Sunday, April 27, 2014

Warm Boiled Eggs

"Capitalism – A Ghost Story,” by Arundhati Roy, 2014

I’m not sure what the ‘ghost’ of these essays is.  Is it the apparition of capitalism hiding behind daily events?  Invisible to the less perceptive?  Is it that it makes its enemies into ghosts? Is it that it is a horror show?  Should we be scared? We should.

India is a country with a good PR firm.  A U.S. ally, it is pictured as romantic and happy and now prosperous.  Obama visited and said nothing about the 500,000 soldiers occupying Muslim Kashmir, but did affirm his opposition to ‘terrorism.’  Nor did he mention the slaughter in the forests of central India against the Adivasi peoples.   Because, after all they are all ‘Maoist terrorists.’  Nor should we be concerned that 80% of the population of 1.2 billion live on less than $2 a day.  We should be happy that the middle class is growing, and 100 billionaires now own 25% of the GDP of India.  That must be the reason for all the Bollywood dancing. 

The recent election, in, as our press disingenuously puts it, “The Biggest Democracy In the World,” will probably see the election of the Hindu reactionary and pogromist Narendra Modi.   Roy carefully pulls back the curtain to reveal what is behind this so-called “democracy.” Her journalistic essays cover the brutal and sometime hopeful events in Kashmir.   For years, youth in Kashmir have been fighting against the vicious occupation with stones – totally ignored by the world media, and certainly the Indian media, who, per normal, accuse all of being ‘terrorists.’ 

Connected to this are articles on the execution of a Pakistani scapegoat for the 2001 terror attack on the Indian parliament.  As pointed out in the book “The God Market” (reviewed below), neo-liberalism and an expanding Hindu chauvinism have gone together.  Roy herself was picketed and threatened by far right Hindu nationalists for opposing the occupation of Kashmir.  The scapegoat, Afzal Guru, was executed without warning, after no legal representation and few facts – as the Court said, “the collective conscience of society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender.”  Roy thinks this execution was a deliberate provocation to Pakistan. 

She also looks behind the fake populist movement of Anna Hazare, which ostensibly wants to fight corruption, but really is a battering ram for further privatization, backed by vast capitalist conglomerates.  Roy details the control immense combines have in the Indian economy – Tata, Reliance Industries, Jindals, Vendanta, Infosys, Essar and ADAG basically own India.  Tata owns 100 companies in 80 countries.  Controlling mineral, land and water rights – which should all be public property – is the basis of their wealth.  They too are embroiled in the struggle for land worldwide. (see review of “Land Grabbing and the New Colonialism,” below.)  The best parts are on the relation between these national entities and international foundations like Ford, Gates and Rockefeller, which now control most so-called progressive NGO’s through their grants, and are busy celebrating literature while dissidents are imprisoned.

Roy, who in the past has exposed the neo-liberal misdeeds of the Communist Party (Marxist) in India regarding its pro-mining role in West Bengal and Kerala, seems to be getting closer to Marxism and its outlook.  While also critical of the Maoist Naxalites, her time with them perhaps showed that the only real opposition will not be coming from any other direction but Marxism.  This reflects the deepening crisis of capitalism in that country, as the happy period of ‘growth’ is now coming to an end, according to Roy. 

And the eggs?  They were given her by someone resisting the occupation of Kashmir, whose relatives had just been killed by Indian soldiers.  

Other books by Roy, “Field Notes on Democracy” and “Walking With the Comrades” are reviewed below.  Use blog search box, upper left. 

And I Bought it at Mayday Books!
Red Frog
April 27, 2014


Matthew Selwyn said...
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Matthew Selwyn said...

Great post! I definitely think I need to read more of Roy (apart from her novel, I've really only reads a few scraps). She's such an engaging writer that even though I didn't have the knowledge to truly appreciate everything she writes about here, I could still enjoy the essays for what they were: passionate polemics.

My review: Capitalism: A Ghost Story by Arundhati Roy