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Our Pound of Flesh
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins
© 2013 James LaFond
I have spent much of my life trying to figure out where all of this social pressure that confines me comes from, who is applying it, and for what reasons and to what ends. The answer to this question from my earliest boyhood, whether it has come from teachers, coaches, clergy or parents, has tended along the lines of me being deluded, wrong, sinful, a trouble-maker, or buying into a conspiracy theory. The sense that an invisible hand was pushing me to act against my own selfish interests, as well as against my highest ideals, has ever haunted me. That is why my friends and family all think I’m insane at worst, strange at best.
My Uncle Robert was a man that believed the world was evil and railed against it. He was of African descent and had lived between two peoples until he chose to marry my Aunt Alice. No one in our family cared, or even discussed the fact, that he was part black. What bothered them was his views on organic farming, government intrusion, and intellectual independence. In the mid 1970s I recall sitting in his living room while he explained to my mother how her insistence on buying frozen retail vegetables [spinach in this case] would eventually result in an economic system where it was against the law to grow your own food. Just last week I saw a news story about a federal initiative to regulate food cooperatives—and even my open-minded father had laughed at his assertion.
At family parties they all walked away, took another drink and shook their head, or argued with Uncle Robert. I noticed that my father stood aside during these debates. Dad was a dreamer who tried to find meaningful ways to support his family rather than just toiling away as a print shop manager. His creative business ventures brought him nothing but ridicule. In my middle class family believing in anything other than the sanctity of monetary profit has always threatened the moral status of the unbeliever; the family heretics like me. And that judgment came and still comes from the people who care about us unconditionally.
Despite my habit of questioning authority from an untenable age I have never adopted a belief in conspiracy theories. Antiestablishment folks tend to concoct elaborate conspiracy theories—not unlike ancient myths—to describe the circumscribed nature of their life. I have always thought more along the lines of societies as ‘social organisms’; collections of small lives that end up perpetuating common beliefs, goals, prejudices and behaviors. When viewing Peter Joseph’s documentary film Zeitgeist, I saw a man interviewed who spoke along these lines, of a negatively weighted predatory corporate culture gobbling up our planet’s resources and ruthlessly disposing of people in the process. His name is John Perkins, a man who admitted to doing evil in service to evil. He had written a book and I made it my business to read it.
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
John Perkins
2006, Plume, NY, 303 pages
At its core this memoir is about a man that sold his soul on the moral auction block on at least three specific fully-informed occasions. In each case he admits that he knew he was bowing to peer pressure and greed to expand, facilitate, and perpetuate a ruthless triad of corporations, banks and corrupt government officials, from U.S. presidents to third world dictators. He does a very nice autobiographical job of documenting his flaws and then the corporate exploitation of those flaws to mould him as an agent of ‘indirect empire’.
John Perkins knew all along that he had made a bargain with what amounted to an earthly evil, and echoes Milton from Paradise Lost [1665] often, with his use of the term ‘our pound of flesh’ referring to Milton’s protagonist owing his famous debt to a devil. Some will be troubled by the author’s clear knowledge of his various bargains, and others amazed that he finally came clean in a world where there is no punishment or even stigma attached to the crimes he and his employers wantonly committed against tens of millions of victims.
The first three quarters of the book is taut with corruption and offers a ghostly portrait of seduction and dismay among the privileged class of the 1970s international corporate facilitators, whose mission it was to intentionally trash already weak economies in order to milk the host nations in every way imaginable. The penultimate moment of the book comes on pages 185-86 when he documents the two sequential CIA-orchestrated assassinations of Latin American hero presidents who were friends of his, and who were among a handful of Third World leaders who refused to sell their people into slavery.
But still, knowing that their blood was on his hands, he sold out again! This has got to be the most damning self-indicting memoir ever written. Eventually the Economic Hit Man describes how and why he turned the ethical corner to fight for the good, only to have his environmentalist friends threaten to pull their support, because they too where owned and intimidated by the international goon squad of corporate slave masters that own us all—except for criminals at large and that wino dying in the gutter.
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is a must read if it bothers you that some child lost her fingers stitching those designer jeans you are wearing, not so that you could buy them more cheaply, but so that some scumbag in a suit could make a bigger profit off of the transaction.
If, on the other hand, you are the guy that would buy a plane ticket to Thailand to molest this kid after the company you support with your delusional purchasing decisions sells her to an amputee fetish brothel, then don’t bother reading this book.
Perhaps Mister Perkins’ most salient line in the book, one that might click in the minds of those who wonder what the U.S. military is doing by sending our sons and daughters to fight in 31 supposedly sovereign nations around the world, is this, from page 256, “…if you bomb a city and then rebuild it, the data shows a huge spike in economic growth.”
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Dominick Mattero     Jun 8, 2013

Fight the Power!!!

"Amputee Fetish Brothel"...ugh..I bet you they actually exist!!

I always say that most conspiracy theories are shot down because no one is that good or competent to follow a would imply..a villain or antagonist..when the bleak truth is that it is an impersonal collective system or culture that propagates these actions..which makes it impossible to excise without a massive culling event..(i.e an asteroid hit or zombie virus)..and then it would just continue in smaller ways..but at least you can bring it back to some primitive hand weapons for direct justice..
Anonymous     Jun 8, 2013

"Human Beings censure injustice because they fear being victims of it, not because they shrink from committing it." Plato

Fear not, it looks like we Americans are soon going to get our comeuppance for our greed and hubris. Although I imagine that people around the world will find that whoever replaces us as the dominant world power is unlikely to be anywhere near as giving and as morally restrained as America has been. Regardless, of the sins committed in our name, we Americans are suckers for a hard luck story and can’t avoid wanting to help people, even when it does no good. I have found in my travels that people in other lands tend not to be unhappy with America because it has intervened in the affairs of others necessarily, but instead because it didn't intervene in the time, place and manner they wanted it to. Like Grandpa used to say, "Everybody wants the law enforced on everybody else." Regardless, now that we are the "brokest" people in the history of humanity I tend to think we will find few good reasons for sending troops overseas in the years to come.
James     Jun 8, 2013

Very thoughtful and a nicely snagged quote. You sent the same comment twice, once with your name, so I choose the anonymous entry just to be on the safe side. My memory for names is bad enough that you are safe even if I am tortured.

Thanks J. B.
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