Book review: ‘Confessions of an Economic Hit Man’ by John Perkins

Published by Ebury Press
Reviewed by Andreas Faust

Kermit Roosevelt (Teddy’s grandson) fomented street riots in Iran in 1951 in order to effect a regime change there.

Sound familiar?

A decade or two later Robert McNamara came along, setting new precedents in the erosion of boundaries between government and corporate sectors.

Then, to complete the picture, the Economic Hit Men arrived…

Economic Hit Men (EHMs) work for private corporations, but are sanctioned by US government intelligence services (according to the author John Perkins, who used to be one). They are ‘selected’ (not employed) by these intelligence services…and are technically private employees, so personal or corporate greed can then be blamed if they are ‘busted’.

In Indonesia, Perkins was put in charge of cooking the books, making economic prospects look greater than they actually were. Once his inflated figures were accepted, the World Bank etc. would move in, offering huge loans for development, which could only be paid back when the high growth (falsely forecast by Perkins and co.) occurred. But it never did occur, leaving the countries in question saddled with massive debt as a result. The aim of Perkins and his fellow EHMs was to keep these countries in the USA’s debt as long as possible…and not only so-called ‘third world’ countries, either – Perkins went to Iceland recently to talk to people there about the dangers they face in the wake of their economy collapsing.

Because of the debts created by EHMs on infrastructure projects, the governments of the affected nations can no longer help their own citizens out of impoverishment.

Perkins himself acknowledges that some of the original World Bank types acted as they did for honourable reasons…they genuinely believed they could save the countries in question from Communism and terrorism by promoting their own brand of ‘growth’. But ironically, Communism and terrorism were often caused by the very policies of the World Bank itself. Advocates of US economic imperialism claim that it boosts the GNP of the countries in question, but these GNP figures are deceptive – they continue to rise, even when the profit only goes to a handful of people.

Perkins’ own misgivings begin to creep in when he learned to speak Bahasa Indonesia, and realised that the locals referred to him by words meaning ‘inquisitor’ or ‘interrogator’. Clearly they had received orders to comply with him, and resented it. He then began to suspect the information they provided him with was cooked…but not by them. He also started to doubt the value of the ‘Western’ lifestyle he was exporting. Decadence, divorce, drug abuse, suicide – are these things really worth promoting?

While Perkins describes global empire as “the dream of a few greedy men,” greed is not the only motivation for creating such an empire – it can also be ideological or spiritual, as with Communism and Islam. But these latter haven’t been as successful in their aims of world domination as Capitalism has. The fact is, much of today’s Western affluence rests on the exploitation of workers in Chinese sweatshops.

So what is the solution? Large scale immigration is obviously no answer, as it just puts the burden of ‘guilt’ on ordinary Westerners rather than the bigwigs and corporate traitors. It also causes a ‘skills drain’ in the countries the immigrants come from. In my view, the best way to help both the ‘West’ and the ‘third world’ is to promote independence and autonomy for the peoples of both.

So how do we do that?

In ‘Confessions of an Economic Hit Man’, an Indonesian quotes Arnold Toynbee to the effect that Capitalism can never be overcome by reason, only by faith (Toynbee, at the height of the Cold War, had already predicted that Islam would outlast Communism as the main ‘adversary’ of the Western system). So what kind of ‘faith’ is available to those of us who aren’t Muslims, and who dislike the notion of blind belief and servitude?

National-Anarchism is one such faith – a political path to a better future. And folkish heathenism is another – a faith in our ancestors and in our descendants, and a step towards a richer spiritual understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Those are the paths I am following. And others are increasingly following suit…


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National-Anarchism: the Political Adventure of the 21st Century

Reclaiming anarchism from the universalist 'Left'...reclaiming nationalism from the jingoist 'Right'...



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