… The empire depends on the efficacy of big banks, corporations, and governments -the corporatocracy- but it is not a conspiracy. The corporatocracy is ourselves -we make it happen- which, of course, is why most of us find it difficult to stand up and oppose it. We would rather glimpse conspirators lurking in the shadows, because most of us work for one of those banks, corporations, or governments, or in some way are dependent of them for the goods and services they produce and market. We cannot bring ourselves to bite the hand of the master who feed us.
… How do you rise up against a system that appears to provide you with your home and car, food and clothes, electricity and health care -even when you know that the system also creates a world there twenty-four thousand people starve to death each day and millions more hate you, or at least hate the policies made by representatives you elected? How do you muster the courage to step out of line and challenge concepts you and your neighbours have always accepted as a gospel, even when you suspect that the system is ready to self-destruct? …
… I … picked up my copy of the Palm Beach Post, … I noticed the date on the masterhead: April 18. It is a famous date, at least in New England, instilled in me by my Revolutionary war-minded parents and by Longfellow’s poem:
Listen my children, and shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
… Good Friday happened to fall on the anniversary of Paul Revere’s day. Seeing that date on the front page of the Post made me think of the colonial silversmith racing his horse through the dark street of New England towns, waving his hat and shouting, "The British are coming!" Revere had risked his life to spread the word, and loyal Americans responded. They stopped the empire, back then.
I wondered what had motivated them, why those colonial Americans were willing to step out the line. Many of the ringleaders had been prosperous. What had inspired them to risk their business to bite the hand that fed them, to risk their lives? Each of them undoubtedly had personal reasons, and yet there must have been some unifying force, some energy or catalyst, a spark that ignited all those individual fires at that single moment in history.
And then it came to me: words.
The telling of the real story about the British Empire and its selfish and ultimately self-destructive mercantile system had provided that spark. The exposure of the underlying meaning, through the words of men like Tom Paine and Thomas Jefferson, fired the imaginations of their countrymen, open heart and minds. The colonists began to question, and when they did, they discovered a new reality that cut away at the deceits. They discerned the truth behind the patina, understood the way the British Empire had manipulated, deceived, and enslaved them.
They saw that their English masters had formulated a system and then had managed to convince most people of a lie -that it was the best system mankind could offer, that the prospects for a better world, depended on channelling resources through the King of England, that an imperial approach to commerce and politics was the most efficient and humane means of helping the majority of the people – when in fact the truth was that the system enriched only a very few at the expense of the many. This lie, and the resulting exploitation, endured and expands for decades, until a handful of philosophers, businessmen, farmers, fishermen, frontiersmen, writers, and orators began to speak the truth.
Words. I thought about their power … brought the file I had been working on the night before. I read the last paragraph I had written:
This story must be told. We live in a time of terrible crisis -and tremendous opportunity. The story of this particular economic hitman (EHM) is the story of how we got to where we are and why we currently face crises that seem insurmountable. This story must be told because only by understanding our past mistakes will we be able to take advantage of future opportunities … Most importantly, this story must be told because today, for the first time in history, one nation has the ability, the money, and the power to change all this. It is the nation where I was born and the one I served as an EHM: the United States of America.
I thought again of the other man, that lone rider galloping through the dark New England countryside, shouting out his warning. The silversmith knew that the words of Paine and Jefferson had preceded him, that people had read those words at their homes and discussed them in the taverns. Paine had pointed out the truth about the tyranny of the British Empire. Jefferson had proclaimed that our nation was dedicated to the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And Revere, riding through the night, understood that men and women throughout the colonies had been empowered by those words; they would rise up and fight for a better world.
"Confession of an Economic Hitman". John Perkins. Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc. San Francisco. 2004.