Home | About | Donate

Empire's Religion: Arundhati Roy Confronts the Tyranny of the Free Market


Empire's Religion: Arundhati Roy Confronts the Tyranny of the Free Market

Jake Johnson

Perhaps the most revealing words on the topic of globalization in recent years came not from the pen of Thomas Piketty, nor were they written by Robert Reich or Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman — rather, they can be found in the pages of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, written by the notorious New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.


Another excellent well written article by Jake Johnson. Thank you for introducting me to another outstanding, well spoken women from India, Arundhati Roy. Thank you for also pointing out and reminding us of the atrocities supported and ....by our government.

You GO Jake and get your generation fired up and lets have another 60's revolution like the world has never seen. You do now outnumber us baby boomers. This is your future and thanks for informing and fighting for the return of our democracy and a kinder/gentler capitalism if it is possible.


Standard economic theory describes the "free" market as 1) no single buyer or seller can effect market prices, 2) easy entrance into or exit from the market and 3) optimal consumer knowledge to maximize purchase benefits. None of these conditions exist. #1 monopolies and mega corporations (too big to fail) manipulate market prices all the time. #2 it is very difficult to start a business without major resources most of the time (there are exceptions) and #3 consumers are lied to and manipulated by corporations regularly. What "free" market?


Sociopath's over reach and over reach until they become self destructive and suicidal.
If they had held and not over reached they would still be on top and we would still be being pacified by enough to have a life. Now, they have pushed it over the edge, the world knows and is beginning to fight back, en mass.
I agree with Ms. Roy's statement that as they become more powerful so will the people demanding justice and dignity. However, she ended by saying how it plays out will depend on us. This I think is not accurate as the powers will set the stage and we will respond to it. We are responding to it.
Even people that are not active in politics know now, that our country is corrupt from the inside out.
It won't be a done deal for globalization regardless of how much they over reach and take away our liberties, we will react with stronger and stronger protest. Especially in America where the promise of freedom is ingrained in our consciousness. In a country that is heavily armed, like America, it will take a stronger fist than they have to take it away with impunity.


May I make a suggestion? Read her books, at least, "The God of Small Things," and "Walking With the Comrades." Enjoy!


Exactly, they set the stage, we respond - within the limits they set, and those limits have become so constricting that the fight is essentially over. In a few months, the TTP and TTIP will be signed, one by one nations will be bankrupted, their citizens reduced to serfdom, the planet will become unlivable, every mammalian species, every flora will die of hunger, thirst, disease, riots, natural disasters. Isn't it extraordinary that those 62 families don't understand that they too are mortal? As Dede wrote, sociopaths (psychopaths) are suicidal. I'll amend that: theyre murderers.


"The "free market" is, to use Karl Polanyi's term, a "stark Utopia": It is a construct peddled by those who insist upon the belief that the accumulation of wealth and resources at the very top is a natural phenomenon, one dictated by the immutable laws of the universe."

Endless accumulation of wealth and resources at the very top is far from a natural phenomena, Nature limits resource accumulation in all higher animals to what one can consume and defend.

Since money allows the unlimited accumulation of resources by a few, it needs to be made in harmony with natural principles so as not to harm the entire species. We've tried progressive taxation unsuccessfully. Money buys the politicians that make the tax laws. We have not yet tried circumventing politicians and their paymasters by using voter initiatives and referendums to enact laws.

My first voter initiative would be to abolish all taxes and limit personal net worth to an amount decided by yearly referendum. Excess personal wealth beyond this cap would be automatically distributed among all citizens equally. Money for infrastructure could be likewise decided by initiatives and referendums, leaving public employees to supervise and the public to make the laws.

Direct Democracy


It's been a while since I'd read her compelling and astute writings.

So to see her name come up was like a star flashing. I've always thought it was particularly amazing when one can keep two opposing sets of ideas abreast at one time. To see clearly on both fronts, to realize the forces that we have working simultaneously racing toward two very different futures.

Those on the beauty team clearly are working for and envisioning the best future for all participants. I'm with them.


And yet most politicians are like this


As well as a military force that costs more than half the annual imperial budget.


Arundhati Roy was the spokesman for that brief time - the mid 90's to September, 2001, - when the left was growing, unambiguous about its objectives, and optimistic - and we knew that the problem was not odious people but an odious system - Capitalism. And systems can analyzed be replaced with new systems - hence the intellectual optimism - and our cry: "Another world is possible!". However, the events of Sept 11 and afterward dealt a death-blow and the anti-global capitalism movement essentially died.

Its abortive replacement - "Occupy" posited the problem as not systems, but persons - "The 1%" and often specific politicians or CEO's. Criticism of specific economic systems - and advocacy socialist syatems to replace them was largely forbidden at the "Occupy" camps (at least it was at the one in my city). Such a framing was a catastrophe. Nothing is more destructive to a vision of the future and more conducive to "learned helplessness" - than this. Systems and beliefs can be analyzed and changed, but people cannot short of bitter recriminations and violence or threats of violence, All that is then left is sullen bitter paralysis - and now great confusion reigns among young people for whom "Occupy" is their only experience of an organized movement.


The problem is not "politicians", it is economic systems - specifically one called "capitalism.


A good introduction to Arundhati Roy is her 2002 speech "Come September"

Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHz8cpULupo

Text here: http://www.ohio.edu/people/hartleyg/docs/comeSeptember.pdf

Her concluding line captures the mood of many of us in those days:

"Another world is not only possible, she's on her way. Maybe many of us won't
be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing."


Exactly. This also answers the human nature argument, because it's not about human nature, if such a thing even exists, it's about the systems in which we all have to operate. I don't even think it's necessary to wholly embrace Materialism to accept that. To me, it's practically a truism.


Please take your pessimism and cynical helplessness somewhere else. The problem is not not "62 families", it is an economic system.


I always laugh when some young person tells me something I presumably don't know. I'm 88, I've been an educated intelligent radical since the Spanish Civil War, and I don't need anyone telling me the system is the problem. It's one of the problems, and another one is the instinctive need of the human species to survive, individually and with its children (oh g-d, the simplifications abound). Capitalism run wild, of course, but does that explain the psychopathological greed that makes that .000001% insatiable? We are an endangered species whose enemies are us. It IS about human nature - did some god create the "system"?


She puts clearly what some of us see and indeed many of us now see is the sell out of the population by their representatives, such that almost without exception , in every nation is a miserable, incompetent cohort of politicians. They are suspended on strings from the puppet masters, the financial paymasters, to do their bidding. With just enough room to make the institutions of parliament or congress appear to run the government, a veneer of democracy is painted on.

The first sign that it doesn't always work was the Brexit vote, a poke in the eye for neo-liberal policies that run the EU in that case. Now it is becoming dysfunctional and is best seen by the unpopularity of the candidates for POTUS.
The internet has been a liberator for expression of contrary opinions and facts. Without it would we read anything but the sanitised and misleading propaganda the puppet masters want to show us?

I for one am not unduly worried at their success in skewing society away from democracy and caring. Why? simple. Our society, our very civilization is not going to last much longer. It began its decline in 1971 and is slowly, for now, declining into deflation. Soon the reversal of growth will take a dominant role. This is unavoidable as we are an energy consuming morass eating itself out of house and home, our finite planet.

The corporate world pretends permanent growth, its only model for success. But the planet will decide enough. We are, regardless of any powers we have, a locust species. We will use up everything we can in a desperate desire to keep going and then we will collapse. The corporate world will simply make the fall arrive more quickly and with greater and more disastrous severity. It will be worse than it was in the stone age because then we had low hanging resources. But they are all gone already and will be completely dried up for any survivors to use.

We have written our future program. The business of the exploiters ,the corporate world and the puppet masters can only achieve a phyrric victory and a brief one.


Roy's clarity and sanity are deeply unusual in the present world. I am reminded of the powerful words and sincerity of Chief Joseph and of Crazy Horse as their worlds were collapsing. She seems to see the full image of our situation and both gently and passionately tries to inform the understanding of others. And as with the aforementioned others, her clarity and wisdom is eroded away.


Thank you, I copied and pasted your links.


That concluding line has stuck with me and is often the one thing that undergirds my hope. I had the honor of hearing her speak in march 2003 in Washington DC and have never forgotten her.