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Arundhati Roy Quotes

Public Power in the Age of Empire

San Francisco, CA
16 August 2004
as heard on a Alternative Radio CD

The judges and generals look down on us from high and shake their heads sternly. There is no alternative they say and let slip the dogs of war. And then from the ruins of Afghanistan, from the rubble of Iraq and Chechnya, from the streets of occupied Palestine, and the mountains of Kashmir, from the hills and plains of Columbia, and the forests of Andrupradeesh and Assam, comes the chilling reply, there’s no alternative to terrorism. Terrorism, armed struggle, insurgency, call it what you want. Terrorism is viscous, ugly, and dehumanizing for its perpetrators as well as its victims. But so is war. You could say that terrorism is the privatization of war. Terrorists are the free marketeers of war. They are people who don’t believe that the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. Human society is journeying to a terrible place. But of course there’s an alternative to terrorism. It’s called justice. And it’s time to recognize that no amount of nuclear weapons, or full spectrum dominance, or daisy cutters, or spurious governing councils and loya jirgas can buy us peace at the cost of justice. The urge for hegemony and preponderance by some will be matched with greater intensity by the longing for dignity and justice by others. Exactly what form that battle takes, whether it’s beautiful or bloodthirsty, depends on us.