Book Title: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Author: John Perkins
Category: Non-Fiction: politics, non-fiction: business
In high school my friends and I used to get together and play Risk – evenings that lasted well into early morning, the game only stopped for trips to Safeway to buy candy or to make coffee. This book immediately made me think of those late night empire-building sessions, but the difference with this situation is that Perkins’ experience was literal, his job was to further the economic empire of the United States.
As a student of Political Science, and someone with an interest in the Politics of Development and as an activist who’s worked on projects throughout high school and university, through organizations such as Engineers Without Borders, I’ve always assumed some of the things written in this book. Things like the presence of a corportocracy, a conspiracy to encourage debt, a disregard of the interests of regular people in developing countries in favour of big business. I’ve read articles, I’ve written essays, on the rise of neo-liberalism and the damaging effects of the Structural Adjustment Programs. This book though, as a work of non-fiction, written by a man who took part in it all was a shock.
To read this book though, was basically a vindication of everything I’ve suspected, or everything the people in my university classes have “known” about corporations, without actually proving it. It is not even really about proof, its about the fact that everyone “knows” these things but nobody truly listens to the consequences, or writes about it with such experience and clarity. Perkins was an economist in the 1970s, was an economic hit man – working to advance the aims of the US government and the World Bank/IMF through explicit means of empire building – just not traditional means of empire building.
In his training, Perkins was instructed that
“the primary objectives of my work…was to justify huge international loans that would funnel money back to….US companies…[and] I would work to bankrupt the countries that received those loans…so that they would be forever beholden to their creditors.”
The book itself is an incredible account of the things done in the name of profit, and the pursuit of empire. I do not want to make the claim that this book is eye opening, because for me that is not the right description. I would say this book is heart-breakingly honest, and I respect Perkins for writing it – though it took him a long time to do so. I definitely recommend this book – whether you find yourself normally interested in this sort of genre or not. This book reveals truths of our world, and as world citizens, it is the type of book we should be reading.
Next Book: Canada and Other Matters of Opinion by Rex Murphy.