Socialist Worker

Arundhati Roy's The Algebra of Infinite Justice – demanding justice for the poor

by Farah Reza
Issue No. 1826

I could not put down the fantastic book by Arundhati Roy The Algebra of Infinite Justice. It is a collection of the main political essays she has written so far. The book includes new essays on Bush and Blair's 'war on terror', the Hindu chauvinist BJP government in India, and the effects of privatisation on ordinary people.

Older essays from The Cost of Living and Power Politics are also included. This book is a perfect introduction to Roy's essays for those who have not read her before, and for those who are familiar with her but want to read her more recent work. The strength of Arundhati Roy's writing is that her essays are so inspiring and well researched.

Her experiences as a talented novelist and a committed activist make her style both moving and uncompromising. Some of the national issues she takes on that are relevant to Indian politics are also relevant for socialists around the world.

They include fascism, government spending on weapons, the nuclear bomb, and the privatisation of essential resources such as water and energy. When looking at these issues Roy never takes her eye away from the struggles of ordinary people against the privileged few. While writing about the £1 billion deal that Tony Blair made with the Indian government to sell Hawk fighter-bombers this year, Roy calculates that 'for the price of a single Hawk bomber the government could provide one and a half million people with clean drinking water for life.'

The conclusion that Roy comes to, after writing about the track history of multinationals such as Enron across the world, is one all socialists would agree with. The title of the book comes from the first name that the Bush cabinet gave to the war on Afghanistan – 'Mission Infinite Justice'. They renamed it 'Mission Enduring Freedom'.

Roy argues that 'enduring freedom' for the privileged means the 'enduring subjugation' of others, and that the only thing worth globalising is resistance.

The Algebra of Infinite Justice by Arundhati Roy, £8.99. Available from Bookmarks – phone 020 7637 1848.

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Sat 16 Nov 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1826
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