It has been nearly twelve years since the release of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.
People have wondered how the publication of that book has affected me and what I am doing to redeem myself and change the EHM system. They have also questioned what they can do to help turn the system around. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is my answer.
After the release of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, I still wrestled with my guilt, with all the things I had done that had helped promote the corporatocracy and their march toward world domination.
I knew of U.S. led conspiracies – in Venezuela, in Iraq, and all throughout the Middle East and Africa. When I was forced to consider my mortality and reflect upon my life, I began to accept what I had done and why I had done it. I hope you enjoy this short glimpse into chapter 34 of the book and the events that became my confessions.
I Face My Guilt
Despite all that I had written, I had to admit that I’d missed much of what had been going on beneath the surface. The old tools had been sharpened and new ones invented. The heart of this system remained the same: an economic and political ideology based on enslavement through debt and enforced by paralyzing people with fear.
In my day, it had convinced the majority of Americans and much of the rest of the world that all actions were justified if they protected us from Communist subversives; the fear had now switched to Muslim terrorists, immigrants, and anyone threatening to rein in corporations. The dogma was similar, but the impact was now much greater.
Recuperating from that operation also sent me into the dark abyss of guilt. I’d wake up in the middle of the night haunted by memories of leaders I’d bribed and threatened. I had not yet come to terms with my EHM past.
I asked myself why I’d stayed in that job for ten long years. And then I realized how difficult it had been to escape. It wasn’t just the seduction of money, flying first class, staying in the best hotels, and all the other perks. Nor was it the pressure exerted by my bosses and fellow employees at MAIN. It was also the aura of the job, my title—the very story of my culture.
I was doing what I’d been schooled to do, what I’d been told was the right thing to do. I was educated as an American whose job it was to sell America and to believe and convince everyone else that Communist regimes were out to destroy us.
The power of the mind
Delving into my feelings of guilt helped me see the ease with which I had deceived myself in those years. It opened my mind to understanding that millions of people are in positions similar to mine. They are no longer taught to fear communism, but they still fear Russia, China, and North Korea, in addition to al-Qaeda and other terrorists.
They may not travel to foreign lands and confront, face-to-face, the consequences of what their companies do. They may not personally stand beside oil spills in the Amazon or see the hovels where sweatshop workers sleep. Instead, they anesthetize themselves with TV. They succumb to assurances by their schools, banks, human relations experts, and government officials that they are contributing to progress. But in their hearts they know otherwise. Deep down, they—we—realize that the stories misrepresent. And now it is time to admit to our complicity.
On a trip to Boston, not long after my operation, I reconnected with my former Boston University professor and the author of A Peoples’ History of the United States, Howard Zinn. Now in his eighties, he was still actively campaigning to reform a system he saw as an experiment that hadn’t worked. When I shared with him the guilt that so often threatened to overwhelm me, he urged me to keep opening to it.
“Don’t be afraid of it,” he said. “You are guilty. We’re all guilty. We have to admit that although the big corporations own the propaganda machine, we allow ourselves to be duped. You can set an example. Show people that the way out, redemption, comes from changing it.”
I came to understand, during those days following my operation and in discussions with Howard, that my most important lesson since the publication of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was similar to the one I had learned as a Peace Corps volunteer working with Andean brick makers: the only reason the EHM system works is because the rest of us give it permission to work. At best, we look the other way; at worst, we actively support it.
One of the things that most bothered me was having to admit to myself that I not only had looked the other way but also had convinced many people to actively support that system. I made a commitment to myself that I’d be more diligent; I’d watch more closely what was going on in my community, my country, and the world.
Then and now
During the 12 years since the publication of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the world has changed radically. I am excited to share with you how economic hit men and jackal assassins have spread to the U.S. and the rest of the planet and what we all can do to stop them and to create a better world.
The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an expanded and updated edition that includes 15 explosive new chapters. It also provides detailed strategies each and every one of us can employ to avert the crises looming before us.
John Perkins has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, NPR, A&E, the History Channel, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Der Spiegel, and many other publications. He is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, nonprofits devoted to establishing a world our children will want to inherit.
Join John in moving not just into ‘sustainability’ but also into ‘regenerating’ devastated environments at www.johnperkins.org