is no limit to the supply of oil. There’s a lot of oil there gushing away. That’s one thing that may be coming out of this. And certainly BP stocks have fluctuated a lot since this has happened.
The creditability of the industry is being challenged, but I think we also have to remember that it’s an incredibly powerful industry. It’s so much of the world economy depends on oil one way or another that it’s always been a very resilient industry. But I think we the people must speak out. And we must say, one of the things we must say is we got to get off oil. And there’s no question, it’s a terrible substance to be dealing with. And we sometimes talk about the limited supply, the possibility of a very limited supply of oil, the peak oil idea. To me what’s perhaps more of a concern than whether we run out of oil or not. I wish we would run out of oil in a way.
But the bigger concern is can the carrying system of the planet handle this much carbon dioxide. And I think that’s a more limiting factor than the amount of oil that we have. Whether we can handle the green house effect that comes out of this, so hopefully this terrible catastrophe that going on in the gulf combined with what’s going on in Ecuador and other places will shake us awake to realize we have got to get the oil economy. We simply have to get off, it’s a terrible, terrible addiction. Like any addiction, the only way to get rid of it is essentially go cold turkey.
Jay: I have another question. Is that okay?
Hillary Raimo: Absolutely Jay, go ahead.
Jay: Yeah, we have like, in the world, an economic pyramid. That means it’s all interconnected in some way. So if we take out one way of doing things, it’s still there and I’m wondering is that we have no….. Like when you buy a product, okay, let’s say you buy something that’s has plastic wrapping or something like that. There’s no way of doing something useful with that plastic. You can do something with cardboard, but not really with plastic because it’s made of petroleum. And there’s really no reasonable resource to turning that into a reusable product again. And turn it around again and close the loop. We really have no way of going back to a way of making a close loop system. It’s just a one way system.
John Perkins: That’s exactly why we have to get off oil. I mean, what’s done is done. We can’t go back and get rid of all the plastics and all the other oil residue around the planet, but we can stop creating more. And we need to do that. We really need to make a commitment. Like I said this is an addiction that we have to go cold turkey on.
Hillary Raimo: Thanks Jay. Great questions. Thanks for calling in tonight. We have another question from John in Vancouver. John asks, is there any governance to the common property of the planet? Tribes in Pakistan took a stand against Coke a Cola and Pepsi over water for beverages contracts made by the government. How can citizens of the world take similar actions?
John Perkins: Well we’re seeing a lot going on and incidentally in Vancouver, I’m speaking and doing a workshop in Vancouver in late July, The Tipping Point Conference. It’s the 22nd through the 28th of July. I’d love to meet the listener there and other people. You’ve been getting calls from all over, Hillary, this is wonderful. But go to my website, johnperkins.org and you can find out where I’m going to be. I’d love to meet some of your listeners. I travel around speaking a lot.
Yeah, this whole thing of international governance, we don’t have any and the UN has proven to be a paper tie area. It pushed hard against the Iraqi war to begin with that totally habilitated. The world bank is in the pocket of the economic hit men and corporatocracy. We need a world governing organization to watch out for these things. And we don’t have it. And the big corporations will resist it. They’ll fight it.
So I would really encourage that the listener who wrote in about this, to go out there and fight for it. The internet gives you a tremendous forum today. We need to push for these things. It needs to come from we the people around the planet. We have to take back our planet. I feel that the United States, our country, has been stolen. Canada also has been stolen. The world has been stolen by these robber barons, by these modern day robber barons.
We must take it back and we the people are going to have to do this. Just as we’ve had to do everything in the past. We’re the ones that had to get rid of apartheid. We’re the ones that had to shout out against racial bias and bias’ against gender in United States, Canada, and around the world. We must do it now. We really need to take back our country. And there is no international body that supervises these things. We’re it. And how we shop does matter. Go after those international companies, arrange boycotts, start letter writing campaigns, email writing campaigns. This is so easy. And we must go after these people, we have to do it.
Hillary Raimo: Let’s talk about Monsanto. How do we take a stand to a corporation like that?
John Perkins: Well, you boycott everything that Monsanto produces. Everything that they produce. And Whole Foods, for example, won’t sell any products that have GMO’s in it. I think that’s wonderful. I know a lot of people have a problem with Whole Foods and some of their labor policies. I have a problem with those too. But one thing they are doing right is staying away from GMO’s. And you, as I understand, when you buy things there and many other stores. Let Monsanto know, send them emails and let the stores that you buy from that don’t use GMO’s know.
Europe has had a fantastic success record. You don’t get things with GMO’s in Europe. So you can buy something that’s make by Kellogg’s in the United States that has GMO’s in it and in Europe that same product doesn’t. So they’ve been able to make this happen in Europe. We can make it happen here too. But we have to have the resolve, you know. We the people have to get off our fannies, stop looking at television for long enough to get on the computer and make it happen. And God, it’s so easy today. You know, if you go to my website, johnperkins.org there’s a whole link there for starting petitions and there’s hundreds of petitions and you can sign one of… it’s very, very easy. All you have to do is click on it and put your name and address in and then once you’re done continue to stay in and all you have to do is go back when new petitions go up. They are important. We have a great media here now. We’re casting votes constantly. But we all need to take an active role in this.
Hillary Raimo: Speaking of media, John. President Obama just issued a media black out for the Gulf of Mexico where people can be fined up to $40,000 for getting closer than 65 feet to the boons or anything related, the ships. What do you have to say about that kind of action taken by our government when there should be transparency? Do you think that is a result of BP demanding that, that happens?
John Perkins: Absolutely, it shows you the power that BP has, that the oil industry in general has. They’re all stepping up behind BP now. You know, any good journalist should get out there and defy those orders and be taken to jail if necessary.
Imagine Walter Cronkite coming back from Vietnam and saying it isn’t how it looks over there. We’re losing that war and shouldn’t be there. Had a huge impact. I think if Walter Cronkite were 40 years old today he’d be down there with a CBS crew going, breaking the law. And we need to have that happen.
It’s terrible, it’s also terrible in the United States, the ban on showing caskets and bodies coming back from Afghanistan or Iraq. The media should not stand for these things. It’s a sign that our mainstream media is totally sold out. They’re either owned by the corporatocracy directly or through advertising budgets. But thank God there are programs like this Hillary. We do have a free press and it’s coming in through programs like this and through streaming, through the internet, through blogging. It’s an amazing thing going on out there. And most of the bloggers and steamers and people doing these kinds of programs like yours don’t have the finances or the staying power to cross those lines and go in and get arrested. You probably wouldn’t get that much attention. We need a few bold journalists out there that are in the limelight. The Walter Cronkite type that will do this. I just hoping one will emerge. I think it’s disgusting that the Obama administration would yield to something like this. Our presidents are not very powerful anymore. And they are very vulnerable.
Hillary Raimo: I see a lot of anger towards Obama and I try to stress to people that it’s not necessarily him making these decisions, it’s a product of a system. Speaking of Afghanistan, John, I recently found out that they have discovered, a $14 trillion mineral resource deposit that’s in Afghanistan. Now with your background, is the war in Afghanistan really over this?
John Perkins: Certainly, and that’s one of the reasons that we did go in. This may be news to most of us, these mineral deposits. But it’s not news to the corporatocracy. They’ve known all along. They may have not known the value of it, they shouldn’t know the value of it. They’re just throwing numbers around now. But they’ve known it was there for a long time. And they’ve known Afghanistan is in a critical strategic location geographically. The Soviets knew that, that’s why they basically, Afghanistan basically brought down the Soviet Union. But the Soviet’s were determined to win in Afghanistan, that’s why they stayed in so long cause they knew about these minerals. And they knew about the strategic location.
The other thing that I think it’s important for us to understand Hillary, that our economy is very, very based on war. It’s based on oil and war. And the two go together. There’s a movie out that Oliver Stone just released called South of the Border, I think is the name of it. I saw excerpts from it before it was released. It’s about some of the major presidents in South America. And he interviews President Kirchner, the former president of Argentina, who talks about a meeting he had with the second George Bush president. In which Bush said, you know the economy in the United States is based on war, we have to keep going to war.
And that’s true, at this point. That you and I, and all your listeners have to turn this around too. We have to look for a new kind of economy. I wrote extensively about that in Hoodwinked. How we’ve got to come up with an economy that serves the world, rather than serves the war machines. And let’s get all those brilliant minds today who work for General Dynamics and General Motors and General Electric and all the other generals racing on out all the military industries whose supported by our tax dollars. Let’s insist that our tax dollars pay them to instead of making missiles and anti aircraft and so on and so forth. To come up with technologies that will clean up the terribly polluted lands of the world. We’ve polluted the world. We’ve polluted the earth. We’ve polluted the water. We’ve polluted the air, all over.
Let’s devote ourselves to coming up with technologies to clean it up. Let’s devote ourselves, let’s pay Cargo and Kraft and Chiquita and all the other agriculture businesses, Monsanto. That are doing so much damage, to instead come up with ways for the starving people of Africa to produce food more efficiently. To store it at a local level and distribute it locally and efficiently. So they no longer have to starve.
We talk about sustainable energy and that’s very important but there are so many other things we can do too, to create a new economy. And I go over in detail, in Hoodwinked how each of us should be participating on one level or another. Get out of the military economy, get into a new economy that’s earth friendly.
Hillary Raimo: John, do you think 9/11 was an inside job? Do you think it was something that happened so that we could use it as an excuse to go into Afghanistan to go to war?
John Perkins: Your bold, aren’t you?
Hillary Raimo: Well, we only have 18 minutes left so….
John Perkins: You know Hillary, I have to say I don’t like to talk about things I don’t have personal experience, I have no inside information on 9-11. But what I will say is, I can not believe that a man with a walkie talkie standing in the cave in the Himalayas directed that operation. Nor can I understand why there was a huge hole put in the nations largest fortress, most important fortress, the pentagon. The hole was put there and no senior official lost their job. No general lost his job. That’s amazing. And there’s cameras all over the pentagon. Why has nobody ever produced a photograph of that plane hitting the pentagon? It’s incredibly suspicious. I don’t know who did it, but I don’t believe the official story.
Hillary Raimo: So now that we have this open ended kind of threat of terrorism going on in the world. Do you think that has given the corporatocracy, the American Empire a green card to go into whatever country they want? For example, what’s going on with Iran right now? Is this an example of how an economic hit man would work because it seems to me that there was a lot of negotiation going on trying to get them to do certain things and now all of a sudden it’s escalating and feels kind of like what you describe in your books? Is that indeed what’s going on?
John Perkins: It is. It’s a huge deception. There is no such thing as terrorism. There are people performing acts of terror around the world. But there’s no global terrorism. I know members of Al-Qaeda, I’ve interviewed them. I’ve interviewed members of Farc in Colombia. I’ve interviewed Somali pirates, they have nothing in common. It’s not a global movement. This is not like Communism, not like Catholicism, it’s not like Protestantism, there’s a lot of ism’s, but terrorism is not an ism. They are acts of terror, yes, but they are not united. There’s no such thing as a war on terror.
And we bought into that somehow. The media has been extremely reluctant to really face the facts. The corporatocracy wants to convenience us that there’s another war, like the war on Communism. But the war on terrorism is not the same thing at all. We simply bought into it, we bought into the fear around it. Most of the terrorists that I’ve interviewed, in fact I say all the one’s that I’ve interviewed, are desperate people. They’re starving. The Somali pirates, fisherman whose fishing waters were destroyed by basically by piracy from European and other foreign fishing vessels. And also US Navy vessels dumping nuclear waste from Diego Garcia Island, where their base is there into fisherman’s waters. For 20 years those fishermen complained to the UN and other international bodies. About the pirating of their seas and they can no longer fish. Their kids are starving. They turned to piracy. Every terrorist I’ve ever interviewed says I don’t want to be a terrorist, it’s a dangerous occupation. I just want to be able to provide a living for my kids.
Now, I’m not saying there aren’t fanatics, there are. There are a lot of fanatics. There are people who are wealthy who are involved in acts of terror. This war on terror is a misnomer. There’s no such thing as global terrorism. There are simply acts of terror. And the best way to deal with them for the most part is to help the economies in the regions where these people are being breed. Most people don’t want to be terrorists. They won’t follow the fanatic leaders unless they’re desperate.
Hillary Raimo: Is this being used to manipulate the majority of people, to be complacent with the way we have set up our systems?
John Perkins: Yeah, we’re buying into it, you know. It’s easy for us to believe. We want to believe our country is a good place and that there are bad people out there that are behind all of this. And our economy is collapsing, I don’t have a job because there’s bad people out there, whatever. It’s easy to believe that. It’s seductive and it is a technique of economic hit men. It’s been taken to a very, very large level now. But we the people need to stop buying that. And understand that yes, there are bad people we have to protect ourselves against. There’s always going to be rapists and mass murderers and people with screws loose in their brains, but that’s not saying there’s an international movement of terrorism.
Movements like that, I mean organizations like Al-Qaeda can only exist on a large level because they are desperate people who are extremely angry about what we are doing in the Middle East and what we are doing in Indonesia with oil and exploitation of resources. And what we are doing many other places. You know you can go into Latin America, you can go into Barros very, very poor ghettos. In Caracas and other places in Latin America and see pictures of Osama Bin Ladin as a hero. It’s not because these people are muslims, they’re not.
They’re Catholics, they don’t like Islam, but they see Osama Bin Ladin as a kind of Robin Hood because he’s standing up to what they see as a dangerous empire, the United States. And I think that’s very sad, Hillary. I think we need to come into the world with a new vision.
Like I explained before, develop a new economy that’s going to be aimed at helping starving people around the world. And cleaning up the impoverished planet. Let’s come up with a really good picture that gets rid of terrorism, by getting rid of the root causes of it.
Hillary Raimo: How would you tell that to a young man growing up in the system like you did, going to school, trying to go forward in the career that may get tempted and seduced with money, power, and sex like you did? Is it just a dysfunctional kind of mechanism in the human being itself or is it just a matter of reaching deeper into people to really get them to understand that concept?
John Perkins: It’s a matter of getting the word out. And I think that’s been the problem. When I was in college for example, in high school and college, nobody was talking the way I am today about the system. There was a huge anti-communist movement. There was a big red scare. My father and mother were stanch conservative republicans who were very, very terrified of communism. I grew up with that. Television programs like, I [inaudible 00:41:11] a bunch of television programs that scared the pants off of us about communists. We grew up with that and there was nobody else speaking like what we are talking right now.
The Vietnam War came along and there was a huge movement against it. I went to Boston University and Howard Zinn, who just recently released a, God Bless Him, a mentor and a very dear friend of mine, he was speaking out and Noam Chomsky and a number of other liberals against the Vietnam War, but at that time it was all oriented toward that one war. Not the bigger issues, and when the war ended we didn’t go and examine the bigger issues. A few people did, Chomsky did, Zinn did to a certain degree. But not very many people were listening. Today I think more people are listening.
And so I’m doing exactly what I think I’m suppose to do, which is I go around and speak at a lot of college campuses, a lot of MBA programs. I speak at business conferences. I want people to get this word. And there’s a lot of others out there, there’s a lot of good books, there’s a lot of good movies that have come out, The Constant Gardner, Blood Diamond, Hotel Rwanda, The Al Gore movie on the environment. Many movies that are now opening peoples minds.
Hillary Raimo: How does global warming play into all of this?
John Perkins: Well global warming is a fact, I think. I’ve seen the glaciers melting terribly and in the Himalayas and in the Andes. And also in the United States and Canada. So it’s happening, there’s no question that global warming is happening. And whether we humans caused it or not, who needs to argue that point. I happen to think we are, but so what if we are not. The fact of the matter is, something is happening on this planet and we need to look at this as an opportunity to change things. We need to look at this as an opportunity to conserve energy, to cut back on our oil use, to cut back on all energy use, to cut back on resource exploitation. To really become much more conscience and to realize that life is not about possessing more and more material goods. What makes us happy is not that. What makes us happy is decent living conditions, being taken care of in our old age, being loved, being taken care of as babies. It’s pretty simple.
And we need to really focus on these things. And look at the fact of global warming as a wake up call that we really need to change our relationship to the planet, to ourselves, and to each other. And the way we conduct our lives and run our institutions.
Hillary Raimo: David from Fort Collins writes in, he asks to play Devil’s Advocate for a minute, how does John think we can possibly convince most Americans that three SVU’s and a 60 inch TV is not their God given birth right?
John Perkins: Well I think it’s happening, to be honest. I really think people are beginning to get it. And they may not have acted accordingly yet, but it takes awhile. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man came out in late 2004, I was on an extensive college speaking tour most of 2005, including a lot of the MBA programs including Thornton, Stanford, the famous MBA programs. Every time I spoke at one of these schools I arranged to have dinner with anywhere from a dozen to three dozen students before I spoke. And I would say to them, let’s go around the table and I want to hear from each of you why are you at this school and why are you having dinner with me? What are your aspirations? Back in 2005 they were all of them talking about money and power, that’s what they were there for. That’s what they wanted.
Well this last year I did something very similar, went on the same basic tour of many of the same colleges in 2009 and then again in Spring of 2010. I didn’t hear that at all. I heard a very different story from, basically the same, not the same individuals students, but the same class of students. And now their saying they want to create a better world. That they realize that if they’re going to have kids, they’ve got to create a better world. Many of them said they have big college loans, that they have to go to work for corporations to pay off those loans, but that’s not why they are in these business schools. They’re there because they want to become entrepreneurs and do things that will make a better world.
I think things, Hillary are changing. I think consciousness is changing. When you consider that’s over a period of five years, and it may seem like a long time in our lives sometimes, five years, in history it’s not even a blink. So I hope that things are happening, but we have to keep pushing. People like you, this program, keep pushing, pushing, getting the word out. This is what’s so important. We must educate ourselves and each other.
Hillary Raimo: John, you have an extensive background and experience in Shamanic cultures, indigenous cultures that you came across when you were working in these third world countries. Has that played a part in your coming out of this with such a drastically different perspective?
John Perkins: It absolutely did, Hillary. I thank these indigenous cultures and the Shamans. I still have a very strong connection. I have three god-children in the Amazon and Andes, where children are Shamans, elder teachers there. And one of the things they always teach is that change is possible. Anything is possible. All you have to do is change your dream. Change your consciousness. A book I wrote before Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was The World Is As You Dream It, it’s still available at bookstores. You can get it at my website johnperkins.org, but it really addresses that the Shamans say when you have a dream, whether it’s an individual or a cultural dream, you give it energy it manifests.
And we, in our culture, have given energy to a dream of big material success, lots of cars, big industry, lots of tall buildings. It manifested. And now we are realizing it’s destroying us. And it’s threatening to destroy us. And so we need to change that dream to a dream as I outlined before of living a life that’s much more satisfying than a life that’s solely based on materialism. So we need to create a new dream. And Shamanism has taught me the incredible potential for doing that and that it can happen very quickly. Another book I wrote is Shape Shifting, which is about that. How you can change that energy and shape shift, an individual or a culture very quickly.
Hillary Raimo: Let’s imagine someone who works in a corporate world whose job gives them a sense of hopelessness. How could they shape shift that sense of hopelessness?
John Perkins: Now I teach a workshop on that at the Omega Institute in upstate New York every summer in August. I suggest you come to it. Go to johnperkins.org. It’s a process that’s hard to describe in 5 minutes here, but I think the important thing here is to understand that shape shifting is all about energy. In fact everything is energy. That’s why it’s so important to us, our main energy source. And everything we do is about energy. Eisenstein said matter and energy, that’s what it’s all about and so when we give our energy to a certain dream or certain idea we shape shift into that. And if we change that idea, that dream, that concept, that para dime, and we give energy to a new one. And we truly do it, it will manifest. It’s eerie how that happens.
If you read the thoughts of most of the great people that have made a mark in history whether it’s someone like a George Washington or Martha Washington, or someone like a Thomas Edison or Rosa Parks, or who ever, Eisenstein. You’ll see that they are all about changing energy. Giving new energy to a new intent, a new dream, a new preset.
And in the case of Rosa Parks, for example, all she had to do was sit in front of the bus instead of the back. I say all she had to do and at the time that took a tremendous amount of courage. A tremendous amount of energy. Psychic and emotional as well as physical energy just to move from the back of the bus to the front. But it changed the world. It absolutely changed the world.
Hillary Raimo: What a beautiful example. Talking to John Perkins. You can go to his website to find out more about his upcoming events and his books johnperkins.org. So John, you also do trips, I understand, to different sacred sites around the world. How did you get involved into doing that?
John Perkins: Well I’ve been doing it since 1991, when I saw the Amazon. I went down there and told them I wanted to help them save their forests. Then you’ve got to change the dream of your people. That’s where the book The World Is As You Dream It came from. And they said so for one thing you could bring people down here to learn from us about shape shifting. I’ve probably taken a thousand people into the Amazon over the past 20 years to learn about that. And now that it’s December I’m doing it with my co facilitator Lynn Roberts. To Guatemala to the Mayans, to really look into the 2012 prophecy.
And this Tipping Point Conference in Vancouver July 22 -28 is on the same thing, the Tipping Point Prophecies and they are the organizers of the December trip. Lynn and I let a trip of about 25 people last December to the Mayan to work with their Shamans, their elders. And explore the true meaning of 2012 and we’re doing another one this December. It’s a wonderful experience to be among these sacred sites, these huge pyramids, these amazing sites, do ceremony, do fire ceremonies late at night. Really get into the Shamanic vision and journey to really experience it and work with these extremely powerful Shamanic teachers, men and women. I enjoy it immensely and the people on the trips get a great deal out of it. It’s very experiential, it’s wonderful.
Hillary Raimo: You have to change the dream of your people. What is the message in that statement that you’d like to share with our listeners?
John Perkins: Well I think that we, first of all it’s very easy to give up. It’s very easy just throw up your hands and say oh the problems just to big, it’s just too difficult. That doesn’t accomplish anything. You know, thank God Rosa Parks didn’t say that, or Rachel Carson didn’t say that about DVT, instead she sat down and wrote a book, she had no idea whether it would be published or not. It became a silent spring that started a worldwide environmental movement. You can look at individuals throughout history, we mustn’t throw our hands up and give up. Instead, we have to get on the internet or do whatever individuals most moved to do. Get on the streets, demonstrate, call people, do whatever. Take action, we have to take action. And when we start to take action and give energy to our new dream, it happens, it does manifest. And it’s good to make it manifest to the new dream has to be about a sustainable just and peaceful for every child on the planet. And we all need to give that as much energy as we can.
Hillary Raimo: John Perkins, everybody. John thanks so much for joining me on the air, it’s been a pleasure.
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