On History: Tariq Ali and Oliver Stone in Coversation

Published by Haymarket Books, 2011

In working together on two challenging new documentaries—South of the Border and the forthcoming 13-part, 13-hour Untold History of the United States series for Showtime—filmmaker Oliver Stone engaged with author and filmmaker Tariq Ali in a probing, hard-hitting conversation on the politics of history. Their dialogue brings to light a number of forgotten—or deliberately buried—episodes of American history, from the U.S. intervention against the Russian Revolution, to the dynamic radicalism of the Wobblies, how Henry Wallace’s nomination for the vice-presidency was deliberately thwarted by Democratic Party machine insiders, to the ongoing close connections between various U.S. presidents and the Saudi royal family. For Stone and Ali—two of our most insightful observers on history and popular culture—no topic is sacred, no orthodoxy goes unchallenged.

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From the archive

  • ‘America’s selective vigilantism will make as many enemies as friends’

    September 6, 2011

    ‘America’s selective vigilantism will make as many enemies as friends’ by Tariq Ali for the Guardian, September 6 2011

    “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception,” Carl Schmitt wrote in different times almost a century ago, when European empires and armies dominated most continents and the United States was basking beneath an isolationist sun. What the conservative theorist meant by “exception” was a state of emergency, necessitated by serious economic or political cataclysms, that required a suspension of the constitution, internal repression and war abroad.

    A decade after the attentats of 9/11, the US and its European allies are trapped in a quagmire. The events of that year were simply used as a pretext to remake the world and to punish those states that did not comply. And today while the  …

  • The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity

    January 1, 2003

    Published by Verso, 2003

    In The Clash of Fundamentalisms, Tariq Ali puts the events of September 11 into sweeping historical perspective. As we have come to expect from him, he is lucid, eloquent, literary, and painfully honest, as he dissects both Islamic and Western fundamentalism.

    The aerial attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, a global spectacle of unprecedented dimensions, generated an enormous volume of commentary. The inviolability of the American mainland, breached for the first time since 1812, led to extravagant proclamations by the pundits. It was a new world-historical turning point. The 21st century, once greeted triumphally as marking the dawn of a worldwide neoliberal civilization, suddenly became menaced. The choice presented from the White House and its supporters was to stand shoulder-to-shoulder against terrorism or be damned.

    Tariq Ali challenges these assumptions, arguing instead that  …