Sunday, March 13, 2005

Arundhati Roy: Instant Mix, Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free)

I read this in Arundhati Roy's latest collection An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire. This is a brilliant speech that all American's should hear and take the time to reflect upon. I would encourage you to read the text first before you watch the video of the speech (to absorb the word free of the distractions of the audience)--but either way it is important that we take the time to listen to these words.
As Roy states:

The battle to reclaim democracy is going to be a difficult one. Our freedoms were not granted to us by any governments. They were wrested from them by us. And once we surrender them, the battle to retrieve them is called a revolution. It is a battle that must range across continents and countries. It must not acknowledge national boundaries but, if it is to succeed, it has to begin here. In America. The only institution more powerful than the U.S. government is American civil society. The rest of us are subjects of slave nations. We are by no means powerless, but you have the power of proximity. You have access to the Imperial Palace and the Emperor's chambers. Empire's conquests are being carried out in your name, and you have the right to refuse. You could refuse to fight. Refuse to move those missiles from the warehouse to the dock. Refuse to wave that flag. Refuse the victory parade.

You have a rich tradition of resistance. You need only read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States to remind yourself of this.

Hundreds of thousands of you have survived the relentless propaganda you have been subjected to, and are actively fighting your own government. In the ultra-patriotic climate that prevails in the United States, that's as brave as any Iraqi or Afghan or Palestinian fighting for his or her homeland.

If you join the battle, not in your hundreds of thousands, but in your millions, you will be greeted joyously by the rest of the world. And you will see how beautiful it is to be gentle instead of brutal, safe instead of scared. Befriended instead of isolated. Loved instead of hated.

I hate to disagree with your president. Yours is by no means a great nation. But you could be a great people.

History is giving you the chance.

Seize the time.

Click on the this link to access more essays/lectures by Arundhati Roy.

Her first novel The God of Small Things catapulted her to worldwide fame and notoriety.

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