June 15, 2016 -
Oleg Polevoy, PolitRussia -
Translated by J. Arnoldski
The companies dealing with network marketing which burst into the lives of Russians in the “dashing ’90’s” have long since ceased to be something remarkable. Some of them quickly acquired a negative reputation and left the market, leaving only ironic phraseologies, while the others peacefully and safely continue their work to this day. The latter applies to one of the leaders of the global Multilevel Marketing (MLM) sphere, Amway. This company long ago became something familiar, but does everyone know what this company’s “double bottom” actually is?
Conducting a small survey among your friends, you’ll be surprised to see that very few people know that the name Amway is in fact an abbreviation for “American Way.” That’s it! Millions of people in 80 countries are going along the “American way” and don’t even know it!
Amway was founded in 1959 by two American businessmen of Dutch origin, Richard DeVos and Jay van Andel, whose several previous projects had failed. Today, Amway is one of the richest private companies in the US with billions of dollars in annual sales. The company operates a network of so-called independent entrepreneurs which in Russia alone numbers more than a million people.
In the Russian Federation, the company officially opened in 2005. However, for quite a long time before, contrary to its own rules, it worked in Russia and Ukraine through its Hungarian branch.
It would seem that selling household chemicals and food additives is completely harmless and far from war and politics. But in practice, this isn’t always the case.
One of the founders of Amway, Jay van Andel, besides business is actively engaged in state and political activism and managed to meet, among other things, the Chairman of the US Chamber of Commerce and the head of the Jamestown Foundation.
The latter is particularly noteworthy. The Jamestown Foundation is formally an American non-governmental research organization, but in practice it is a structure closely connected to the CIA and American intelligence projects. The foundation was founded in 1984 with the aim of realizing creative potential for recruiting to the CIA, including among foreign officials and secret services who defected to the US. The foundation’s first “clients” were the ex-deputy General Secretary of the UN, Arkady Shevchenko, and one of the chiefs of the Romanian intelligence service, Ion Pocepa.
Shevchenko was the favorite of the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrey Gromyko. He was subsumed by love for a beautiful life, money, alcohol, and had an insatiable sex addiction. Having made a prosperous diplomatic career thanks to needed connections and having occupied one of the highest positions on earth, instead of strengthening peace and international security, he began using his administrative capabilities to have sex with UN secretaries and stenographers. The CIA could not miss this opportunity to plant a female agent for Savchenko and safely recruit him.
Of all the famous foreign agents, Shevchenko did perhaps the greatest damage to the USSR by leaking to Washington not only information on the positions of the Soviet Union during the most important negotiations, but also information on personal conflicts within the country’s leadership, the health status of its leaders, economic forecasts, and the identities of undercover agents working in Western countries. In the end, Shevchenko fell into the attention of the KGB. Once he found out and broke down, he fled to the US where he received his first serious financial bonuses from the CIA, and then began to “realize” himself as part of “research projects” of the Jamestown Foundation.
Ion Pocepa also fled to the West, and to this day remains the official author of an enormous number of paranoid conspiracies and anti-Soviet and Russophobic myths dispersed across the world in the form of his books and articles.
The Jamestown Organization actively engaged in organizing lectures, publishing the above-mentioned garbage, and aiding other such persons. The foundation’s aim, of course, was not providing proper living standards and self-esteem for these individual renegades, but using their potential to propagandistic ends.
In the 1990’s, in view of the US' victory in the cold war, the Jamestown Foundation somewhat reduced its activities only to be “called out of reserve” at the beginning of the 21st century and thrown back into battle.
The problems in the Caucasus (especially its Russian part, particularly Chechnya) turned out to be at the center of the foundation’s attention, along with Belarus and color revolutions in the territory of the former USSR. The foundation’s activities came to be linked with a number of grandiose scandals. In 2006, the foundation organized a seminar in Washington aiming to support terrorism entitled “The Caucasus Frontline of Sadullaev: Prospects for a New Nalchik.” In 2007, the Jamestown Foundations drew North-Caucasus Islamist militants to an event called “The Future of Ingushetia.”
In 2010, the Jamestown Foundation joined the information campaign aiming to discredit the Sochi Olympics. The foundation demanded that sporting events linked to it be cancelled over the events of the 19th century Caucasian War.
In 2013, reports appeared in the press that the foundation’s projects in Georgia allegedly involved Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who bombed the Boston Marathon! The Jamestown Foundation actively fights Russian Cossacks and propagates pro-Western ideas in Belarus in an attempts to tear Minsk away from its roots and burn it in the fire of confrontation with Moscow.
Among the members of the Board of Trustees and the Jamestown Foundation’s experts and lecturers are Alexander Haig, the former US Secretary of State and the president of Worldwide Association, James Woolsey, the former CIA director, the vice president of the US Dick Cheney, the head of the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, and the former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. In general, Jay van Andel has everyone and everything he needs in his company!
No less interesting than the person of van Andel is his Amway partner, Richard DeVos. In his case, business is only the tip of the iceberg of his family’s activities.
Richard DeVos Jr. married the sister of Erik Dean Prince, a very influential person not only in the USA but in the whole world. Erik Prince is a Navy Seals officer who became the founder of the world’s largest PMSC, Blackwater (now Academi). His private army participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, numerous CIA special operations, and also deals with the defense of US diplomatic missions. Now, according to media reports, the company is involved in fighting on the side of the Saudi collation in the Yemeni War.
After selling Academi, Prince oversaw the creation of special forces units for the UAE and did business in Africa, in warring South Sudan in particular.
DeVos’ family takes active part in the activities of the Heritage Foundation, which publishes “The Insider” magazine and engages in such research studies as the “Economic Freedom Index.” It also collaborates with the Council for National Policy and a number of influential quasi-political organizations.
In general, DeVos’ family and its Amway colleagues are among the largest sponsors of the Republican Party of the US. The company regularly makes multimillion dollar contributions to the party, putting it in some years in second place for donations in the whole country.
The owners of Amway’s influence is so great they have short cuts to the country’s leadership, including even a few presidents. The former speaker of the US Congress, Newt Gingrich, became famous for the following words: “No one can do better to help people living in the post-Soviet space to achieve prosperity, freedom, and opportunity than the 60-70 thousand guys from Amway who are going their and will begin recruiting there.”
When American laws are being formed, at any moment there appear amendments written specifically for Amway’s taxation. Miracles and more!
It is not surprise that in the US the numerous investigative commission and courts investigating certain ambitious aspects of the company’s activities have always (and still to this day) judged in Amway’s favor.
In other countries, the company faces a bit more difficult situation. A grandiose trial fell on its head in Great Britain when it surfaced that only 6% of its army of “agents” received 95% of all profits while 71% did not receive any salary at all. The largest part of those who managed to earn something in the company had meager incomes. In the end, in order not to be expelled from the Foggy Alibion, Amway had to accept a number of legal and in particular tax-related obligations.
Perhaps they behave somewhat differently, maybe more cleanly in Russia? There are great doubts to be had that this is possible.
Their number of “agents” in Russia now exceeds one million. Even when they were smaller, with around 700 thousand, the volume of gross sales by each of them, according to expert estimates, amounted to more than a thousand rubles a month! If we subtract from this the cost of the product itself and bonuses which go to the top of the network, it becomes clear that Amway’s trade and products make such decent money that it is impossible to live without it!
According to expert conclusions, as of the end of 2014 the company had insufficient funds to repay its short-term liabilities and lacked liquid, quickly realizable assets and turnover funds. According to the coefficients of financial risk, the company relied heavily on foreign creditors. The share of borrowed capital in total sources of financing by December 2014 reached 122%. For every ruble of its own funds invested in shares, borrowed funds accounted for 5.55 rubles. Net assets were less than the capital share and the company logically had to reduce its charter capital to a size not exceeding its net share value.
What, then, after all of this, does this network make its money by? Many people who have escaped the company have accounted for this. It’s very simply, but quite ugly. As soon as newcomers make their first contributions to educational literature, materials, and buy their “starter kits,” they’re then explained that in order to make real money, they have to attract a network of new “followers.” They’re heavily psychologically inflated when explained just how high, right, good, and necessary their earnings will be, while they’re simultaneously taught the tricks needed to pull new people into “the network” in a literal and figurative sense.
They are taught to lure people that they trust, such as relatives, family friends, and work colleagues, to meetings. They’re even given special recommendations for this - “apply a distracting pretext for starting the conversation, do not mention the name of the company, do not disclose the essence of the meeting to which they’re invited,” etc. They’re taught that “beating off” the money lost on the starter kit on to their brother, godmother or doctor is perfectly alright and nothing to be ashamed of.
The “newbies” are immediately worked over emotionally. They’re told about great successes, about how they can become the masters of their lives, about the possibility to get a passive income, etc. Many in Russia have come to call the hunt for new members a special kind of cult.
After some time passes, some begin to see clearly, but others continue to chase mirages, infecting other people with their confidence in success. After all, the further “they come,” the more they convince themselves that they’ve chosen the right path.
In some years, Amway’s sales volume in Russia amounted to 18 billion rubles. Net earnings were much more modest. For example, in 2012 it amounted to about 15 million dollars, while one million dollars (7%) was spent on charity programs in Russia, thus becoming the leader of philanthropy in the country! Not much to see here?
This is a huge amount for a normal trading company, especially in the context of the above-mentioned. But then again, this is a network which has political and ideological goals set before it.
Let’s turn our attention to where Amway’s “charitable” efforts are going: orphaned children, dysfunctional families, and children in difficult life situations. These are people whose consciousness its easiest to influence of all.
The clan of Amway’s founders is a group of influential radical neoconservatives belonging to Protestant religious movements often referred to by religious scholars as sects. They are infected with the ideas of “American exceptionalism” and assign the US a special role in the future of all mankind.
These individuals’ and groups’ links to the White House, State Department, and CIA were meniotned above. But the most terrifying is that these people have serious influence on the minds of more than one million residents of Russia , a significant portion of which blindly follows directives from above and put down on paper other people’s data who could potentially be brought in " to work.” A cursory acquaintance with the forums which “Amway-ists” use is enough to draw the conclusion that this company’s “agents” are actively carrying out propaganda work among officials and members of their families.
This has its own logic. Petty officials often dream of earning extra money and the wives of officials and security officers dream about self-fulfillment. Amway promises them both. Just how safe is it for the state that officials’ family members are working under the moral influence of structures with the eloquent title “American Way”, the leadership of which is linked to foreign intelligence services? People might not want to do anything wrong to their country, but who knows how their work is used and what information is transmitted through them.
In many states, the issue of network marketing structures’ activities has been radically resolved. In some places they are completely banned, and in others serious limitations have been imposed on them. China, for example, only under pressure from the WTO allowed a few such organizations in, but then adorned them with “legislative shackles” forcing them to abandon their usual work formats. Iran recently, quite harshly pinned down Oriflame. Legislative restrictions on the activities of network marketing have been realized even in such a market-oriented country as South Korea.
Perhaps we should learn from our neighbor' and adopt measures to protect the interests of our state and society by limiting the activities of such “networkers” with foreign links, or at least impose tighter control on them.
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