Learn from hitmen
Despite the disastrous consequences of policies imposed by global monetary institutions in Pakistan, a brigade of new liberal pundits still believe that the salvation of our economy lies in a market-driven system. They urged the government to raise oil prices, ending subsidies that somehow alleviate people’s economic hardship amid relentless global inflation that has pushed millions below the poverty line to worldwide.
Their faith in laissez-faire is so strong that they do not want to listen to any arguments challenging their economic dogma which has been wreaking havoc in many parts of the world for decades. Therefore, it is important that they read “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins which exposes the agenda of global financial and monetary institutions and its impact on developing countries and their economies. The original version of this book sold over 1.2 million copies, prompting Perkins to come up with an updated edition in 2016 titled “The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman”.
For left-wing activists around the world, Perkins’ revelations are not surprising, but they should serve to open the eyes of those who have blind faith in big business, the global economic agenda and the virtues of international financial institutions. Since he was part of the cabal that sought to dominate the world through its economic and financial policies, his argument should be given serious consideration. If such startling revelations had been made by a socialist writer, they would have been dismissed as absurd and the author would have been declared a supporter of conspiracy theories. But since Perkins is still a strong supporter of capitalism, he has been invited by various forums to talk about his experiences.
The author explains that his bosses wanted him to go to the countries of the South with a recipe that would ruin their economy, worsen poverty, plunge them into debt, destroy their environment and submit them to global financial institutions. The job of the economic hitman was to suggest megaprojects to leaders in developing countries that would primarily benefit big business and financial institutions in addition to enriching a tiny minority of the elite in poor states. Global financial bodies would open their treasuries to disburse loans to corrupt leaders of third world countries, trapping them in a vicious cycle of debt that would spell disaster for their economy and society, forcing them to privatize state-run entities and leaving everything at the mercy of market forces, even basic necessities like water.
States that seemed willing to privatize everything and make market reforms were allowed to operate under the strict principles of the market-based system, but those leaders who showed courage enough to challenge the dogma of the market system have received a hard lesson. For the lords of the market system, the belief that a country should own its resources, use them to reduce poverty, improve living standards and impose limits on corporate profits is a deadly virus that must be removed before it only gets stronger.
So the defiant leaders were taught a hard lesson, Perkins revealed, saying that when the economic hitman’s job failed, Plan B was put into practice – which was to overthrow the government that refused to take dictated by global monetary institutions. or weed out leaders who have stubbornly rejected the recipe for these economic hitmen. Citing declassified CIA documents, Perkins says America played a major role in dislodging governments that were uncomfortable with the idea of following this predatory capitalism. He believes the United States orchestrated coups for the benefit of big business and global financial institutions. Perkins is of the view that an economic system that does not refer to the welfare of people rather than to corporate interests should not be challenged in all forums.
Pakistani economic experts need not blindly accept everything John Perkins wrote in his books, but they must critically assess the new liberal policies that have been part of our lives since the decade of the 1980s. For example , the global monetary institutions claim that their market policies and reforms would bring prosperity to countries that adopt them. Pakistan has been following these policies for more than three decades now, but we should ask ourselves if it has really brought prosperity to the country. If so, why should we have over 60 million people living below the poverty line? Proponents of this policy argue that further liberal reforms would bring in more investment and help the country witness industrialization. If so, why should we have more than 5000 sick industrial units that have not been working for decades.
We were also told that it is not the government’s job to do business because it adds to the economic difficulties of the country. We were assured that once state-run entities are privatized, it will create large-scale jobs, with private companies pumping money into factories and industrial units. But what we see is the opposite; most of the industrial units that were privatized were closed or replaced by housing colonies. The privatization process has rendered more than 200,000 people unemployed over the years, but it has failed to create large-scale jobs. Today, millions of our young people are unemployed.
It was also claimed that state-run enterprises were suffering huge losses and therefore should be privatised. It has also been claimed that market competitiveness will lead to lower prices, providing people with products at reasonable prices. But inflation over the past four decades has skyrocketed, and today even basic commodities are beyond the reach of a calorie-deficit people. The supply of pure drinking water, improved sanitation, access to decent housing and the availability of free and quality health facilities remain a dream – despite several market reforms undertaken by various governments since the 1980s.
The author is a freelance journalist who can be contacted at: [email protected]