John Perkins - Confessions of an Economic Hitman: Strategy Book Review Essay

John Perkins - Confessions of an Economic Hitman: Strategy Book Review Essay

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From 1971 to 1980, the author worked as an ‘Economic Hitman’ (EHM) for the consulting firm Chas. T. Main, Inc. (MAIN). His role was “to cheat countries around the globe out of billions of dollars... to encourage world leaders to become part of a vast network that promotes U.S. commercial interests. In the end, those leaders become ensnared in a web of debt that ensures their loyalty” (p17). This was accomplished by the production of economic projections that would persuade the World Bank and other international organisations to lend money to these countries. After this money was spent on developing infrastructure in the countries in question – the contracts for which went to U.S. companies – they were left with large amounts of debts which they could not hope to repay. This in turn left these countries beholden to the United States’ economic and political interests, creating a ‘global empire’ controlled by “corporations, banks and governments” (Preface, p xiii). Perkins refers to this collusion of interests as the ‘corporatocracy’, and it is they who devised and carry out this strategy. The goal is not only to increase economic growth, both for the U.S. and the corporations themselves, but “to perpetuate and continually expand the system” (Preface, p xiii).
This review aims to evaluate and discuss this ‘neo-imperialist’ strategy, both from an extrinsic and intrinsic point of view. It also aims to evaluate the alternative strategies proposed by the author.
It is useful to begin with some discussion of what we mean by strategy. Strategy is concerned with the achievement of goals; the most efficient and beneficial (to those creating the goals) way of achieving these, while attempting to plan for problems and events that may arise ...


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... our newspapers, magazines and publishing houses are owned – and manipulated – by gigantic international corporations. Our media is part of the coporatocracy” (p 221).
There is immense difficulty in attempting to convince the average person to adopt the lifestyle changes that Perkins suggests, partly because “this corporatocracy is ourselves – we make it happen” (p 217). If we are extensions of the corporatocracy, it is no surprise that self-centredness is the dominant personal strategy in the western world. Therefore, Perkins has a very difficult task in trying to persuade us –albeit from a compelling ethical platform – to take a substantial reduction in our (material) quality of life. Indeed, it took Perkins many years to change his occupation, despite his close personal experience of the damage the system causes, and despite being financially very comfortable.

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