Monday, March 29, 2010

Arundhati Roy and John Perkins

I went to hear Arundhati Roy speak last Friday in the city. It was a pertinent moment to attend the talk for two reasons.

She reminded me why it was so important to care about and address the injustices in our world, because she gave testament to exactly what we've been talking about in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. There are Maoist Guerrillas (what the Indian Govmnt would call them) in what is know as "The Red Corridor" of India, who are being driven off of their land (so it is difficult to label them Guerrillas) by wealthy multinational corporations who are benefiting a small handful of wealthy Indian families. They are painted as evil by the Indian government but she went and walked with them in the jungle for several weeks to discover the real story. I haven't yet finished our book, on page 220 or so, but it is all to clear that the new breed of EHM is rampant. No longer is it a select group of people that have to be trained to go around convincing foreign governments to buy into the global empire of the US. It seems to me that the group of EHMs is now determined by whether or not you buy the neoliberal ideology.

This brings me to a couple of questions:
Does believing in the various policies of neoliberailsm (the free market, no trade barriers, market efficiency and rationality, etc.) make you an EHM?

Fir that matter, what exactly was John Perkins doing in the early part of his career? How exactly was he enslaving the people of the world and their respective nations. This is as far as I got:

He would go in and make hugely optimistic electricity load forecasts for developing countries. This would encourage the developing countries to want to contract firms to deliver the electricity. To do so, they would have to borrow massive amounts of money from institutions like the World Bank. MAIN and other firms like it would make sure they got the contracts. Probably because the WB would only lend the money if certain firms were used. The various firms would then provide the electricity, modernizing the country and inducting it into the "global empire" of the US. What the empire consisted of was countries saddled with massive debts for projects that often undermined the fabric of their society and culture. There was a lot of talk about the fact that the poor of the country wouldn't benefit. Was this simply because the rich of the country were pocketing the money and not actually hiring the contractors? Were they going ahead with the project and then pocketing the profits?

How was Torrijos able to get MAIN to do what he wanted? He said he would contract MAIN but not take the profits for himself? How was he able to avoid the massive debts? did he?

I would love to make sure I'm understanding the structure of deceit correctly. Hope everyone had a good break.

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