Things That Can and Cannot Be SaidThis post originally appeared as a four-part series at Outlook India. Every nation-state tends towards the imperial--that is the point. Through banks, armies, secret police, propaganda, courts and jails, treaties, taxes, laws and orders, myths of civil obedience, assumptions of civic virtue at the top. Still it should be said of the political left, we expect something better. And correctly. I began to imagine a conversation between him and Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam war. And then, interestingly, in my imagination a third person made her way into the room--the writer Arundhati Roy.
Things That Can and Cannot Be Said
Cusack, an outspoken critic of US militarism and lately civil rights activist, apparently makes the habit of regularly recording chats he has with Roy and others , and he shares some of the transcribed political banter in this series of short essays, to which Roy contributes, as well. After an early career trying her hand at film and other projects, Roy emerged in with the international bestselling novel The God of Small Things. She has also written powerfully against hydroelectric dams, nuclear weapons proliferation, and neoliberal corruption and imperialism in both India and the West. Whether or not one agrees fully with her politics, her ability to apply the perfect turn of phrase, and to evoke powerfully perceptive metaphors and connections renders her writing not just provocative but breathtakingly beautiful. Amidst the banter, one of the dominant themes that emerges is an angry critique of the contemporary left. Roy is scathing of NGOs that accept corporate charity. They turn potential radicals into receivers of their largesse -- and then, very subtly, without appearing to -- they circumscribe the boundaries of radical politics.
In bringing objectionable practices and policies to light, whistleblowers break the lawful trust of their bosses in order to better serve their real employers — us. This appeal to lawfulness was lawyering in its most pejorative sense. The interpretations of law that informed the spying, or retroactively excused it, came about through secret judgments that robbed the public of just such a debate. In effect, the terms were set in advance by what got left out of the conversation. The title of a new collection of essays and dialogues between Booker Prize-winning novelist, activist, and thinker Arundhati Roy and actor John Cusack, Things That Can and Cannot Be Said , speaks to this climate of unbalanced debate and incomplete information.
In Things That Can and Cannot Be Said, Arundhati Roy and John Cusack issue a powerful rallying cry, a call to resistance against America's.
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