Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

Perkins: economic hitman

Posted by alifinmath on March 27, 2008

Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hitman came out four or five years ago. There were numerous copies available at my local B&N, but though the title intrigued me, the contents didn’t satisy me enough to purchase it. Two or three years ago, Perkins came to talk at the Har-Mar B&N. I was disappointed. The audience was the usual group of little old ladies and gents, vaguely liberal, who haven’t a clue as to how the world really runs, and who perhaps would rather not know. The ones who need to have their vague faith and hope in happy endings and the essential goodness of humanity affirmed. The ones who’ll probably be voting for whichever charlatan becomes the Democratic nominee this year. And Perkins was playing to this audience, speaking in terms they could understand, and ending his talk with an earnestly expressed conviction that if members of the audience all worked and strove together, they could change things. As with so much else coming from the “liberal left” (whatever that means in the US), I was troubled by the lack of a theoretical prism — both with regard to the speaker and to his nitwits of an audience. Theory is two-thirds of the battle. Theory provides the framework which directs actions, gives them meaning, focuses them on achievable targets, allows for meaningful plans. If there’s no theory of how a ruling class rules, how historically it came into being, what its instruments for control are, how it subjugates every other class, then how is it going to be countered except with wishy-washy feel-good assertions and hopes?

Last year Perkins came out with a second book, The Secret History of the American Empire, which I also don’t have. However there’s a good review at the Mayday blog, an excerpt of which I paste below:

Recent articles in the world press have shown that governments and even traditional corporate boards are being superseded by 6,000 trans-international financiers, mostly older white males, acting as an ‘uber’ ruling class for the whole world. These people are like the hyper imperialist ‘hedge’ funds of the corporatocracy, the ultimate jet-setting Davos star chamber. After painting a picture of a bloody years-long struggle for domination by the worlds’ corporations, Perkins expects us to think the people who hire ‘jackals’ will calmly lie down with the lambs after some meek pressure. Never does he mention as desirable unions, or strikes, or demonstrations, or land occupations, or People’s Parties, or even revolutions – any of the really powerful mechanisms the working class has to influence the world. He relegates them to secondary status, while the massive force of negative advertising, consumer boycotts, shareholder resolutions, on-line petitions, board room elections and street theatre work their magic. His one saving grace is that he supports communities organizing for their own needs.

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One Response to “Perkins: economic hitman”

  1. alifinmath said

    I do however have a copy of “A Game as Old as Empire,” edited by Steven Hiatt; a well-written review of the book can be found here:

    http://www.monthlyreview.org/080201holleman-jonna.php

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