Arundhati Roy: Radical sheep

Discussion in 'China' started by maomao, Aug 2, 2010.

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  1. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

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    Arundhati Roy: Radical sheep


    Quite like Dr Noam Chomsky, award-wining writer, Arundhati Roy, can be one of the most predictable intellectuals this side of the post-Cold-War left. And also like Chomsky (and Naomi Klein), Roy too is fast becoming the provider of the intellectual fodder that loud, post-9/11 advocates of right-wing cla-ptrap sumptuously feed upon.

    It is due to this feeding frenzy by the so-called anti-West activists who cleverly use leftist critiques of the West to give ‘intellectual weight’ to their otherwise contemptuous spiels of religious and political hatred. This is gradually rendering people like Chomsky, Kalian and Roy somewhat ineffectual in fully elaborating their otherwise progressive intent. Hijacked by the noises emitting from right-wing playmakers within the contemporary anti-US populism, Roy, Kalian and Chomsky have tended to sound equally hyperbolic to keep the dwindling left in a race featuring the kind of intellectual pomposity and demagoguism that these days is so spectacularly unveiling itself on TV screens and in seminars.

    It is interesting to note how leftist intellectuals whose critiques of capitalism and ‘American imperialism’ came attached with well thought-out rationales, have reduced themselves to dishing out irresponsible sloganeering revolving around narratives that smack of cynical vanity one usually expects from right-wing media reactionaries. If such reactionaries can rightly be accused of exhibiting intellectual dishonesty by unabashedly plagiarising leftist critiques of the West, then their leftist counterparts like Roy, Klein and Chomsky can be equally blamed for failing to openly condemn those who are using their work to forward a clearly intransigent agenda. These are tricky times we live in; a time when the media can neither be called liberal nor entirely conservative. Take the case of the Pakistani electronic media’s darling, Imran Khan. Within a few sentences he manages to sound like a dedicated socialist, a Taliban sympathiser and a conscientious democrat without even batting an eyelid. In other words, just like the media today, the great Khan is merely playing to a gallery of jumbled up ideas that have been constructed by the media itself.

    No matter how passionate the animation behind such left-meets-right mumbo-jumbo, its bottom line remains reactionary in essence. Coming back to Roy, it wasn’t her terrific novel, 'The god of small things', that turned her into a celebrity in Pakistan; rather, it is her stand on matters such as Kashmir and (albeit hackneyed) understanding of ‘American colonial designs’. Conscious of the ideological dichotomy generated by the acceptance that she receives from Pakistani right-wing circles, Roy soon started to add an anti-Taliban angle to her on-going narrative. But this angle, in fact, negates itself in the wake of her verbose ramblings about ‘American imperialism’, ‘globalisation’, et al.

    To those who are more concerned about the impact religious extremism and anti-democratic moves are having in Pakistan, Roy and Chomsky’s ramblings become an irritant when they are liberally quoted by their rightist counterparts.

    If during the Cold War there were leftists who got stuck in the hey day of the New Left in the 1960s, Roy increasingly belongs to a generation of leftists who got embroiled in the anti-globalisation movements of the late 1990s. Her politics are still being informed by the sentiments of these movements that culminated with the anti-globalisation riots in Seattle in 1999 and then by the publishing of Naomi Klein’s classic book of the era, ‘No Logo’.

    What Roy seems not to realise is the fact that the New Right (‘neo-cons’) and, for instance, its reaction, Islamist extremism, were actually two sides of the same coin. Though to a certain extent the justification behind the ‘war on terror’ was a bogey called Islamic terrorism, ironically this war was also aided by nihilistic Islamists like Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. These are basically groups of failed Islamic revolutionaries; a bunch of frustrated Islamists who were deluded into believing that it was they who defeated the Soviets and could now impose Islamic regimes wherever.

    The truth is it was the Soviet Union’s weak economy and worn-out political structure and the billions of dollars worth of arms that the Mujahideen received from the US that did the trick.

    During Bush’s presidency Western media continued to portray skewed perceptions of ‘Islamism’ fed to it by the neo-cons; while in the Islamic world, the media is playing out to the other side of the coin by indulging in crass speculative gossip, conspiracy theories and images of the West sketched by frustrated Islamist apologists dreaming of a global Islamic revolution. What really keeps the neo-con and Islamist mindset afloat is the social fall-out of this conflict. The conflict then becomes a battle of reactive images in which a westerner influenced by neo-con rhetoric in the media becomes ‘Islamophobic,’ and a Muslim driven by his country’s conspiratorial media suddenly becomes a hard-sounding literalist. Paradoxically, he or she then becomes more receptive to what leftists like Chomsky and Roy have to say about the West.

    Writer-activists such as Roy and Naomi Klein and even Chomsky have allowed themselves to be bitten by the post-modern media-celebrity bug that usually feeds on their right-wing counterparts.

    Have they become too self-conscious of their ‘intellectual importance’, with their overall make-up now bordering on plain vanity? This is something their bygone contemporaries like Edward Said and Eqbal Ahmed would have balked at. While the latter two actually helped improve the world’s understanding of the plight of the Palestinians and the Third World in general, Roy and Chomsky’s writings in the last five years have contributed more to fatten reactionary arguments.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect...s/19-nadeem-f-paracha-radical-sheep-180-hh-04
     
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  3. samarsingh

    samarsingh Regular Member

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    These Chomsky and Roy et al are hypocrites. Consider Chomsky, he seems left leaning, also he is a multi millionaire who charges thousands of dollars for an appearance at US Universities.
    these "left" do gooders live in mansions. the left leaning helps them to sell their anti war or anti capitalism books. the fact is they are capitalists exploiting a market themselves
     
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