The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption
Published on Democracy Now, by John Perkins, June 5, 2007.
Excerpt of a long interview: … AMY GOODMAN: John Perkins, what do you see as the solutions right now?
JOHN PERKINS: Well, you know, Amy, this empire that we’ve created really has an emperor, and it’s not the president of this country. The President serves, you know, for a short period of time. But it doesn’t really matter whether we have a Democrat or a Republican in the White House or running Congress; the empire goes on, because it’s really run by what I call the corporatocracy, which is a group of men who run our biggest corporations. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. They don’t need to conspire. They all know what serves their best interest. But they really are the equivalent of the emperor, because they do not serve at the wish of the people, they’re not democratically elected, they don’t serve any limited term. They essentially answer to no one, except their own boards, and most corporate CEOs actually run their boards, rather than the other way around. And they are the power behind this.
And so, if we want to turn this around, we have to impact them very strongly, which means that we have to change the corporations, which is their power base. And what I feel very strongly is that today corporations exists for the primary purpose of making large profits, making a few very rich people a lot richer on a quarterly basis, on a daily basis, on a very short-term basis. That shouldn’t be. There is no reason for that to be.
Corporations have been defined as individuals. Individuals have to be good citizens. Corporations need to be good citizens. They need to take their primary goal must be to take care of their employees, their customers and all the people around the world who provide the resources that go into making this world run, and to take care of the environments and the communities where those people live.
We must get the corporations to redefine themselves, and I think it’s very realistic that we can do so. Every corporate executive out there is smart enough to realize that he’s running a very failed system. As an economist, as a rational person, nobody can conclude anything otherwise. If you look at the fact that less than 5% of the world’s population live in the United States and we consume more than 25% of the world’s resources and create over 30% of its major pollution, you can only conclude that we’ve created a very flawed and failed system. This is not a model that can be sold to the Chinese or the Indians or the Africans or the Middle Easterners or the Latin Americans. We can’t even continue with it ourselves. It has to change. And corporate executives know that. They’re smart individuals. I believe that they want to see change.
And when we have really pushed them to change, we’ve been extremely successful. For example, we’ve got them to clean up rivers that were terribly polluted in the 1970s in this country. We got them to get rid of the aerosol cans that were destroying the ozone layer. We got them to change their policies toward hiring and promoting minorities and women. We’ve gotten them to put seatbelts in cars and airbags, against their initial resistance. We’ve got them to change tremendously in any specific area where we’ve set out to do that.
Now, it behooves us, we must convince them that their corporations need to be institutions to make this a better world, rather than institutions that serve a few very rich people and their goal is to make those people even richer. We need to turn this around. We must … (full long interview text).