On Sunday night, Arundhati Roy delivered the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture at the Apollo Theater in Harlem as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. She reads an excerpt of the lecture. “Over these last few years, given the wars it has waged, and the international treaties it has arbitrarily reneged on, the U.S. Government perfectly fits its own definition of a rogue state,” Roy said. “And now, resorting to the same old scare tactics, the same tired falsehoods and the same old fake news about nuclear weapons, it is gearing up to bomb Iran. That will be the biggest mistake it has ever made.”
More from this Interview
- Part 1: Arundhati Roy on the Indian Election and Narendra Modi’s “Far-Right, Hindu Nationalist” Agenda
- Part 2: Arundhati Roy on Why She Admires WikiLeaks & Opposes Assange’s Extradition to the U.S.
- Part 3: Arundhati Roy: Capitalism Is a “Form of Religion” Stopping Solutions to Climate Change & Inequality
- Part 4: Arundhati Roy: A U.S. Attack on Iran Would Be “Biggest Mistake It Has Ever Made”
- Part 5: Arundhati Roy on the Power of Fiction: Literature Is “The Simplest Way of Saying a Complicated Thing”
- Part 6: Arundhati Roy on Kashmir, the Danger of U.S. Attacking Iran & Her New Book “My Seditious Heart”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Our guest for the hour, Arundhati Roy, the winner of the Booker Prize for her first novel, The God of Small Things. Her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, was long-listed for that same prize in 2017. Now a collection of her nonfiction writing is coming out, called My Seditious Heart. It is over a thousand pages and will be out in June.
Last night, you gave an impassioned address at Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater. The address that you gave was called the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, and you titled it “A Place for Literature.” Can you share a little of it with us?
ARUNDHATI ROY: Sure.
“As the ice caps melt, as oceans heat up, and water tables plunge, as we rip through the delicate web of interdependence that sustains life on earth, as our formidable intelligence leads us to breach the boundaries between humans and machines, and our even more formidable hubris undermines our ability to connect the survival of our planet to our survival as a species, as we replace art with algorithms and stare into a future in which most human beings may not be needed to participate in (or be remunerated for) economic activity—at just such a time we have the steady hands of white supremacists in the White House, new imperialists in China, neo-Nazis once again massing on the streets of Europe, Hindu nationalists in India, and a host of butcher-princes and lesser dictators in other countries to guide us into the Unknown.
“While many of us dreamt that 'Another world is possible,' these folks were dreaming that too. And it is their dream—our nightmare—that is perilously close to being realized.
“Capitalism’s gratuitous wars and sanctioned greed have jeopardized the planet and filled it with refugees. Much of the blame for this rests squarely on the shoulders of the government of the United States. Seventeen years after invading Afghanistan, after bombing it into the 'stone age' with the sole aim of toppling the Taliban, the US government is back in talks with the very same Taliban. In the interim it has destroyed Iraq, Libya and Syria. Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives to war and sanctions, a whole region has descended into chaos, ancient cities—pounded into dust. Amidst the desolation and the rubble, a monstrosity called Daesh (Isis) has been spawned. It has spread across the world, indiscriminately murdering ordinary people who had absolutely nothing to do with America’s wars. Over these last few years, given the wars it has waged, and the international treaties it has arbitrarily reneged on, the US government perfectly fits its own definition of a rogue state. And now, resorting to the same old scare tactics, the same tired falsehoods and the same old fake news about nuclear weapons, it is gearing up to bomb Iran. That will be the biggest mistake it has ever made.”
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Thank you, Arundhati, for reading from your lecture last night at the Apollo.