QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
NOTE: We recognize that reading is a personal experience, and we hope that the author interview and questions below will provide a springboard to provoke a lively discussion.
The issues that John Perkins tackles in his new book, The Secret History of the American Empire, are both broader and more challenging than those described in his first bestseller, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Perkins makes an appeal for personal action by everyone who reads his book.
Perkins begins by explaining his motives for writing his first book and the reception it has enjoyed. He describes a book signing for Confessions in a Washington, D.C., bookstore, when two employees of the World Bank brought their sons to meet him and confessed that they often took part, incognito, in protests against the bank’s policies. One of the bank’s employees said to Perkins, “We need more whistle-blowers like you.” The other advised him to write another book exposing the evil actions of the corporatocracy, and added, “And also give us hope. Offer our sons alternatives. Map out a way for them to do a better job.”
Perkins describes the seven characteristics of empires, and posits that the corporatocracy, which he defines as the individuals who control our businesses, governments, and media, are in fact an empire bent on exploiting the rest of the world for its own gains. He then details experiences he and other economic hit men and jackals (hired assassins) have had in four regions of the world—Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa—which he maintains demonstrate in no uncertain terms the greed and ruthlessness the corporatocracy practices in protecting its selfish interests, often at the expense of the citizens of those regions and the environment at large.
Despite the genuinely horrifying nature of many of the events Perkins describes, he remains optimistic about the possibility that conscientious individuals can help stop the corporatocracy’s domination of other cultures and its disregard of the planet’s environmental future. He explores how nongovernment organizations and nonprofit organizations worldwide are countering the actions of the corporatocracy, and provides a list of specific actions that individuals can take to thwart the corporatocracy and achieve a sustainable and peaceful world for all its citizens.
ABOUT JOHN PERKINS
John Perkins is founder and president of the Dream Change Coalition, which works closely with Amazonian and other indigenous people to help preserve their environments and cultures. From 1971 to 1981 he worked for the international consulting firm of Chas.T. Main, where he became chief economist and director of economics and regional planning. Perkins has lectured and taught at universities and learning centers on four continents and is a regular lecturer for the Omega Center.