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An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire
Author: Arundhati Roy
Publisher: Published 2004 by South End (first published 2003)
ISBN: 9780896087279
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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Just in time for the elections, Arundhati Roy offers us this lucid briefing on what the Bush administration really means when it talks about “compassionate conservativism” and “the war on terror.” Roy has characteristic fun in these essays, skewering the hypocrisy of the more-democratic-than-thou clan. But above all, she aims to remind us that we hold the essence of power Just in time for the elections, Arundhati Roy offers us this lucid briefing on what the Bush administration really means when it talks about “compassionate conservativism” and “the war on terror.” Roy has characteristic fun in these essays, skewering the hypocrisy of the more-democratic-than-thou clan. But above all, she aims to remind us that we hold the essence of power and the foundation of genuine democracy—the power of the people to counter their self-appointed leaders’ tyranny. First delivered as fiery speeches to sold-out crowds, together these essays are a call to arms against “the apocalyptic apparatus of the American empire.” Focusing on the disastrous US occupation of Iraq, Roy urges us to recognize—and apply—the scope of our power, exhorting US dockworkers to refuse to load materials war-bound, reservists to reject their call-ups, activists to organize boycotts of Halliburton, and citizens of other nations to collectively resist being deputized as janitor-soldiers to clear away the detritus of the US invasion. Roy’s Guide to Empire also offers us sharp theoretical tools for understanding the New American Empire—a dangerous paradigm, Roy argues here, that is entirely distinct from the imperialism of the British or even the New World Order of George Bush, the elder. She examines how resistance movements build power, using examples of nonviolent organizing in South Africa, India, and the United States. Deftly drawing the thread through ostensibly disconnected issues and arenas, Roy pays particular attention to the parallels between globalization in India, the devastation in Iraq, and the deplorable conditions many African Americans, in particular, must still confront. With Roy as our “guide,” we may not be able to relax from the Sisyphean task of stopping the U.S. juggernaut, but at least we are assured that the struggle for global justice is fortified by Roy’s hard-edged brilliance.

30 review for An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    What is “Empire”? The elucidation of this question is what is attempted in this book by Arundhati Roy. It is actually a collection of her essays, articles and speeches during the period 2002 – 2004, and not a book with a beginning, middle and end. But one theme runs through all these seemingly unconnected pieces – how the cancer of corporate power is choking our supposedly “free” world. The essay “The Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire” has been aptly chosen as the title of the book, for here Ms. R What is “Empire”? The elucidation of this question is what is attempted in this book by Arundhati Roy. It is actually a collection of her essays, articles and speeches during the period 2002 – 2004, and not a book with a beginning, middle and end. But one theme runs through all these seemingly unconnected pieces – how the cancer of corporate power is choking our supposedly “free” world. The essay “The Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire” has been aptly chosen as the title of the book, for here Ms. Roy sets out to define empire in simple terms for the layperson. This essay, along with many others are written with background of Bush Junior’s disastrous invasion of Iraq, to oust Saddam Hussein and uncover the “weapons of mass destruction”. Arundhati calls it out for what it is – the removal of a dictator who will no longer his master’s bidding, like the putting down of a hunting dog which has served its purpose. She reminds us, time and again, that it was America and its allies who propped Saddam up against Iran – the moment he disobeyed and attacked Kuwait, however, he became evil personified. The destruction of Iraq (there is no milder word for it) has got one ulterior motive, however – give the exclusive right to “rebuild” Iraq to crony companies like Bechtel, Halliburton et al. And here is where the empire part comes in; because today’s empire is not a nation-centric but corporation-centric. These multinational corporations call all the shots and governments have to agree: because the political parties of the first world are bankrolled by them, and the poorer countries which are dependent on them must allow these economic behemoths to invade their world, otherwise they would be termed “investment unfriendly”. And we know what that would lead to – economic sanctions, ostracisation and in the worst case, invasion. One of the myths of neoliberalism is development. Any kind of engineering and construction activity is seen as positive and any opposition to the same is considered “anti-development” in the normal case and in the worst case, “anti-national”. And on this theme, based on her interaction with the Narmada Bachao Andolan activists, Ms. Roy gives us a number of poignant essays and speeches about India’s dark underbelly: about the Dalits and Adivasis, the absolute have-nots who are considered collateral damage by the government as India strides forward on her agenda to dominate South Asia. Nobody with a heart can read through these essays (especially “The Road to Harsud”) without shedding a tear. And who is benefited? Naturally, the corporations, the World Bank, the IMF... the guys who hold the purse strings. But a free country with a market economy and free press – isn’t that the ideal? We have been fed so many horror stories about communism over the years that we consider ourselves lucky to live in a free society. But who is this freedom benefitting? The crisis in modern democracy is a profound one. Free elections, free press, and an independent judiciary mean little when the free market has reduced them to commodities available on sale to the highest bidder. For the bottom strata, pretty much the only freedom available is to starve and die. Arundhati is also scathing in her criticism of the “free” press, echoing Noam Chomsky’s The Manufacture of Consent. The press is also controlled by mammon. So the reports we get are heavily skewed towards what the media barons want us to believe (in the post-truth world, this has now even degenerated to outright lies – though the author does not specifically mention it). How to fight against this monster? Arundhati Roy advocates continuous activism, spanning across national boundaries and political ideologies. And the fight should not only be symbolic, but should aim to hit empire where it hurts most – their profits. Boycotts, citizens’ protests, civil disobedience etc. hold the key. Ms. Roy cites the example of Gandhiji’s Dandi march time and again. *** As I said in the beginning, this book lacks a coherent structure and there is repetition ad nauseum, so there is bound to be reader frustration. And I am a bit doubtful of how far her ideas of worldwide peaceful protests would work nowadays, given the fact that society has become highly stratified and many have slipped into violent ways of protest. But for all that, the problems she highlighted are very valid – and she writes so lucidly and beautifully. For that alone, this book is worth a read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kushal Srivastava

    Roy begins by detailing what is democracy and how we can make it work: The only way to make democracy real is to begin a process of constant questioning, permanent provocation, and continuous public conversation between citizens and the state. On freedom: It is important to remember that our freedoms, such as they are, were never given to us by any government, they have been wrested by us. Roy elaborates how governments, nationalism, patriotism, democracy and NGOs are just spokes of the giant Roy begins by detailing what is democracy and how we can make it work: The only way to make democracy real is to begin a process of constant questioning, permanent provocation, and continuous public conversation between citizens and the state. On freedom: It is important to remember that our freedoms, such as they are, were never given to us by any government, they have been wrested by us. Roy elaborates how governments, nationalism, patriotism, democracy and NGOs are just spokes of the giant wheel of capitalism. On Iraq: Operation Iraqi Freedom, George Bush assures us, is about returning Iraqi oil to the Iraqi people. That is, returning Iraqi oil to the Iraqi people via corporate multinationals. Like Shell, like Chevron, like Halliburton. She talks about terrorism and how it has been privatized. Paraphrasing her (too lazy to find the exact quote this time), because the governments cannot have a monopoly on terror. USA with their Patriot Act, India with their POTA are (were) just trying to kill any form of oppression, any form of dissent, any peaceful means of showing disagreement. Media is crisis driven, it will focus its pen and its camera where there is a crisis. Peaceful means find no form of promotion, thus people are turning to violence. We are thus left in a quandary, we can't support terror and are not with the government. So, what can we do? (Write reviews of course) Oh, and in between all this, there's a really touching scene of the town of Harsud which was destroyed by the big dam on Narmada river. I wrote a brief sketch on it https://www.facebook.com/notes/desult... PS: One thing which I hate about a collection of essays like this one is that the editing sucks. One can find not only similar arguments but even same paragraphs in multiple essays. So, minus one star for the editor.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nam

    An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire (Paperback) by Arundhati Roy I picked up this book while in India last fall. The hotel I was staying at in Jaipur was selling it in their gift shop. I started it while still traveling but didn't finish it until the beginning of the new year. Consisting of a collection of essays and lectures given on the topic of empire, verbalization, trade and resistance within the context of the developing world (especially focusing on India) it is filled with Roy's usual pol An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire (Paperback) by Arundhati Roy I picked up this book while in India last fall. The hotel I was staying at in Jaipur was selling it in their gift shop. I started it while still traveling but didn't finish it until the beginning of the new year. Consisting of a collection of essays and lectures given on the topic of empire, verbalization, trade and resistance within the context of the developing world (especially focusing on India) it is filled with Roy's usual politically charged cries to action. Although I have always been aware of the immense sectarian challenges facing modern India this book was a timely accounting of the issues, given that while I was there there were a number of bombings and "terrorist" incidents some involving and perpetrated by Hindu nationalist ideologues. At times the arguments, facts and figures became repetitive as the general thrust of her polemic was often repeated from lecture to lecture. However, the strength of her conviction and the demand for justice cannot and should not be ignored. The most innovative (read; new to me) idea which was discussed was her critique of the rise of NGO's internationally. The phrase she uses is the "NGO-ization of resistance. While she makes clear that she is not demonizing the work of NGOs she does stress that NGOs can create and facilitate a false sense of engagement, hope and political resistance without any of the real impacts and gains of actual resistance..

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Some of my favorite quotations: "Debating Imperialism is a bit like debating the pros and cons of rape. What can we say? That we really miss it?" "Calling anyone who protests against the violation of their human and constitutional rights a terrorist can end up becoming a self-fulfilling accusation. When every avenue of nonviolent dissent is closed down, should we really be surprised that the forests are filling up with extremists, insurgents, and militants?" "...for most people in the world, peace Some of my favorite quotations: "Debating Imperialism is a bit like debating the pros and cons of rape. What can we say? That we really miss it?" "Calling anyone who protests against the violation of their human and constitutional rights a terrorist can end up becoming a self-fulfilling accusation. When every avenue of nonviolent dissent is closed down, should we really be surprised that the forests are filling up with extremists, insurgents, and militants?" "...for most people in the world, peace is war - a daily battle against hunger, thirst, and the violation of their dignity. Wars are often the end result of a flawed peace, a putative peace. And it is the flaws, the systemic flaws in what is normally considered to be "peace," that we ought to be writing about. We have to-at least some of us have to-become peace correspondents instead of war correspondents. We have to lose our terror of the mundane. We have to use our skills and imagination and our art, to re-create the rhythms of the endless crisis of normality, and in doing so, expose the policies and processes that make ordinary things-food, water, shelter, and dignity-such a distant dream for ordinary people."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hubert

    At first I felt that Roy was simply rehashing other journalist musings concerning the rise of a type of neo-liberal imperialism that has taken over in the last 10 years, in particular after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. However, Roy's rhetorical skills are unsurpassable. I was not aware of her activist work, and her skill in culling evidence, displaying logic, and drawing in a listener of her speeches or reader of these speeches is insurmountable. This is an excellent collection of speeches that At first I felt that Roy was simply rehashing other journalist musings concerning the rise of a type of neo-liberal imperialism that has taken over in the last 10 years, in particular after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. However, Roy's rhetorical skills are unsurpassable. I was not aware of her activist work, and her skill in culling evidence, displaying logic, and drawing in a listener of her speeches or reader of these speeches is insurmountable. This is an excellent collection of speeches that Roy made around 2003 and 2004, and the entire set of essays can be read in 1 or 2 settings. For Western readers the strength of the neo-liberal state in India as described in a few of these essays would be particularly informative and insightful.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sondos At

    وبسرعة هائلة اصبح في المفضلة. الكتابة جائت من الخيال 'Television tells us that Iraq has been 'liberated' and that Afganistan is well on its way to becoming a paradise for women-thanks to bush and blair, the twenty-first century's leading feminists'

  7. 4 out of 5

    7jane

    In this book, Roy talks about how the Empire (US) manages to control other countries for its profit, no matter what rights are trampled and lives are lost (in wars and smaller conflicts). Iraq is used as an example, and this is still fairly fresh though the book is 10 years old now. Iraq is still far from being messy even though war isn't really there now. There is also useful insight in India's hair-rising wrongs - how little of it we read in our news, but then there's plenty of other countries In this book, Roy talks about how the Empire (US) manages to control other countries for its profit, no matter what rights are trampled and lives are lost (in wars and smaller conflicts). Iraq is used as an example, and this is still fairly fresh though the book is 10 years old now. Iraq is still far from being messy even though war isn't really there now. There is also useful insight in India's hair-rising wrongs - how little of it we read in our news, but then there's plenty of other countries whose similar awful things are never heard much, no doubt about it. I really do feel bad for the oppressed there, cornered pretty much by the majority. Roy's writing style is on point, doesn't wander and have plenty of sentences to underline. Nothing too long or complicated so that one would feel accomplished for understanding what was written (something that happens to me sometimes with some writers *cough*). After reading about all the wrongs that the Empire (US) and other goverments (in this case India is used as another example), Roy still manages to write in her optimism and hopes for the future, however shaky (suggesting boycotts and refusing to serve as some actions; don't know how effective they are but at least one could say to have tried and not done anything). This makes the book less heavy and gloomy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    V

    “I think the Iraqi people are suffering and we should liberate them.” That’s what I said early in the invasion of Iraq. I was 15. Surprisingly, many people who supported the war didn't have the excuse of being 15. There were people who were old enough to remember Baghdad as “the Paris of the Middle East,” or U.S. support for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, or even the brutal U.N. economic sanctions following the Gulf War that caused hundreds of thousands of deaths from malnutrition and lack of med “I think the Iraqi people are suffering and we should liberate them.” That’s what I said early in the invasion of Iraq. I was 15. Surprisingly, many people who supported the war didn't have the excuse of being 15. There were people who were old enough to remember Baghdad as “the Paris of the Middle East,” or U.S. support for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, or even the brutal U.N. economic sanctions following the Gulf War that caused hundreds of thousands of deaths from malnutrition and lack of medicine. Just about all I knew about Iraq prior to the invasion came from a sketch on a re-run of Saturday Night Live where president Clinton had a three way phone conversation with Saddam Hussein and Monica Lewinsky. Roy’s 2004 collection of essays covers the hypocrisy of America’s invasion of Iraq, and the deceitfulness of India’s aggression against anti-government activist. The connecting factor here is how corporate-owned media acts as the government’s mouthpiece to convince the general public that’s what’s good “economic investment” or “spreading democracy” is universally beneficial, even when creating “economic investment” means displacing millions or “spreading democracy” means destroying the infrastructure and food production of a sovereign nation. This is how we get a situation where, as in 2004, 42% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for 9/11 and 55% believed he had ties to Al-Qaeda. Or, in India, why the middle class remains complacent while the government demonizes tribal peoples trying to survive as landless farmers while land is auctioned off to international investors. Roy rightly asserts that though online media can serve to dispel the press’s myths, it isn't able to change the crisis-driven nature of the news, where once the camera’s move on, people’s suffering disappears from public consciousness. (When was the last time we heard of Iraq’s reconstruction?) Still, she does still have hope for humanity, and for real democracy in civil disobedience that directly strikes at the economic order--as in Gandhi's salt marches that directly broke British trade law, not just weekend protests--which is a message so many activist need. That being said, I noticed a few major factual answers. There is no evidence that Gulf War Syndrome is caused by depleted uranium, or even that it has any physical cause; it is mostly likely a psychosomatic reaction to the horrors of war. She also claims that Kennedy orchestrated the 1963 coup in Iraq that lead the rise of the Baath party and Saddam Hussein. While the CIA knew about the coup beforehand, there is no evidence that they were directly involved in it in any way, which isn't to say there aren't plenty of other coups, in Iran for instance, armed and orchestrated by the American government. And the United States certainly did support Saddam Hussein’s war crimes, providing him with covert intelligence even knowing he was using chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq War. We know these things because we have declassified documents attesting them. Let’s stick to the facts so that our political enemies can’t use our mistakes to discredit us, unless you want to play Donald Rumsfeld, “The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.” I would love to recommend this book, but I would warn to be double check her sources.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mahendranath Ramakrishnan

    To describe this book in two words.. Powerful work. Arundhati Roy's writing style is so sharp and compelling that, at times it'll make your blood boil reading about the atrocities perpetrated by governments and corporations against the powerless and economically-weaker sections of the society. In this book, Ms. Roy tackles the issue of destruction of innocent lives wrought by neoliberalism, neoimperialism and corporate globalization. How it has become a daily battle for the poor man to obtain th To describe this book in two words.. Powerful work. Arundhati Roy's writing style is so sharp and compelling that, at times it'll make your blood boil reading about the atrocities perpetrated by governments and corporations against the powerless and economically-weaker sections of the society. In this book, Ms. Roy tackles the issue of destruction of innocent lives wrought by neoliberalism, neoimperialism and corporate globalization. How it has become a daily battle for the poor man to obtain the very basic necessities of a simple life -- water, food, a home and some semblance of dignity -- while the vultures called corporations plunder away the resources of the people. And Roy backs all her statements with facts from credible sources. A must read for anybody having a little empathy for the suffering of common people due to the greed of a few powerful evil men, across the world. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Renunair

    "For reasons I do not fully understand, fiction dances out of me. Non-fiction is wrenched out by the aching, broken world I wake up to every morning." the celebrated author of The God of Small Things States So. An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire is a well constructed essay collection written between 2002 and 2004 — most of them from those published in newspapers. Roy reveals her passion for writing through 14 chapters. She dissects the situation at Iraq and the Middle East and about those who "For reasons I do not fully understand, fiction dances out of me. Non-fiction is wrenched out by the aching, broken world I wake up to every morning." the celebrated author of The God of Small Things States So. An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire is a well constructed essay collection written between 2002 and 2004 — most of them from those published in newspapers. Roy reveals her passion for writing through 14 chapters. She dissects the situation at Iraq and the Middle East and about those who struggles for their daily bread and existence in their mother land. The satirical writing makes the book an interesting piece. Even then a frustrated Writer pops up through out the book. Roy illustrates the power of common man thus, motivating them to speak out and act for their human rights. “History is giving you the chance,” she writes. Come September is my favorite among 14.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael Thoeresz

    This book is Noam Chomsky except funny and interesting instead of horribly dry. Highly recommended. "Modern democracies have been around for long enough for neo-liberal capitalists to learn how to subvert them. They have mastered the technique of infiltrating the instruments of democracy-- the 'independent' judiciary, the 'free' press, the parliment-- and molding them to their purpose. The project of corporate globalization has cracked the code. Free elections, a free press, and an independent ju This book is Noam Chomsky except funny and interesting instead of horribly dry. Highly recommended. "Modern democracies have been around for long enough for neo-liberal capitalists to learn how to subvert them. They have mastered the technique of infiltrating the instruments of democracy-- the 'independent' judiciary, the 'free' press, the parliment-- and molding them to their purpose. The project of corporate globalization has cracked the code. Free elections, a free press, and an independent judiciary mean little when the free market has reduced them to commodities available ton sale to the highest bidder."

  12. 4 out of 5

    suman

    arundhati roy's incisive analysis of globalization, trade policy, and the state of the state in india is bold, brave, and unique. i read this book when i was in india, and it gave me invaluable and hard-to-find information on how poor people continue to struggle for rights, government accountability, and even basic services in 'the world's fastest-growing economy'. an inspiring read that reminds you another world IS possible.

  13. 5 out of 5

    MsBrie

    I've read two of her books. She is FABULOUS. I sometimes wonder how there are so many american citizens who can't write/speak/think so prosaically as this native Indian (red dot indian).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Saurabh Sharma

    A book which is a collection of political essays and lectures such as this is a treat to your mind. A book so profound and vast in its scope, so urgent in its application and so wide in its thoughts needs to be read by every individual. One of the best qualities of this book is that it is not a country or a issue specific book, well there's one central issue which is the issue of very existence of a free human being, oh, why only a human being, every living specie actually. I, in particular, woul A book which is a collection of political essays and lectures such as this is a treat to your mind. A book so profound and vast in its scope, so urgent in its application and so wide in its thoughts needs to be read by every individual. One of the best qualities of this book is that it is not a country or a issue specific book, well there's one central issue which is the issue of very existence of a free human being, oh, why only a human being, every living specie actually. I, in particular, would like to suggest that it is easy to rub any and every resistance movement as anti-development movement but a close observation of any learned and concerned citizen would be looking for the cause of the movement and to my mind, there are one of the few causes: food, shelter, and employment. We need to introspect our idea of development, our idea of a multilateral institute, our idea of living, our idea of democracy and our very idea of dissent. And this book is practicing dissension without which the idea of a democracy is futile. Strongly recommended.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Giordano

    Roy's compilation of essays should be required reading for U.S citizens. While many of her examples center around events occurring in India, she ties incidents beautifully to the problems associated with imperialism, neo-liberalism, and the issues we face in this global economy. It's amazing how a book first released in the early 2000's addresses so accurately the world in which we still live in today. I highly recommend this book to those of us who are constantly seeking to understand the motiv Roy's compilation of essays should be required reading for U.S citizens. While many of her examples center around events occurring in India, she ties incidents beautifully to the problems associated with imperialism, neo-liberalism, and the issues we face in this global economy. It's amazing how a book first released in the early 2000's addresses so accurately the world in which we still live in today. I highly recommend this book to those of us who are constantly seeking to understand the motives of our own government and what resistance strategies work most effectively.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Augustine George

    Reading Arundhati Roy's essays is like filling fresh coal into a steam engine. The more you read her accounts on the inhuman cruelty meted out against millions of people in the guise of progress and reform the higher this flame of anger rises inside you. Her analysis on big dams and the devastation they can bring about felt apt with what we, the people of Kerala, had to face during the floods.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nivetha

    Evidently the "ordinary person" referred to in the title must be hit over the head repeatedly with the same tired rants against neoliberalism and far right radicalism to be properly introduced to empire. Needlessly repetitive and insufficiently nuanced for anyone with more than a passing knowledge of international politics and development. Credit where credit is due, though - Roy can rage against the machine like no one else. The energy and passion in her arguments are almost tangible; I just wi Evidently the "ordinary person" referred to in the title must be hit over the head repeatedly with the same tired rants against neoliberalism and far right radicalism to be properly introduced to empire. Needlessly repetitive and insufficiently nuanced for anyone with more than a passing knowledge of international politics and development. Credit where credit is due, though - Roy can rage against the machine like no one else. The energy and passion in her arguments are almost tangible; I just wish they were a little more constructive.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Lloyd

    14 years on but the conversation hasn’t changed

  19. 5 out of 5

    Graham Clark

    Chomsky-lite transcripts of speeches around the Iraq War. Heartfelt and powerful but somewhat redundant.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    definitely a well-written and thoughtful book but a bit dated as it refers to the politics of the Bush Junior Administration.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Secraser

    Interesting, anti-imperialist, standing up for the ordinary people of the world.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Manu

    Arundhati Roy continues right from where she left off (actually she never has) in The Algebra of Infinite Justice. This time, contexts and facts get repeated in essays, and that might put you off, but that should not take away from the messages. An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, published in 2004, a couple of years after the other book, consists of 14 articles written between June 2002 and November 2004. The theme of the book is the working of the Empire, not the traditional imperial one buil Arundhati Roy continues right from where she left off (actually she never has) in The Algebra of Infinite Justice. This time, contexts and facts get repeated in essays, and that might put you off, but that should not take away from the messages. An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, published in 2004, a couple of years after the other book, consists of 14 articles written between June 2002 and November 2004. The theme of the book is the working of the Empire, not the traditional imperial one built on a smattering of trade and an all powerful military, but the more modern, relatively more subtle one with many simultaneous strategies - 'neoliberal capitalism' aided by the IMF, World Bank etc, corporate globalization spearheaded by multinational corporations, and finally a healthy dose of good old state sponsored military might. As Roy writes, add oil and mix. Not to forget the media, that makes the entire effort come out smelling of roses. "In this era of crisis reportage, if you don't have a crisis to call your own, you're not in the news. And if you're not in the news, you don't exist. It's as though the virtual world constructed in the media has become more real than the real world." A lot of the conversation is around Iraq, where the latest version of the above drama is being played out, but in many essays there are historical references of how the US has honed its 'process' through various wars it has fought. Creating, funding and then making a huge hue and cry over eliminating armies/heads of state who step out of line. Saddam being the latest. A series of acts that had spawned and now fuels a global threat - terrorism. Two opposing camps feeding off each other. "Al Qaida vs Al Fayda". But the story is global, from the police in Kerala displaying the tribals' bows and arrows as dangerous ammunition to encounter killings from Mumbai to Kashmir to Andhra Pradesh and indiscriminate and illegal uses of POTA to state sponsored terrorism in Gujarat and hunting down Maoists in Jharkand. The story is also of how democracy is just a process of 'cyclical manipulation" We really have no choice. It gets scary when she writes how "Modern democracies have been around for long enough\ for neo-liberal capitalists to learn how to subvert them. They have mastered the technique of infiltrating the instruments of democracy-the "independent" judiciary, the "free" press, the parliament-and molding them to their purpose. The project of corporate globalization has cracked the code. Free elections, a free press, and an independent judiciary mean little when the free market has reduced them to commodities available on sale to the highest bidder." And somewhere in all this, is the thread of the slow attrition of the concept of justice, especially for the poor and the powerless. "... for most people in the world, peace is war - a daily battle against hunger, thirst, and the violation of their dignity." The saddest one is about the man in Hasud, a town that was supposed to be 'relocated' entirely, courtesy a dam. The man was given a cheque of Rs.25000 as compensation for demolishing his hut. Thrice he went to the town in a bus to cash it. Then his money ran out, and he walked, miles and miles, on his wooden leg. "The bank sent him away and asked him to come after three days." Roy has her critics, and she might have many faults, but it is when she brings out such incidents that I feel she is doing justice to the written word and her skill with it. For this reason, do take time to read it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robbie Bruens

    Arundhati Roy argues in a clear, forceful, and memorable style, and she studs her writing with wonderfully pungent metaphors and insightful connections between seemingly unrelated topics and ideas. Roy is especially perceptive in her discussions of how racial and religious prejudice intersect with hypercapitalist corporate agendas. Her critiques center around the brash imperialism of the U.S. government, the intractable and often bloodthirsty corruption of the Indian government, the tragedy of S Arundhati Roy argues in a clear, forceful, and memorable style, and she studs her writing with wonderfully pungent metaphors and insightful connections between seemingly unrelated topics and ideas. Roy is especially perceptive in her discussions of how racial and religious prejudice intersect with hypercapitalist corporate agendas. Her critiques center around the brash imperialism of the U.S. government, the intractable and often bloodthirsty corruption of the Indian government, the tragedy of South Africa which threw off the yoke of apartheid in the 90s only to be felled by extractive neoliberal "structural reform" shortly thereafter, and the gruesome and often surreal Orwellian carving up of Iraq circa the U.S. invasion in 2003. Though these pieces are focused almost exclusively on the current events of the world of ten years ago, unfortunately much of what she discusses here remains all too relevant today. From some perspectives one could argue the world is less dystopic now than during the Bush era. Full throated U.S. imperialism is by some measures on the wane, newly ascendent movements are fighting and often winning in the struggle against age old prejudices (not to mention some promising - though still nascent - movements for labor rights and economic justice), and discontent with elites seems more widespread than ever and even translates into action sometimes. However, the particularly virulent and rapacious strain of capitalism that came out of the 1980s seems by some measure to be as strong as ever even in the face of an increasingly uncooperative biosphere and restive populace, and the surreal media echo chamber of the 2000s has been overtaken by a potentially even more dangerous and frightening all encompassing surveillance culture that is maybe more democratic but is definitely more intrusive and dystopian in many ways. And whatever your feelings on the always interesting subject of Barack Obama, there's little question that the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a far right wing nationalist, elected to office despite being complicit in the 2002 pogrom of Muslims in Gujarat. And Modi governs far more people than Obama at least by official measures. Which brings me to my ignorance of the politics, history and culture of India. This book (along with some recent articles I've read by Amartya Sen) has begun to alleviate that ignorance, which is admittedly quite vast. While not meant as a primer on Indian politics, the book does work well as a jumping off point to begin to understand India in how it parallels and diverges from political scenes elsewhere that may be more familiar to a Western readership.

  24. 4 out of 5

    S.Ach

    Reading Arundhati Roy is not an pleasant experience. How could it be, when every word she writes is bloated with her frustrated dejection? She, sometimes, employs black humour and satire to put her points forth, but that doesn't necessarily give you laughter, does it? She seethes with anger with what she sees around and attacks vehemently the very reason she feels oppressed for, with the only weapon she wields well - her pen. She agitates you, takes you to uncomfortable places, asks you questions Reading Arundhati Roy is not an pleasant experience. How could it be, when every word she writes is bloated with her frustrated dejection? She, sometimes, employs black humour and satire to put her points forth, but that doesn't necessarily give you laughter, does it? She seethes with anger with what she sees around and attacks vehemently the very reason she feels oppressed for, with the only weapon she wields well - her pen. She agitates you, takes you to uncomfortable places, asks you questions that you have always ignored and rouses the dissident on you against the authority. She writes - "....Though it might appear otherwise, my writing is not really about nations and histories; it's about power. About the paranoia and ruthlessness of power. About the physics of power. I believe that the accumulation of vast unfettered power by a State or a country, a corporation or an institution - or even an individual, a spouse, a friend, a sibling -regardless of ideology, results in excesses...." Of course, there are always two sides of the story. Though her opinions are backed by extensive research, that doesn't force you to accept whatever she says. She also agrees to this and invites you to do more research before jumping to any sort of conclusion. She is just putting her views across ------ There can never be a single story. There are only ways of seeing. So when I tell a story, I tell it not as an ideologue who wants to pit one absolutist ideology against another, but as a story-teller who wants to share her way of seeing...... Most of her researches are against the authority, and especially in this book the authority of American Government, who so blatantly and inhumanly raises war for profit in the name of dispensing justice. Who gave them the rights to be the messiah of justice anyway? OK Ma'am. I heard you. I cannot say I entirely agree with your opinions and conclusions, though. I have to understand more before I come to any sort of judgement. Only problem, I have with this collection of her essays, that those are sometimes very repetitive and doesn't add more to what she had said earlier. As one of the reviewers rightly says, "...whether you agree with her or disagree with her, adore her or despise her, you will want to read her." Yes, she is very good writer.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mani Kant

    An ordinary person’s guide to empire is a collection of essays or mostly speeches delivered by Arundhati Roy at many places on many occasions and deals with the topics she has started crusade against like neoliberalism, neoimperialism, corporatization of media, government and the globalization itself, injustice, displacement, war and aggression, and many more. Her sense of urgency in all these addresses is quite infectious and one feels like going out and participate in the causes she champions An ordinary person’s guide to empire is a collection of essays or mostly speeches delivered by Arundhati Roy at many places on many occasions and deals with the topics she has started crusade against like neoliberalism, neoimperialism, corporatization of media, government and the globalization itself, injustice, displacement, war and aggression, and many more. Her sense of urgency in all these addresses is quite infectious and one feels like going out and participate in the causes she champions for. She has data to back up her claim, narrative to share of utter injustice and depravation, places and people to lend credibility to her theories. Since these are speeches, they sound a bit exaggerated and appear designed to draw applause and claps at regular intervals. Lots of facts, theories and arguments get repeated across the chapters and as a reader I felt a kind of déjà vu. Nonetheless, one cannot miss the well-argued theories and propositions put forward by her. She puts an alternative view which I think one should know to get a complete picture of the socio-politico-economic scenario of the contemporary world. In an increasingly globalized world changing at a faster rate than any time in the history, it is not always possible to get grip on our own existence, let alone those of others. Intellectuals like Ms. Roy makes us pause and forces us to ponder over the price of inequality we are ready to pay. It is not that all her claims are fullproof but to counter them, one should not resort to calling her pseudo-intellectual, attention seeker or worse Indophobic. While reading the book, I was tempted to read it aloud on the cost of getting misconstrued as a wannabe leader by my colleagues, still I did it. A speech will make more sense if read aloud than perusing it in the cosiness of our bed, wont it? In the book, Ms. Roy essentially exhorts to take part in “real resistance” and I recall how I did my bit by repressing the urge to spit on a railway platform!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tushaar Kataria

    This was my second novel by Arundhati Roy. I already had a taste of her writing in my first book of hers (Broken Republic: Three Essays). She has a very different perspective of looking at things. This book covers her stance on dams in India, United states America, Capitalism among other small things. From what I have inferred she is a staunch opponent of capitalism so she criticizes just about every country whose has a capitalistic economic model. In general, she is a staunch opponent of Inequa This was my second novel by Arundhati Roy. I already had a taste of her writing in my first book of hers (Broken Republic: Three Essays). She has a very different perspective of looking at things. This book covers her stance on dams in India, United states America, Capitalism among other small things. From what I have inferred she is a staunch opponent of capitalism so she criticizes just about every country whose has a capitalistic economic model. In general, she is a staunch opponent of Inequality. She just can't stand Inequality . She sees inequality everywhere and she doesn't paint a very good picture of the things she sees as is done by our politicians and lawmakers saying that "It would be better in Future". She is not an opponent of reforms or development, she just has a different definition of it, which doesn't suit the capitalist economy. This is the reason I think she is criticized and also hated by many. She believes that the relations and connection between politicians, big corporations, media houses etc are the things we can't just ignore. She can't overlook the correlation of the profits of big corporations and the number of friends in government.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Varsha

    I've previously only read Arundhati Roy's fiction and had been waiting to try her larger body of non-fiction writing. I enjoyed this collection of essays much more than I expected to primarily because of how well she weaves countless well researched statistics and facts in a compelling, larger narrative, enriched by a consistent tone of biting sarcasm barely containing her fury against Empire in all its avatars. This collection has been written from a leftist perspective and I'm not sure I know I've previously only read Arundhati Roy's fiction and had been waiting to try her larger body of non-fiction writing. I enjoyed this collection of essays much more than I expected to primarily because of how well she weaves countless well researched statistics and facts in a compelling, larger narrative, enriched by a consistent tone of biting sarcasm barely containing her fury against Empire in all its avatars. This collection has been written from a leftist perspective and I'm not sure I know enough about these issues to judge whether that is a merit or a disadvantage, but ideology aside, her arguments by themselves are thought provoking and are well worth considering. I found The Road to Harsud particularly moving and heart wrenching in its details of how an entire town is dismantled for fear of submersion by the waters of a dam. I did however bump this down from a 5 to a 4 star read because of many repetitions in terms of quotes and phrases which I can understand are inevitable in a collection of different forms of non fiction written by one person (i.e. essays, speeches, opinion pieces) but found jarring nonetheless.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    I may be the only person who didn't adore The God of Small Things. But everything I found overworked about Roy's fictional prose works wonderfully in this collection of her activist speeches - her quirky metaphors serve the clarifying anger with which she addresses a wide range of political topics instead of undermining it, and her command of cadence maintains the flow of a speech as her evidence accummulates. I can even forgive the Capitalization of Important Phrases. Her indictment of the Iraq I may be the only person who didn't adore The God of Small Things. But everything I found overworked about Roy's fictional prose works wonderfully in this collection of her activist speeches - her quirky metaphors serve the clarifying anger with which she addresses a wide range of political topics instead of undermining it, and her command of cadence maintains the flow of a speech as her evidence accummulates. I can even forgive the Capitalization of Important Phrases. Her indictment of the Iraq war was thorough - and accurate - from the beginning, and I didn't know that Enron managed to cause devastation in India until I read her analysis of its hydroelectric industry. She conflates the global implications of a deregulated economy with the effects of sectarian violence, which she identifies as fascist, in a sometimes confusing manner. But she handles the primary challenge of an activist speech - the speech's need to resolve itself in rhetorical terms after analysis and indictment while still encouraging practical action against an overwhelming opponent - with aplomb.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bipin Singh

    Continuing with her tradition of pin pointed attack on the neo-liberal economic order, communalism, rise of Hindu right and the big brother hegemony (USA), Arundhati Roy delivers yet another punch.This work as her previous works is remarkable for its prudence in identifying the nexus of corporate-war-state, reimagining the notions of democracy in present context, justice, human rights and exposing the ugly side or the only side of corporate media. Her tools in this endeavour are logical and fact Continuing with her tradition of pin pointed attack on the neo-liberal economic order, communalism, rise of Hindu right and the big brother hegemony (USA), Arundhati Roy delivers yet another punch.This work as her previous works is remarkable for its prudence in identifying the nexus of corporate-war-state, reimagining the notions of democracy in present context, justice, human rights and exposing the ugly side or the only side of corporate media. Her tools in this endeavour are logical and fact based reasoning which are hard to refute.She manages to uncover the brazenness with which modern states are subverting the have-nots.She manages to expose the truth of nation-States which are hand in glove with the neo-liberal project and at the same time run the risk of being toppled at the slightest hint of non-compliance as there is always a willing partner present to carry on the unholy nexus.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nitin

    The book is compilation of articles written by Arundhati roy in 2002-2004. It's a chilling & eye-opening account of the struggle of people against "empire"(cartel of self interested corporate organizations & power hungry "pro-development" governments). How the other side of story of this struggle is continuously being repressed by continuous show of empire-side stories by "fair" media lead my same people against whom this resistance is waged in the fist place! It's a good read for anyone The book is compilation of articles written by Arundhati roy in 2002-2004. It's a chilling & eye-opening account of the struggle of people against "empire"(cartel of self interested corporate organizations & power hungry "pro-development" governments). How the other side of story of this struggle is continuously being repressed by continuous show of empire-side stories by "fair" media lead my same people against whom this resistance is waged in the fist place! It's a good read for anyone who would like to listen to arguments against neo-liberalism & coporatization at the cost of brutal exploitation of common people's basic human rights & sense of justice/fairness. The book particularly illustrates this at length by the examples of horrors unleashed by an illegal US-invasion of Iraq & Afghanistan & construction of massive dams in India without proper rehabilitation & compensation for displaced people.

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