• “Have you brought the money?” a Liberian official asked World Bank staffer Steve Berkman, clearly expecting him to hand over a satchel full of cash. In “The World Bank and the $100 Billion Question,” Berkman provides an insider’s account of how and why the Bank looks the other way as corrupt elites steal funds intended for development aid.
• In the 1970s, the Philippines were a showcase for the World Bank’s debt-based model of development and modernization. In “The Philippines, The World Bank, and the Race to the Bottom,” Ellen Augustine tells how billions in loans were central to U.S. efforts to prop up the Marcos dictatorship, with the World Bank serving as a conduit.
• Export credit agencies have a single job: to enrich their countries’ corporations by making it easier for poor countries to buy their products and services. In “Exporting Destruction,” Bruce Rich turns a spotlight on the secretive world of ECAs and the damage they have caused in selling nuclear plants to countries that cannot manage them and pushing arms in war-torn regions.
• The G8 finance ministers announced before their Gleneagles meeting that they had agreed on $40 billion of debt relief for eighteen Third World countries. In “The Mirage of Debt Relief,” James S. Henry, a former international banker, shows how little debt relief has actually been granted—and why dozens of countries remain caught in the West’s debt trap.
Feel free to read the chapters according to your interests. Skip around, focus on one geographic area at a time or on one particular discipline, if you wish. Then turn to Antonia Juhasz’s “Global Uprising” to learn what you can do to resist global domination by the corporatocracy.
As you read, please allow yourself to think about and feel the implications of the actions described for the world and for our children and grandchildren. Permit your passions to rise to the surface. Feel compelled to take action. It is essential that we—you and I—do something. We must transform our country back into one that reflects the values of our Declaration of Independence and the other principles we were raised to honor and defend. We must begin today to re-create the world the corporatocracy has inflicted on us.
This book presents a series of snapshots of the tools used by EHMs to create the world’s first truly global empire. They are, however, a mere introduction to the many nefarious deeds that have been committed by the corporate elite—often in the name of altruism and progress. During the post–World War II period, we EHMs managed to turn the “last, best hope for democracy,” in Lincoln’s words, into an empire that does not flinch at inflicting brutal and often totalitarian measures on people who have resources we covet.
After reading the chapters you will have a better understanding of why people around the world fear, resent, and even hate us. As a result of the corporatocracy’s policies, an average of 24,000 people die every day from hunger; tens of thousands more—mostly children—die from curable diseases because they cannot afford available medicines. More than half the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day, not nearly enough to cover basic necessities in most places. In essence our economic system depends on modern versions of human exploitation that conjure images of serfdom and slavery.
We must put an end to this. You and I must do the right thing. We must understand that our children will not inherit a stable, safe, and sustainable world unless we change the terrible conditions that have been created by EHMs. All of us must look deep into our hearts and souls and decide what it is we can best do. Where are our strengths? What are our passions?
As an author and lecturer, I know that I have certain skills and opportunities. Yours may be different from mine, but they are just as powerful. I urge you to set as a primary goal in your life making this a better world not only for you but also for all those who follow. Please commit to taking at least one action every single day to realize this goal. Think about those 24,000 who die each day from hunger, and dedicate yourself to changing this in your lifetime. Write letters and e-mails—to newspapers, magazines, your local and national representatives, your friends, businesses that are doing the right thing and those that are not; call in to radio shows; shop consciously; do not “buy cheap” if doing so contributes to modern forms of slavery; support nonprofit organizations that help spread the word, protect the environment, defend civil liberties, fight hunger and disease, and make this a sane world; volunteer; go to schools and teach our children; form discussion groups in your neighborhood—the list of possible actions is endless, limited only by imagination. We all have many talents and passions to contribute. The most important thing is to get out there and do it!
One thing we all can—and must—do is to educate ourselves and those who interact with us. Democracy is based on an informed electorate. If we in the United States are not aware that our business and political leaders are using EHMs to subvert the most sacred principles upon which our country is founded, then we cannot in truth claim to be a democracy.
There is no excuse for lack of awareness, now that you have this book, plus many others and a multitude of films, CDs, and DVDs to help educate everyone you connect with. Beyond that, it is essential that every time you read, hear, or see a news report about some international event, do so with a skeptical mind. Remember that most media are owned by—or dependent on the financial support of—the corporatocracy. Dig beneath the surface. Appendix A provides a list of alternative media where you can access different viewpoints.
This may well be the most pivotal and exciting time in the history of a nation that is built on pivotal and exciting events. How you and I choose to react to this global empire in the coming years is likely to determine the future of our planet. Will we continue along a road marked by violence, exploitation of others, and ultimately the likelihood of our self-destruction as a species? Or will we create a world our children will be proud to inherit?
The choice is ours—yours and mine.
1 Joseph E. Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents (New York: Norton, 2003), p. 232.