From the poisoned rivers, barren wells, and clear-cut forests, to the hundreds of thousands of farmers who have committed suicide to escape punishing debt, to the hundreds of millions of people who live on less than two dollars a day, there are ghosts nearly everywhere you look in India. India is a nation of 1.2 billion, but the country’s 100 richest people own assets equivalent to one-fourth of India’s gross domestic product.
Capitalism: A Ghost Story examines the dark side of democracy in contemporary India, and shows how the demands of globalized capitalism has subjugated billions of people to the highest and most intense forms of racism and exploitation.
Part political journalism, part polemic, Roy's (Walking with the Comrades) book begins with Karl Marx's quip that capitalism is like a sorcerer's apprentice, conjuring forces too strong for it to control. She labels these apprentices as America's multinational corporations and the various organizations that act as tentacles, disrupting the cultures, economies, and governments of the world. Prominent in the list are endowed foundations like those started by Ford and Rockefeller, which transformed the fortunes of the US's most successful magnates into political influence by funding the beginnings of the U.N., the CIA, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Research and Development (RAND) Corporation. Roy traces the links between these groups and the co-optation of social science research, using NGOs to soften the politics of radical social movements in the face of IMF-imposed structural adjustment, and the separation of feminist and class analysis in mainstream political discussions. Roy's central concern is the effect on her own country, and she shows how Indian politics have taken on the same model, leading to the ghosts of her book's title: 250,000 farmers have committed suicide, 800 million impoverished and dispossessed Indians, environmental destruction, colonial-like rule in Kashmir, and brutal treatment of activists and journalists. In this dark tale, Roy gives rays of hope that illuminate cracks in the nightmare she evokes.