The last time I read anything by Arundhati Roy was The Algebra of Infinite Justice back in college. If it’s any consolation, my Communist tendencies have taken a beating since then. However, after having read her new collection of essays, Broken Republic, I’m starting to think that she’s either misunderstood or intentionally misinterpreted by her detractors. There’s no question that she’s a Maoist sympathizer but certainly not the traitor she’s made out to be.
She’s also quite aware of the inherent ridiculousness of party ideologies.
Each faction believes itself to be the only genuinely revolutionary Marxist party or political formation. Each believes the other has misinterpreted Communist theory and misunderstood history. Anyone who isn’t a card-carrying member of one or the other group will be able to see that none of them is entirely wrong or entirely right about what they say. But bitter splits, not unlike those in religious sects, are the natural corollary of the rigid conformity to the party line demanded by all Communist parties. So they dip into a pool of insults that dates back to the Russian and Chinese revolutions, to the great debates between Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, to Chairman Mao’s red book, and hurl them at each other. They accuse each other of the ‘incorrect application’ of ‘Marxist-Leninist-Mao Zedong Thought’, almost as though it’s an ointment that’s being rubbed in the wrong place.
While I had problems with her rather accommodationist views on Naxal extremism, Broken Republic was quite an interesting and enlightening read.