I trust a Democracy Now interview response better than my own words. Thanks for the tip-off, Shash.
AMY GOODMAN: “Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of The Constant Gardener?”
JOHN LE CARRÉ: “It’s a young fellow in the Foreign Office, born into the clover, Eton-educated, a sense of political responsibility, a little bit of a frozen child, stiff parents, no love in his early life, falls in love with a beautiful, idealistic young woman, and she marries him. It’s almost she who does it. And they go off to Kenya, and she engages in charitable work and comes upon evidence that a big pharmaceutical company is using a bunch of people in a village in Africa, in Kenya, as human guinea pigs. They sign the consent forms. They don’t know what they’re signing. They’re bullied into it by the local representatives of the pharmaceutical company. Everything is outsourced. Everything is given away to other people, so that the company itself is never directly responsible. And she becomes very involved in this. She takes a stand, and she is murdered. He, who adores her, comes to the conclusion that he must take up her message and take up her fight, and carries it on. And in the end, romantically—I’m nothing, if not a romantic, in some respects—in the end he dies, as part of the mission, and you may say that he joins her, makes a similar sacrifice. And so, they, both of them, did the decent thing against the most anonymous and horrific kind of threat, which is one of sort of untouchable corporate power.
The things that are done in the name of the shareholder are, to me, as terrifying as the things that are done—dare I say it—in the name of God. Montesquieu said, “There have never been so many civil wars as in the Kingdom of God.” And I begin to feel that’s true. The shareholder is the excuse for everything. And, to me—I’m not suggesting we make some sudden lurch into socialism, that isn’t the case at all. I think it’s more to do with the exercise of individual conscience.”