Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Great Arundhati Roy

"At a time when opportunism is everything, when hope seems lost, when everything boils down to a cynical business deal, we must find the courage to dream. To reclaim romance. The romance of believing in justice, in freedom and in dignity. For everybody. We have to make common cause, and to do this we need to understand how this big old machine works — who it works for and who it works against. Who pays, who profits.

Many non-violent resistance movements fighting isolated, single-issue battles across the country have realised that their kind of special interest politics which had its time and place, is no longer enough. That they feel cornered and ineffectual is not good enough reason to abandon non-violent resistance as a strategy. It is however, good enough reason to do some serious introspection. We need vision. We need to make sure that those of us who say we want to reclaim democracy are egalitarian and democratic in our own methods of functioning. If our struggle is to be an idealistic one, we cannot really make caveats for the internal injustices that we perpetrate on one another, on women, on children. For example, those fighting communalism cannot turn a blind eye to economic injustices. Those fighting dams or development projects cannot elide issues of communalism or caste politics in their spheres of influence — even at the cost of short-term success in their immediate campaign. If opportunism and expediency come at the cost of our beliefs, then there is nothing to separate us from mainstream politicians. If it is justice that we want, it must be justice and equal rights for all — not only for special interest groups with special interest prejudices. That is non-negotiable.

We have allowed non-violent resistance to atrophy into feel-good political theatre, which at its most successful is a photo opportunity for the media, and at its least successful, simply ignored.

We need to look up and urgently discuss strategies of resistance, wage real battles and inflict real damage. We must remember that the Dandi March was not just fine political theatre. It was a strike at the economic underpinning of the British Empire.

We need to re-define the meaning of politics. The `Ngo'isation of civil society initiatives is taking us in exactly the opposite direction. It's de-politicising us. Making us dependant on aid and hand-outs. We need to re-imagine the meaning of civil disobedience. "

(Thanks Marcy)

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