A comment on Twitter about the lack of the Islamic world’s own Arundhati Roys, and therefore the lack of Leftism. My own reaction is that this is wrong. There is plenty of Leftism in the Islamic world, just not the sort of cultural criticism that Arundhati Roy specializes in.
To give an example, the PLO has several Communist member parties, and its largest element, Fatah, is Left-nationalist. Though the high-tide of Marxism in the Islamic world, and the developing world in general, was in the 1970s, the ghost of Left-nationalism haunts us to this day (the Syrian Ba’ath party has its origins on the Left, though today it is basically an Assad family enterprise). India, there remains to this day a militant Marxist movement.
So what’s going on with people like Arundhati Roy? I think the best way to understand her is that she is part of the global English-speaking intelligentsia, and as such caught up in cultural currents which are beyond, and above, her Indian milieu. She applies the tools and concerns which are validated among the global cultural Left to an Indian context.
It’s not just an English-speaking phenomenon. There is a global elite cultural movement united by share mores and disposition. Consider the movements for gay rights in East Asia, which seem to be clearly shaped by Western precursors. But, I think the Indian English-speaking elite exhibits the tendency to imitate and replicate far faster than in other developing societies because of its shared cultural presuppositions and linguistic fluency with the Anglosphere.