Andy Sullivan’s Moore Award nominee today is Arundhati Roy, due to a quotation from an interview of her on Democracy Now! that I’ve actually seen, and I think Andy’s misinterpreting it:
“[T]he Maoists [in India] are fighting on two fronts. One is that they are fighting a feudal society, their feudal landlords. You have, you know, the whole caste system which is arranged against the indigenous people and the Dalits, who are the untouchable caste. And they are fighting against this whole corporatization. But they are also very poor people, you know, barefoot with old rusty weapons. And, you know, what we – say someone like myself, watching what is happening in Kashmir, where – or in the northeast, where exactly what America is doing in Iraq, you know, where you’re fostering a kind of civil war and then saying, ‘Oh, if we pull out, these people just will massacre each other.’
But the longer you stay, the more you’re enforcing these tribal differences and creating a resistance, which obviously, on the one hand, someone like me does support; on the other hand, you support the resistance, but you may not support the vision that they are fighting for. And I keep saying, you know, I’m doomed to fight on the side of people that have no space for me in their social imagination, and I would probably be the first person that was strung up if they won. But the point is that they are the ones that are resisting on the ground, and they have to be supported, because what is happening is unbelievable.”
Andy obviously thinks this to be apologism for Maoist terrorism. I wouldn’t take it that way. Taken in context, this is part of Roy’s discussion of the abuse of poor and rural areas of India by the government – particularly the case of dam development that causes both environmental damage and human displacement. I think Roy should be interpreted as saying that all movements opposing the current order in India – Maoists included – should be seen as resistance to the current order, which I think is right. Now, I’m no fan of Roy. Her anti-globalist writing are as frustrating as they are popular. Tom Frank said it best: “Maybe sometimes you just want to be on the side of whoever is more likely to take a bunker buster to Arundhati Roy.” But painting her as a modern day Weatherwoman isn’t fair.