Munich American Peace Committee (MAPC)
Radio Lora, 9. April 2007
Schriftsteller und Widerstand
A. Roy und E. Galeano
In unserer heutigen Sendung unterhalten sich Arundhati Roy, die Ikone des gewaltfreien Widerstandes und Autorin zahlreicher preisgekrönter Bücher, von denen "Der Gott der kleinen Dinge" in Deutschland am bekanntesten ist, und Eduardo Galeano, der Autor von "Die offenen Adern Lateinamerikas", über das Thema "Schriftsteller und Widerstand"
R. Iran unterscheidet sich vom Irak nur durch ein einfaches "N" .
G. Was die Situation dort jedoch so kompliziert macht, ist die Tatsache, dass Iran der eigentliche Sieger der irakischen Wahlen ist.
R. Die Zusammenhänge sind so komplex, dass wir ständig Gefahr laufen, Wichtiges zu übersehen. Wir dürfen wegen der Besetzung des Iraks das besetzte Afghanistan und die wirtschaftliche Abhängigkeit vieler anderer Staaten nicht aus den Augen verlieren. Wir müssen gemeinsam überlegen, wie wir dieser Entwicklung Einhalt gebieten können.
In Indien haben wir jahrelang vergeblich versucht, den Bau eines Dammes und die Umsiedlung mehrerer Hunderttausend Menschen mit friedlichen Mitteln zu verhindern. Auch wenn so mancher bewaffnete Widerstand erfolglos war, so scheinen selbst Sie nicht immer gegen die Versuchung Gewalt anzuwenden, gefeit zu sein.
G. Obwohl wir beide in zwei weit voneinander entfernten Ländern geboren sind, haben wir gemeinsame Hoffnungen, Ideale, Zweifel und Ängste. Das ist doch der Beweis dafür, dass es nicht nur die Weltordnung der Globalisierer geben darf. Wir konnten nur über viele Millionen Jahre überleben, weil wir das, was wir hatten, geteilt haben und uns gemeinsam verteidigt haben. Im Spanischen Bürgerkrieg von 1936 kämpften in der Lincoln Brigade erstmals Schwarze und Weiße gemeinsam Seite an Seite. Sie kämpften nicht im Namen der Rüstungsindustrie um Öl und Profit, sondern gegen Francos Faschisten. Vielfalt ist deshalb nicht nur in Indien und Lateinamerika eine Stärke,.
R. Andererseits birgt gemeinsamer Kampf auch eine Fülle von Mißverständnissen. Kaum hatte ich mich aus den Fesseln indischer Dorftraditionen befreit, sah ich mich mit den bohrenden Fragen der Moderne konfrontiert. Müssen wir uns immer mit unseren Mitstreitern identifizieren? Mit Islamisten, Stalinisten oder hinduistischen Rechtsextremisten, die wie wir gegen den Dammbau protestieren? Wobei die, gegen die wir gemeinsam protestieren, versuchen, uns gegen einander auszuspielen. Beim Irakkriegtribunal 2005 in Istanbul wurde viel Positives über die Rolle der Medien, der Regierungen und der Institutionen bei der Verurteilung des Krieges gesagt und geschrieben. Doch als es in der gemeinsamen Schlusserklärung lauten sollte: "Wir unterstützen das Recht des irakischen Volkes auf Widerstand gegen die Besetzung", gab es sofort einen Gegenvorschlag, der da hieß: "Wir unterstützen das Recht des irakischen Volkes auf Widerstand gegen die Besetzung auf der Grundlage der Genfer Konvention". Ich fürchte, so kann man jeden auch friedlichen Widerstand verhindern, Zeitungen verbieten und Demonstranten erschießen. Wie soll man sich als kritischer Schriftsteller und Bürger verhalten? Massenbewegungen haben immer etwas Konservatives an sich und trotzdem ist man gezwungen, sie zu unterstützen.
G. Leben und Überleben beruhen auf Widersprüchen.
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R. Dieser Krieg muß ein Ende nehmen. Dieses Töten und Sterben von Amerikanern und Irakern muß aufhören. Das Sichversündigen an der Natur darf nicht mehr weitergehen.
G Als Schriftsteller versuchen wir, alle Aspekte des Lebens zu berücksichtigen. Aber Ökologie ist in Lateinamerika überhaupt nicht populär. Angesichts der Massenarbeitslosigkeit wollen sich die Menschen lieber mit einem miesen Job vergiften als vor Hunger sterben. Ich kämpfe gerade auf ziemlich verlorenem Posten gegen eine Papierfabrik in Uruguay. Man beschimpft mich als Verräter und ignoriert die drohende Luft- und Wasserverschmutzung.
Ähnlich schwierig ist der Kampf für Frauenrechte und viele andere Anliegen.
Es gibt so viele Kriege in unserer Welt. Auch stumme Kriege, über die niemand spricht.
Kriege und Mauern sind Brutstätten des Terrorismus, wo man die Terroristen züchtet, die man als Alibi für die gigantische Rüstungsindustrie braucht. Wie sonst könnte man die schamlosen Milliarden von Dollar erklären, die täglich weltweit für den militärisch-industriellen Komplex ausgegeben werden. Man muss feindliche Dämonen und Teufel erfinden, um diese Riesenmaschinerie am Laufen zu halten. Und wenn der Irakkrieg Terroristen hervorbringt, dann ist das Wasser bzw. Öl auf ihre Mühlen. Die Drohungen des Teufels Bin Laden kommen ihnen dabei höchst gelegen.
R. So wie die Überkapazität an Waffen nach weiteren Kriegen ruft, genauso schreit der Hyperkapitalismus nach immer mehr Profit. Dieses neoliberale System schafft so tiefgreifende Ungleichheiten, die - so die CIA - nur aus einem bewaffneten Weltraum heraus unter Kontrolle gehalten werden können. Auch Indien ist Teil dieses Systems. Dort geschieht gerade das, was Sie bereits in "Die offenen Adern Lateinamerikas" geschildert haben.
G. Es ist schwer, in einer undemokratischen Welt, eine Demokratie aufbauen zu wollen.
Nicht nur die Militärbesatzung ist Ausdruck dieser verkehrten Welt, sondern auch die weltweite Sicherheitshysterie und das Gezeter über die Zunahme von Verbrechen. All das wird angeheizt und gesteuert von einigen allmächtigen Regierungen, einem so genannten internationalen Währungsfond, dem ganze vier Länder angehören und einer Weltbank mit den ihr eigenen Unterdrückungsmechanismen.
R Vor 1970 waren die USA eifrig bemüht, besonders lateinamerikanische Demokratien zu stürzen, die ihnen gefährlich zu werden drohten. Heute sind sie dazu übergegangen, die Bedeutung der Demokratie zu untergraben. Der Wahlkampf zwischen Bush und Kerry ähnelte einer Waschpulverwerbekampagne. Obwohl Kerry, der Kandidat der Kriegsgegner war, sagte er nie, dass er die Truppen aus dem Irak zurückziehen würde.
Während des Wahlkampfes in Indien vor zwei Jahren setzte sich die Kongresspartei für Wirtschaftsreformen ein. Im Fernsehen liefen exotische Bilder von kleinen Dörfern, in denen die Menschen auf Kamelen und Ochsenkarren zu den Wahllokalen strömten. Sobald sich der Sieg der Kongresspartei abzuzeichnen begann, verschwanden die Kamerateams aus den Dörfern und postierten sich vor der Börse in Bombay auf, wo die Kurse dramatisch gefallen waren. Unverzüglich erklärten die Wahlgewinner, dass sich in der Wirtschaftspolitik nichts ändern würde. Und die Privatisierungen gingen munter weiter.
G Als der bolivianische Präsident, Evo Morales, nach seinem Wahlsieg das tat, was er im Wahlkampf versprochen hatte, und Öl und Gas verstaatlichte, da nannte man dies einen ungeheuren, undemokratischen Skandal.
R. Es sind es ja keineswegs nur die schlechten Politiker, die sich dem Internationalismus unterwerfen. Auch jemand wie Nelson Mandela musste sich dem Internationalen Währungsfond und der Weltbank beugen. Genauso wie Indien, drohte man auch Südafrika, Brasilien und Bolivien mit Kapitalflucht. Wenn sie nicht tun, was man von ihnen verlangt, dann treibt man sie in den Ruin. Diese Länder müssen sich zusammenschließen, denn Demokratien fühlen sich im Gegensatz zum Kapital für ihre Bürger verantwortlich. Einzelstaaten sind dem grenzenlosen Kapital hilflos ausgeliefert, weil man sie jederzeit gegen einander ausspielen kann.
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G Welche Vorbilder hat die Jugend in Indien, in Lateinamerika und hier in den USA eigentlich? Welche Werte vermitteln wir ihnen, wenn sich Lügen wie beim Irakkrieg lohnen? Heute haben Lügen sehr, sehr lange Beine. Selbst bei angeblich demokratischen Wahlen wird gelogen. Die Menschen in der ganzen Welt, besonders die jungen, sind demokratiemüde geworden. Selbst in einer Musterdemokratie wie Chile betrug die Wahlbeteiligung nur 25%.
2 200 000 junge Menschen gingen dort nicht zur Wahl.
R Auch ich habe meinen Glauben an die Demokratie verloren.
G Demokratie ist zu einer leeren Hülle geworden. Aber gerade das sollte für herausfordern, eine neue Demokratie aufzubauen. Wir müssen die Jugend überzeugen, dass es dabei um etwas anderes geht, als um das, was ihnen die Supermacht vor exerziert. Nicht um kriegerische Landgewinne soll es gehen, nicht um die Vergewaltigung der Natur, um Hungerlöhne und tödliche Kälte. Eine schwierige Aufgabe, aber ich bin fest davon überzeugt, dass es auch ein demokratisches wirtschaftliches Wachstum gibt.
R In Ländern wie Indien, wo die Menschen abhängig sind vom Zugang zu Wasser, Ackerland und natürlichen Ressourcen, baut sich langsam Widerstand auf. Aber selbst gewaltfreier Widerstand wird gewaltsam unterdrückt.
Doch es gibt auch kleine Erfolge. Vor 6 oder 8 Jahren wurde ich noch mit einer Flut von Beleidigungen überschüttet, wenn ich die Privatisierung anprangerte. Heute besteht darüber öffentliches Einvernehmen. Deshalb müssen wir bei all unseren Anstrengungen unser Augenmerk nicht auf die Regierungen, sondern auf die Menschen richten, die sich nicht mehr alles gefallen lassen wollen.
Mit einem Zitat aus seinem Text "In dunklen Zeiten" mahnt uns Eduardo Galeano, klug und mutig zu sein und nie etwas zu tun, was unserem Gewissen widerspricht..
Arundhati Roys Text schildert die Schrecken eines Atomschlags und fordert uns auf, die Welt und die Menschen zu lieben und zu verstehen, aber nichts zu vergessen.
Writers and Resistance
Arundhati Roy & Eduardo Galeano
Town Hall, New York, NY 21 May 2006
Arundhati Roy is the celebrated author of The God of Small Things and winner of the prestigious Booker Prize. The New York Times calls her, "India's most impassioned critic of globalization and American influence." She is the winner of the Lannan Award for Cultural Freedom. Her latest books are The Checkbook & the Cruise Missile, with David Barsamian, and An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire.
Eduardo Galeano is the author of the classic The Open Veins of Latin America. Like Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, Galeano's Open Veins is prerequisite in the study of Latin American history from the bottom up. He is also the author of The Book of Embraces and the award-winning Memory of Fire trilogy. Both he and Arundhati Roy are recipients of the Cultural Freedom Prize from the Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, New Mexico
ROY: Iran is just Iraq with an N.
GALEANO: And the funny fact about this tragedy is that Iran won the elections in Iraq, so it would be quite complicated, won't it, nowadays, I think. I don't know. I'm not an expert in doing these sorts of things, but I would be quite doubtful about the results of it.
ROY: The thing is that every time something new comes, the old thing drops off the map. So we've all forgotten that Afghanistan is occupied, Iraq is occupied. These are countries that are occupied by the cruise missile. Then there are those that are occupied by the checkbook, or what they call public diplomacy. But 1 think one of the real problems that all of us together face is that there will never be any end to this chain of how many things we have to become experts on--instant experts on the history of Iraq, history of Iran, history of Afghanistan, but, really, what are our strategies of resistance? How do we really stop this? That is the real problem. How much do we want to stop it and how do we stop it? I think that's eventually what I want to actually talk to Eduardo about.
In Delhi there has been a very public event unfolding, which was obviously something that I've been involved in for many years, which was the building of this dam and the displacement of many hundreds of thousands of people. The details are not what I want to talk about but the fact that this was a nonviolent movement, which was perhaps the biggest nonviolent resistance movement in India, which was just mocked land set aside, as so many nonviolent resistance movements are being today. On the other hand, we have armed resistance which is being crushed as well. So what I wanted to ask Eduardo, if I may quote you, you say, "I have never killed anybody, it's true, but it's because I lacked the courage or the time, not because I lacked the desire."
GALEANO: Oh, yes, these confessions. But the fact is and Arundhati says that we share a lot of very important things, passions, hopes, doubts, fears. And we have been born in different countries, far away one from the other. But I think this is proof that this international order called globalization is not the only possible organization of the world. The world is organized like a story I once heard in France. It was a French friend of mine who told me years ago. He said it was a real story that really happened. It's about the big chef of the world calling the hen, the dog, the turkey, the duck and explaining to them, "I have called you because I want to ask you, with which sauce do you want to be eaten?" This is the freedom of choice that we have in this so-called global world. But there is another world, another world with a beautiful heritage of what was called in our time internationalism, which holds the memory of the beginning of time, when we were able to survive.
It's impossible to explain the fact that thousands or millions of years ago we were able to survive. We were so defenseless, the most defenseless invention of God. How could we survive? We survived because we were able to share our food and to be together, to defend together. And this heritage of solidarity is alive in the whole world and is explaining these identities we may find. It's true, we are twins. And there are lots of twins everywhere.
There was a character of a story I read in Spanish. He is a very brave man. He was a member of the Lincoln Brigade, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, made from men, and some women also, who were able to mix for the first time in U.S. history black soldiers and white soldiers. That was a first time. In the Second World War the order was established, and then blacks were sent to death and to the kitchen, to the kitchen and to death. But at that time in Spain, during the Lincoln Brigade experience, blacks and whites were fighting together. And they were not fighting for oil, big enterprises, they were not fighting in the name of the military industry. They were fighting because they believed in brotherhood. And that's it here also, not only in Latin America or in India. There are so many people still believing that it's true that we are so diverse and this is our best treasure, nuestro mejor tesoro, diversity, but that we are diverse and also we are one in the sense that we share so many horrors but also so many marvels.
ROY: I also think that the other thing is happening. Being involved with a lot of on-the-ground political activity in India, one of the things that terrifies me, sometimes I think about, is that is one always destined to fight on the side of people that have no space for you in their social imagination? If the people I'm with win this battle, I’ll be the first one that's strung up. Because it's really a very complicated process where, let's say, the first part of even my life personally was spent battling tradition as a woman in India, battling and hoping that I'm not going to end up marrying some man in the village I grew up in and getting beaten on weekends. To have fought that tradition, your own tradition, and escaped it only to come up against a modernity which is so horrendous is a very, very frightening thing. If you look at who are the people who are waging the war, whether it is in the name of Islam or in the name of former Stalinists or whatever, actually people are fighting but maybe the dreams that you are dreaming are not the same. So how do you negotiate that?
It's an extremely difficult job, I think, to figure out how to pick your way down this path, because. To give you a small example. Delhi now is like a police city. There is a little space that's designated for protests, and no one can go beyond the space or spill over without getting shot or arrested or whatever. [Same here] Same here. Yes, I saw the New York police yesterday lined up to beat someone up. I don't know who. While you're there with a particular group of people, let's say the people that are being displaced by the dam, this is not a political constituency, obviously; it's a constituency that's formed because they are being displaced by that reservoir. They may not agree with each other otherwise. Many of those same people will be--they are fighting the dam, but maybe they also belong to a right-wing Hindu party, maybe they've also been involved in what happened in Gujarat with the Muslims. So how do you break these things down? It is very difficult to know.
And then when power is against you, it invokes these divisions and it tries to divide things up. I was on the Iraq War Tribunal in June 2005 in Istanbul, which was a wonderful exercise and a wonderful experience, where you listen to testimony, and there was an analysis of the role of the media, of the role of all kinds of different people and governments and institutions in the prosecution of this war. At the end, the jury had a very difficult question to debate, which was that we said, "We support the right of the Iraqi people to resist the occupation." And some people wanted to say, "We support the right of the Iraqi people to resist the occupation as per the Geneva Conventions," which basically means that they don't have the right, as far as I can see. You have this brutal occupation. Any kind of nonviolent resistance has been completely mowed down. Newspapers have been closed, demonstrators have been shot. So how do you resist this? And who's going to tell you what the rules are? And, of course, brutal things are happening.
So I think one of our problems is how pristine do we want to be and how not. These are very knotty issues. Even as writers, to be involved in mass movements, as I am constantly, mass movements also have a sort of conservativeness to them. Someone like me is always on the edge of it, because you're not completely able to be that, and yet you support them.
GALEANO: Paradoxes. So many contradictions and paradoxes. But this is life. Life is contradictory. That's why life is moving
ROY: The thing is that at the same time Iraq remains occupied. We have to stop that. We have to tell them to get out. The soldiers have to stop fighting, the weapons have to stop going, the killing has to stop. And I think that that responsibility is very much on the people in this country, that you have to find a way of stopping it, because every day that it goes on is like a poison that's been injected into the bloodstream, not just of society but also of the rivers or--the accounts we keep are so terrible. It's only about people, isn't it? The Lancet journal, 100,000 Iraqis and 2,000 Americans or whatever. But what about the animals? What about the rivers? What about been the absolute desecration that is taking place? Even we are forced into a place where our own accounts are skewed. We don't take into account the earth or the water or the mountains. It's almost ludicrous if you begin to mention it, because the rest of the horrors are so huge.
GALEANO: I think we should be conscious that perhaps writing and our profession, our--
GALEANO: --life, passion, passion of writing has something to do with it in the sense that I think we are trying to integrate all these parts of a disintegrated world. And it's very difficult to do it, of course. For instance, I don't know, perhaps in India you are more lucky than in Latin America. But, generally speaking, ecology is not a popular cause. People don't identify themselves with ecology at all. They want to get jobs. In Uruguay, for instance, we have so many, thousands and thousands, of jobless people. So they prefer to die from contamination than to die from hunger. And I'm now, for instance, fighting in Uruguay with a very small group of people against the paper plants. We are quite lonely. I will be denounced as a traitor to my country, traidor de la patria, because even our progressive government is receiving this as the best possible news, Investments, they create jobs. And they are ruining the country, certainly. We are left dry land, poison air, agua podrida, rotten water. And it's very difficult to speak and convince people that will begin to say, "We need to work." So it's not easy. It's a very difficult job.
The same thing about female rights, women's rights. And the same thing about a lot of other issues, because this is a very difficult world. I was hearing what you said recently about the war and how we should fight against the war, perhaps trying even to explain to the makers of war that walls and wars, there are a lot of wars in the world nowadays. Some of them are mute wars because nobody speaks about these wars. But wars and walls are factories for terrorists: they are creating millions of terrorists. But then I realized that it was very stupid to tell this to the owners of our planet, because they build walls and they make wars because they need terrorists as an alibi for their big, huge, giant military machine. Otherwise, how can you explain the criminal fact, the scandal, that this world is expending $2,600,000,000 millions of dollars each day in the military industrial complex. How can you explain it without demons, without devils, without enemies? They have a shortage of enemies. They need enemies. They will begin publishing ads in the newspapers, "We need enemies," in the Employment section. Because this machine needs justification, otherwise it would be impossible to sustain it.
And then, they are saying, for instance, lraq is creating a lot of terrorists. But this is the fuel they need, the oil they need to go on. They have also some professionals devils like bin Laden, who, unfortunately, is a bureaucrat of fear. He works creating fear, always ready, like the Boy Scouts. Each time they need him, he is there saying, "I'm going to eat all children." He's a professional. It's very complicated. It's quite a complicated subject.
ROY: In terms of what is being thought of now, of course, one part of it is the military-industrial complex and the fact that now the manufacture of weapons has outstripped the need for war, so you need to have wars in order to use the weapons and so on. But also I think what has happened is a hypercapitalism. It's a machine that's gone completely hysterical in terms of how it needs to generate profit. It can't stop itself. And so you have the whole concept now of full-spectrum dominance, where in the papers of the CIA and so on they've already said that this kind of neoliberal regime is going to create levels of inequality that can only now be controlled if you weaponize space. Obviously, the way it's happening in the kind of subcontracting of the people who are going to oversee this so-called war is not just the American government but its cohorts, like India now. And I think it is very interesting to read The Open Veins of Latin America now, because what is happening in India now is what happened to Latin America in the 1970s.
GALEANO: It's another good prophecy. 1 think, really, Arundhati, that it's difficult to build democracy inside one country in a world which is not democratic at all. This world is clearly not democratic. It's preaching but not practicing democracy. It's not only military occupation, of course, which is the most tragic expression of this crazy world as it is, but also other forms of occupation. The supergovernment that's governing governments, especially in the south of the world. All these big scandals about the rise of crime, delinquency, the streets, and this worldwide hysteria about safety. Okay, they would blame young people especially, young delinquents and poor people, of course, and blacks. But I would ask, who are the models nowadays? For instance, these governments, supergovernments, ubergovenments who are telling us what we can do and what we cannot do and what we should do, they are deciding everything in the south of the world, even the speed of the flight of the flies, la velocidad del vuelo de las moscas. Deciding absolutely everything. And you may see them. The International Monetary Fund is managed by five countries. It's called international, but it belongs especially to one country, which has the right of veto--I don't remember the name of the country--and to four other countries. And the World Bank, another superinstitution occupying countries, not in the military way.
ROY: I think what's interesting is that in the 1970s and a little earlier, the American government was busy toppling democracies because democracies were real threats in Latin America and so on. Now they've learned how to hollow out democracy and empty it of meaning. So even in America, when you have Bush and Kerry running against each other, it's like choosing brands of washing soap. Whether you buy this brand or that brand, they're both owned by Procter & Gamble or whatever. So it's really an incredible system where they've hollowed it out. I know that the antiwar movement, for example, did support Kerry in the election. But he wasn't saying he was going to pull out the troops, so what did it mean?
When the elections happened in India two years ago, the Congress Party campaigned basically against the economic reforms. And you had television cameras in all these remote villages filming this great democracy and people coming on camels and bullock carts--it was all very exotic--to vote. The minute it became clear that the Congress was going to win the elections, those cameras were rushed out of the villages and outside the Bombay Stock Exchange. The stock market fell. And before you even knew who was going to be the prime minister, they had to come out and say, "'No, we are riot going to change the privatization regime. No, we are not going to change anything." And it races on.
GALEANO: So everything is possible and will be applauded, but as soon as you do exactly the opposite of what you have promised, this divorce between words and facts, that is working against the prestige of language and the prestige of democracy. You have seen in Latin America the scandal now, big scandal, because Evo Morales nationalized the oil and the gas. Terrible, terrible. The world exploded. Why, Arundhati, is this a scandal? Because he committed an unforgivable sin. He did exactly what he had promised to do. This is not democratic.
ROY: But I think the interesting thing here is that if you look at what we were talking about, internationalism, why is it eventually--forget the wicked politicians. Look at even somebody like Nelson Mandela. What did he have to do? He became the hero of the anti-Apartheid struggle, but the minute he came to power he had to bow down to the IMF and the World Bank. Why did it happen? Not because he's personally a bad person. But whether it's India or whether it's South Africa or whether it's Brazil or whether it's Bolivia, there is this threat of capital flight. "If you do this, we're going to pull out. Your economy is going to collapse."
So the internationalism has to come from these countries joining up, because one of the good things about democracy for the establishment is once again democracy is within national borders, whereas capital is outside it. So you have a free flow of capital, but obviously you have policed borders, nuclear-manned borders now. So unless there is a linking up of countries of the south, you're always under threat. The minute you take power, you're under threat: There will be capital flight. So it is not worth just saying these are bad people, because there is a system in place that's causing this to happen.
GALEANO: And the problem is that for the youth and new generations coming, the entire world, in India and Latin America, here in the States, everywhere, what are the models of success? What are the images of virtue in a world that is rewarding lies, for instance, lies about the Iraqi war? My poor mother used to say that lies have short legs, but it's not true at all. Lies have very, very long legs, and they run faster and faster, faster than the liars, because when the liars say, "No, it was an error, a mistake," nobody, pays may attention to it, like in Iraq. Also in the so-called democratic elections in most countries, we are trained to accept the fact that a politician is somebody clever enough to lie as if he were telling the truth.
And it happens that there is now a crisis of faith in democracy all over the world, but especially among young people. For instance, even sort of a model of democracy like Chile in the recent election, which had, I think, a very good result, which was the election of a woman--it's about time that we notice that half of all of us are women. This so-called minority. I don't know how half of the population can be a minority. But I'm not strong in math, en matem6tica. Perhaps that is why. So the result was good. But I was very anguished by the result also, because in Chile, three of each four young people didn't vote, 75 percent. Two million two hundred thousand people didn't vote, all of them young.
ROY: But the point is, when you have Tide and Ivory Snow, then what's the point of voting? I also suffer from a crisis in faith in democracy. And I feel that it's very, very important to have a crisis in faith in democracy, because democracy is not democracy anymore.
GALEANO: Democracy should be democracy. The problem is that democracy is being betrayed by the professionals.
ROY: It's just become the ceremony of democracy, elections. That's it.
GALEANO: Like a mass without God.
ROY: It is a meaningless ceremony.
GALEANO: But this is a challenge. We should build a new democracy. But there you have the problem of models and the superpowers who are really nowadays ruling countries even in countries where democracy is more or less clean or possible. But if you have these superpowers imposing an international model which kidnaps countries, rapes nature, strangles salaries, and kills everything it touches, then how should you convince young people that they should follow a different track? They are the models of success. So it's really a problem for all of us who really believe-I strongly believe in the necessity of reopening growth toward a real democracy, but it's quite difficult.
ROY: Say, in a country like India, where actually the mass of people do live on natural resources and their fates are not tied up in jobs but in access to water and access to land and access to natural resources, there is a sense in which the mass of people completely and deeply understand that this is the wrong way to go. So there is a big resistance building. The only trouble is that that resistance is being mowed down, it's being beaten down. Whether it's nonviolent or whether it's an armed struggle, in both cases it's been desecrated.
But the victory so far is that I remember even seven or eight years ago when I was writing about privatization, it would just be a slew of insults in reply. But now the realization is there. How you fight the war remains. One of the things I really believe in is not the politics of government that should be addressed first, but for us the politics of opposition, the politics of being a really difficult people that refuses to let this be done to us.
GALEANO: I wrote a text. Strangely enough, it was closely linked to your last words. I don't believe in recipes, recetas, for social struggles or even trying to define, if it would be possible to define, the possible role of writers or these sorts of things, but I wrote some suggestions. "In dark times," I wrote, "let's be skillful enough to learn how to fly in the darkness like bats. Let's be healthy enough to vomit the lies we are obliged to swallow each day. Let's be brave enough to have the courage to be alone and brave enough to choose the risk of being together, because teeth have no use out of the mouth and fingers make no sense without hands. Let's be experienced enough to know that we may be compatriots and contemporaries of all who have a will of beauty and a will of justice no matter where they were born or when they lived, because we don't believe in the borders of maps or time. Let’s be stubborn enough to go on believing, against all evidence, that the human condition is worth the trouble, because we are badly done, quite wrong, but we are still unfinished. Let's be crazy enough to be called crazy, like the Argentinian Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, the locas, the nuts, who refused to forget in times of obligatory amnesia. And let's be clever enough m be disobedient when we receive orders in contradiction with our conscience or against common sense.
ROY: I'm going to also read a little bit from an essay, (The End of Imagination) I wrote about India's nuclear tests in 1998. But before I do that, the last time I was in New York, I was invited to be on The Charlie Rose Show. So when I went there, in the studio he sat me down and said--I could tell that it was going to be a very aggressive interview. So he said, “Arundhati, do you believe that India should have nuclear weapons?" So I said, "I don't believe that anyone should have nuclear weapons. I don't think India should have nuclear weapons, I don't think the U.S. should have nuclear weapons, and I don't think Israel should have nuclear weapons." He said, "That's not what I asked you. I said, do you believe that India should have nuclear weapons?" So I said, "Look, I don't think India should have nuclear weapons, and I don't think the U.S. should have nuclear weapons, and I don't think Israel"--he said, "Will you answer the question? Should India have nuclear weapons?" So I said, "I don't think India should have nuclear weapons, and I don't think"--and then I said, "Look, can you explain to me why you're being so aggressive? I've answered your question." At which point something collapsed and he just looked stricken and said, "But can you tell me what you think about world poverty?" or something. Anyway, the interview was never telecast.
But this was written in 1998. It really marked a change in what happened or the part that India has taken very, very seriously. Now that has been injected into its veins: the militarism, the nationalism, the communalism. It's all there, regardless of what government comes or goes.
"The desert shook,' the Government of India informed us, its people. 'The whole mountain turned white,' the Government of Pakistan replied.
By afternoon the wind had fallen silent over Pokhran. At 3:45 p.m. the timer detonated the three devices. Around 200 to 300 metres deep in the earth the heat generated was equivalent to a million degrees centigrade, the temperature of the sun.
Instantly, rocks weighing a thousand tons, a mini-mountain underground, vaporized.., shockwaves from the blast began to lift a mound of earth the size of a football field by several meters. One scientist on seeing it said, 'I can now believe stories of Lord Krishna lifting a hill.' This was a quote from India Today.
May 1998, it will go down in history books, provided, of course, we have history books to go down in. Provided, of course, we have a future. "There is nothing new or original left to be said about nuclear weapons. And there can be nothing more humiliating for a writer of fiction to have to do than to restate a case that has, over the years, already been made by other people in other parts of the world, and made passionately, eloquently, and knowledgeably.
I am prepared to grovel, to humiliate myself abjectly, because in the circumstances silence would be indefensible. So those of you who are willing, let's pick our parts, put on these discarded costumes, and speak our secondhand lines in this sad, secondhand play. But let's not forget that the stakes we're playing for are huge. Our fatigue and our shame could mean the end of us. The end of our children and our children's children. Of everything we love. We have to reach within ourselves and find the strength to think. To fight.
"If only, if only, nuclear war was just another kind of war. If only it was about the usual things, nations and territories, gods and histories. If only nuclear war was the kind of war in which countries battle countries and men battle men. But it isn't. If there is nuclear war, our foes will not be China or America or even each other. Our foe will be the earth herself. The very elements--the sky, the air, the land, the wind and water--will all turn against us, Their wrath will be terrible. Our cities and forests, our fields and villages will burn for days. Rivers will turn to poison. The air will become fire. The wind will spread the flames. When everything there is to bum has burned... Radioactive fallout will seep through the earth and contaminate groundwater. Most living things, animal and vegetable, fish and fowl, will die... What shall we do then, those of us who are still alive, burned and blind and bald and ill, carrying the cancerous carcasses of our children in our arms, where shall we go? What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we breathe?
"In early May 1998, before the bomb, I left home for three weeks. In New York I met a friend of mine whom I have always loved for, among other things, her ability to combine deep affection with a frankness bordering on savageness. "I've been thinking about you," she said, "about The God of Small Things, what's in it, what's over it, under it, around it, above it." She fell silent for a while. I was uneasy and not at all sure that I wanted to heal" the rest of what she had to say. She, however, was sure that she was going to say it.
"In this last year, less than a year actually, you've had too much of everything-fame, money, prizes, adulation, criticism, condemnation, ridicule, love, hate, anger, envy, generosity everything. In some ways it's a perfect story. Perfectly baroque in its excess. The trouble is that it has, or can have, only one perfect ending." Her eyes were on me, bright with a slanting, probing brilliance. She knew that I knew what she was going to say. She was going to say that nothing that happened to me in the future could ever match the buzz of this. That the whole of the rest of my life was going to be vaguely dissatisfying. And, therefore, the only perfect ending to the story would be death, my death.
'"You've lived too long in New York,' I told her. 'There are other worlds. Other kinds of dreams. Dreams in which failure is feasible. Honourable. Sometimes even worth striving for. Worlds in which recognition is not the only barometer of brilliance or human worth. There are plenty of warriors that I know and love, people far more valuable than myself, who go to war each day knowing in advance that they will fail. True, they are less 'successful' in the most vulgar sense of the word, but by no means less fulfilled. 'The only dream worth having,' I told her, 'is to dream that you live while you're alive and die only when you're dead.' Which means exactly what? I tried to explain but didn't do a very good job of it. Sometimes I need to write to think.
"So I wrote it down for her on a paper napkin. And this is what I wrote. 'To love, to be loved, to never forget your own insignificance, to never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.'" Thank you.
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Outro music- Nusrat Fateh All Khan "Dheyar-e ishq main"
Other AR Arundhati Roy programs A Writer's Place in Politics
The God of Small Things Globalization and Terrorism
The New Delhi Interviews
The LA Interviews
Public Power in the Age of Empire Seize the Time!
The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile In Conversation with Howard Zinn
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