Arundhati Roy is known for her novel, The God of Small Things, for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize. Her fame has given her activism some protection from the authoritarian boot-on-neck regime, tRump’s good friend and fascist, President Ram Nath Kovind, now governing India. She has been jailed already for criticizing the supreme court. How far she can go is uncertain but she continues to relay disturbing government actions there. Like the story that India encouraged rural citizens to move to the cities. Once there they were soon forced to leave, their shanty towns bulldozed. Upon returning to their villages they found damns, mining operations, nuclear power plants under construction and police, lots of police. Roy cites 250,000 suicides by Indian farmers due to the regime’s enthusiastic adoption of the Milton Friedman economic religion. With a population of 1.2 billion, one quarter of India’s GDP (gross domestic product) is owned by 100 people. Absolutely in line with the “free market” fantasies glorified by the 1% who so profit from them. If you are not of this elite 100, nor the 300 million “middle class” who are, if not rich, comfortable, you fall (along with the other 900 million! citizens), under the mercy-free boot and, as the good books says, woe unto you. The book is published in 2014 so not quite up to date but plenty disturbing.
The privatization line is also pushed by the U.S. Dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund, as documented by Naomi Klein in her important book Shock Doctrine. Loans to desperate “underdeveloped” nations come with stringent privatization requirements, for no other reason than to satisfy the ideology of those with the money. The goal of this ideology, Roy points out, is to enhance the penetration of global capital, a subtler form of colonialism, with the same end… profits for the 1%. Keep in mind that privatization involves heartless cutting of services for the general population, healthcare, transportation, vital food subsidies. Ever more concentrated wealth.
Roy sketches an interesting part of the whole capitalist con in Capitalism A Ghost Story. Tax-free, non-profit foundations were created by wealthy industrialists, Rockefeller etc; and have been used since for this, ah… penetration. Similar to the way unions were neutered by negotiating with “moderates”, weeding out “radicals”. Selective corporate foundation funding of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) helps keep the opposition within acceptable bounds, those NGOs not observing proper bounds are simply not funded. As my witty brother often says, “Capitalism on the march!” NGOs do some good stuff but carefully within the bounds. So corporate profits are shielded from taxes, leaving taxpayers in first world countries footing the bill for policies that essentially loot the third world. Does that loot go then to the taxpayers? It might, eventually, if trickle-down economics were not the transparent myth designed to fool the gullible that it most definitely is.
Another book I’ve just finished is Barbara Kingsolver’s, Poisonwood Bible. A remarkable work of fiction that elegantly supports Arundhati in her general view of the monstrous economic system that currently portrays itself as the end of history, the apotheosis of humanity’s highest striving which in fact, though not without many impressive accomplishments, remains at heart a life-wrenching malady known as greed. Maybe that’s what it took to get here but in the imagination of many, it could be transformed into a caring sustainable global community. That is a profound vision called hope.
Image Credits: the feature illustration of a con man by the author, Tom Ferguson; the book photos are promotional images.