Arundhati Roy kämpft in ihrem neuen Buch erneut gegen Amerika / Arundhati Roy Fights America Again in New Book
Buchbesprechung von Arundhati Roy: An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire
Arundhati Roy: An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire. London: Penguin 2005
"Every article Arundhati Roy writes, every speech she gives, attracts worldwide attention, and this collection – controversial, polemical, provoking but always inspirational – is an essential addition to her work."
(1. Auflage: South End Press, 2004; $US12 paperback; $US40 hardback)
Es handelt sich um einen Sammelband von 14 Essays, Reden und Aufsätzen, welche die ebenso bekannte wie streitbare indische Literaturpreisträgerin Arundhati Roy in den Jahren 2002 bis 2004 geschrieben bzw. gehalten hat. Ein Führer eines gewöhnlichen Menschen zum "Empire" - genauer: zum US-Empire, denn die meisten Essays befassen sich mit der verhängnisvollen Rolle der Vereinigten Staaten und ihrer gegenwärtigen Regierung in der Weltpolitik. Stationen wie Afghanistan, Guantánamo und Irak werden genauso behandelt, wie die nationalistische Politik der indischen Regierung, die zunehmend repressive Züge trägt (Big Brother nationalism).
Roy behandelt auch die Bedingungen, unter denen die "einfachen Leute", als deren Beschützerin sie ja auch gern gesehen wird, wirkungsvoll gegen das "Empire" bzw. die jeweils herrschende Klasse kämpfen kann. Da gewaltloser Protest meist nicht gehört und von den Medien auch nicht wahrgenommen wird, erscheint die Zunahme von gewaltsamem Widerstand eine fast logische Folge zu sein. Die gefährliceh Schlussfolgerung: Gewalt ist wirksamer als Gewaltlosigkeit. "Wenn friedlicher Wandel keine Chance erhält, dann wird leider gewaltsamer Wandel unabweisbar." Und sie fährt fort: "Diese Gewalt wird massenhaft auftreten und wird hässlich und unvorhersehbar sein." ("That
violence will be (and already is) random, ugly, and
Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir die Ankündigung des Buches durch den Verlag "South End Press", das Inhaltsverzeichnis sowie zwei Besprechungen des Buches: eine, die im September 2004 zur Erstauflage in "scoop", einer unabhängigen Internetzeitung in Neuseeland erschien, und eine zweite, die anlässlich der Auflage bei Penguin bei Commondreams im Juni 2005 veröffentlicht wurde.
(Global Learning Guide 2005)
"In her Ordinary Person's Guide, Roy's perfect pitch and sharp scalpel are, once again, a wonder and a joy to behold. No less remarkable is the range of material subjected to her sure and easy touch, and the surprising information she reveals at every turn. Another outstanding contribution."
"Not since James Baldwin have I read writing so prophetic and telling as what Arundhati Roy does in these extraordinary essays. A powerful reminder that language itself, and the imagination which it gives form to, is itself a battlefield."
(Rick Simonson, Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle)
"South End Press"
Just in time for the elections, here's a concise briefing on what the Bush administration really means when it talks about "compassionate conservativism" and "the war on terror." Roy has great fun in these essays skewering the hypocrisy of the holier-than-thou crowd. But above all, it is the very essence of power that she aims to impart: the power of the people to undo the corruptions of their self-appointed leaders.
First delivered as fiery speeches to sold-out crowds, together these lucid essays are an impassioned call to arms against "the apocalyptic apparatus of the American empire." Focusing on the disastrous US occupation of Iraq, Roy urges us to recognize—and apply—the scope of our power, exhorting dockworkers to refuse to load war material bound, reservists to refuse their call-ups, activists to organize boycotts of Halliburton, and citizens of other nations to mobilize against being deputized as janitor-soldiers cleaning up the mess of the US invasion.
Roy's Guide to Empire also offers us sharp theoretical tools for understanding the New American Empire—a dangerous paradigm, Roy argues here, that is entirely distinct from the imperialism of the British or even the New World Order of George Bush, the elder. She also examines how resistance movements build power, looking in particular at examples of nonviolent organizing in India, South Africa, and the United States. Masterfully she draws the red thread through ostensibly disconnected issues and arenas, focusing on the parallels between globalization in India, the devastation in Iraq, the conditions under which many African Americans continue to despair, and more.
With her inimical scorn, Roy takes a chilling quote and draws our attention to its terrible reverberations. She writes, "Those of us who belong to former colonies think of imperialism as rape.… Extending this horrible analogy, Richard Perle said recently, 'Iraqis are freer today and we are safer. Relax and enjoy it.'"
With Roy as our "guide," we may not be able to relax from the Sisyphean task of stopping the US juggernaut, but at least we can know the struggle for global justice is well-armed by Roy's hard-edged brilliance.
Peace is War
This is the text of a speech first delivered March 7, 2003, at the Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi, India, at a workshop organized by Sarai: The New Media Initiative, CSDS, and the Waag Society in Delhi. It was first published in the Sarai Reader 4: Crisis/Media (New Delhi: Sarai, 2004). See http://www.sarai.net/ for additional information on Sarai.
Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy
This talk was first delivered May 13, 2003, at the Riverside Church, New York City, and broadcast live on Pacifica Radio. The lecture, sponsored by Lannan Foundation and the Center for Economic and Social Rights, was delivered as an acceptance speech for the 2002 Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom.
When the Saints Go Marching Out
This text is an expanded version of an essay originally broadcast by BBC Radio 4, August 25, 2003. By request of the BBC, which had determined that copyright restrictions prohibited it from broadcasting direct quotations from King's public speeches, the original used only paraphrases of King's words. In this version, direct quotations have been used.
In Memory of Shankar Guha Niyogi
This talk was delivered in Raipur, India, September 28, 2003, and first published in Hindi in Hindustan on October 13, 2003. Shankar Guha Niyogi was a popular trade union leader of Chhattisgarh.
Do Turkeys Enjoy Thanksgiving?
This speech was delivered at the World Social Forum in Bombay, India, on January 14, 2004.
How Deep Shall We Dig?
This is the full text of the first I.G. Khan Memorial Lecture, delivered at Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh, India, on April 6, 2004. It was first published in Hindi in Hindustan, April 23–24, 2004, and in English in The Hindu, April 25, 2004. An excerpt also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2004. On the February 14, 2003, murder of I.G. Khan, see Parvathi Menon, "A Man of Compassion," Frontline, March 29–April 11, 2003, http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2007/stories/20030411004511400.htm.
Imagine a bookshelf with a pair of bookends, both of which represent women novelists who have grown up in the British Commonwealth and written bestselling books. At one end would be the Australian, Colleen McCullough -- author of 1977's third most popular book, The Thorn Birds -- who contributed a policy paper to an influential 1990s forum on "US Foreign Policy in the 21st Century" that urged the US to model itself on the Roman Empire.
At the other end would be Indian writer Arundhati Roy -- author of Booker Prize-winning novel, The God of Small Things -- who, at the World Social Forum in 2003, said: "The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling - their ideas, their version of history, their war, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."
"We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them." That, above all, is the argument that The Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire seeks to clarify. The book consists of six speeches given by Arundhati Roy between March 7, 2003 and April 6, 2004, plus the article of the same name that was published in the Guardian on April 2, 2003, just after the US invasion of Iraq. (Mysteriously, the title essay is missing from the paperback edition's table of contents.)
South End Press is a non-profit, collectively run book publisher with an impressive author list. Its goal is "to publish books that encourage critical thinking and constructive action on the key political, cultural, social, economic, and ecological issues shaping lie in the United States and in the world." Roy could choose to be published by big-name companies but her fit with South End is obvious once you start reading her work. She doesn't preach or exhort or alarm; she startles you into action.
I, for one, would not have been on the 2003 Great March Against the Invasion of Iraq if I hadn't that morning heard a re-broadcast of her speech to the World Social Forum. Another world is possible? What a startling idea in these depressed and oppressive times. Let me at it! (Her 2003 WSF speech is not in this book, but her 2004 one is.)
To read Roy is also to be chastened. She writes in Do Turkeys Enjoy Thanksgiving?: "It was wonderful that on February 15, 2003, in a spectacular display of public morality, ten million people in five continents marched against the war on Iraq. It was wonderful, but it was not enough. February 15 was a weekend. Nobody had to so much as miss a day of work."
In Peace is War she writes: "It is utterly urgent for resistance movements and those of us who support them to reclaim the space for civil disobedience. To do this we will have to liberate ourselves from being manipulated, perverted, and headed off in the wrong direction by the desire to feed the media's endless appetite for theater. Because that saps energy and imagination."
Although much of her writing relates to events and social movements in India, her explanation and analysis of them elucidates -- as is inevitable in a world that is so interconnected and dominated by global finance -- the forces that work against ordinary people everywhere. But she also illustrates the great strength those ordinary people can muster if they collaborate in opposing, for example, the building of a dam that will wipe out the homes and livelihoods of thousands of people.
Between the covers of this book is a light you can have shine on the darkest day.
Scoop-Independent News, 6. September 2004
Arundhati Roy Fights America Again in New Book
NEW DELHI -- On the cover of Booker prize winner
Arundhati Roy's new book, a woman clad in a black cloak
scampers across a hostile looking dreary brown
landscape clasping the hand of a tiny child.
That could almost be a metaphor for the role the
celebrated author has chosen for herself - defender of
the defenseless, pen of the powerless.
"An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire", supremely
filled with the sort of pincer irony that Roy revels
in, has been published by Penguin. It is a collection
of 14 of the author 's essays written between June 2002
and November 2004.
It could have well been termed "An Ordinary Person 's
Guide To (The American) Empire ", because the book is
filled with cutting-edge part-journalism,
part-activism, intensive research into, essentially,
that much-abused work called "freedom ".
The writer had earlier hit out at America 's foreign
policy in Afghanistan in her famous essay "The Algebra
of Infinite Justice ", where she famously hit out at
the US administration for fighting wars "against people
it doesn 't know, because they don 't appear much on TV".
Using her formidable insight and snappy analysis, Roy
again demolishes myths of good governance, of the
benevolence of nations and the Boy Scout-ness of the
It is also a fierce indictment of Big Brother
nationalism in India, where human beings are scattered
and crushed in the name of 'greater good ' and
non-violent protest is met with deafening silence.
"When governments and the media lavish all their time,
attention, funds, research, space, sophistication and
seriousness on war talk and terrorism, then the message
that goes out is disturbing and dangerous: if you seek
to air and redress a public grievance, violence is more
effective than non-violence, " argues Roy in the first
chapter called "Ahimsa ".
"Unfortunately, if peaceful change is not given a
chance, then violent change becomes inevitable. That
violence will be (and already is) random, ugly, and
Most of the book is a bitter indictment of American
policies - in Afghanistan, in Iraq and elsewhere.
"President George W. Bush, commander-in-chief of the US
army, navy and marines, has issued clear instructions
'Iraq. Will. Be. Liberated. ' (Perhaps he means that
even if Iraqi people 's bodies are killed, their souls
will be liberated.), " questions Roy. "Operation Iraqi
Freedom? I don 't think so. It's more like Operation
Let 's Run a Race, but First Let Me Break Your Knees. "
With fierce erudition and brilliant reasoning, Roy
dwells on Western hypocrisy and propaganda, vehemently
questioning the basis of biased international politics.
"Iraq has shown spectacular courage and has even
managed to put up what actually amounts to a defense: a
defense which the Bush/Blair pair has immediately
denounced as deceitful and cowardly. (But then deceit
is an old tradition with us natives. When we 're
invaded/colonized/occupied and stripped of all dignity,
we turn to guile and opportunism), " writes Roy.
"Clearly for the 'Allies ', the only morally acceptable
strategy the Iraqi army can pursue is to march out into
the desert and be bombed by B-52s or be mowed down by
"Anything short of that is cheating. "
As she sees propaganda being passed as the truth and
press handouts passed for stories, Roy determinedly
continues her three cheers for celebrated critics of
the US government like Noam Chomsky and writes: "...if
the Bush regime falls, there would be dancing on the
streets the world over."
Published on Monday, June 13, 2005 by Indo-Asian News
Service Published by Commondreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0613-07.htm
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