Activist fascism

Activist Fascism
by Farzana Versey

Arundhati Roy Incorporated is a YouTubed fable. Our liberalism is suspect if we are not on this side of the fabulist line. Her myth machinery sets the stage with emails sent by People With Conscience acting like the thought police. They tutor us about the correct news perspective.

She then makes a splash on the front page of a Pakistani newspaper to counteract the malicious “concocted account” by an Indian news agency of a lecture delivered in Mumbai. Part of her gripe is “a ridiculous dumbing down of the (Maoist) debate”.

Is there a difference between what she speaks at meetings and what she writes? The videos reveal that she omitted several aspects that would show up the ‘maliciousness’ as mere peripheral reporting. But, pray, what did she mean by, “I do not support the killing…it is not my brief”? Does she only represent herself or work on someone else’s brief?

Roy stated that half the activist industry is bought; the media is bought. This is often true and obvious. Now, will the self-righteous other half also come clean about their agendas and who sponsors those?

Regarding dumbing down, she mentioned a call from an uncle. He wanted to help in her fight against injustice. She responded: “I said don’t say this on the phone…they will call you a Maoist”!

To create a romantic image of ‘her’ movement – “There are just a handful of us shouting from the rooftops” – she wondered aloud, “And after this they want you to come on the side of the government…after you see those people in loin cloth with bows and arrows. I cannot, I simply cannot.” Loin cloth? Bows and arrows? We have seen her picture, head draped in a bandana, with armed comrades. Was she referring to the tribals? Then, who were they fighting with bows and arrows?

The PR note stated, “She did NOT call upon the government to put her in jail for supporting Maoists, nor did she offer support to the Maoists.” Why was she there giving a sermon from the dais if she did not support them? She did say she did not care if she was “put in jail, pick me up”. The important thing was to “turn around and ask your comrades the question for the sake of pushing things forward”. Protest groups must force the government to take action, but not as latter-day intellectual Robin Hoods.

For a certain huddled section, idealism means titillating with false images and false hopes. The moment a cause goes down in the ratings, the industry moves on to the next one. The background helps to embellish speaking assignments: “when I walked there”, “when the tribals said this”, “in Kashmir”, “in Gujarat”, never mind that “the war in Goa, which is mainly Christian” is wrong. 26 per cent is a majority?

The corporate behemoth got a naive jab: “In 1989 when capitalism won its jihad against communism, the whole world did a somersault”. Roy callously used the term jihad, that too out of context. Forget political correctness, this is stereotyping.

Her sights are elsewhere: “We can make history,” she said, because the Maoist movement is not only about justice; it is questioning civilisation. “I don’t even care about the human race… but also all those birds off the Gulf of Mexico with oil slick on their feathers…these people are fighting a war that is questioning all of that. That is the beauty of this resistance.”

A legitimate Maoist will one day tell us how greased feathers figure in the beauty of their resistance.

“If it had grown up, it would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think” – Alice in Wonderland

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This appeared in Express Tribune, June 22


  1. Nice article, FV. Thanks.

    Amusing that Ms. Roy, of all people, considers the debate "dumbed down", when she is the one doing all the dumbing down. You don't see her speak a word on why her support for a group that wants to destroy the constitution is legitimate, because that is not possible, without first presenting the alternative that she wants to push forward. But ask her pointed questions on how to make a difference on the ground and she usually responds with some smart aleck comments and pretends that it is not her job to come up with such ideas.

    Here is a question for her ilk to focus on:

    how to ensure that the tribals/"those with bows and arrows" take control of their own destiny and do something more constructive for themselves and their community?

    Clearly, any answer to that question requires the existence of other civil infrastructure like schools, banks, and hospitals, the same structures that urban people are used to (if they can afford it) being blown up by maoists on a regular basis.

  2. I have a simple question for people who think Ms. Roy's world of being close to nature is feasible today with the following facts:

    1. Population in billions
    2. Average Indian requires a steady supply of food, water, air, medicines, and energy to live in what is called a "developed society".
    3. Not enough supply of pretty much all of the above resouces.
    4. Not enough power in the international stage to influence events to India's advantage.

    How can development be achieved if we revoke the constitution in addition to working under the above constraints? These constraints above already make the problem of providing existing people with essential living supplies a very difficult one to manage, let alone solve.

    How can we manage this problem of improving the living conditions of 1.4 billion Indians over time needs to be the question to focus on. It is a given that competition for the above resources between countries as well as groups within the country is going to increase.

  3. Al:

    My main thrust if this piece lies in the first para of how the liberals too want to brainwash you. It is corroborated so beautifully with the comments on the site. (And to think that there are people on this blog who have commented there, going by the reference to how I have been writing about/against her of late.) Then there is the aspect of Roy and her group going to town about being misquoted when a deeper look reveals that beneath the untruths lie other less truths. As for the dumbing down of the debate I did give a counter-anecdote that has been quoted after going through those videos.

    I wrote to a friend that in my case it has been a major turnaround wrt her; she has managed to alienate one who would have been on this side of the idea…I will not say line because every line is structured and an establishment. She is an organisation and has that backing. I find it so limited that opposing her in this context makes one less likely to oppose policies of the government. No one gives a damn about how NGOs operate.

    Can you imagine what would happen if another Indian had gone to a Pakistani paper and cribbed about being misquoted in the Indian media? Btw, Dawn did not publish my letter to the editor. And there are several people who oppose her under normal circumstances who keep quiet. I don’t think one can have stratified ways to respond to anything.

    I had to get this out…

    As you know I am not entirely with you on this issue. We have discussed it a few times. You raise pertinent queries, but the government is not blameless. Nor is the army.

    The tribals cannot take control of their own destiny, just as backward castes need some support. However, when the fight is for the right to BE, then infrastructure takes a backseat. I agree this is unfortunate.

    It isn’t about whether Rou wants the tribals to live on their lands but whether they want to.

  4. The perils of moderating a blog is one's own response does not get published. I wrote this 14 hrs ago!

  5. "The tribals cannot take control of their own destiny, just as backward castes need some support. However, when the fight is for the right to BE, then infrastructure takes a backseat. I agree this is unfortunate."

    I am not sure what you mean by the right to BE -- If I recall correctly, the Indian law books explicitly require that these tribal groups be "left alone to be themselves", which seems to be the reason why corrupt politicians and mining mafia are stealing public resources for profit.


    Check the above article, a honest judge reveals that some lowlife in the CABINET is interfering with the judicial process in Benagluru.


    Rediff: When we spoke to you, when you took over as the Lokayukta four years back, you said that you had lot of hope from the government. How has the government's approach towards the institution that is meant to fight corruption?

    Judge: The government has been indifferent, I would say. We sought additional allowances to the Lokayukta police exactly on the lines of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. We made a requisition to the government not to revoke the suspension orders against some officials. The government has deliberately ignored our recommendations.


    There is a talk that you are upset over the suspension of one of your officers based on the recommendation of a Cabinet minister.

    Yes, that is correct. I do not want to pick names, but I would say that this incident has hurt me no end. A Cabinet minister had written to the chief secretary, recommending the suspension of an official from my office. I fail to understand why this was done. When I looked into the issue, I saw that the suspension was ordered on flimsy grounds. It was stated that the officer was missing when the minister visited that location. I felt helpless watching this turn of events. What is the point in me sitting on a chair when I can't even protect my own officers who were only obeying me and my officers.


    Reading stuff like the above is enough to disillusion any Indian about the future of India.

    Maybe India would be better off broken up rather than be rules by these thieving lowlives who have managed to enter the portals of the Cabinet ministry.

    Is this Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sleeping on the job and allowing people in his cabinet to corrupt the judicial process? Because in any other democracy, the PM would take errant cabinet ministers to task?

    PM Manmohan Singh can make long speeches about eliminating corruption but is absolutely worthless in using the power vested in him by the constitution to actually remove this evil of bureaucratic corruption that plagues India.

  6. Al:

    Thanks for the quotes. But a 'broken up' India is not the same as insurgency movements.

    When I said the right to BE, it had to do with the identity question. This identity is not merely a constitutional "left alone to be themselves" but to carve out a new identity without being sucked into the mainstream ideologically. As citizens they are entitled to as much progress as they wish to partake of.

    I understand there is a thin line dividing these two ostensibly disparate ideas, but working that out is a success of a democracy.


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