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Shvoong Home>Arts & Humanities>"Tide? Or Ivory Snow?" Summary

"Tide? Or Ivory Snow?"

Book Summary   by:Ann Lee     Original Author: Arundhati Roy
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William Greider said, "The gross conditions that inspired Karl Marx's original critique of capitalism in the nineteenth century are present and flourishing again." In Arundhati Roy's article "Tide? Or Ivory Snow?" she describes these conditions, and she faults the capitalist system for them. Roy uses a structuralist perspective when she cites "Empire" as a main aspect of society today. "Empires" or imperialist monopolies, as Lenin referred to them, concentrate capital and do not use surplus captial to imporve living standards of undeveloped nations; rather they use their economic power to seek a greater profit. Roy cites lost jobs, unpayable bills, cut water supplies, evictions, and uprooting of people from their lands as results. The exploited people, she says, conduct mass resistance movements in non-violent and violent forms. She claims that violent resistance tends to earn more attention and is more successful; therefore, it has become more prominent. As a structuralist, Roy faults globalization, class differences among nations, imperialism, and economic colonialism (neo-colonialism), which are derivatives of the capitalist economic system, for our present state of affairs.
Roy states that "economic colonialism through formal military aggression is staging a comeback." As an example, she says Iraq is the frontline for a battle against Empire. This is to say that there is a conflict between a core state and a periphery state because the structure of our capitalist system provides violence as a viable option for underdeveloped nations in the form of the suicide attacks in New York. At the same time, the United States is using violence in a neo-colonial attempt to expand its markets. In this scenario, the actors are the two nation-states, which are motivated by economic interests.
However, Roy fails to include other actors in her explanation. It is highly plausible that in this situation, the state is not the most importnat actor. A critical theorist using the rational choice critique would say that the individual (elected official in this case) is the most important actor. Perhaps Sadam Hussein is not waging a timeless struggle against the evils of capitalist imperialist nations. Perhaps he is seeking publicity, a place in the history books, or even to fulfill a religious doctrine. And maybe George W. Bush is not attempting to expand American markets or resource base. Maybe he is trying to seem strong in front of the American people after the attacks of September 11. When individuals motivated by self-interest have such powerful positions in the international system, it is naive to overlook them as actors.
Published: August 19, 2005   
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