Friday, May 06, 2005

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Watch this; read this. If you disagree, argue against it. But it would seem impossible to ignore it. Rings true to me; gels with other things I've read.

4 Thoughts:

Blogger TristEro said...

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Monday, May 09, 2005 9:41:00 AM  
Blogger TristEro said...

Something about this guy bothered me when he made the rounds of the liberal talk circuit at the end of last year (WNYC's Leonard Lopate, Air America's Majority Report, and Democracy Now! were the ones that I managed to find). While the metaphor of "Economic Hit Man" is a accurately humorous take on how the World Bank, the IMF, and related incestous circle of related banks and consultants prey on disadvantaged "emerging economies" by setting impossible conditions for repayment of loans that are just stripped away like so much unprotected topsoil in the duststorm of global capitalism, I don't believe John Perkins was ever a figure in such manipulations. His recounting of being recruited as a "hit man" through manipulative sexual relationship on Leonard Leopate, just seemed wrong to me, as just too much of playing into the pyshcological need of Left for theories of a conspiracy of invididuals suitable for retelling by Hollywood, instead of the conspiracy of structure that I believe we face.

Looking at the titles of his other books listed on http://www.johnperkins.org such as The World Is As You Dream It: Shamanic Teachings from the Amazon and Andes and Psychonavigation: Techniques for Travel Beyond Time, pounds the nails into my coffin of reasonable doubt that this guy is just pulling our collective legs. Maybe Perkins really did have a moment of crisis, drop out of the establishment, discover the spirituality of hallucingenics with Amazon shamans, and then recant his days as an "economic hitman". But I try to use Occaam's Razor as much as I can, for a much smoother shave without all the fuzziness.

If anyone agrees with me on this one, how did this guy go through the "Liberal" talk circuit and its associated "attack watchblogs" without raising such questions?

Monday, May 09, 2005 9:56:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hi, Tristero:

I actually just finished reading the book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman. It rings true to me, even though I don't think Perkins has left all of his delusions of grandeur behind. That I agree with.

But I don't really see what he has to gain from all of this, aside from some book sales. I imagine he's well-heeled. If he's pulling our leg, he's pulling it by telling us the truth, in general, if not all of his specific truth, in particular. This isn't one voice in the wilderness...Vidal and Chomsky and Said and others have (or had) been saying basically this for years. What Perkins brings is a glimpse of the actual mechanics.

I checked him out, and his California-esque psychobabble stuff doesn't really surprise me, nor does it lower my trust in him. I don't see how the two could be connected in such a way that erodes his credibility. One can tell the truth about oneself and still believe in crystals or whatnot (I'm stereotyping his views, which I haven't read, to make the strong point). If this guy believed that there was a man up in the sky that judges right and wrong, we'd all say, "Oh, he's fine. Believing Jew or Christian." Just as nuts, and probably nuttier, than this man's current beliefs.

Finally, his shamanic/indigeneous cultural interests actually make me credit his book all the more. I think this guy has clearly overcompensated for his well-deserved guilt in helping to destroy these cultures by trying to become part of them, publicize them, etc. It makes perfect psychological sense -- if he's telling the truth.

Note that even though his book was reportedly #1 on AOL.com and a NYTimes bestseller, he has NOT made the usual book-chat circuit at all. Just the "liberal" one you mention.

In any event, read the book and judge the words. I think this is a mostly honest report (and certainly meant to be totally honest) from one who has "been there." Not much he says about himself in the book is all that likable; nor does he make himself into a nightmare of a person, though. Rings very true to me.

Thanks for the post!

PS: On several occasions in the book itself he expressly writes that his explanations are NOT conspiracy theories. They are far subtler than that -- his views are far closer to Chomsky's than anyone else's I know. The horror is that this is not at all a conspiracy by a oily cabal. We are all in on it, and he explains that in much detail. It's the natural outcome of our nation's two fundamental (and fundamentalist) beliefs: 1. that economic growth is always good and equitably distributed (rising tide, e.g.); and that 2. American exceptionalism/Manifest Destiny/what-have-you. All wrapped up in nice Christian-missionary clothes. We are the light on the hill for the rest of the world, or so we believe. That is the foundation for the outrageous hypocrisy most of us call our lives.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 4:58:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

However, I will say that, like other intel types who have come out against BushCo or globalization or whatnot, I always have "double-agent" in the back of my mind...a kind of "let's hook the 'liberal media' with this fish and discredit them." So, I'm with you on that.

Also, I had a little warning flag pop up when he said on DemocracyNow! that he was thinking of turning this into a novel. Amy Goodman was asking him quick-check questions throughout the interview: "Why would X care about this?", "How did you know it was Henry Kissinger who went to Saudi Arabia, or why do you suspect that?", and so on.

In any event, these concerns need to be balanced against the obvious out-and-out lies we get from BushCo, which go relatively unquestioned in mainstream media. The right is always ready to say that people like Clarke or Carl Ford (but not Bill Frist) are out to make a buck off a book, rather than actually tell the truth, which will be much appreciated and reflected in book sales.

In any event, good post! Got me thinking. Any other views? I know Andrew is about to read the book; we'll see what he thinks. He's got a different take on globalization's effect on third-world countries, and plenty of first-hand experience there.

Thursday, May 12, 2005 9:47:00 AM  

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