The brightest future
by the Master —, through Benjamin Creme
From where, one may ask, is the vision to come which will inspire men to relinquish the ways of the past — war, competition and destruction of the planet — and so lead to the creation of a path to sharing, justice and peace? For how long must men wait for a sign that this is even feasible? Where should men look for a glimmer, even, of hope? Without doubt, there is much happening in the world to strain the credence of all but the most convinced that this much to be desired event is not only possible but assured.
From what basis can such a statement be made? From what superior knowledge does it issue? How in this uncertain world can such confidence be maintained? The answers to these legitimate questions lie in the fact known to all Hierarchy (but not yet to all men) that Their Head and Leader, Maitreya Himself, is, for many years now, present in the everyday world; that many of Their illustrious Brothers, likewise, walk once more with men. This fact alone is quite without precedent. It betokens something wonderful and new for men. For the first time in countless thousands of years these ‘men without fault’ will teach men how to live, simply and well, in peace and right relationship.
Thus it may be said that the future for man is assured. Men, however, must accept and put in place the mechanism for peace: the recognition that all men are equal and one, each an expression of the divinity which permeates all Being. When this is clearly understood, men will have little difficulty in creating the path to peace. The divine aspects of justice and freedom will gain new meaning and importance, and hasten the day when sharing of resources assumes its natural, logical place as the answer to man’s present dilemma and strife.
Until now, all such ideas and demonstrations of spiritual living were made by men alone. Slow indeed has been the response to their heroic example. Nevertheless, circumstances are now exerting on men unusual and insupportable pressures — men must adapt and change, or perish.
As they search for answers to their problems they will find Maitreya and His Group ready to respond, ready to guide men away from danger and further folly. They have the answers which thus far have eluded men, the answers which alone will assure the future, the brightest possible future, for the race of men.
Q. Iran seems to be in a state of upheaval. (1) What are the underlying causes? (2) Is the USA stirring things up by using Iranian exiles and emigrants broadcasting to Iran?
A. (1) The conflict between an emerging democratic secular state and that now ruled by the Imams — a more fundamentalist Islamic state based on the Shariah Law. (2) Yes.
Q. (1) Should leaders of governments have immunity — as in Italy at present? (2) Where does this leave the law? (3) Is democracy and the law not hobbled by such situations?
A. To my mind, not at all. (2) It makes a mockery of the law. (3) Yes, of course.
Q. (1) What is your opinion of a European Union Constitution? (2) Are countries giving up too many sovereign rights? (3) Is this possibly the egocentric plan of a man who would like to be king — Giscard d’Estaing?
A. (1) I am not in favour of such a Constitution. It implies, and would speed, the creation of a supranational United States of Europe which is against the destinies of the various (and different) European countries. These countries are all governed by different rays and have different qualities to contribute to the world. It is a mistake to try to meld them into one large European country. (2) Yes. (3) Not of one man. It is the dream of a group of people — for the best of reasons, but mistakenly.
Q. Is the media fair in its treatment of Israeli/Palestinian issues? Is it balanced?
A. No. To my mind, most states — for whatever reason — take the view of American media on Israeli/Palestinian issues, and this is always unfair and unbalanced because Israel is protected by the US. Israel is in defiance of around 67 UN resolutions (Iraq of about 19) and no one seems to object to this anomaly.
Q. Does the process of formulating ideas and presenting them to the public in the form of Share International magazine, for example, have a positive influence not only on those who read the magazine but also, less directly, on the mental planes by a sort of passing on of the thoughtforms?
A. Yes, precisely so.
Q. What should we do now that we have heard your information?
A. I am 100 per cent convinced because of my experiences over many years, but even if you are only 5 per cent sure — do what I am doing — make it known to the best of your ability — tell people, talk to the media, write articles, hold meetings! Tell everyone who will listen that this event is happening. Simply tell what you know, or what you believe.
If you are somewhat convinced (it doesn’t matter if you do not know all the answers, just say you don’t know) tell what you believe. In this way you are bearing witness and people will listen to you. They may not necessarily be convinced, but they hear the information. Their minds become more open to the possibility. That is the important thing.
Q. Will good triumph over evil?
A. Yes! Indeed. The end is known from the beginning. Good will inevitably triumph because it is the will of the divine Being Who ensouls this planet. But we have to make it so. It does not happen by itself. Maitreya puts it this way: “Nothing happens by itself. Man must act and implement his will.” It does not matter what ideals we have, how much we would love everybody to be at peace, to have enough to eat, not to have millions starving, no little children with swollen bellies because they have had no food for weeks. None of that any more. It does not happen unless we act and make it so.
Q. I feel sad when the Masters of the world hide so well — we are ready for this, we are fed-up with every day’s stupidity with the world, why can’t they come forward now, more often for those who are ready?
A. This is part of the same idea — sit back and ask God or Masters to come and clean up our mess. We have to do it. We have to be responsible for the mess we are making. We cannot sit back and rely on God or the Masters to do it for us. If we do not want it, it will never happen.
Humanity has free will — it is the greatest gift, the divinity in humanity. If we did not have free will we would not evolve. That free will is sacrosanct as far as the Masters are concerned and They will never infringe it. So They cannot come out and clear up everything for us. They know it is not a lovely world for millions and millions of people. It is all right for well-nourished, well-heeled people in successful European countries, but there are millions of people starving to death who see their children dying because they have nothing to give them, because there is nothing for hundreds of miles in every direction. Not even clean water to drink.
We are so complacent — Europeans, Americans, Japanese, in our comfortable little life (I know it is not comfortable for everybody, but in broad general terms) — we do not give a thought to how the vast majority lives and dies. If we do not see this we will never change it. If we want it to change we have to act — otherwise it does not happen.
Over a number of years, some of the Masters, in particular Maitreya and the Master Jesus, have appeared, in different guises, to large numbers of people around the world. They also appear at Benjamin Creme's lectures and meditations, giving people in the audience the opportunity to intuitively recognise Them. Some people recount their experiences to Share International magazine. If the encounters are authenticated by Benjamin Creme's Master, the letters are published. These experiences are given to inspire, to guide or teach, often to heal and uplift. Very often, too, the Masters draw attention to, or comment on, in an amusing way, some fixed intolerance (for example against smoking or drinking). Many times They act as saving 'angels' in accidents, during wartime, earthquakes and other disasters. The following letters, previously published in Share International magazine, are examples of this means of communication by the Masters.
Two letters from the same person:
(1) My mother called me to explain that something strange had happened again in the same mirror where the imprint of Maitreya’s ‘hand’ had manifested.
My father was taking a shower on Sunday 22 June 2003. When he finished, the mirror was steamed up except for a new mark of a hand imprint, clearly visible.
My wife Carmen and I went to see it. The new handprint is close to the original one. It was very clearly imprinted, and quite similar to the one that was manifested in 2001.
The next day, my mother told the woman who helps her with cleaning to leave the mirror untouched because of the handprint. To her surprise, the woman told her that recently she had seen several handprints like that in the mirror, but she had cleaned them as she assumed they belonged to someone from the house!
It may be interesting to note that when we went to see the handprint, my wife had been suffering from a painful stiff neck for two days. After seeing the handprint she suddenly realized that her pain had disappeared completely.
My parents again wanted to ask if this is another sign, and who manifested it.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that this is a second handprint, manifested by Maitreya “for good measure”.)
His own words
(2) On Friday and Saturday nights (6 and 7 June 2003) we held a Reappearance stand at a festival in the City Theatre, Barcelona. There were all kinds of art performances — theatre, video, music, dance, etc — both indoors and outdoors. The outdoor activities were held in an open square in the middle of the theatre complex. There were stands of different countries’ cultures and alternative thinking, where we had our stand.
On Saturday, after midnight, I was standing beside our table with two other co-workers including my wife. The stand was empty when a young man in his late 20s, casually dressed, approached our stand from the centre of the square with determination. He did not look at any of the free material we normally hand to people (newspapers, magazines, leaflets, etc) but immediately took a Messages from Maitreya book and started reading a message. He looked very concentrated reading it. At one point, a person stood by his side and he stopped reading, turned his head slowly to look at this person, who then continued on their way. Then he continued reading the message. All the time a calm atmosphere surrounded him. When he finished reading he closed the book and placed it very gently again on the table. He looked at us with a broad smile of complicity and we smiled back and nodded. He then continued his way towards other stands.
As something puzzled me, a few moments later I went to look for him but he was nowhere to be found in the square. My wife also looked but did not see him anywhere. Who was this young man?
Horacio Londner, Barcelona, Spain.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘young man’ was Maitreya.)
Help at hand
On the morning of 7 July 2003, I was busily doing housework after my children had left for school. At around 8.30am my younger sister called me and said that unfortunately our mother had been depressed and low-spirited lately. All I could do was to listen to my sister sympathetically, for I could not think of anything to cheer our mother up.
Every day I go to my husband’s office around 9.30 to help him, so I hurried back to the laundry room to get the rest of the washing to hang up. Then I noticed someone’s handprint on the large mirror above the wash basin. The top of the mirror is about 190cm high and a long fluorescent lamp is attached to the top. The handprint was just below the light and I stretched myself high to look at it carefully.
I thought it was strange to see such a large handprint. It could not be one of my family members. Then I remembered the photograph of Maitreya’s handprint. The hand on the card was a left hand, but the handprint on my mirror was a right hand. However, to me both looked very similar. “Could this be Maitreya’s handprint?” I wondered. I stood on tiptoes and measured my hand against the print. It was much bigger than mine. It would have to be someone quite tall and large to be able to place a handprint on that spot.
I totally forgot about going to work and I was drawn to the handprint. The print showed the four fingers very clearly and I could even see fingerprints on them. It was a man’s hand with long fingers. I could see clearly the thick part of the palm below the thumb and the little finger. My heart was filled with a thought: “I just need to ask for Maitreya’s help. I’ll try to ask for my mother’s wellbeing.” I sincerely asked the handprint for help. I was filled with gratitude and tears welled up in my eyes.
On the next evening, I happened to run into my mother at a Japanese sweetshop in town. I was
so happy to see her smiling with such calmness.
H. N. Gifu-ken, Japan.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the handprint was manifested by Maitreya.)
On 7 July 2003, when I came home from school, my mother told me that ‘Maitreya’s hand’ seemed to have appeared in the bathroom of the Nishimuras’ family. At our dinner table that night, the entire conversation was about the hand. At our house, Maitreya’s handprints are placed in every room so we can see it any time. Of course the card is placed on the wall of the kitchen as well, so we were looking at the card as we talked. My father said he could believe about 80 per cent that the handprint that appeared at the Nishimuras’ could be authentic, and my mother said 90 per cent. I closed my eyes and focused my attention on the ajna centre.
The bowls and plates were still on the table but there was nothing in the area to the left in front of me. When I opened my eyes and looked towards that area, the entire field of my vision turned blue. Then suddenly, a palm-size image of Maitreya’s photo appeared with such force and sound in the midst of that blue space. It floated about 3cm above the table. It was very similar to Maitreya’s Nairobi appearance, wearing the same white robe and facing slightly to the left. The top of the image was about 13cm from the table. It was like a photo stand, floating in the air. The image was very clear and three-dimensional, and changed two or three times.
I was dumbfounded. Then, slowly as if I was awaking from a dream, I came back to reality and I could hear the voices of my parents again. Maitreya’s image disappeared. I could not speak about it for some time. It was a momentary experience and yet it felt to me as if time had stopped. When I slowly told my parents, they listened. Then my mother said she could believe me because I had the same expression as the time when I told her about my experience with the Master in Tokyo at Mr Creme’s lecture in Osaka in May 2003.
We continued to talk about Maitreya for another hour or so. Finally my mother got up to clear the dinner table and touched the area of the table where the image had appeared without much attention. She said: “There is tremendous energy here! It’s different from the other area.” I went to fetch my older brother who is sensitive to energy. We did not tell him where the area was, but he touched the table and pointed to the area where he felt strong energy. The four of us stood there. Then the same kind of energy as Maitreya’s blessing at Benjamin Creme’s lecture began to flow out in increasing potency. It was tremendously strong and warm and we stood there and meditated for about 20 minutes. The energy was still continuing at 9.15pm, but we went upstairs because it was time for my grandparents to use the kitchen.
My brother went into the room where my parents conduct Transmission Meditation, and he could
feel very strong energy in that room. We felt energy in every room where the cards of Maitreya’s
Hand were displayed.
H. U. Kusatsu-shi, Japan.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that these experiences were manifested by Maitreya.)
On 6 January 2003, at around 8.30pm, I saw an extraordinary scene outside the window of the 3rd floor of our house. Somehow I was drawn to the window to look at the sky, when I saw an orange-coloured luminous form in the south-western sky. At first it was one, then three and four and sometimes six luminous forms appeared. They moved horizontally and vertically, and sometimes moved very close to the airplane flying overhead at the time. Then they came to the sky above our house. Two luminous forms moved parallel to each other, flying fast and then slowly, then fast again and slowly without any sound. Finally they flew away towards Lake Biwa and Mount Hiei. I watched them for about an hour. Please can you tell me what they were?
H. U. Kusatsu-shi, Japan.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the luminous forms were manifested by Maitreya.)
On 16 June 2003 I was walking in Hyde Park, London, late for a meeting. I had gone the wrong way and was coming back past the lake to go over a bridge to the other side of the park. It was a lovely hot day and there were lots of people boating and sitting by the lake. An elderly man started walking beside me. He was dressed in a red shirt and shorts and looked like he could be a tourist. He looked in his late 60s and had white hair and a beard. In a middle-class English accent he said: “It’s like the seaside, isn’t it?” And we said how nice it was. He asked me if I was on holiday and I said no, I live here, but that I’d got lost. I asked him if he was on holiday and he said no, he lived in south London but had come into town for a lunchtime concert at the Wigmore Hall. They had played a piece by Schubert, his favourite. He said he was retired now but came every week to these lunchtime concerts in such a lovely hall with such good acoustics. (I am a composer and most musicians agree that the acoustics in the Wigmore Hall are among the best.)
Suddenly he said: “Now I’m going to tell you something really important,” and joked that he
would give it to me for free. He said that everything is made of tiny molecules of energy and
everything has its opposite. That (I think) if for example you were feeling bad last year that
wasn’t your true feelings and that it has an opposite. He also said that somebody you thought
was so wonderful can turn out to be not so wonderful at all. He joked: that’s why courting is so
different from marriage! Then he said: “It’s like Tony Blair, he’s built himself up so high, but
he’s going to come tumbling down.” I was past my turning and late so I said I had to go back the
other way. He said: “Well let me give you a kiss,” and he kissed me on the cheek! I laughed and
as I was going he laughed too and called: “That’s the price you pay for that information!”
Tara Creme, London, UK.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘man’ was Maitreya.)
(1) I just returned from the July 2003 New York Transmission Meditation workshop, where,
during his talk, Mr Creme mentioned that Maitreya, Jesus and another Master were present in the
audience. Many people expected this and were kind of looking around a bit, including myself. I
felt unsuccessful in locating this prized threesome, but did notice a gypsy-looking woman seated
one row behind me on the aisle seat. She got my attention with a constantly moving foot! She was
a blonde woman of bold stature with gold on her face and ears! She was dressed in black silk
edged with a beautiful golden-thread design. When the lecture was over I noticed her reading the
handout by looking through her hand held close to her eye as if it were a telescope. I asked her
what she was doing and she said she had forgotten her glasses but was able to see through her
“telescope”. I tried it and it worked.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘blonde woman’ was, in fact, Maitreya.)
(2) On Easter Sunday 2003 my friend and I had arrived too early for a movie in Harvard Square, Cambridge (Massachusetts). This led me to walk around a bit. There was a beautiful black man singing song after song in French. While I do not speak that language it seemed that each song contained the words “Je t’aime” (I love you). He gave me such a feeling of beauty and love that I felt he was more than an ordinary being. Was he?
P. B. Waltham, MA, USA.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘man singing songs in French’ was Maitreya.)
On 23 June 2003 I was in Toulouse, France, and I was going back to my brother’s apartment, around 11-12pm. Suddenly a middle-aged man, looking like a beggar, asked if I could help him with some money. He was carrying a huge bag, smelled of alcohol and there was a big white dog with him. I gave him one euro and then he told me he had an appointment with a friend of his who hadn’t shown up. We went together down the street and he told me about his experiences. He said he had travelled a lot, spent some time in Amsterdam and India, that he used to be a disciple of Sri Maharishi for nine years.
Then he told me he had had an operation some time ago, which left him with seven scars on his arm, he then showed me a tattoo on his arm looking like a seven-pointed star. He also said that his dog, who was like a son for him, had had an operation too, which was kind of funny. At one point he told me, without knowing where I lived, that we might have passed by my building already, which we had. He then asked me to hold his heavy bag and took a small address book out for the address of his friend living near a ‘Casino’ store. Since we had passed in front of it a few minutes ago, I offered to show him the way.
When we arrived he used a strange key to open the door and said he was not sure his friend was there. I left him, but after a few steps he called me again and told me his friend was not there. I offered for him to stay inside my building where there was enough space for him and his dog. We had nearly reached our destination when he told me that his dog would know to stand exactly in front of my building’s door before us — a few seconds later, the dog crossed the street and stood in front of it!
Since the main electronic gate was closed I told him I couldn’t open it as the key was in my brother’s house. It wasn’t a problem for me to climb the gate but for them I was not sure. He surprised me again and said it wasn’t a problem for him, and took a key out which fitted perfectly in the lock. When he turned it, the gate opened. I couldn’t believe my eyes and told him that his key was magic. I showed him a place where he could stay with his dog, inside the building. He took his sleeping bag and put it on the floor and asked me for some food. I told him that unfortunately the fridge was empty (in fact it was, except for a tin of fish already opened) and again without knowing that, he said that a tin of fish would be enough for him.
I gave him the food and he asked me for a bowl of water for his dog. Because my brother was a little upset by all my ‘comings and goings’ I suggested he use a plate. He said it was OK, and that he was going to cut half of a plastic bottle for this purpose. He thanked me by taking my hand in a strange manner, like old friends do.
It was a marvellous experience and all the time I felt a strong feeling inside of me. I think that the man and his dog were not ordinary beings, and I would like to know if you can tell me who they really were.
A. H. Paris, France.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘middle-aged man’ was Maitreya. The ‘dog’ was the Master Jesus.)
On Tuesday 8 July 2003 I was driving along the ringroad in Oxford at about 1.10am when I spotted something glowing in the sky between buildings.
Having to turn off the road, I then lost sight of it. Reaching home about five minutes later I scanned the sky once more. There was another object, smaller, so I hurried to the main road to watch it.
It was a beautiful orange/gold shape which grew considerably larger. At one point it seemed to divide into three, then became whole again. It had moved slowly and in what seemed a very subtle way. I watched it for about 10 minutes before it gradually disappeared.
In February 2003 when driving home from London at about 4am, I saw on the outskirts of Oxford a fast-moving bright globe which popped in and out of the clouds.
Could your Master comment on these sightings?
H. S. Oxford, UK.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the sightings are all of spacecraft: the first Martian, the second Venusian, and the third Martian.)
Staff of life
On a rainy Autumn night in 1993 after Transmission Meditation at Ikebukuro, I was walking to the station to return home. I noticed a woman in her 30s who was walking towards me with a beautiful little boy, putting up an umbrella with her right hand, stooping over the boy so that he would not get wet.
She was fairly tall for a Japanese woman with a slim and elegant figure as often seen in Japanese Ukiyoe paintings, but was wearing Western-style clothes. The little boy of three-four years of age was carrying a French baguette under his arm, looking straight ahead and walking with steady steps as if he had abundant self-confidence about his action at that moment, relying upon his mother, who was holding up the umbrella over him and looking at him affectionately with a most gentle gesture. I was strongly impressed with this scene, and after passing them I thought of the relationship between the Christ, Maitreya and Jesus, Whom He overshadowed, working for people and giving them the bread of life which is said to signify the Teaching of the Christ.
I would be grateful if you could tell me whether this happening was by those Great Ones in the Bible story or by an ordinary woman and her little boy by chance?
I. H. Saitama, Japan.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘woman’ was, indeed, the Master Jesus. The ‘beautiful little boy’ was Maitreya.)
An interview with Ann Pettifor by Gill Fry
Jubilee 2000 grew from small beginnings to become an international campaign bringing pressure to bear on G7 leaders to “cancel the unpayable debts of the poorest countries by the year 2000, under a fair and transparent process”. By the end of the campaign 24 million people had signed the first-ever global petition to ‘drop the debt’ and $100 billion had been written off 41 poor countries’ debts.
Jubilee Research was formed to continue this work, particularly to provide up-to-date research, analysis, news and data on international debt and finance, and to demystify the economic concepts, making them accessible and useful to campaigners. Jubilee Research is led by Ann Pettifor, co-founder, and for five years director, of Jubilee 2000 Coalition UK.
Gill Fry interviewed her for Share International at the New Economics Foundation office in Vauxhall, south London, UK.
Share International: What led you to get involved in your campaigning work for debt relief?
Ann Pettifor: The biggest influence of all was that I was born in Africa and spent a very formative time in Tanzania in the 1970s. It is my roots really that feed my passion and drive on this issue, so I went looking for the sort of job which I suppose integrated all of the different parts of my life. I was born in Africa, but spent a lot of time here [in the UK] working on parliamentary, political and economic issues and working for the debt crisis network.
SI: What was it like growing up in South Africa?
AP: It was tough because I was quite a sensitive child. We lived in the ‘outback’ of South Africa, in the Orange Free State, in a very rural area. Because I was a devout Christian at the time I soon became aware of the injustice of our society. The Bible said: “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” But if thy neighbour was black in South Africa, he or she was not loved. So I quite quickly became aware of the hypocrisy and double standards of the people around me and even of the churches. I later became quite disillusioned with the church in South Africa, which was very divided.
I think I felt quite lonely because I had a hankering for a lifestyle of different values, and it was hard to find in my town. My town was a small gold-mining town in the bush; the values there were gold and money, because that was all people did. People came to dig gold — the workers dug the gold and the owners never lived there. They were Anglo-American-owned mines and [the bosses] lived in London or New York and sent their intermediaries, their managers. They employed thousands of black African mine-workers and a few white middle-managers. It was a rough, exciting place at one level, but on another level, it was quite a desolate place.
SI: What did Jubilee 2000 achieve and what are the aims and plans of Jubilee Research?
AP: The Jubilee 2000 campaign mobilized people in more than 60 countries and managed to persuade the leaders of the richest countries, the G7, to cancel $110 billion of debt. We had wanted them to cancel at least $350 billion but that was very tough to achieve by the year 2000. However, we got a promise out of them for the cancellation of debt for about 41 countries.
Jubilee Research was established at the end of the campaign with the primary mission of monitoring and throwing a searchlight onto the G7, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the people implementing the promises, in order to ensure that the debt is cancelled. We hope to be a resource for international campaigns working on these issues so if you want to know what’s happened to, for example, Zambia’s debt — how much relief she has had, and where she is in the process — then that information will be on our website. We are monitoring and shedding light on the decisions and holding to account the G7 for what they promised, and providing campaigners with the resources and the tools they need to engage in advocacy at whatever level. We have expanded our work and no longer look just at the 41 poorest countries, but have been working with Argentina, Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan and other so-called ‘middle-income’ countries — those that the rich countries don’t believe deserve debt cancellation.
SI: How did the ‘The Jubilee Framework’ come about?
AP: We realized at the end of Jubilee 2000 that a campaign can be very effective at begging powerful leaders to write off debts, but what we really need is a structural change to the relationship between international creditors and sovereign debtors. Thinking about how such a thing would work I came across Professor Raffer from the University of Vienna, who had already proposed such a scheme.
What we believe to be necessary is a framework of justice for the resolution of crises, because it takes two to tango — both the debtor and the creditor are responsible for the debt, not just the debtor. The way the system is currently organized the debtor takes all the blame, is the ‘sinner’, their debts have to be ‘forgiven’ and they carry the burden of the losses when the debt goes sour. The creditors on the whole take the cream and even when the debts go sour they wait patiently and collect both interest and compound interest. They even create phantom debts and carry on collecting money well after the country has effectively gone bankrupt.
We started pushing this idea and people laughed at us saying it was not possible, it would never happen. Then, to our astonishment [on 21 September 2001] the American Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill gave evidence to a Senate committee and said: “I think now is the time that we need to take the action that’s been talked about for years and that’s never been done, we need an agreement on international bankruptcy law.” We then discovered that the governors of the central banks of Europe, in particular the then deputy governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, were also keen on the idea. They were finding that when there were economic crises, for example in Mexico, Brazil, South Korea or Thailand, they were expected to supply the government of that country with dollars, hard currency, so that the government could pay back the private banks who had invested in that economy, mainly from Wall Street, London or Zurich. The result was that the banks who had made those lousy lending decisions were always compensated. When the American or British Government provide loans for bailing out those private investors it is really dangerous because it encourages the investors to make more bad decisions: it’s called ‘moral hazards’.
After Paul O’Neill’s statement the G7 finance ministers also agreed in Canada that there should be such a framework and they instructed the IMF to develop one. Suddenly we found our idea was on the agenda and now I spend quite a lot of my time in New York and Washington discussing with the IMF what the framework should be. We want it to be one of justice: fair to both sides, but also involving civil society; because these are public not private debts, and this is tax-payers’ money. So it will help to shine a light on what governments do when they borrow and lend and will involve citizens in those big international financial decisions.
The idea was defeated quite recently by Wall Street, who mounted a huge campaign in Washington against it … Wall Street doesn’t want it because they would rather have the existing system and do deals behind closed doors and not in front of people. But it’s not the end of the story, because I don’t think international financial crises can be resolved without such a structure. So I’m just waiting for the next financial crisis when it will prove absolutely necessary. My view is that the country that might need it most would be the United States because it’s the most indebted nation on earth.
SI: Jubilee Research is publishing a new book — can you explain its purpose?
AP: We were upset during the campaign because the IMF continued to impose its economic policies on poor countries. We began to research those economies and were determined, as lay people, to write about them in a way that other lay people could understand. We have written a book called The Real World Economic Outlook about what’s happening in the real world. It shadows the IMF’s yearly World Economic Outlook and is saying that the IMF’s outlook isn’t real. We want to show you what’s really going on in the world.
The theme this year is the legacy of globalization: debt and deflation. We are showing that as a result of globalization we now have extraordinarily high levels of debt. The Bank of England has just announced record levels of personal household debt: people are spending on credit cards as if there were no tomorrow, and taking out loans and mortgages. When the crisis comes they’re going to be in really deep trouble and I am very fearful of that. The book says that this is a direct result of an economic system which allows the bankers to run the world.
SI: What do you see this economic crisis leading to?
AP: We need a world that is much more co-operative, far less competitive, which is not based on pitting one country against another, one group of people against another in order to get so called ‘maximum efficiency’. We need a world where we are much more careful about allocating and sharing resources, environmental as well as economic and social. I don’t think we will get to that world as things are right now because the rich have become so rich that they’re living in ‘cloud cuckoo land’ — and the poor are so incredibly poor. Except when there is the odd outburst or outrage of terrorism they have mainly been too disabled, by their poverty and their struggle just to live, to [be able to] resist. In this situation of extreme polarization it is very hard, in my view, to achieve change.
I am pessimistic about the global economy and think that when the crash comes — and it’s not far away — then all the things we are talking about will suddenly become fashionable. But unfortunately the cost of that knowledge and learning will be huge. There will be a great deal of pain and suffering before we learn the lesson that unsustainable economic policies, such as those we are now enjoying, cannot endure. When they come to an end with the crash, I think it is going to be extremely painful and the people who are going to be most hurt are of course the poorest, the young people, the elderly and so forth. Where I am optimistic is that out of that devastation we will hopefully learn, once again, as we learnt before in the 1920s and 1930s, how to build a sustainable economy.
SI: When do you foresee the stock-market crash happening?
AP: I don’t believe in making predictions. What I do know is that there is $100 trillion of debt out there. That is what we can calculate, but we know that there is probably even more because there is so much exposure on derivatives trading and so on. And there is only $33 trillion of income. That is a credit- or a debt-bubble and when that bubble bursts the crash will happen. The question is how much longer can credit go on expanding before those who have to be repaid, and are not being repaid, begin to buckle under?
At the moment there are other bubbles in the economy including the housing bubble, and when that bursts we will see a quite calamitous crash. But who can tell when? Here in Britain there are signs that the bubble is bursting, but in the US there seem to be fewer signs. The bubble in the US is the most serious because it is the most indebted nation on earth, and its people are the most indebted people individually as households, so when that crash happens I think the stock market will crash. The point is that we will all suffer and the poorest countries will of course suffer the worst.
SI: How difficult is it to engage the media in the subjects of debt relief and poverty?
AP: It was very difficult in the beginning of Jubilee 2000 but we learnt that the media are like you and me: they have a job to do. You can make their job easier and understand that it’s no good lecturing them, but it is important to give them a real story with a human angle, because the essence of communication in the mass-media is simplification. Most people, including myself, can only deal with quite simple concepts. I can’t take too much in at any time, so journalists are trained to hone stories so that they are quickly accessible. To do that as a campaigner takes a lot of skill: you have to put your mind to it and work hard at getting it right and when you do there’s absolutely no problem with the media.
We had to use tricks, for example stage events, to attract the global media. We asked the Pope if we could meet him on the subject, and brought along some rock stars, economists and other distinguished people, and as a result got global media coverage. We also, for example, worked with Mohammed Ali, who is recognizable all over the world, so when you do a story with him your story goes around the world. These are techniques one learns, although it’s not simply a matter of technique. The Pope had to be persuaded to do something with us, but, because we had a really important thing to say, it happened and we got the media coverage.
So I don’t think it’s difficult and I think that campaigners should never give up, but they should be more sophisticated. Instead of not liking the media, they should love the media in the sense of being willing to help journalists communicate their story in an interesting and sassy way. Too many campaigners thrust a press release at a journalist which is really dull and boring and then expect a story out of it. When they don’t get a story they blame the media for not being interested in the subject. When we started the campaign everyone said: no one will ever talk about debt, it’s very boring, it’s very arcane, very economic. In the end we had The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror and The Daily Express running stories about it, and we had pictures of Bono and Mohammed Ali in Hello magazine, which then had to write a piece about the debt. All that was because we really tried and worked hard at it: instead of having contempt for the media we respected them, and we got the results.
SI: The recent peace rallies saw 12.5 million people worldwide marching not just for an end to wars, but demanding freedom and justice for the poor of the world. How can we now build on this demonstration of people power in a co-ordinated and organized way?
AP: I think that’s extremely challenging to do. We ran a global campaign and what that entailed was holding together a coalition of people internationally. It could only be done with one simple message to which you would hope others would sign up. Ours was a straightforward and simple mission statement: to cancel the debt under a fair process by the year 2000. Even that statement was controversial, and could be divisive, but it was simple enough to attract enough support.
Organizing internationally is extraordinarily difficult, and unfortunately there are a lot of political forces that can come in between, with some people more keen on disrupting the global social movement than uniting it. Most of the organizers of Jubilee 2000 were women, and women, I believe, have more practice at uniting, holding together and keeping people together. Men, it seems to me — particularly men in positions of power within social campaigning organizations — tend to be extremely divisive and want to divide the world into ‘those who are with me’ and ‘those who are not with me’; whereas the women leaders of Jubilee 2000 were only too happy to embrace anybody who defended and accepted the principle of debt cancellation. So we built a united movement. It wasn’t easy but the whole theme was one of: “This is a big tent. Everybody’s welcome in it.” You had to be committed to debt cancellation, but once in the tent you weren’t expected to be disciplined, follow any rules, or behave in any [particular] way. You were free to do you own thing, but to do it in a way that was unifying and uniting. I think we achieved that, but it was very hard. There were lots of tensions and [those who] wanted to do nothing more than divide the movement.
I think political parties are extremely important and vital to our democracy, but what we have with globalization is the need for a global social movement which cannot be a political party because political parties have discipline, have leaders that you have to elect, and have boundaries. A social movement that’s going to be global cannot have boundaries or elected leaders. It could have leadership — people who are visionary who could give direction — but not elected leaders in that sense. You can’t discipline a social movement and say: “You’re expelled from the anti-war movement,” and yet there are some political parties that want, in my view, to impose that structure on what is a social movement. People tried to do that to Jubilee 2000 and we resisted it strongly, but it is very hard because you then get engaged in battles with them.
SI: Judging from the huge turnouts on the peace marches, people seem ready for world change — masses of people long for a fair and just world.
AP: They need leadership. We have no political leaders, and we don’t even have religious leaders, who can say: “This is how we should be going.” People are out there with no leadership and I think that’s a great tragedy.
For more information visit: www.jubilee2000uk.org