Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy

: Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: Vikramjit Kakati


* Indian writer and activist
* Passionate hater of the United States & Israel
* Views capitalism & globalization as economic systems that harm the poor and needy


Arundhati Roy was born as Suzanna Arundhati Roy on November 24, 1961 in Shillong, Meghalaya, India. Her mother was a Christian of Syrian descent who hailed from the south Indian state of Kerala, and her father was a Bengali Hindu who worked as a tea planter.

At age 16, Arundhati Roy moved to Delhi where she led a bohemian lifestyle for some time, living in a slum where she made a living chiefly by teaching aerobics and selling empty beer bottles.

Roy subsequently attended the Delhi School of Architecture (DSA) but failed to graduate. During her time at DSA, she married a fellow student named Gerard De Cunha, who would go on to become an accomplished architect. But when the marriage ended four years later, Ms. Roy returned to Delhi and took a job at the National Institute of Urban Affairs.

In 1984, the Indian movie director Pradip Krishen spotted Roy and offered her a small role, which she accepted, in his 1985 film Massey Sahib.

Roy was subsequently awarded a scholarship to study in Italy for eight months, during which time she resolved to pursue a career as a writer.

In 1987, Roy wrote and published a book titled The Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan: Causes, Consequences and India’s Response. The following year, she wrote the story and screenplay of In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones.

Sudden Fame

Roy suddenly gained enormous fame in 1997 with her debut novel, The God of Small Things, a semi-autobiographical story that sold over 6 million copies, was translated into some 40 languages, and won her the coveted Booker Prize. All of Roy’s subsequent books were non-fiction until the 2017 publication of her novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.

Outspoken Hater of America, Israel, Capitalism, & Militarism

Over the years, Roy has become particularly renowned for her scathing condemnations of America, Israel, capitalism, globalization, militarism, and nuclear weaponry.

Anti- Nuclearism & Anti-Americanism

After The God of Small Things propelled her to international prominence, Roy wrote a number of articles and essays that were published in various Indian and European newspapers, including The GuardianLe Monde, and El Mundo. The first of those articles, an August 1998 piece titled “The End of Imagination,” was based on a speech she had given at a Hiroshima Day seminar in New Delhi, where she condemned the testing of nuclear weapons generally, and India’s support for such tests specifically. “To me, it [nuclear testing] signifies dreadful things,” Roy wrote. “The end of imagination. The end of freedom actually, because, after all, that’s what freedom is. Choice.” India’s own development of nuclear weaponry, she declared, represented the “final act of betrayal of the Indian people” — an assertion based on Roy’s observation that it was much easier to manufacture a bomb than to educate India’s countless millions of illiterates. Asserting that “the nuclear bomb is the most anti-democratic, anti-national, anti-human, outright evil thing that man has ever made,” Roy added:

“There’s nothing new or original left to be said about nuclear weapons. There can be nothing more humiliating for a writer of fiction to have to do than restate a case that has, over the years, already been made by other people in other parts of the world, and made passionately, eloquently, and knowledgeably.

“I am prepared to grovel. To humiliate myself abjectly, because, in the circumstances, silence would be indefensible. So those of you who are willing: let’s pick our parts, put on these discarded costumes and speak our second-hand lines in this sad second-hand play. But let’s not forget that the stakes we’re playing for are huge. Our fatigue and our shame could mean the end of us. The end of our children and our children’s children. Of everything we love. We have to reach within ourselves and find the
strength to think. To fight….

“The Theory of Deterrence has some fundamental flaws. Flaw Number One is that it presumes a complete, sophisticated understanding of the psychology of your enemy. It assumes that what deters you (the fear of annihilation) will deter them. What about those who are not deterred by that? The suicide bomber psyche …

“Flaw Number Two is that deterrence is premised on fear. But fear is premised on knowledge. On an understanding of the true extent and scale of the devastation that nuclear war will wreak. It is not some inherent, mystical attribute of nuclear bombs that they automatically inspire thoughts of peace. On the contrary, it is the endless, tireless, confrontational work of people who have had the courage to openly denounce them, the marches, the demonstrations, the films, the outrage – that is what has averted, or perhaps only postponed, nuclear war. …

“As for the third Official Reason: Exposing Western Hypocrisy – how much more exposed can they be? Which decent human being on earth harbours any illusions about it? These are people whose histories are spongy with the blood of others. Colonialism, apartheid, slavery, ethnic cleansing, germ warfare, chemical weapons, they virtually invented it all. They have plundered nations, snuffed out civilizations, exterminated entire populations. They stand on the world’s stage stark naked but entirely unembarrassed, because they know that they have more money, more food, and bigger bombs than anybody else. They know they can wipe us out in the course of an ordinary working day. Personally, I’d say it is arrogance more than hypocrisy.”

Anti-Americanism & Anti-Militarism

In a September 29, 2001 article titled “The Algebra of Infinite Justice,” Roy claimed that:

  • “the stygian anger that led to the [9/11 terrorist] attacks has its taproot … in the U.S. government’s record of commitment and support to … military and economic terrorism, insurgency, military dictatorship, religious bigotry and unimaginable genocide”;
  • the U.S. government “will use the climate of [post-9/11] war as an excuse to curtail civil liberties,… harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut back on public spending, and divert huge amounts of money to the defense industry”;
  • “the September 11 attacks were a monstrous calling card … signed by the ghosts of the [millions of] victims of America’s old wars”; and
  • Osama bin Laden was “sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid to waste by America’s foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal, its vulgarly stated policy of ‘full-spectrum dominance’, its chilling disregard for non- American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, [and] its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor countries like a cloud of locusts.”

Some more extended excerpts from “The Algebra of Infinite Justice” include the following:

“America is at war against people it doesn’t know, because they don’t appear much on TV. Before it has properly identified or even begun to comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government has, in a rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an ‘international coalition against terror’, mobilised its army, its air force, its navy and its media, and committed them to battle.

“The trouble is that once America goes off to war, it can’t very well return without having fought one. If it doesn’t find its enemy, for the sake of the enraged folks back home, it will have to manufacture one. Once war begins, it will develop a momentum, a logic and a justification of its own, and we’ll lose sight of why it’s being fought in the first place.

“What we’re witnessing here is the spectacle of the world’s most powerful country reaching reflexively, angrily, for an old instinct to fight a new kind of war. …

“For strategic, military and economic reasons, it is vital for the US government to persuade its public that their commitment to freedom and democracy and the American Way of Life is under attack. In the current atmosphere of grief, outrage and anger, it’s an easy notion to peddle. However, if that were true, it’s reasonable to wonder why the symbols of America’s economic and military dominance – the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon – were chosen as the targets of the attacks. Why not the Statue of Liberty? Could it be that the stygian anger that led to the attacks has its taproot not in American freedom and democracy, but in the US government’s record of commitment and support to exactly the opposite things – to military and economic terrorism, insurgency, military dictatorship, religious bigotry and unimaginable genocide (outside America)? …

“America’s grief at what happened has been immense and immensely public. It would be grotesque to expect it to calibrate or modulate its anguish. However, it will be a pity if, instead of using this as an opportunity to try to understand why September 11 happened, Americans use it as an opportunity to usurp the whole world’s sorrow to mourn and avenge only their own. Because then it falls to the rest of us to ask the hard questions and say the harsh things. And for our pains, for our bad timing, we will be disliked, ignored and perhaps eventually silenced.

“The world will probably never know what motivated those particular hijackers who flew planes into those particular American buildings. …

“But war is looming large. Whatever remains to be said must be said quickly. Before America places itself at the helm of the ‘international coalition against terror’, before it invites (and coerces) countries to actively participate in its almost godlike mission — called Operation Infinite Justice until it was pointed out that this could be seen as an insult to Muslims, who believe that only Allah can mete out infinite justice, and was renamed Operation Enduring Freedom — it would help if some small clarifications are made. … In 1996, Madeleine Albright, then the US secretary of state, was asked on national television what she felt about the fact that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of US economic sanctions. She replied that it was ‘a very hard choice’, but that, all things considered, ‘we think the price is worth it’. Albright never lost her job for saying this. She continued to travel the world representing the views and aspirations of the US government. More pertinently, the sanctions against Iraq remain in place. Children continue to die….

“As we watch mesmerised, Operation Enduring Freedom unfolds on TV monitors across the world. A coalition of the world’s superpowers is closing in on Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most ravaged, war-torn countries in the world, whose ruling Taliban government is sheltering Osama bin Laden, the man being held responsible for the September 11 attacks….

“In America there has been rough talk of ‘bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age’. Someone please break the news that Afghanistan is already there. And if it’s any consolation, America played no small part in helping it on its way….

“Terrorism as a phenomenon may never go away. But if it is to be contained, the first step is for America to at least acknowledge that it shares the planet with other nations, with other human beings who, even if they are not on TV, have loves and griefs and stories and songs and sorrows and, for heaven’s sake, rights. …

“The September 11 attacks were a monstrous calling card from a world gone horribly wrong. The message may have been written by Bin Laden (who knows?) and delivered by his couriers, but it could well have been signed by the ghosts of the victims of America’s old wars. The millions killed in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, the 17,500 killed when Israel — backed by the US — invaded Lebanon in 1982, the 200,000 Iraqis killed in Operation Desert Storm, the thousands of Palestinians who have died fighting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. And the millions who died, in Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama, at the hands of all the terrorists, dictators and genocidists whom the American government supported, trained, bankrolled and supplied with arms. And this is far from being a comprehensive list.

“For a country involved in so much warfare and conflict, the American people have been extremely fortunate. The strikes on September 11 were only the second on American soil in over a century. The first was Pearl Harbour. The reprisal for this took a long route, but ended with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This time the world waits with bated breath for the horrors to come.

“Someone recently said that if Osama bin Laden didn’t exist, America would have had to invent him. But, in a way, America did invent him. He was among the jihadis who moved to Afghanistan in 1979 when the CIA commenced its operations there. Bin Laden has the distinction of being created by the CIA and wanted by the FBI. In the course of a fortnight he has been promoted from suspect to prime suspect and then, despite the lack of any real evidence, straight up the charts to being ‘wanted dead or alive’.

“From all accounts, it will be impossible to produce evidence (of the sort that would stand scrutiny in a court of law) to link Bin Laden to the September 11 attacks. So far, it appears that the most incriminating piece of evidence against him is the fact that he has not condemned them….

“But who is Osama bin Laden really? Let me rephrase that. What is Osama bin Laden? He’s America’s family secret. He is the American president’s dark doppelganger. The savage twin of all that purports to be beautiful and civilised. He has been sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid to waste by America’s foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal, its vulgarly stated policy of ‘full-spectrum dominance’, its chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor countries like a cloud of locusts. …

“Now Bush and Bin Laden have even begun to borrow each other’s rhetoric. Each refers to the other as ‘the head of the snake’. Both invoke God and use the loose millenarian currency of good and evil as their terms of reference. Both are engaged in unequivocal political crimes. Both are dangerously armed — one with the nuclear arsenal of the obscenely powerful, the other with the incandescent, destructive power of the utterly hopeless. The fireball and the ice pick. The bludgeon and the axe. The important thing to keep in mind is that neither is an acceptable alternative to the other.

“President Bush’s ultimatum to the people of the world — ‘If you’re not with us, you’re against us’ — is a piece of presumptuous arrogance. It’s not a choice that people want to, need to, or should have to make.”

Anti-Americanism & Anti-Militarism

In October 2001, Roy wrote an article stating that the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan was “not revenge” for 9/11, but rather, was “yet another [American] act of terror against the people of the world,” whom America had historically chosen to “dominate, humiliate and subjugate – usually in the service of America’s real religion, the ‘free market.’”

Anti-Americanism & Anti-Militarism

In her 2001 book, Power Politics, Roy wrote that:

  • “terrorism is the symptom, not the disease,” and that it marched “arm in arm with the project of corporate globalism”;
  • America’s military response to the 9/11 attacks would only “spawn more anger and more terror across the world,” because “for every ‘terrorist’ or his ‘supporter’ who is killed, hundreds of innocent people are being killed, too”;
  • it was “absurd” even to “toy with the notion that [a government] can stamp out terrorism with more violence and oppression,” because “one country’s terrorist is too often another’s freedom fighter”;
  • George W. Bush and his allies were “cowardly baby killers, water poisoners, and pusillanimous long-distance bombers” who posed the “greatest threat to the world”;
  • Bush and Osama bin Laden were “twins … blurring into one another and gradually becoming interchangeable”;
  • not even al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, or “all the other despots” around the world were “in the same league” as Bush and his allies, in terms of how evil they were;
  • America’s so-called war on terror was “not only about oil,” but was also “about a superpower’s self-destructive impulse towards supremacy, stranglehold, [and] global hegemony”; and
  • the conflict in Iraq was ultimately a “racist war” started by the United States

Anti-Americanism & Anti-Militarism

In May 2002, the Dutch writer Ian Buruma wrote in that Roy’s “demonology of the United States” had the “foaming-at-the-mouth, eye-rolling quality of the mad evangelist,” making her “the perfect Third World voice for anti-American, or anti-Western, or even anti-white, sentiments.” Specifically, Buruma cited Roy’s assertion that: (a) the U.S. government was committed to”military and economic terrorism, insurgency, military dictatorship, religious bigotry and unimaginable genocide (outside America)”; (b) America’s “merciless” economic policies were “like a cloud of locusts” dedicated to swarming and destroying foreign economies across the globe; and (c) “any Third World country with a fragile economy and a complex social base should know by now that to invite a superpower like America in … would be like inviting a brick to drop through your windscreen.”


In a September 18, 2002 speech which she delivered in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Roy lamented that “the poor are getting poorer, and the rich richer” as a result of “the free market,” which she described as “a fertile breeding ground for terrible things: cultural nationalism, religious bigotry, fascism and, of course, terrorism.” “All these march arm in arm with corporate globalization,” she argued. By Roy’s calculus, America’s brand of “twenty-first-century market capitalism” – which aimed to create “a world run by a handful of greedy bankers and CEOs who [sic] nobody elected” – would “fail for the same reasons” as “Soviet-style communism failed”; i.e., “not because it was intrinsically evil, but because it was flawed [and therefore] allowed too few people to usurp too much power.”

Anti-Americanism & Anti-Capitalism

On October 3, 2002, The Guardian published an opinion piece authored by Roy, in which she argued that America was a deeply immoral, greedy, imperialistic nation that was being pushed to invade Iraq by the allegedly perverse reward system inherent in global capitalism. Some excerpts:

“Uppermost on everybody’s mind, of course, particularly in the US, is the horror of what has come to be known as 9/11. Nearly 3,000 civilians lost their lives in that lethal terrorist strike…. Yet, each person who has lost a loved one surely knows that no war, no act of revenge, will blunt the edges of their pain or bring their own loved ones back. War cannot avenge those who have died. War is only a brutal desecration of their memory.

“To fuel yet another war — this time against Iraq — by manipulating people’s grief, by packaging it for TV specials sponsored by corporations selling detergent or running shoes, is to cheapen and devalue grief, to drain it of meaning. We are seeing a pillaging of even the most private human feelings for political purpose. It is a terrible, violent thing for a state to do to its people.

“The US government says that Saddam Hussein is a war criminal, a cruel military despot who has committed genocide against his own people. That’s a fairly accurate description of the man. In 1988 he razed hundreds of villages in northern Iraq and killed thousands of Kurds. Today, we know that that same year the US government provided him with $500m in subsidies to buy American farm products. The next year, after he had successfully completed his genocidal campaign, the US government doubled its subsidy to $1bn. It also provided him with high-quality germ seed for anthrax, as well as helicopters and dual-use material that could be used to manufacture chemical and biological weapons.

“It turns out that while Saddam was carrying out his worst atrocities, the US and British governments were his close allies. So what changed?

“In August 1990 Saddam invaded Kuwait. His sin was not so much that he had committed an act of war, but that he acted independently, without orders from his masters. This display of independence was enough to upset the power equation in the Gulf. So it was decided that Saddam be exterminated, like a pet that has outlived its owner’s affection.

“What if Iraq does have a nuclear weapon? Does that justify a pre-emptive US strike? The US has the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world. It’s the only country in the world to have actually used them on civilian populations. If the US is justified in launching a pre-emptive attack on Iraq, why, any nuclear power is justified in carrying out a pre-emptive attack on any other….

“Recently, the US played an important part in forcing India and Pakistan back from the brink of war. Is it so hard for it to take its own advice? Who is guilty of feckless moralising? Of preaching peace while it wages war? The US, which George Bush has called ‘the most peaceful nation on earth’, has been at war with one country or another every year for the past 50 years.

“Wars are never fought for altruistic reasons. They’re usually fought for hegemony, for business. And then, of course, there’s the business of war. …

“As the disparity between the rich and poor grows,… [m]ultinational corporations on the prowl for ‘sweetheart deals’ that yield enormous profits cannot push them through in developing countries without the active connivance of state machinery. Today, corporate globalisation needs an international confederation of loyal, corrupt, preferably authoritarian governments in poorer countries, to push through unpopular reforms and quell the mutinies. It needs a press that pretends to be free. It needs courts that pretend to dispense justice. It needs nuclear bombs, standing armies, sterner immigration laws, and watchful coastal patrols to make sure that it is only money, goods, patents and services that are globalised — not the free movement of people, not a respect for human rights, not international treaties on racial discrimination or chemical and nuclear weapons, or greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, or, God forbid, justice….

“[T]he American way of life is simply not sustainable. Because it doesn’t acknowledge that there is a world beyond America.

“Fortunately, power has a shelf life. When the time comes, maybe this mighty empire will, like others before it, overreach itself and implode from within. It looks as though structural cracks have already appeared.

“Soviet-style communism failed, not because it was intrinsically evil but because it was flawed. It allowed too few people to usurp too much power: 21st-century market-capitalism, American-style, will fail for the same reasons.”

Anti-Americanism & Anti-Capitalism

In a January 25, 2003 speech titled “Confronting Empire,” which she delivered at the World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Roy:

  • claimed that “killing people to save them from dictatorship or ideological corruption is … an old U.S. government sport”;
  • characterized corporate globalization as a form of imperialism;
  • argued that free-market capitalism was antithetical to democracy;
  • claimed that neither free speech nor a free press could survive ia in a ‘globalized’ world there is neither free speech nor free press”; and
  • ended her talk by saying optimistically: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

Anti-Americanism & Anti-Militarism

At a May 13, 2003 New York City event sponsored by The Centre for Economic and Social Rights and the Lannan Foundation, Roy gave a speech titled “Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy,” in which she condemned the “New American Empire” and the U.S. military’s role in promoting it.

Anti-Americanism, Anti-Militarism, & Anti-Capitalism

At a May 31, 2003 antiwar teach-in held in Washington, D.C., Roy gave a talk titled “The Day of the Jackals,” emphasizing the indefensibility of the U.S. war on Iraq and the influence that American corporations had on their nation’s government policies. Some key excerpts:

“When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent ofthe American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11 attacks on theWorld Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC news poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported al-Qaeda. None of this opinion is based on evidence (because there isn’t any). All of it is based on insinuation, auto-suggestion and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media.

“Public support in the U.S. for the war against Iraq was founded on a multi-tiered edifice of falsehood and deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and faithfully amplified by the press.

“We had the invented links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. We had the manufactured frenzy about Iraq’s ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ No weapons of mass destruction have been found. Not even a little one.

“Now–after the war has been fought and won, and the contracts for reconstruction have been signed and sealed–the New York Times reports that ‘The Central Intelligence Agency has begun a review to try to determine whether the American intelligence community erred in its prewar assessments of Saddam Hussein’s government and Iraq’s weapons programs.’

“Meanwhile, in passing, an ancient civilization has been casually decimated by a very recent, casually brutal nation.

“Throughout more than a decade of war and sanctions, American and British forces fired thousands of missiles and bombs on Iraq….

“In their bombing sorties, the Allies targeted and destroyed water treatment plants, aware of the fact that they could not be repaired without foreign assistance. In southern Iraq, there was a fourfold increase in cancer among children.

“In the decade of economic sanctions that followed the war, Iraqi civilians were denied medicine, hospital equipment, ambulances, clean water–the basic essentials.

“About half a million Iraqi children died as a result of the sanctions.

“The corporate media played a sterling role in keeping news of the devastation of Iraq and its people away from the American public. It has now begun preparing the ground with the same routine of lies and hysteria fora war against Syria and Iran–and, who knows, perhaps even Saudi Arabia….

“The U.S. invasion of Iraq was perhaps the most cowardly war ever fought in history. …

“It’s worth noting that the reconstruction of Afghanistan, which is in far worse condition than Iraq, hasn’t merited the same evangelical enthusiasm in reconstruction that Iraq has. Even the money that was so publicly promised to Afghanistan has not for the most part been handed over.

“Could it be because Afghanistan has no oil? It has a route for a pipeline, true, but no oil. So there isn’t much money to be extracted from that vanquished country….

“Iraq is no longer a country. It’s an asset.

“It’s no longer ruled. It’s owned.

“And it is owned for the most part by Bechtel. Maybe Halliburton and a British company or two will get a few bones.”

Anti-Americanism & Anti-Militarism

In January 2004, Roy delivered a speech titled “Do Turkeys Enjoy Thanksgiving?” at the World Social Forum in Mumbai (Bombay). According to “In this speech … she dwelt on the entire range of her favorite themes: development projects displacing and dispossessing millions of people; religious bigotry; state-sponsored terrorism; U.S. hegemony; and corporate greed.” Some key excerpts from Roy’s speech:

“In the great cities of Europe and America, where a few years ago these things would only have been whispered, now people are openly talking about the good side of Imperialism and the need for a strong Empire to police an unruly world. The new missionaries want order at the cost of justice. Discipline at the cost of dignity. And ascendancy at any price. Occasionally some of us are invited to ‘debate’ the issue on ‘neutral’ platforms provided by the corporate media. Debating Imperialism is a bit like debating the pros and cons of rape. What can we say? That we really miss it?

“In any case, New Imperialism is already upon us. It’s a remodelled, streamlined version of what we once knew. For the first time in history, a single Empire with an arsenal of weapons that could obliterate the world in an afternoon has complete, unipolar, economic and military hegemony. It uses different weapons to break open different markets. There isn’t a country on God’s earth that is not caught in the cross hairs of the American cruise missile and the IMF chequebook. …

“Poor countries that are geo-politically of strategic value to Empire, or have a ‘market’ of any size, or infrastructure that can be privatized, or, god forbid, natural resources of value — oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, coal — must do as they’re told, or become military targets. Those with the greatest reserves of natural wealth are most at risk. Unless they surrender their resources willingly to the corporate machine, civil unrest will be fomented, or war will be waged. …

“Unlike in the old days the New Imperialist doesn’t need to trudge around the tropics risking malaria or diahorrea or early death. New Imperialism can be conducted on e-mail. The vulgar, hands-on racism of Old Imperialism is outdated. The cornerstone of New Imperialism is New Racism. …

“Part of the project of New Racism is New Genocide. In this new era of economic interdependence, New Genocide can be facilitated by economic sanctions. It means creating conditions that lead to mass death without actually going out and killing people. …

“We have to become the global resistance to the occupation.

“Our resistance has to begin with a refusal to accept the legitimacy of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. It means acting to make it materially impossible for Empire to achieve its aims. It means soldiers should refuse to fight, reservists should refuse to serve, workers should refuse to load ships and aircraft with weapons.”


At the 2004 World Social Forum, Roy characterized the U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein‘s Baathist regime as a duel between two equally despicable serial killers. “To applaud the U.S. army’s capture of Saddam Hussein and therefore, in retrospect, justify its invasion and occupation of Iraq is like deifying Jack the Ripper for disemboweling the Boston Strangler,” she said.

Anti-Americanism & Anti-Militarism

In an August 2004 speech titled “Power Politics in the Age of Empire,” Roy derided the U.S. government, as well as “the corporate media and Hollywood,” for weaving an “elaborate web of paranoia” whereby “ordinary Americans have been manipulated into imagining they are a people under siege whose sole refuge and protector is their government. If it isn’t the Communists, it’s al-Qaeda. If it isn’t Cuba, it’s Nicaragua.” “As a result of this,” said Roy, “the most powerful nation in the world–with its unmatchable arsenal of weapons, its history of having waged and sponsored endless wars, and the only nation in history to have actually used nuclear bombs–is peopled by a terrified citizenry, jumping at shadows. A people bonded to the state not by social services or public health care or employment guarantees, but by fear. This synthetically manufactured fear is used to gain public sanction for further acts of aggression.” Further, Roy denounced the Iraq War as “an illegal invasion,” a “brutal occupation in the name of liberation,” and a pretext for “the shameless appropriation of [Iraq’s] wealth and resources by corporations allied to the occupation.” “As the rift between the rich and poor grows,” said Roy, “as the need to appropriate and control the world’s resources to feed the great capitalist machine becomes more urgent, the unrest will only escalate.”

Anti-Americanism & Anti-Militarism

In November 2004, Roy was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. In her acceptance lecture, she denounced globalization and American “imperialism.” She also accused the U.S. of “butchering” the Iraqi people, and she lamented that “the ‘civilized’ ‘modern’ world — built painstakingly on a legacy of genocide, slavery and colonialism — now controls most of the world’s oil … weapons … money, and … media.”

Anti-Americanism & Anti-Militarism

In June 2005, Roy was a guest speaker at the World Tribunal on Iraq, a mock “war crimes” trial held in Istanbul, Turkey, which produced a joint declaration backing the Iraqi insurgency against America’s military forces in the Middle East. Said Roy at the Tribunal: “[W]e do seem to live in a world where the United States of America has defined an enemy combatant [as] someone whom they can kidnap from any country, from anyplace in the world, and take for trial to America. An enemy combatant seems to be anybody who harbors thoughts of resistance. Well, if this is the definition, then I, for one, am an enemy combatant.”


Roy’s contempt for America is mirrored in her low regard for America’s closest ally, Israel. In August 2006, she signed a letter crafted by Professor Steve Trevillion, characterizing Israel’s attacks on the Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hezbollah as a “war crime,” and accusing Israel of “state terror.” Other signatories included such notables as Tariq AliNoam Chomsky, and Howard Zinn.

Anti-Capitalism (Pro-Occupy Wall Street)

In November 2011, Roy wrote an opinion piece titled “We Are All Occupiers,” in support of the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. Addressing the OWS activists directly, the piece said, in part:

“What you have achieved since 17 September, when the Occupy movement began in the United States, is to introduce a new imagination, a new political language into the heart of empire. You have reintroduced the right to dream into a system that tried to turn everybody into zombies mesmerised into equating mindless consumerism with happiness and fulfilment.

“As a writer, let me tell you, this is an immense achievement. I cannot thank you enough….

“Ever since the Great Depression, the manufacture of weapons and the export of war have been key ways in which the United States has stimulated its economy…. All these wars, from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Vietnam, Korea, Latin America, have claimed millions of lives – all of them fought to secure the “American way of life”.

“Today, we know that the ‘American way of life’ – the model that the rest of the world is meant to aspire towards – has resulted in 400 people owning the wealth of half of the population of the United States….

“The Indian government worships US economic policy. As a result of 20 years of the free market economy, today, 100 of India’s richest people own assets worth one-fourth of the country’s GDP while more than 80% of the people live on less than 50 cents a day; 250,000 farmers, driven into a spiral of death, have committed suicide. We call this progress, and now think of ourselves as a superpower. Like you, we are well-qualified: we have nuclear bombs and obscene inequality.

“The good news is that people have had enough and are not going to take it any more. The Occupy movement has joined thousands of other resistance movements all over the world in which the poorest of people are standing up and stopping the richest corporations in their tracks. Few of us dreamed that we would see you, the people of the United States on our side, trying to do this in the heart of Empire. I don’t know how to communicate the enormity of what this means….

“We want to put a lid on this system that manufactures inequality. We want to put a cap on the unfettered accumulation of wealth and property by individuals as well as corporations. As ‘cap-ists’ and ‘lid-ites’, we demand:

• “An end to cross-ownership in businesses. For example, weapons manufacturers cannot own TV stations; mining corporations cannot run newspapers; business houses cannot fund universities; drug companies cannot control public health funds.

• “Natural resources and essential infrastructure – water supply, electricity, health, and education – cannot be privatised.

• “Everybody must have the right to shelter, education and healthcare.

• “The children of the rich cannot inherit their parents’ wealth.

“This struggle has re-awakened our imagination. Somewhere along the way, capitalism reduced the idea of justice to mean just ‘human rights’, and the idea of dreaming of equality became blasphemous. We are not fighting to tinker with reforming a system that needs to be replaced.”

Anti-Israel, Anti-Americanism

At daybreak on October 7, 2023 — which was the major Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah — the Islamic terror group Hamas carried out a massive, multi-front, surprise attack against Israel, firing thousands of rockets from Gaza into the Jewish state, while dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated the Israeli border in a number of locations by air, land and sea. The attack had been planned in conjunction with officers from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, along with agents of three other Iran-sponsored terrorist groups. “In an assault of startling breadth,” reported CBS News, “Hamas gunmen rolled into as many as 22 locations outside the Gaza Strip, including towns and other communities as far as 15 miles from the Gaza border. In some places they gunned down civilians and soldiers as Israel’s military scrambled to muster a response.” By October 8, at least 600 Israelis had been killed and 1,800 wounded, making it the bloodiest day Jews had experienced since the Holocaust. Moreover, Hamas took more than 240 Israelis hostage, including dozens who were American citizens, and moved them to the Gaza Strip. The terrorists also paraded Israelis’ mutilated bodies in Gaza, to cheering crowds of Palestinians. By October 19, the official casualty toll in Israel had reached more than 1,400 dead (including at least 32 Americans) and 4,500 injured. (On October 27, 2023, the Israeli Defense Forces launched an invasion of the Gaza Strip with the stated aim of destroying Hamas and its leadership once and for all.)

On November 16, 2023, Roy delivered an address to the Munich Literature Festival, in which she said:

“I cannot appear on a public platform … without adding my voice to the millions of people … that are marching on the streets all over the world, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

“If we allow this brazen slaughter to continue, even as it is livestreamed into the most private recesses of our personal lives, we are complicit in it. Something in our moral selves will be altered forever. Are we going to simply stand by and watch while hospitals are bombed, a million people displaced and dead children in thousands pulled out from under the rubble? Are we going to once again watch a whole people being dehumanised to the point where their annihilation does not matter?

“The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza are crimes against humanity. The US and other countries who bankroll the occupation are party to the crime. The horror we are witnessing right now, the unconscionable slaughter of civilians by Hamas as well as by Israel are a consequence of the siege and occupation….

“It is the occupation that is breeding this monstrosity…. The solution cannot be a militaristic one. It can only be a political one in which both Israelis and Palestinians live together or side by side in dignity, with equal rights. The world must intervene. The occupation must end. Palestinians must have a viable homeland….

“So please—for the sake of Palestine and Israel, for the sake of the living and in the name of the dead, for the sake of the hostages being held by Hamas and the Palestinians in Israel’s prisons—for the sake of all of humanity—cease fire now.”

On December 13, 2023, Roy delivered an acceptance speech at an award function in honor of P. Govinda Pillai, the late Marxist leader and ideologue of the Communist Party of India. In the course of her remarks, Roy said:

“If we say nothing about Israel’s brazen slaughter of Palestinians, even as it is livestreamed into the most private recesses of our personal lives, we are complicit in it. Something in our moral selves will be altered forever. Are we going to simply stand by and watch while homes, hospitals, refugee camps, schools, universities, archives are bombed, a million people displaced, and dead children pulled out from under the rubble? The borders of Gaza are sealed. People have nowhere to go. They have no shelter, no food, no water. The United Nations says more than half the population is starving. And still they are being bombed relentlessly. Are we going to once again watch a whole people being dehumanised to the point where their annihilation does not matter? …

“Today every bomb that is dropped by Israel on the civilian population, every tank, and every bullet has the United States’ name on it. None of this would happen if the US wasn’t backing it wholeheartedly….

“The idea of the erasure, the annihilation, of Palestinians is being clearly articulated by Israeli political and military officials.”

On March 7, 2024, Roy published an opinion piece in which she said the following:

“The richest, most powerful countries in the western world, those who believe themselves to be the keepers of the flame of the modern world’s commitment to democracy and human rights, are openly financing and applauding Israel’s genocide in Gaza. The Gaza strip has been turned into a concentration camp. Those who have not already been killed are being starved to death. Almost the entire population of Gaza has been displaced. Their homes, hospitals, universities, museums, infrastructure of every kind has been reduced to rubble. Their children have been murdered. Their past has been vaporised. Their future is hard to see.

“Even though the highest court in the world believes that almost every indicator seems to meet the legal definition of genocide, IDF soldiers continue to put out their mocking ‘victory videos’ celebrating what almost look like fiendish rituals. They believe that there is no power in the world that will hold them to account. But they are wrong. They and their children’s children will be haunted by what they have done. They will have to live with the loathing and the abhorrence the world feels for them. And hopefully one day everybody – on all sides of this conflict – who has committed war crimes will be tried and punished for them, keeping in mind that there is no equivalence between crimes committed while resisting Apartheid and Occupation, and crimes committed while enforcing them.

“Racism is of course the keystone of any act of genocide. The rhetoric of the highest officials of the Israeli state has, ever since Israel came into existence, dehumanised Palestinians and likened them to vermin and insects, just like the Nazis once dehumanised Jews. It is as though that evil serum never went away and is now only being recirculated….

“And now, while the US exports what it has in abundant surplus – weapons and money to aid Israel’s genocide – India too is exporting what our country has in abundant surplus: the unemployed poor to replace the Palestinian workers who will no longer be given work permits to enter Israel…. US money and Indian poverty combine to oil Israel’s genocidal war machine. What a terrible, unthinkable, shame.

“The Palestinians, facing down the most powerful countries in the world, left virtually alone even by their allies, have suffered immeasurably…. The young generation in the western world, particularly the new generation of young Jewish people in the US, have seen through the brainwashing and propaganda and have recognised apartheid and genocide for what it is…. Palestine will be free.”

Opponent of Large Dams

In the 1990s, Roy spoke out against the construction of large dams in India, alleging that they were harmful to the natural environment and many of the tribal peoples who lived near the locations where such dams were situated. She spoke about this issue, for instance, at the World Water Forum held at the Hague in January 1999. That same year at Cambridge University, Roy delivered the Nehru Memorial Lecture on the subject of the environmental ramifications of large-scale dams.

In 1999 as well, Roy published an essay titled “The Greater Common Good,” in which she accused the Indian government, the World Bank, bureaucrats, and politicians of being insensitive to the suffering that large dams had inflicted upon millions of tribal people in India’s Narmada River valley. As noted: “[Roy] stresses that tribal people gather everything they need, such as food, fuel, fodder, rope, gum, tobacco, tooth powder, medicinal herbs, and housing materials, from the forest but are being driven away from rivers and forests by such [large dam] projects.” “Big dams are to a Nation’s ‘Development’ what Nuclear Bombs are to its Military Arsenal,” wrote Roy. “They’re both weapons of mass destruction. Both Twentieth-Century emblems that mark a point in time when human intelligence has outstripped its own instinct for survival.”

Narrowly Evading Sedition Charges

In 2010, Roy narrowly avoided sedition charges after publicly speaking out in favor of independence for the Kashmir region of northern India.

Ties to Maoism

A vocal backer of Maoist-supported Naxalite insurgency groups, Roy in December 2015 was issued a contempt-of-court notice for an article in which she defended a professor who had been arrested for alleged ties to Maoism.

Condemning American Racism

On October 17-18, 2020, Roy and the lifelong revolutionary communist Angela Davis were among the radical-left activists who heard testimony at a virtual “People’s Tribunal and Congress” (PTC) sponsored by Rising Majority, which was a project of the Movement for Black Lives, which in turn was a fiscally sponsored project of the Alliance for Global Justice. Rising Majority described the PTC as follows:

“In the tradition of international tribunals against state terror , we the people will hold corrupt government officials, greedy corporations, and actors of white supremacist and patriarchal violence accountable for the terror our communities face. The Tribunal will lay out the crimes of U.S. policy and the policies and practices of dominant institutions that perpetuate white supremacy, state terror, racial capitalism, empire and hetero-patriarchy. The biggest uprising in U.S. history has focused on police violence and racism but the demands of the movement reflect a bigger agenda and a deeper analysis. This tribunal will document in human terms, the pain and suffering caused by current policies and practices.”

Additional Information about Arundhati Roy

To view a list of the books that Roy has authored over the course of her literary career, click here and here.

Roy resides in Delhi, India, where she continues to write and speak out on a wide array of issues.

Further Reading

Biography of Arundhati Roy (

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