Capitalism: A Ghost Story

Capitalism: A Ghost Story

by Arundhati Roy


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From the poisoned rivers, barren wells, and clear-cut forests, to the hundreds of thousands of farmers who have committed suicide to escape punishing debt, to the hundreds of millions of people who live on less than two dollars a day, there are ghosts nearly everywhere you look in India. India is a nation of 1.2 billion, but the country’s 100 richest people own assets equivalent to one-fourth of India’s gross domestic product.

Capitalism: A Ghost Story examines the dark side of democracy in contemporary India, and shows how the demands of globalized capitalism has subjugated billions of people to the highest and most intense forms of racism and exploitation.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Part political journalism, part polemic, Roy's (Walking with the Comrades) book begins with Karl Marx's quip that capitalism is like a sorcerer's apprentice, conjuring forces too strong for it to control. She labels these apprentices as America's multinational corporations and the various organizations that act as tentacles, disrupting the cultures, economies, and governments of the world. Prominent in the list are endowed foundations like those started by Ford and Rockefeller, which transformed the fortunes of the US's most successful magnates into political influence by funding the beginnings of the U.N., the CIA, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Research and Development (RAND) Corporation. Roy traces the links between these groups and the co-optation of social science research, using NGOs to soften the politics of radical social movements in the face of IMF-imposed structural adjustment, and the separation of feminist and class analysis in mainstream political discussions. Roy's central concern is the effect on her own country, and she shows how Indian politics have taken on the same model, leading to the ghosts of her book's title: 250,000 farmers have committed suicide, 800 million impoverished and dispossessed Indians, environmental destruction, colonial-like rule in Kashmir, and brutal treatment of activists and journalists. In this dark tale, Roy gives rays of hope that illuminate cracks in the nightmare she evokes. (Apr.)

From the Publisher

Capitalism feels like straight reportage from the front lines of a war. In every part of the world, the rich few keep getting richer on the backs of a population that continues to work harder and grow poorer for it. And Roy keeps sending these furious, intelligent bulletins to alert us to what's going on. More people than ever are listening to her." —The Stranger

Praise for Arundhati Roy's Field Notes on Democracy:

"Gorgeously wrought . . . pitch-perfect prose. . . . In language of terrible beauty, she takes India's everyday tragedies and reminds us to be outraged all over again." Time

"In her searing account, Roy asks whether our shriveled forms of democracy will be 'the endgame of the human race'—and shows vividly why this is a prospect not to be lightly dismissed." —Noam Chomsky

“The scale of what Roy surveys is staggering. Her pointed indictment is devastating.” —The New York Times Book Review

“An electrifying political essayist... So fluent is her prose, so keen her understanding of global politics, and so resonant her objections to nuclear weapons, assaults against the environment, and the endless suffering of the poor that her essays are as uplifting as they are galvanizing.” —Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

A vehement broadside against capitalism in general and American cultural imperialism in particular, focusing on the effects on the novelist's native India. After winning international raves and the prestigious Booker Prize for her debut novel (The God of Small Things, 1997), Roy (Walking with the Comrades, 2011, etc.) has become an increasingly political, polarizing and controversial writer, even charged with sedition in her homeland. "Day after day, on primetime news, I was being called a traitor, a white-collar terrorist, and several other names reserved for insubordinate women," she writes. She also recognizes that, as someone "who lives off royalties from corporate publishing houses," she risks biting the hand that feeds her. But her teeth are sharp, and her bite is fierce, as she focuses on how American corporate values and foundation philanthropy have had an insidious effect around the globe, resulting in a wider gap between the wealthy few and the impoverished masses. The influence extends from economics to education to arts and culture, as scholars in line with American values get funded and others see courses cancelled, while foundation support has had the same moderating effect elsewhere that it did in America, where it marginalized black militancy in favor of nonviolence. "Armed with their billions, these NGOs have waded into the world, turning potential revolutionaries into salaried activists, funding artists, intellectuals and filmmakers, gently luring them away from radical confrontation." Like the Occupy movement, which Roy strongly supports, she sees class warfare as a political necessity that recognizes that systems of capitalist democracy require more than reform. Her accounts of political repression are vivid and moving, but her analysis would require more depth for her pontification to convert those who don't already agree with it. Less a reasoned argument than an impassioned manifesto.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608463855
Publisher: Haymarket Books
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Pages: 136
Sales rank: 285,467
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.30(d)

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