You can call it the way the world works, capitalism abroad, or simply the system. But whatever you call it, it is interesting how much the international economic structure operates like multilevel marketing.
In a typical MLM company — Amway remains the best known example, but there are many others — products are sold, but so is an ideology. This ideology is the key to generating profit for the capitalists who started the corporation and a few lucky early insiders. While Amway does sell health, homecare and beauty merchandise, its most important product is the idea that anyone who joins the company can become rich. Selling that notion is what keeps every successful MLM company going. It’s what attracts new recruits, who soon learn that the best way to make money is by enticing more new recruits and on and on. A percentage of the revenue generated by every recruit goes to the person who recruited her and on and on back up the pyramid to the founders of the company.
If you get in early enough it is possible to get rich, but the further one gets from the top of the pyramid the more difficult it becomes to make any money at all and it may even cost people thousands of dollars to learn this reality. In fact, Canada’s “national newspaper” recently ran a story by journalist Ellie Flynn with the headline “Multilevel marketing sells a dream. Don’t buy it” that reveals this and more.
Flynn writes about the number of people involved: “In my home country, Britain, there are more than 400,000 people signed up to MLMs. In Canada, this number rises to 1.3 million, while in the United States, there are more than 18 million distributors. Worldwide, there are an astonishing 116 million people involved.”
Interestingly, in my over 50 years of reading and working for newspapers I don’t recall ever seeing an equivalent story about the world economic system (WES) even though it works in much the same fashion as MLMs and over 7.5 billion people are involved.
Multilevel marketing includes all sorts of ways for the originator of the scheme to make money off new recruits including: seminars, classes, conferences, books, videos, huge mark-ups on products, a percentage of all sales, etc. Capital flows back to originators (primarily North America and Europe) of the world economic system from franchise agreements, patents, copyrights, loans, currency fluctuations, driving down wages, service agreements, profit repatriation (often to a tax haven) and many more means, legal and illegal.
(The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] offers countries advice on how to deal with at least 10 ways mining companies cook their books and that’s just one industry.)
Just like the vast majority of people who try to get rich through multilevel marketing fail, so too will countries who play by the rules of the world economic system (WES).
Why do poor and “less developed” countries accept all this? Why don’t they set off on an independent path of national self-development that in fact has been the means by which almost every successful capitalist country (including newcomers like China, South Korea, Singapore and Japan) built its economy to the point it could actually compete and win in the world economy.
A big part of the reason is that just like Amway the world economic system sells an ideology to go along with its products. The basic notion is exactly the same as Amway’s. “You too can become rich if you just follow our system.” And of course a few people in every poor country do well enough from promoting the world economic system that the idea of becoming rich can be believable enough, at least for some time. Equally important is the principle, embedded in the ideology of Amway and the WES , that if you fail it is your fault. It is never the system’s fault. “You just didn’t work hard enough or follow the rules closely enough. You need to try harder.” That message is everywhere.
While Albert Einstein’s quote, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results,” [except Einstein never said that — DV ed] may seem to apply, there is another reason people choose to blame themselves rather than the system.
While the carrot of getting rich is awfully enticing, there is something else. The system gives countries a choice: Eat the carrot, even if it’s not your favourite veggie, or face the stick. Like Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, or Bolivia.
Imagine that Amway also had the largest military force in the world. What would it do? Pretty much exactly what the USA and its WES “allies” do. Protect its profits and way of doing business. Threaten any “unfair” competitors. Destroy enemies often enough that any potential competitors or places that just wanted to do things a different way would be leery of crossing you. Or course enticing people by the promise of getting rich would always be the preferred method of staying on top, but when that doesn’t work …
The reality is Amway does have the largest military force in the world. And so does GM, GE, Amazon, Volkswagen, Microsoft, Unilever, Royal Bank of Canada, Mitsubishi, Apple and many other huge corporations. It is the USA/NATO armed forces. And along with that comes the world’s most powerful cyberwarfare capabilities, “intelligence” services, and propaganda machine. If you blame the system instead of yourself, you may face all that.
Neoliberal imperialism is multilevel marketing, exploitation, the rich getting richer and militarism.
And it is real fake news when the media tries to tell us otherwise.