Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
John Perkins
(Penguin Group, New York: 2006, c2004)

First published 2004.

READ: April-May 2007

John Perkins worked for over three decades at the heart of an international business consulting firm, and claims that the modern American political/economic system is founded on a system which exploits and neutralizes developing nations in ways that force them to remain acquiescent to American economic policies. It's almost a Forrest-Gump-like story - Perkins seems to have been fairly intimately involved with some of the more important political upheavals of contemporary times, including the deaths of Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos and Ecuadorian president Jaime Roldós Aguilera in the early 1980s, and the (as an example of how the "EHM system" occasionally failed) overthrow of the shah in Iran in the late 1970s.

This has been quite a popular book over the last few years, and I don't know how much to believe and how much to disbelieve. The events in this book are either largely and/or entirely true, in which case we should be worried about the sham called democracy in which we participate, or it is the product of a conspiratorial and overly-fertile imagination. While many people, well-educated and otherwise, would argue the latter proposition, I have to admit I tend, most days, toward the former. I think Perkins does have a tendency to dabble in conspiracy theory (especially in other contexts outside this book (just do a Google search for his name)); however, I also think this is definitely a case of "where there's smoke, there's fire."

At the very least, some of the response to this book has at least raised a bit of a debate about global finance and the development of the Third World, bringing these issues beyond the confines of APEC and G8 protests. It's an interesting read, even if you choose to disbelieve most of what he says, and it's well-written, unlike many other books in this genre. It occasionally smacks of conspiracy, but at the very least, it will get you thinking and being more aware.

No comments: