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Arundhati Roy: Things that Can’t be Said, Tamed Tigers & the Missionaries of the “New Economy”
“Grow Rich – Help Others” – “Indian Children’s Role Model – Uncle Bill: School children wear masks to celebrate the birthday of ‘Uncle Bill’ , the Microsoft founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates on the occasion of his 60th birth anniversary celebration in Chennai.” October 29, 2015 [Source]
“The American aristocracy has long fostered activist charades as a prophylactic against democracy, but the wholesale choreography of fossil-fueled puppets is unprecedented. Arundhati Roy’s blurb on the cover of This Changes Everything is thus particularly disturbing.
I wonder what kind of incentive was provided to Roy. What we know is that Arundhati is bright enough to comprehend Naomi Klein’s fraud, and that her name on the cover of Klein’s book functions as a shield for Naomi, and increases her prestige among the 350 cult.
Roy already has significant prestige herself, so the question is why she would publicly support a vapid sell-out who is undermining what Roy purportedly stands for. Was it bribery, extortion, or a misguided sense that Klein’s Wall Street-funded revolution could be hijacked by socialists? It doesn’t make sense.”
After reading the provocative interview published on November 30, 2015 (excerpts below), Taber’s questions are more compelling than ever. Do “the things we can’t talk about in a civilised society, if you’re a good, domesticated house pet” include discussing the role of appointed “leaders” within the non-profit industrial complex, who ultimately serve to protect both capital and state? We have found that this is a critical issue that no one with far reach on “the left” will touch (Hedges, Pilger, etc.).
“The structure and organisation of the climate cartel can be compared to a toadstool. 350.org is the cap of the fruiting body, very visible, poisonous, and laden with spores, This Changes Everything (TCE); book, social movement, and documentary form the stalk expanding and reinforcing key messages, and TckTckTck/Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA) – a coalition of 20 key international organisations including 350.org, Avaaz, WWF, and Greenpeace form the mycelium stretching vast distances and connecting to other fruiting bodies and other vast networks. The soil it has grown from is the NPIC with it’s phalanx of institutes and think tanks feigning care for the earth while plotting the future for the oligarchs.” —Metrics as a Proxy for Social Change: The Climate Cartel, Impact Funding, and the Abandonment of Struggle [Source]
In the interview below Roy states: “When you look around and see how many NGOs are on, say, the Gates, Rockefeller or Ford Foundation’s handout list, there has to be something wrong, right? They turn potential radicals into receivers of their largesse – and then, very subtly, without appearing to – they circumscribe the boundaries of radical politics.”
So what do we make of Roy’s glowing endorsement of Klein’s book (and film) project financed by the very elites Roy so articulately deconstructs?
Consider that Susan Rockefeller is the Co-Executive Producer of the documentary film This Changes Everything and founding partner of Louverture Films, the production company for the documentary film This Changes Everything in partnership with The Message Productions, LLC / Klein Lewis Productions. The fiscal sponsor of this endeavour was New York-based Sustainable Markets Foundation (SMF). SMF is financed by foundations such as Rockefeller Family Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Energy foundation, Park Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Schmidt, Global Wallace Fund, Tides, etc. In addition, Tides receives millions in funding from Warren Buffett laundered through the Buffett family Fund NoVo. [Source: Financing “The Message” Behind Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ Project]
For now, we will leave the last word to Roy who states in the interview below: “We’re all being managed, and we don’t even know it… They have so much money, they can fund everything, very bad things as well as very good things – documentary films, nuclear weapons planners, gender rights, feminist conferences, literature and film festivals, university chairs…anything, as long as it doesn’t upset the “market” and the economic status quo.”
Tiger Approaching a Waterhole, Kotah, c. 1790. Watercolor and opaque watercolor
November 30, 2015
by John Cusack and Arundhati Roy
Excerpt from part 1: John Cusack in conversation with Arundhati Roy.
JC: So, what do you think? What do we think are the things we can’t talk about in a civilised society, if you’re a good, domesticated house pet?
AR: (Laughs) The occasional immorality of preaching nonviolence? (This was a reference to Walking with the Comrades, Roy’s account of her time spent with armed guerrillas in the forests of central India who were fighting paramilitary forces and vigilante militias trying to clear indigenous people off their land, which had been handed over to mining companies.)…
Excerpt from Part 2: “We Brought You the Promise of the Future, but Our Tongue Stammered and Barked” by Arundhati Roy
“Our tragedy today is not just that millions of people who called themselves communist or socialist were physically liquidated in Vietnam, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, not just that China and Russia, after all that revolution, have become capitalist economies, not just that the working class has been ruined in the United States and its unions dismantled, not just that Greece has been brought to its knees, or that Cuba will soon be assimilated into the free market – it is also that the language of the Left, the discourse of the Left, has been marginalised and is sought to be eradicated. The debate – even though the protagonists on both sides betrayed everything they claimed to believe in – used to be about social justice, equality, liberty, and redistribution of wealth. All we seem to be left with now is paranoid gibberish about a War on Terror whose whole purpose is to expand the War, increase the Terror, and obfuscate the fact that the wars of today are not aberrations but systemic, logical exercises to preserve a way of life whose delicate pleasures and exquisite comforts can only be delivered to the chosen few by a continuous, protracted war for hegemony – Lifestyle Wars….
But seriously – what is one couple doing with that much money, which is just a small percentage of the indecent profits they make from the corporation they run? And even that small percentage runs into billions. It’s enough to set the world’s agenda, enough to buy government policy, determine university curricula, fund NGOs and activists. It gives them the power to mould the whole world to their will. Forget the politics, is that even polite? Even if it’s “good” will? Who’s to decide what’s good and what’s not?…
JC: What is the meaning of charity as a political tool?
AR: It’s an old joke, right? If you want to control somebody, support them. Or marry them.
JC: Sugar daddy politics….
AR: Embrace the resistance, seize it, fund it.
JC: Domesticate it….
AR: Make it depend on you. Turn it into an art project or a product of some kind. The minute what you think of as radical becomes an institutionalised, funded operation, you’re in some trouble. And it’s cleverly done. It’s not all bad…some are doing genuinely good work.
JC: Like the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)….
AR: They have money from the Ford Foundation, right? But they do excellent work. You can’t fault people for the work they’re doing, taken individually.
JC: People want to do something good, something useful….
AR: Yes. And it is these good intentions that are dragooned and put to work. It’s a complicated thing. Think of a bead necklace. The beads on their own may be lovely, but when they’re threaded together, they’re not really free to skitter around as they please. When you look around and see how many NGOs are on, say, the Gates, Rockefeller or Ford Foundation’s handout list, there has to be something wrong, right? They turn potential radicals into receivers of their largesse – and then, very subtly, without appearing to – they circumscribe the boundaries of radical politics. And you’re sacked if you disobey…sacked, unfunded, whatever. And then there’s always the game of pitting the “funded” against the “unfunded,” in which the funder takes centrestage. So, I mean, I’m not against people being funded – because we’re running out of options – but we have to understand – are you walking the dog or is the dog walking you? Or who’s the dog and who is you?”
JC: I’m definitely the dog…and I’ve definitely been walked.
Bengali scroll painting. Painted scroll on paper mounted on cotton. Murshidabad School, Eastern India, 19th C.
AR: Everywhere – not just in America…repress, beat up, shoot, jail those you can, and throw money at those whom you can’t – and gradually sandpaper the edge off them. They’re in the business of creating what we in India call Paaltu Sher, which means Tamed Tigers. Like a pretend resistance…so you can let off steam without damaging anything.
JC: The first time you spoke at the World Social Forum…when was that?
AR: In 2002, I think, Porto Alegre…just before the US invasion of Iraq.
JC: In Mumbai. And then you went the next year and it was….
AR: Totally NGO-ised. So many major activists had turned into travel agents, just having to organise tickets and money, flying people up and down. The forum suddenly declared, “Only non-violence, no armed struggles….” They had turned Gandhian.
JC: So anyone involved in armed resistance….
AR: All out, all out. Many of the radical struggles were out. And I thought, fuck this. My question is, if, let’s say, there are people who live in villages deep in the forest, four days walk from anywhere, and a thousand soldiers arrive and burn their villages and kill and rape people to scare them off their land because mining companies want it – what brand of non-violence would the stalwarts of the establishment recommend? Non-violence is radical political theatre.
JC: Effective only when there’s an audience….
AR: Exactly. And who can pull in an audience? You need some capital, some stars, right? Gandhi was a superstar. The people in the forest don’t have that capital, that drawing power. So they have no audience. Non-violence should be a tactic – not an ideology preached from the sidelines to victims of massiveviolence…. With me, it’s been an evolution of seeing through these things.
JC: You begin to smell the digestive enzymes….
AR: (Laughing) But you know, the revolution cannot be funded. It’s not the imagination of trusts and foundations that’s going to bring real change.
JC: But what’s the bigger game that we can name?
AR: The bigger game is keeping the world safe for the Free Market. Structural Adjustment, Privatisation, Free Market fundamentalism – all masquerading as Democracy and the Rule of Law. Many corporate foundation-funded NGOs – not all, but many – become the missionaries of the “new economy.” They tinker with your imagination, with language. The idea of “human rights,” for example – sometimes it bothers me. Not in itself, but because the concept of human rights has replaced the much grander idea of justice. Human rights are fundamental rights, they are the minimum, the very least we demand. Too often, they become the goal itself. What should be the minimum becomes the maximum – all we are supposed to expect – but human rights aren’t enough. The goal is, and must always be, justice.
October 8, 2015, BBC: Can you cost the Earth? Play our fun game and find out.
JC: The term human rights is, or can be, a kind of pacifier – filling the space in the political imagination that justice deserves?
AR: Look at the Israel-Palestine conflict, for example. If you look at a map from 1947 to now, you’ll see that Israel has gobbled up almost all of Palestinian land with its illegal settlements. To talk about justice in that battle, you have to talk about those settlements. But, if you just talk about human rights, then you can say, “Oh, Hamas violates human rights,” “Israel violates human rights.” Ergo, both are bad.
JC: You can turn it into an equivalence….
AR: …though it isn’t one. But this discourse of human rights, it’s a very good format for TV – the great atrocity analysis and condemnation industry (laughs). Who comes out smelling sweet in the atrocity analysis? States have invested themselves with the right to legitimise violence – so who gets criminalised and delegitimised? Only – or well that’s excessive – usually, the resistance.
JC: So the term human rights can take the oxygen out of justice?
AR: Human rights takes history out of justice.
JC: Justice always has context….
AR: I sound as though I’m trashing human rights…I’m not. All I’m saying is that the idea of justice – even just dreaming of justice – is revolutionary. The language of human rights tends to accept a status quo that is intrinsically unjust – and then tries to make it more accountable. But then, of course, Catch-22 is that violating human rights is integral to the project of neoliberalism and global hegemony.
JC: …as there’s no other way of implementing those policies except violently.
AR: No way at all – but talk loud enough about human rights and it gives the impression of democracy at work, justice at work. There was a time when the United States waged war to topple democracies, because back then democracy was a threat to the Free Market. Countries were nationalising their resources, protecting their markets…. So then, real democracies were being toppled. They were toppled in Iran, they were toppled all across Latin America, Chile….
JC: The list is too long….
AR: Now we’re in a situation where democracy has been taken into the workshop and fixed, remodeled to be market-friendly. So now the United States is fighting wars to instal democracies. First it was topple them, now it’s instal them, right? And this whole rise of corporate-funded NGOs in the modern world, this notion of CSR, corporate social responsibility – it’s all part of a New Managed Democracy. In that sense, it’s all part of the same machine.
JC: Tentacles of the same squid.
AR: They moved in to the spaces that were left when “structural adjustment” forced states to pull back on public spending – on health, education, infrastructure, water supply – turning what ought to be people’s rights, to education, to healthcare and so on, into charitable activity available to a few. Peace, Inc. is sometimes as worrying as War, Inc. It’s a way of managing public anger. We’re all being managed, and we don’t even know it…. The IMF and the World Bank, the most opaque and secretive entities, put millions into NGOs who fight against “corruption” and for “transparency.” They want the Rule of Law – as long as they make the laws. They want transparency in order to standardise a situation, so that global capital can flow without any impediment. Cage the People, Free the Money. The only thing that is allowed to move freely – unimpeded – around the world today is money…capital.
JC: It’s all for efficiency, right? Stable markets, stable world…there’s a great violence in the idea of a uniform “investment climate.”
Democracy Masquerade: Uniform investment climate. A phrase interchangeable with Massacre.
AR: In India, that’s a phrase we use interchangeably with “massacre.” Stable markets, unstable world. Efficiency. Everybody hears about it. It’s enough to make you want to be pro-inefficiency and pro-corruption. (Laughing) But seriously, if you look at the history of the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller, in Latin America, in Indonesia, where almost a million people, mainly Communists, were killed by General Suharto, who was backed by the CIA, in South Africa, in the US Civil Rights Movement – or even now, it’s very disturbing. They have always worked closely with the US State Department.
JC: And yet now Ford funds The Act of Killing – the film about those same massacres. They profile the butchers…but not their masters. They won’t follow the money.
AR: They have so much money, they can fund everything, very bad things as well as very good things – documentary films, nuclear weapons planners, gender rights, feminist conferences, literature and film festivals, university chairs…anything, as long as it doesn’t upset the “market” and the economic status quo. One of Ford’s “good works” was to fund the CFR, the Council of Foreign Relations, which worked closely with the CIA. All the World Bank presidents since 1946 are from the CFR. Ford-funded RAND, the Research and Development Corporation, which works closely with the US defence forces.
JC: That was where Dan worked. That’s where he laid his hands on the Pentagon papers.
AR: The Pentagon papers…. I couldn’t believe what I was reading…that stuff about bombing dams, planning famines…. I wrote an introduction to an edition of Noam Chomsky’s For Reasons of State in which he analyses the Pentagon papers. There was a chapter in the book called ‘The Backroom Boys’ – maybe that wasn’t the Pentagon papers part, I don’t remember…but there was a letter or a note of some kind, maybe from soldiers in the field, about how great it was that white phosphorous had been mixed in with napalm…. “It sticks to the gooks like shit to a blanket, and burns them to the bone.” They were happy because white phosphorous kept burning even when the Vietnamese who had been firebombed tried to jump into water to stop their flesh from burning off….
JC: You remember that by rote?
AR: I can’t forget it. It burned me to the bone…. I grew up in Kerala, remember. Communist country….
JC: You were talking about how the Ford Foundation funded RAND and the CFR.
AR: (Laughs) Yes…it’s a bedroom comedy…actually a bedroom tragedy…is that a genre? Ford funded CFR and RAND. Robert McNamara moved from heading Ford Motors to the Pentagon. So, as you can see, we’re encircled.
JC: …and not just by the past.
AR: No – by the future, too. The future is Google, isn’t it? In Julian Assange’s book – brilliant book – When Google Met WikiLeaks, he suggests that there isn’t much daylight between Google and the NSA. The three people who went along with Eric Schmidt – CEO of Google – to interview Julian were Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas – ex-State Department and senior something or other on the CFR, adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. The two others were Lisa Shields and Scott Malcolmson, also former State Department and CFR. It’s serious shit. But when we talk about NGOs, there’s something we must be careful about….
JC: What’s that?
AR: When the attack on NGOs comes from the opposite end, from the far right, then those of us who’ve been criticising NGOs from a completely different perspective will look terrible…to liberals we’ll be the bad guys….
JC: Once again pitting the “funded” against the “unfunded.”
AR: For example, in India the new government – the members of the radical Hindu Right who want India to be a ‘Hindu Nation’ – they’re bigots. Butchers. Massacres are their unofficial election campaigns – orchestrated to polarise communities and bring in the vote. It was so in Gujarat in 2002, and this year, in the run-up to the general elections, in a place called Muzaffarnagar, after which tens of thousands of Muslims had to flee from their villages and live in camps. Some of those who are accused of all that murdering are now cabinet ministers. Their support for straightforward, chest-thumping butchery makes you long for even the hypocrisy of the human rights discourse. But now if the “human rights” NGOs make a noise, or even whisper too loudly…this government will shut them down. And it can, very easily. All it has to do is to go after the funders…and the funders, whoever they are, especially those who are interested in India’s huge “market” will either cave in or scuttle over to the other side. Those NGOs will blow over because they’re a chimera, they don’t have deep roots in society among the people, really, so they’ll just disappear. Even the pretend resistance that has sucked the marrow out of genuine resistance will be gone.
Read the full article at Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/world/john-cusack-and-arundhati-roy-things-can-and-cannot-be-said