Come September

Come September

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September 15, 2007

The following video is a speech delivered by Arundhati Roy on September 18, 2002 at the Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Among many other topics, Arundhati talks about the US war on terror, the illusions of contemporary society, the growing chasm between the rich and the poor, and the centuries-old struggles of the people.

If you’d like, you can read a transcript of Come September online….Here’s an excerpt:

Close to one year after the War Against Terror was officially flagged off in the ruins of Afghanistan, in country after country, freedoms are being curtailed in the name of protecting freedom, civil liberties are being suspended in the name of protecting democracy. All kinds of dissent is being defined as ‘terrorism’. All kinds of laws are being passed to deal with it. Osama Bin Laden seems to have vanished into thin air. Mullah Omar is said to have made his escape on a motor-bike (They could have sent Tin-Tin after him). The Taliban may have disappeared, but their spirit, and their system of summary justice, is surfacing in the unlikeliest of places. In India, in Pakistan, in Nigeria, in America, in all the Central Asian Republics run by all manner of despots, and of course in Afghanistan under the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance.

Meanwhile, down at the Mall there’s a mid-season sale. Everything’s discounted – oceans, rivers, oil, gene pools, fig wasps, flowers, childhoods, aluminum factories, phone companies, wisdom, wilderness, civil rights, ecosystems, air – all 4,600 million years of evolution. It’s packed, sealed, tagged, valued and available off the rack. (No returns). As for justice – I’m told it’s on offer too. You can get the best that money can buy.

Donald Rumsfeld said that his mission in the War Against Terror was to persuade the world that Americans must be allowed to continue their way of life. When the maddened King stamps his foot, slaves tremble in their quarters. So, standing here today, it’s hard for me to say this, but ‘The American Way of Life’ is simply not sustainable. Because it doesn’t acknowledge that there is a world beyond America.

Fortunately, power has a shelf-life. When the time comes, maybe this mighty empire will, like others before it, overreach itself and implode from within. It looks as though structural cracks have already appeared. As the War Against Terror casts its net wider and wider, America’s corporate heart is haemorrhaging. For all the endless empty chatter about democracy, today the world is run by three of the most secretive institutions in the world: the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organisation, all three of which, in turn, are dominated by the U.S. Their decisions are made in secret. The people who head them are appointed behind closed doors. Nobody really knows anything about them, their politics, their beliefs, their intentions. Nobody elected them. Nobody said they could make decisions on our behalf. A world run by a handful of greedy bankers and CEOs who nobody elected can’t possibly last.

Soviet-style communism failed, not because it was intrinsically evil but because it was flawed. It allowed too few people to usurp too much power. Twenty-first century market-capitalism, American-style, will fail for the same reasons. Both are edifices constructed by human intelligence, undone by human nature.

Come September

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