John Perkins is offering his life as the link between IMF/World Bank money lending to developing nations and American interests abroad. His confession affirms a speculative charge of imperialism and brings shape to that “invisible hand” of the market. That shape is not an unguided phenomenological emergence of fairness. Rather, the invisible force that Perkins’s is confessing to is one steeped in coercion meant to subvert the American political process and cloak America’s actions in the private sector.
Perkins seeks to persuade you that an American imperial agenda exists and is actively affecting international politics. Specifically, Perkins elucidates on the secret way private companies do the bidding of American interests by administering large loans to the developing world in order to control them. To this end, his story reveals his personal implication within the administration of such irresponsibly large loans to national governments with exaggerated and faulty economic forecasts. Perkins explains that he assumed the pivotal position of determining growth potential of developing countries' GNP. As he reveals throughout his story, the pressures that he personally encountered influenced him to make biased economic predictions with fallacious conclusions.
A greater historical perspective underpins this narrative. Perkins taps into a romantic vision of America as an adolescent republic in order to establish his own understanding of right and wrong. He locates Tom Pain, his proclaimed hero, as well as Thomas Jefferson as moral compasses navigating his own beliefs and values. Likewise, Perkins invokes the American Revolution to frame his grappling of the macro-international relations picture that lay before him. He writes, “just like colonial minutemen, Muslims were threatening to fight for their rights, and like the British of 1770s, we classified such actions as terrorism” (57). One way this idealized American imagery works is to find a point of agreement between varying degrees of contempt for contemporary American actions through solidifying past idyllic notions of America. This situates Perkins critique as patriotic, that is, engendered by a love of American mythology. It seems to me that this book works very hard-and successfully-to entice the sceptic who would otherwise reject a combination of terms such as “American imperialism,” while also cajoling the reader utterly convinced of America’s hegemonic project. Perkins stabilizes his own ethos and makes his claims more appealing through his posture toward American history.
Most interestingly, within the book is the negative implication on the free market itself. Perkins’s story burdens the contemporary conception of the free market by showing that it is not an autonomous vacuum of free-floating financial logic. Similarly, financial institutions are not always miraculously engaged in activities that are by definition, good. The market is susceptible to all forces, particularly political forces. Forces like EHM can exploit the autonomous status handed to the free market in order to hide third party intentions and actions. This book has serious implications for free marketeers and proponents of deregulation because it offers a first hand account of the corruption and abuses possible through unregulated economic means.