If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to My breast.

-George Herbert

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Arundhati Roy vs the Invisible Elite

Two things struck me deeply about the interview, posted below, with Arundhati Roy, the Booker Prize winning author of the magnificent novel,The God of Small Things, who parlayed the wealth and fame consequent upon the success of her book into a controversial career as the spokesperson for the countless faceless victims of the globalization of the "free market".

When I first listened to the interview, I could not believe that I had never heard of what is effectively a civil war being waged in "the world's largest democracy", between the so-called Naxalite Maoists and the government backed militias and police. I could not help but wonder if I had been asleep, or had somehow selectively ignored so important a story. I searched the online archives of NPR for references to the Naxalite Maoists. Not one result. I searched the Washington Post archives going back to 1987. Two tangentially relevant stories. And I searched the New York Times archives going back to 1981. Three results, only one of which was a serious, in-depth article; the others were perfunctory reports of ambushes which had killed police. 70,000 paramilitary forces have been deployed by the Indian government to drive the indigenous peoples of India's forests from their land so that mining companies can have access to the trillions of dollars worth of mineral wealth upon which they live, and there has been a near media blackout on the story, at least in the United States. If this does not indicate that corporate controlled media is serving the interests of it's masters by masking their crimes against humanity, whatever could it mean? "Democracies" are using troops to obtain wealth for private industry at the expense of their own citizens (Hmmm....sound familiar? Just substitute "oil" for "mineral wealth") and the media either hides the story, or reframes it as a tale of patriotic triumph and determination, suitable for flag-waving. It all depends on the market, whether the audience receives the stimulant or the depressant.

Most devastating to me was Roy's critique of non-violent resistance, all the more devastating because I want to believe in it's efficacy. What do you do when your isolated village is surrounded in the night by paramilitaries? Do you let your children be slaughtered? Do you stage a hunger strike? A boycott? There is a fiendish logic, too perfect to be coincidental, in the tactics used by the forces of globalization and progress. They are the ones who have perceived most deeply, and have exploited the fact that non-violent resistance relies for it's power on an appeal to the conscience of the broader civilization. If no one is looking, it doesn't work. That leaves only the recourse to violence, and violence can then be labelled "terrorism", "marxism", or whatever other term will serve to justify a disproportionate and crushingly violent response by the defenders of our freedoms.

Corporate control and manipulation of information insures that the greatest threat to the hegemony of the market, non-violent resistance and the appeal to conscience, will not work. What are the remaining options for the hapless human obstacles to further corporate enrichment? Passive compliance with the destruction of their cultures, or armed rebellion, either of which will suit the invisible elite to a tee.

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