John Perkins confesses in New Bedford

Last night I had the pleasure of listening to John Perkins, author of Confession of an Economic Hitman, speak in New Bedford at an event sponsored by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth Sustainability Initiative.  John was very inspiring, speaking to us both about his experiences as an Economic Hitman and about how we can create a sustainable society.

I recently read Confession of an Economic Hitman, on the advice of my friend Kathleen, so that I would be informed when I listened to John speak.  John’s story is incredible; the interview above, which appeared on KEXP Seattle in 2007, summarizes some of the central aspects of John’s experience as an Economic Hitman.  It is a dark and frightening narrative, which details how America created an Empire around the world.

As an Economic Hitman, John didn’t traffic in guns; what he offered to leaders of Third World countries around the world was instead loans; the loans were intentionally large and designed to place these countries at the mercy of the United States.  Of course, when his measures failed, and if leaders of countries like Jose Velasco Ibarra in Equador and Omar Torrijos Herrera in Panama defied American corporations’ wishes, then darker forces (the Jackals) would enter and take power through assassinations or coups.

If you haven’t read the book, you are missing an important part of our American history. Last night John Perkins made clear that sustainability is the challenge of our time.  John, who grew up in New Hampshire, is passionate about our Revolutionary forefathers; at the end of the night he talked about how as a kid he wished he could have grown up in the 18th century, so he could be part of the Revolution.  However, he made the point that the change which is happening now is even more important, because instead of just affecting 13 colonies, it affects the entire world and the future of human civilization.  John exhorted the audience to follow our passions and use our gifts to help transform the world around us.

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