Friday, September 20, 2019

The Suffocation of Justice By Charity

"When you look around and see how many NGOs are on, say, the Gates Rockefeller, or Ford Foundation's handout list, there has to be something wrong, right? They turn potential radicals into receivers of their largesse - and then, very subtly, without appearing to - they circumscribe the boundaries of radical politics. And you're sacked if you disobey . . .. sacked, unfunded, whatever. And then there's always the game of pitting the 'funded' against the 'unfunded,' in which the funder takes center stage. So I mean, I'm not against people being funded - because we're running out of options - but we have to understand - are you walking the dog or is the dog walking you?  . .. . Everywhere - not just in America . . . . repress, beat up, shoot, jail those you can, and throw money at those whom you can't - and gradually sandpaper the edge off them. They're in the business of what we in India call Paaltu Sher, which means Tamed Tigers. Like a pretend resistance . . . so you can let off steam without damaging anything. . . . So many activists [have] turned into travel agents, just having to organize tickets and money, flying people up and down. The [World Social] forum suddenly declared 'Only nonviolence, no armed struggles' ...  They . . . turned Gandhian.

"Many of the radical struggles were out. And I thought, fuck this. My question is, if, let's say, there are people who live in villages deep in the forest, four days' walk from anywhere, and a thousand soldiers arrive and burn their villages and kill and rape people to scare them off their land because mining companies want it - what brand of nonviolence would the stalwarts of the establishment recommend?  . . . Nonviolence should be a tactic - not an ideology preached from the sidelines to victims of massive violence . . . 

"It's not the imagination of trusts and foundations that's going to bring real change . . . .The bigger game is keeping the world safe for the Free Market. Structural Adjustment. Privatization, Free Market fundamentalism - all masquerading as Democracy and the Rule of Law. Many corporate-foundation-funded NGOs - not all, but many - become the missionaries of the 'new economy.' They tinker with your imagination, with language. The idea of 'human rights,' for example - sometimes it bothers me. Not in itself, but because the concept of human rights has replaced the much grander idea of justice. Human rights are fundamental rights, they are the minimum, the very least we demand. Too often, they become the goal itself. What should be the minimum becomes the maximum - all we are supposed to expect - but human rights aren't enough. The goal is, and must always be, justice.

"But this discourse of human rights, it's a very good format for TV - the great atrocity analysis and condemnation industry (laughs). Who comes out smelling sweet in the atrocity analysis? States have invested themselves with the right to legitimate violence - so who gets criminalized and delegitimized? . . . usually the resistance.

"I sound as though I'm trashing human rights. . . . I'm not.  All I'm saying is that the idea of justice - even just dreaming of justice - is revolutionary. The language of human rights tends to accept a status quo that is intrinsically unjust - and then tries to make it more accountable. But then, of course the catch-22 is that violating human rights is integral to the project of neoliberalism and global hegemony.

". . . talk loud enough about human rights and it gives the impression of democracy at work, justice at work. There was a time when the United States waged war to topple democracies, because back then democracy was a threat to the Free Market. Countries were nationalizing their resources, protecting their markets . . . Now we're in a situation where democracy has been taken into the workshop and fixed, remodeled to be market friendly. So now the United States is fighting wars to install democracies. First it was topple them, now it's install them . . .. And this whole rise of corporate-funded NGOs in the modern world, this notion of CSR, corporate social responsibility - it's all part of a New Managed Democracy. . . .

"They moved in to the spaces that were left when 'structural adjustment' forced states to pull back on public spending - on health, education, infrastructure, water supply - turning what ought to be people's rights, to education, to health care, and so on, into charitable activity available to a few. Peace, Inc. is sometimes as worrying as War, Inc. It's a way of managing public anger. We're all being managed and we don't even know it. . . . The IMF and the World Bank, the most opaque and secretive entities, put millions into NGOs who fight against 'corruption' and for 'transparency.' They want the Rule of Law - as long as they make the laws. They want transparency in order to standardize a situation, so that global capital can flow without any impediment. Cage the People, Free the Money. The only thing that is allowed to move freely - unimpeded - around the world today is money . . . capital. . . . 

"Stable markets, unstable world."

-----Arundhati Roy, Things That Can And Cannot Be Said

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