Shapeshifting with John Perkins

abby-martin-john-perkins-300x181Note: I wrote this in October of 2013 on a discontinued blog. Some things have changed since then. I’ve “shapeshifted” from both blogs and merged them into this one.

I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I knew little about John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman, until a few days ago. Yes, I’d picked up his book in bookshops over the years and read random chapters, but had never gone beyond that. It all changed after I watched Abby Martin’s interview with him on Breaking the Set. I’ve embedded the interview below, so please watch it. What you see here is just a screenshot, so don’t try to watch it!

Our bookshops here in Sihanoukville aren’t as well-stocked as I’d like, but one of them had a copy of his 2007 book, The Secret History of the American Empire, so I bought it today. To say it’s a riveting read is an understatement. I’d read it even if it was fiction. He has a simple style and a real eye for the details that matter. The first chapter is about his first assignment to Indonesia. The goal was to secure Indonesia’s oil resources for America.

I’m tempted to transcribe the whole chapter — it’s that good — but I’ll limit it to this fascinating story about the origin of the term “bogeyman”:

Sulawesi was also the home of the infamous Bugi tribe. European spice traders centuries ago feared them as the fiercest, most bloodthirsty pirates in the world. When they returned home, the Europeans threatened disobedient children with the warning that if they did not change their ways, ‘the Bugimen will get you’.

Interesting as that was, what followed was even more poignant. Perkins later became friendly with a boat builder who was a descendant of the Bugi tribe. He told him that his people never saw themselves as pirates, but as defenders of their homeland against foreign intruders. “Now we’re at a loss,” he continued. “How can a handful of people in wooden sailing ships fight off America’s submarines, airplanes, bombs, and missiles?”

“Questions like that got to me”, Perkins concluded. “Eventually they convinced me to change my ways.”

After finishing that chapter, I decided to put the book aside for awhile and learn more about John Perkins. His official website, told me all I needed to know. First I checked out his books and discovered that along with his “economic hitman” revelations, he’s written books about his experiences with shamans in Asia, Africa and South America. For synopses and links to ordering pages, click here.

Alas, I don’t yet own an Ereader and doubt I’ll find any of the books in our local Sihanoukville bookshops, so I had to content myself with an article I found in his archives. Why I am Hopeful: Shapeshifting the World was more of an advertorial than an article, because it was announcing a workshop he was going to hold at the Omega Institute. That’s okay, though, because Perkins is a perfect example of someone who has “shapeshifted” himself into a better person, so if that’s what he’s selling now, more power to him.

According to his definition:

Shapeshifting is about energy. We ourselves are made of energy and all of our emotions are energy. The practices that collectively are known as “shapeshifting” empower us to use that energy to change ourselves and the institutions that impact our lives. We can transform our “negative” thoughts and emotions into positive energy that we can then channel into appropriate actions. Throughout history humans have found shapeshifting to be one of the most effective means of transforming ourselves, organizations, and communities.

I’ve been doing a little shapeshifting of my own recently. I got sick and tired of writing about trivial stuff on my writing blog, so I changed the name of it to A Writer’s Blog: random ramblings of a freelance writer and although it’s not going to help my writing career, it’s been a joy to start writing about things that matter. I’ve also started writing about things that matter on my Sihanoukville Journal and am taking an interest in this site again, too. Between the three of them, I still only get 3-5,000 visitors a month, so I don’t harbour any illusions that I’ll single-handedly change the world, but I get a great deal of satisfaction out of feeling like I’m finally making my contribution, small as it may be.

Remember the End of the Mayan Calendar, December 21, 2012?


December 21, 2012 came and went without the world ending or any discernible shift in human consciousness, but Perkins and some of his colleagues, both Mayan and Western, apparently still recognise the significance of that date. As he wrote in another article:

December 21, 2012 was identified by Mayan astrologers more than a millennium ago as the Great Turning – a time of opportunity to “shapeshift” human societies away from exploitation, brutality, and materialism into cooperation, compassion, and spirituality.

You’ve got to admit, with the revelations of people like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and the popularity of sites like RT, a global awakening does seem to be occurring. When Obama and company wanted to invade Syria recently, it was largely us “little guys” and the lowly alternative media that forced them to retreat — with a little help from Russia’s Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin. There’s still a long way to go and it might take some catastrophic events to turn the tide, but at least we’re not just behaving like mindless zombies any more.

I’ll stop jabbering soon, but I do want add that amongst those who recommended The Secret History of the United States were names you wouldn’t usually associate with a book about American imperialism. Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, wrote: “It’s difficult to accept that U.S. and corporate policies can be so brutal and greedy, but, knowing John Perkins personally, I have come to understand the importance of disclosing this uncomfortable truth.”

Okay, enough jabbering. Here’s the promised video.