Sunday, 11 September 2011

The dictatorship of the middle class- Arundhati Roy

The Indian writer Arundhati Roy in conversation with Iris Radisch about capitalism, seduction, and the happiness of asceticism...

Die Schriftstellerin Arundhati Roy wurde 1959 in Südindien geboren. Ihr Roman "Der Gott der kleinen Dinge" machte sie 1997 weltberühmt.
The novelist Arundhati Roy was born in 1959 in southern India. Ihr Roman "Der Gott der kleinen Dinge" machte sie 1997 weltberühmt. Her novel "The God of Small Things" made her famous in 1997.

TIME: Since the aircraft at the 11th September  has brought down the Twin Towers, there is a hole in the world, which is now rather become larger and slower. Was 11 September, the beginning of the end of the capitalist West?

Arundhati Roy: It was the beginning of the downfall of the American Empire, which at the moment is progressing faster and faster. Empires have always risen and fallen. But never before has the world culturally and economically linked so closely that the fall of an empire all other terrain depression. All our ideas of what belongs to a civilized life, have become questionable. 

TIME: Exceeds the magnitude of the current crisis, what happened to our parents and grandparents, have taken place in their life time, two world wars? 

Roy: These generations have paid a high price in Europe But their world stretched even on a clear conceptual field. It was about fascism, socialism or democracy. We are already beyond this field. We no longer know what our dreams and what we mean by happiness. 

TIME: Ten years ago you wrote a now famous essay, is compared to the United States with al-Qaida and called Bush and bin Laden as a double. 

Roy: They were both megalomaniacs. Both were convinced that the world must be so, as they consider this appropriate. But of course you can a man who has the whole world under control, compare with anybody. One can only imagine that both of them, they were equally powerful, and equally destructive were. 

TIME: You were writing this essay is, ten years later again? 

Roy: I would not change him. But expanding. Meanwhile, Afghanistan was attacked, Iraq was attacked. Bush's response to 9 / 11 has killed many people did not even know that there is something like the World Trade Center was. All this has led to the crisis in which we live now. 

TIME: What were your first feelings when you saw the towers fall?

Roy: Most people in my part of the world were not as shocked as the people in the West. We have already seen so much misery, so much violence. We do not have this idea of ​​a perfect life that cannot be destroyed
TIME: What has changed in the ten years after 9 / 11 in your life. Is the crisis of capitalism arrived in your life?
Roy: 1997 was published my novel The God of Small Things , and I was this Indian middle class heroine. Then I began my political essays to write, and the same people began to hate me. In the West went through the still, as long as I only criticized the operations in India. When I wrote my essay Infinite Justice on America, I realized that I advanced in foreign territory. But it needed to be. It was totally clear that Bush was behind this talk about the endless war between good and evil, a whole industry of weapons and money.

TIME: How do you see the West, ten years after 9 / 11 ?

Roy: democracy and free markets are merged into a single predator, the fantasy only to be fodder, the profit increase, circles. It is even claimed that the Western world, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is to defend the western lifestyle. This way of life that there is defended with weapons, but it is who causes the downfall of the Western Empire.

TIME: If there is something on which the West is rightly proud of, then it is his lifestyle, its culture of freedom and individualism.

Roy: Of course there are Western values ​​are worth defending. The question is at what price. Der The West does not think in context. He thinks in separate departments. The war on terror is a resort. The economy to another. Democracy is a third. But you have to see it all together. We do all the good work and make our department then surprised to find that without bees that pollinate the flowers do not survive.

TIME: What is your prognosis, capitalism has a future?

Roy: The future? This will be wars of the elites against the poor. This is the real conflict at issue today. We have a global elite that is culturally and economically linked very well and it only comes to their own survival.

TIME: Who is this elite?

Roy: In Europe, the Americas, China, in India there is an elite fighting only downward. It is about domination by realpolitik to energy. Where does China's raw materials to feed its growth machine ever? It will have to fight wars for it. Where does India's raw materials? At the moment of its poorest people in the woods. The old argument that the destruction of the natural foundations of life was for the good of the country and several in the end the prosperity of all, has ruined. All these are just empty phrases of the ruling middle class, the world's best elite linked.

TIME: Are we living in a dictatorship of the middle class?

Roy: Yes. There is a middle-class totalitarianism. This can be shown in many indications. The economic and cultural codes in India have changed dramatically in the last twenty years. An example is the Bollywood film. the Bollywood film we see no more poor people. In the seventies and eighties played Amitab Bachchan the great Bollywood star, the Slumkönige, the coolies, the little man fighting against the system. In the nineties, we see the same man to live only in villas and fly around in helicopters.

TIME: The West, what you call middle class is not totalitarianism, has been imposed. It was created in free societies and apparently corresponds to the wishes of the majority.

Roy: A few years ago it still looked as if the Indian middle class here, and trample everything to transform the country into a shopping mall. But that is changing. People do not want it anymore.

TIME: Who will rise up in the western world against the conspiracy of the middle class? With us almost every part of the middle class.

Roy: Because the work is done in China or India.

TIME: Will the world eventually be middle class?

Roy: We cannot even imagine. It will allow the middle class never to live at the expense of others. Someone is always out.

TIME: Who should think about alternatives in a homogenous society? Can the all-powerful middle class alternatives to develop an economic model from which they all benefited in particular still?

Roy: No, they cannot. She is proud to be placed on the middle class itself, if challenged, will not by themselves but by the people in the jungle, out in the villages, where everything is taken.

TIME : Where do you want to know that people in the jungle not too happy to climb into the middle class and a nice Mercedes-Benz take?

Roy: You want to be left alone and live in the forest.

TIME: Are you so sure?

Roy: That they say. You do not want a life with bodyguards and police protection.

TIME: But maybe with a dishwasher and conditioners?

Roy: I do not think that everyone wants. What everyone needs is clean water and minimal health care, access to medicines. Was What India so fascinating is that there are very many people, even in the middle class who want to live a life of excess without these things. I could give away everything. As long as I only have a safe place to live where I can, I'm satisfied.

TIME: In Europe, thinks only a small, albeit growing educated elite Sun. Is self-discipline and renunciation one solution to the crisis of unbridled capitalism?

Roy: There is a possibility. In India, this is not an elitist project. It comes from an ascetic tradition, including some from the Sufism. There are millions of ordinary people in India, the secrets of a sustainable lifestyle have never been lost.

TIME: Can you tell us those secrets?

Roy: It is the ability to say: Enough. I've had enough. I no longer need. It is the idea of ​​elemental luck, as I have learned from the natives in the jungle.

TIME: If we want to curb the excesses of capitalism, as we reflect on our true needs, we act us a new problem. We need to distinguish true from false needs. How will that work?

Roy: You could. When I was growing up in Kerala in the village, I ate what grew there. It was wonderful food. It was lucky in that food that was not flown around the world to land on my plate. We did not have to deal with the question of whether we would rather eat Italian or Chinese. That was not in our imagination. There were no restaurants, no shops. There was a lot of loneliness, a lot of silence. As a child I had hours and hours on a river. But it was not a primitive life. We had books.

TIME: How can I transfer such a concept of life in modern societies?

Roy: In Europe and in America it was originally the distinction between what you need and what you wish for. This ability to differentiate is lost. Now you need a Mercedes-Benz. You're bombarded with these stimuli, it is a real brainwashing that takes place in the West.

TIME: It is long ago that a leftist critique of culture in Europe has dared to speak of true and false consciousness. Today, no one makes more. Do not you know these scruples?

Roy: Yes. At the moment, as the old style of thinking "Here is a pair of shoes that will last forever" was replaced "by the promise here is a pair of shoes that makes you a great feeling," the false consciousness has come into the world .

TIME: And you say that the guy was covered with his great shoe feeling brainwashed?

Roy: From the outside you see this very clearly.

TIME: But we're all mature and intelligent Democrats consumers.

Roy: And they want to mature Democrats run every BMW and eat mangoes from India, lamb meat from Australia and kiwis from Brazil. Okay. (Vehemently) I'm not interested in explaining these intelligent Europeans, what are their real needs. What I do is to stand by my people here and say we do not leave us for your needs from our homes, drive them from our country. I do not care if every family needs two cars in Europe. It does no good if I say that they do not need. I care the people who are struggling to have one meal a day.

TIME: You do not want to convert the West?

Roy: Even long time. The moralizing is pointless. What am I supposed to convince people not to shop? The western world will change but only if those who stand with their backs to the wall to force this change.

TIME: How do you protect yourself from the temptations of capitalism?

Roy: It is a struggle that everyone needs to unregister with itself. I made my money and I bought this apartment in Delhi, in which we sit here. You have to find a balance.

TIME: And how did you find this balance?

Roy: You can find them and they lose, they will lose it again and again. That's life. It is not about to sacrifice wealth and then to be unhappy. The point is that prosperity is not only to want. All the money I earn with my books, is also there to share it, pass it on. I do not tack on that money. My friends always say: We have become rich. For me it is a common possession.

TIME: greed has something to do with fear of life, protects it, it calms down.

Roy: My mother has been with me on the way: You have to be independent, you cannot give away anything, but you also do not need everything you have. I know what I need. Den I give the rest away.

TIME: What is happiness for you?

Roy: That is changing. Be open. Be a part of the wind that blows through the world. And then withdraw again. The thrills. And surprise yourself. Be curious and do not know what will happen tomorrow.

TIME: live wild and dangerous, that's a popular saying in the German Bohemians.

Roy: Let's put it this way: is happiness, when you live without skin. If you are not closed. I live here in a nice area of ​​Delhi, but if you drive at night through the streets of the city, you will not believe what you see. The sidewalks are filled with people who lie there. It is difficult to sustain that. Und And it's easy to end up there even if you do not live in any social and family safety nets. But if you live in these networks, it does not have the freedom of which I speak.

TIME: Is this the Indian savagery, you often boast of?

Roy: India consists of many countries and lives in different centuries. It still has many utterly magical places. Just two minutes from my home there is a neighborhood where one cannot imagine once again that the modern world still exists. This diversity should be straightened out through the opening to Western markets. Everyone should want the same thing.

TIME: If you could stop that at all yet, have you ever said, then certainly not in air-conditioned conference rooms or in big cities. Where should the problems of modern societies are usually negotiated?

Roy: The places where policy is made ​​are, market places, to include only those financial interests. People sit here with the sole idea of ​​climate change, trade in emission allowances is.

TIME: If the politicians cannot solve our problems, then who?

Roy: The war over resources is forcing us to find alternatives. It is vitally important to work for a non-capitalist society. I have a feeling that everything I have fought in recent years, is now out there yet. All that we are talking about for years, is finally in every newspaper.

TIME: You are now 52 years old. What will be your future?

Roy: I see my mother, she is 74 years old, a wild and crazy person who now has the best time of their lives. She enjoys herself. She runs her own school. She could come out of a Fellini movie. She is so free from everything. I am sure that I get to her.


 This article has been translated from a Dutch website; any grammatical mistakes are solely due to the translation of the article

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