Neoliberal Capitalism in the Indian Organized Crime Fiction of Vikram Chandra and Salman Rushdie
- ariel: A Review of International English Literature
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 52, Numbers 3-4, July-October 2021
- pp. 95-115
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Close study reveals the systemically interwoven nature of the criminal and licit sectors of capitalist economies, yet capitalist society seeks to legitimize the latter sector by attempting to hegemonically externalize or Other the former. It often does so by associating the criminal sector with stigmatized minority and/or immigrant groups, who are blamed for all of society's ills. Placing blame in this way allows the capitalist ownership class to falsely pass itself off as virtuous and free of the taint of criminality or of having engaged in criminal acts. There is a systematic sociocultural denial of the fact that capitalism produces all forms of conceivable capitalist accumulation, regardless of whether they accord with received notions of morality or legality. This essay argues that Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games and Salman Rushdie's novels The Moor's Last Sigh and The Golden House challenge this hegemonic Manichean conceptualization of crime and capitalism by thematizing the close relationships between capitalism and organized criminality in India. In the face of a socioeconomic system whose spiraling material inequalities are eroding democracy and fueling the rise of fundamentalist nationalisms, these novels counter the hegemonic legitimizing narratives that present success within the world of neoliberal capitalism as a function of meritocratic entrepreneurialness. They also present a perspective on organized crimes that resists the doxa that criminal acts and capitalist successes are wholly discrete, disparate phenomena.