In the wake of one of the most emotionally-charged Presidential elections in history, a group of St. John’s students filled the Little Theatre on Monday night to receive a message of personal empowerment.
John Perkins, a best-selling author and activist, delivered a speech that noted the importance of the election of Barack Obama, quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. and called for the spread of unconditional love in the world.
“We are in the beginning of a revolution,” Perkins told students. “Whether you were for Obama or somebody else, we all know that there is a new spirit in this land.”
Perkins has been somewhat of a controversial figure since the publication of “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” in 2004. The book, which spent more than 70 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, is a first-hand account of the economic exploitation of Latin America by what Perkins calls the “corporatocracy”, the amalgamation of American corporations, international banks and the United States government.
Perkins’ book details how his career with the National Security Agency as an “economic hitman” resulted in the American government-ordered deaths of two Latin American presidents, Omar Torrijos of Panama and Jamie Roldos of Ecuador – two men that refused to cooperate with the wishes of the American “corporatocracy.”
Although, the content of Perkins’ speech was far less controversial than that of his book, which the U.S. State Department refutes on the Indentifying Misinformation page of its public Web site. What remained most prevalent in the Little Theatre was the possibility of students’ future accomplishment and ability to stand up for their beliefs as Perkins challenged student after student to “follow [their] passion” during a question and answer session.
“Something amazing is happening on this planet,” Perkins said. “The world is looking for you to be leaders.”
“It’s not so much about empowerment,” said Antonia Petkova, the president of the Management Society, who, along with the University’s Global Awareness Program, was responsible for the event. “It’s really about our responsibility as citizens of this world.”
And although Perkins is a man who is known for speaking the evils of the corporate world and referred yesterday to capitalism as “something we are stuck with at least for [his] lifetime”, his speech was optimistic about the ability of the American consumer to affect the economic and environmental policies of corporate America.
“You have tremendous power,” he said. “Every time you buy something, you’re voting.”
He said that the message Americans need to send is “make profits, but only in the context of creating a sustainable, just and peaceful world.”