What happens when you cross WikiLeaks with dystopian style warnings? Jacques Peretti’s Done: The Secret Deals That Are Changing Our World is a doomsday-like telling that simultaneously intrigues and alarms, forcing us to look behind the façade, delve into the secrets of big business, and learn from these.
The book’s main premise is that big business, popular brands, wealthy nations and the invidivually rich are no longer invincible – rather, fodder to be bargained with a handshake, a secret deal, that will forge the evolution of Western ideals into a new narrative, one led by a revitalised and gentrified Asia.
The stories are fascinating and diverse as they relate to all aspects of our daily lives: money, what we buy, our health, weight, the food we eat, and the medication we take to cope with modern ails and stress. We learn interesting historical facts of the Chinese Ming Dynasty, fears of gene editing, associated myths with food, creative accountancy, the death of cash, the rise of urbanisation in nations like India, and, more earnestly, that modern life is making us ill.
Furthermore, abridging popular culture with clever lines like, “Manga cartoons had unwittingly invented the emoji,” Peretti’s genius lies in decoding the essence of the human condition, offering a distilled Eastern mindset simplified into a language with a cautionary tone.
An award-winning BBC reporter and Guardian journalist, Peretti spent years working with the wealthiest, in an investigative expose style, and here he brings us the story of 12 handshakes that would change the world, with deals that never made the news.
The book is stimulating and perplexing as the author challenges our way of thinking about the capitalist world and how venture entrepreneurs are revolutionising everything we do. The fascination lies in both the factual information disseminated and the philosophical questions that are unnerving to the point of paranoia.
For example, Peretti endorses that China is turbo-charged by economic awareness and the idea that we should fear their adaptability to stay ahead in the globalisation game. Factual stories provide evidence that challenge the Western capitalist ideology, one that is in stark contrast to China’s “authoritarianism and lack of democracy as the very reason for their relentless economic speed and productivity” that has led to Asia becoming a dominant economic power house.
It is a modern-day discourse that is also exhumed by award winning novelist and journalist, Aravind Adiga, in the novel The White Tiger, withboth texts offering a window into the rapidly changing economic landscape, challenging our Western mind-set of capitalist entrepreneurship.
Peretti makes us question: what if the way we understand our world is wrong? He contrasts ideals and various ways of thinking towards patriotism, business and politicians. Not only does he claim that China has won the globalisation game, but offers insight into “tech entrepreneurship” on an industrial grade with multi-platform potential across the planet. He also insists that we need to rethink things globally – outside the Western ideology, otherwise be left behind or, worse, made redundant.
Take Alibaba, China’s online payment platform, the largest e-commerce company on the planet. I myself have purchased goods on Alibaba. Additionally, have you heard of WeChat? China’s answer to Facebook, Apply Pay and Google News, going strong and boasting over 700 million subscribers.
What we need to realise is that big companies see no territorial limits on their ambition.
Peretti intrigues by comparing Western and Chinese conceptions of truth as based on different principles; the Western ideals applying Aristotle’s philosophies as compared to the doctrine encouraged by Confucius. Such titillating discourse traverses across the 12 secret handshake deals, cleverly challenging values like the “Western cult of the individual” and asking whether China’s Eastern mindset – “the doctrine of the mean” – is for the good of all and the way of the future.
It seems that secret power deals taking place on golf courses and in luxury cars, predominantly by Chinese billionaires, are revolutionising our entire way of life through globalisation commerce. Alarmingly, Peretti challenges that we purge our dated mindset towards current commerce and business and adapt new ways of thinking, or surrender to a new era under the dominant power of a revolutionised Asia.
If you like keeping abreast of current affairs, reportage journalism, or simply enjoy philosophical debate and don’t mind being spooked by what you didn’t know, then this book is worthy of your time. It will entertain, inform and open your eyes. Annette McCubbin
‘Done: The Secret Deals That Are Changing Our World’ by Jacques Peretti is available in hardback RRP $45.00, paperback RRP $32.99 and Ebook RRP $16.99 through Hodder & Stoughton / Hachette Australia.