After Reading a 2002 Book by Arundhati Roy

What is happening to our world is almost too colossal for human comprehension to contain. But it is a terrible, terrible thing. To contemplate its girth and circumference, to attempt to define it, to try and fight it all at once, is impossible. The only way to combat it is by fighting specific wars in specific ways. A good place to begin would be the Narmada Valley. In the present circumstances, the only thing in the world worth globalizing, is dissent.

–Arundhati Roy, Power Politics, 86


What Roy Teaches Me:

You have to do research, as the neo-liberal devil is in the details.

You have to walk with people struggling and accompany and risk with them.

You have to incarnate your freedoms, lest they fall into rhetoric that is debased from desuetude.

You have to ask the fundamental questions—who benefits, who pays, who get marginalized?

You have to be SMART, with goals and targets, and relentlessness.

You can’t be sentimental about the spiritual jewels of India when globalization is ripping it to shreds.

You have to keep in mind the perduring relevance of Dom Helder’s analysis—institutionalized injustice, revolt, repression.

You have to help others demystify and unmask power, the Democrats, the Oval Office, the “awesome nobility of our intentions.” (Thanks for encouraging me to read Chomsky!)

You have to localize dissent as a contribution to planetary resistance.

Like in the past, you still have to go to the places that scare you and learn some courage thereby.

You have to become skilled in touching a nerve but this requires skillful means on the local scene.

What Roy has that my law profs  didn’t—a willingness to walk with, listen to and learn from the subalterns, the Maoists.

You have to have specific writing projects and specific engaging projects, may they inter-are.

You have to politicize the eight-point program—imagine Dang Thuy Tram doing same for Tiep Hien precepts.

You have to sadhana your political activity—the 3 Cs, the 3 Ds, and the 3 Ss.

You have to know to whom you are communicating, and why.

You have to take sides in as non-dualistically a way as creatively possible.


–a note from Tanya Chatterjee to Perry Schimmel, in  novel-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

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