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From the Author of No Land an Island and Unconscionable

Pondering Alphabetic SOLUTIONS: Peace, Politics, Public Affairs, People Relations




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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Good people melting ‘democracy’ glacier — Arundhati Roy

Siachen Glacier 
source for part of 
Indus River System
Sidebar remembrance
“I really do inhabit a system in which words are 
capable of shaking the entire structure of government 
where words 
can prove mightier 
than ten military divisions” 
[VÁCLAV HAVEL, 1936-2011]

Good People's Melting-Glacier Democracy — Arundhati Roy
Editing by Carolyn Bennett

“…What happens once democracy has been used up,” Arundhati Roy asks — when it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasized into something dangerous — ‘Democracy’ [fused with] the free market into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximizing profit?

“… Can governments whose very survival depends on immediate, extractive, short-term gain provide what we need today, for the sake of the survival of this planet: long-term vision?

Will democracy — “the sacred answer to our short-term hopes and prayers, the protector of our individual freedoms and nurturer of our avaricious dreams — turn out to be the endgame for the human race?”

“…Perhaps the story of the Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world, is the most appropriate metaphor for the insanity of our times.

“Thousands of Indian and Pakistani soldiers have been deployed there, enduring chill winds and temperatures that dip to minus 40 degrees Celsius. Of the hundreds who have died there, many have died just from the elements.

Wars, Geopolitical Conflict zones
Indus River Basin
India, Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China
“The glacier has become a garbage dump, littered with the detritus of war — thousands of empty artillery shells, empty fuel drums, ice axes, old boots, tents, and every other kind of waste that thousands of warring human beings generate. The garbage remains intact, perfectly preserved at those icy temperatures, a pristine monument to human folly.

“While the Indian and Pakistani governments spend billions of dollars on weapons and the logistics of high-altitude warfare, the battlefield has begun to melt.

“… It has shrunk to about half its size. The melting has less to do with the military standoff than with people far away, on the other side of the world, living the good life.

They are good people who believe in peace, free speech, and in human rights.

They live in thriving democracies whose governments sit on the UN Security Council and whose economies depend heavily on the export of war and the sale of weapons to countries like India and Pakistan (and Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, the Republic of Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan … the list is long).

“The glacial melt will cause severe floods on the subcontinent, and eventually severe drought that will affect the lives of millions of people. That will give us even more reasons to fight. We will need more weapons.  Who knows? That sort of consumer confidence may be just what the world needs to get over the current recession. 

“Then everyone in the thriving democracies will have an even better life — and the glaciers will melt even faster.”

Sources and notes

“What have we done to democracy? (Arundhati Roy, September 28, 2009, at Third World Traveler, http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Arundhati_Roy/WhatHaveWeDoneDemocracy.html

India-born Arundhati Roy is an author and lecturer. Among her books are Listening to Grasshoppers: Fields Notes on Democracy and An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire

Siachen Glacier: One of the world’s longest mountain glaciers lying in the Karakoram Range system of Kashmir near the India–Pakistan border, extending for 44 miles (70 kilometers) from north-northwest to south-southeast. It has a number of fast-flowing surface streams and at least 12 medial moraines. It is the source for the 50-mile-long Nubra River, a tributary of the Shyok, which is part of the Indus River system.

The United Nations Security Council is composed of five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States

The current ten non-permanent members (with year of term's end) are:

Austria (2010), Japan (2010), Turkey (2010), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2011), Lebanon (2011) Uganda (2010), Brazil (2011) Mexico (2010), Gabon (2011) Nigeria (2011) 

Britannica images (Siachen Glacier)
Photo: The upper Indus River, between Skārdu and the confluence with the Gilgit River, northern Pakistan, Jaroslav Poncar/Bruce Coleman, Ltd.
Map: The Indus River basin and its drainage network, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
News Notes:


Czech Republic
Havel (b. October 5, 1936, in Prague) was a writer and dramatist; one of the first Spokesmen for Charter 77, a leading Figure of the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the previous President of Czechoslovakia, the first president of the Czech Republic.

Václav Havel grew up in a well-known entrepreneurial and intellectual family closely linked to the cultural and political events in Czechoslovakia from the 1920’s to the 1940’s.

The intellectual tradition of his family compelled Václav Havel to pursue the humanitarian values of Czech culture, which were harshly suppressed in the 1950’s. Following his return from two years of military service, he worked as a stage technician — first at Divadlo ABC, and then, in 1960, at Divadlo Na zabradli. From 1962 until 1966, he studied Drama by correspondence at the Faculty of Theatre of the Academy of Musical Arts, and completed his studies with a commentary on the play ‘Eduard,’ which became the basis of his own ‘The Increased Difficulty of Concentration.’

Because of political links, the communists did not allow Havel to study formally after having completed required schooling in 1951. In the first part of the 1950's, a young Václav Havel entered into a four-year apprenticeship as a chemical laboratory assistant and simultaneously took evening classes to complete his secondary education (which he did in 1954). For political reasons he was not accepted into any post-secondary school with a humanities program; therefore, he opted to study at the Faculty of Economics of Czech Technical University. He left this program after two years. http://vaclavhavel.cz/index.php?sec=1&id=1&setln=2

Quote attributed to VÁCLAV HAVEL, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/v/vaclav_havel.html#ixzz1gvFSymbm



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