Saturday, July 15, 2006

Arundhati Roy

For the official word on this Amazing woman click here. I had never heard of Arundhati Roy, I just saw her in a documentary and as I am prone to do fell in love. I feel compelled to write about her because I've probably been giving woman a bad run of late talking about D.u.f.f.'s and the Dumb bitches driving me towards Mike Patton ever firmerly.
I won't go into the background seriously click the fucking link to get an overview of her but she was immeadiately inspirational as a voice of reason amongst masses of voices of hollow affirmative noise. I like small people who stick up for themselves and more to the point others. There is nothing more inspiring than when a little old lady shames a neo-nazi into shutting up and being quiet on the tram.
Arundhati was like that.
Her dedication and activism to singlemindedly exploit her public image and put herself in danger, to just like Ghandi destroy the fear of jail by making her arrests such positive news stories for her causes is what ultimately makes me gravitate towards Arundhati and her style.
And then to see her celebrated by the villagers she speaks for in the Drowned Out documentary makes me love her all the more.
Moreover she articulatly and beautifully destroys the arguements that are nothing but a heinous manifestation of escalation of commitment.
Almost all organisations and individuals on some scale manage to trap themselves through this psychological catchall. I think it's why I love Musashi and his book changed my life. The imperative that needs to be reinforced is success. In swordfighting it is clear cut - you go in with a strategy and success is determined by whether you walk away or not. Musashi would advocate running away the moments it looks like you're going to lose. The indian government would advocate that you press on until you fail.
Most people in fact do because they attatch the useless value of shame to admitting a mistake and revising their strategy. People are prideful and attatched.
So when Arundhati puts up meaningful statistics to indicate the massive dam project wont work as was proposed, that thousands of people have been displaced and a couple of private citizens benefit the solution of the government and most organisations is to simply not measure the effectiveness, deny all secondary reports and plow on ahead.
She said at the world convention of water management 'People asked me why I came here today, I came here to see what power smells like and I can tell you it stinks.' I would feel soiled and shit if somebody described me that way I don't know how you could deal with it.
Arundhati like so many others has found a way to expose governments at their weakest point, the beauracracy that leads to escalation of commitment strategies. Yet somehow they keep surviving simply because they have learnt a tried and true technique to deal with it, not an empowered and effective one infact quite a dangerous one: Make irrelevant comments and just continue doing what you where doing.
Our governments have done it, America does it and it works by one virtue alone, often the human cost of creating an alternative system of government is greater than the human cost of what they are doing. So long as this equation is in balance I guess you can say democracy works.
Escalation of commitment always involves an investment. You or anyone outlays some money, this is used to purchase equipment, clothing, infrastructure etc. whatever benefits where to be derived from the investment just never substantiate. It doesn't work. However rather than except the loss of the invested funds and find one that does if say you were eating apples out of a bag and found one of them was bruised, most people naturally try to try their hardest to make the investment work. Companies run themselves into the ground more quickly using this mentality than by any other means 'we already spent so much on advertising' 'all the promotional material is printed' so sad too bad.
But you have to look at the big picture. To cut your losses so to speak. Synacism gets a bad wrap at most do gooder parties and clusters, people don't like how unenergetic it is. However let me tell you this with papal infalability no single perspective has caused more waste, grief and embarassment than the can do attitude, the 'we can take on ipod if we just try harder, we're bigger afterall' of Sony. IBM vs RCA 'Our computers are better, head to head we have to win' Warren Buffet recently histories biggest ever philanthropist said of managerial princes and corporate toads 'we are not in the business of kissing toads and turning them into princess, few managers have the natural talent and were we to put them in strong performing companies it would be better for all.' okay he didn't say that it's not an exact quote but the moral was don't invest in the 'can do' spirit.
And so Arundhati's protest is one motivated by love of her heartland, that is on the tried and true path to mediocraty which is building a massive dam that doesn't work that was intended to impress the world with your engineering capabilities but when it ceased to do that you spent more money as part of a propaganda campaign to promote it to your own people. Because the world isn't fucking impressed. And as soon as a company starts promoting itself to it's employees instead of it's customers it is already dead. It may be a long time coming but the can do spirit isn't an entreprenuerial, high risk one. It is an increadibly low risk because you are more or less gaurunteed to burn up all your resources and fail.
Yet despite having all this brought to the attention of the Indian government still they press on. So should they be surprised when their officials start getting stabbed to death in their car? I would argue no. Should Mugabe start to worry when the displaced people of his own nation start saying 'I have nothing left to live for' yes.
The real tragedy is the only sane person in so much insanity can come across as insane, I've experienced that first hand when I pointed out our Ad campaign was structured around a meaningless feauture and not a benifit. I got stared down because all the work had been done already and they then presented it to the sales department which out of form is meant to be impressed that marketing managed to spend some money. Yet benifits sell not features is a proven working strategy that even the most basicly trained salesperson knows.
Anyway read her wikipedia entry, I don't think she's insane I think she's beautiful.

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