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Case #662

Arundhati Roy on "Confronting Empire"


"So how do we resist 'Empire?' The good news is that we're not doing too badly. There have been major victories." Arundhati Roy, Indian writer and activist, spoke these words at the closing rally of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on January 27, 2003.

"Still, many of us have dark moments of hopelessness and despair. We know that under the spreading canopy of the War Against Terrorism, the men in suits are hard at work. If we look at this conflict as a straightforward eyeball to eyeball confrontation between Empire and those of us who are resisting it, it might seem that we are losing."

"But there is another way of looking at it. We, all of us gathered here, have, each in our own way, laid siege to Empire. We may not have stopped it in its tracks--yet--but we have stripped it down. We have made it drop its mask. We have forced it into the open. It now stands before us on the world's stage in all its brutish, iniquitous nakedness."

"Before September 11, 2001, America had a secret history. Secret especially from its own people. But now America's secrets are history, and its history is public knowledge. In Washington this January, a quarter of a million people marched against the war on Iraq. Each month the protest is gathering momentum."

"What can we do? We can hone our memory, we can learn from our history. We can continue to build public opinion until it becomes a deafening roar. We can turn the war on Iraq into a fishbowl of the US government's excesses."
"We can reinvent civil disobedience in a million different ways. In other words, we can come up with a million ways of becoming a collective pain in the ass."

"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness--and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling--their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability."

"Remember this: We be many, and they be few. They need us more than we need them."


Arundhati Roy is a well known writer and activist from India. She uses her reputation as both to speak out on international politics, especially situations concerning power misused by governments (the US in particular), military groups, and large corporations.

While addressing participants at the World Social Forum is, to some degree, speaking to
those who already agree with her viewpoint, she is inspirational and backs her ideas with broad-based and appropriate solid examples. She is able to speak to those with an international awareness and experience as well as to grassroots groups. Arundhati Roy has leveraged her reputation as a writer to indirectly (through her fiction) and directly (through her non-fiction works and speaking engagements) speak out against power brokers and repressing political, economic, and social systems.

Time is well spent reading her works and listening to her presentations.
Location: worldwide
Action: Legal, Political, Direct, Economic/Business, Education/P.R., Demonstration/Protest, Organizing
Setting: Developed World, Semi-Developed, Third World, Urban, Village, Agricultural, Rangeland, Wilderness
Extent of Action: International
Issues: Environment, Human Rights, Indigenous, Peace/Conflict Resolution, Corporate/Economic Abuses, Worker Rights, Resources
Year(s): 2003
Outcome in progress
Source: The Nation (Magazine), March 10, 2003


(Read Arundhati Roy's "Walk Talk" Published by South End Press)
Prepared By: sl, 12/04
Rating: 1
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