The following is an interview with Tariq Ali conducted by the Times of India
How do you analyse the AAP phenomenon — is this anarchism entering politics with street protests becoming a popular mode of official expression?
AAP is one of the many parties on the globe that’s benefited from a widespread distrust of politicians and mainstream politics. People feel disenfranchised — whoever rules, their conditions remain the same. In Italy, the Five Star movement stormed into national parliament on a similar basis.
These are effectively single-issue parties. AAP is more confusionist than anarchist. As for elected governments mobilising people on the streets, why not? History is shaped by the nameless masses.
But can AAP, which shifts from leftist resistance against FDI to populist promises of subsidised water and electricity, provide a coherent economic roadmap?
It is contradictory. All such groups are — but people are so fed up with lies and false promises of other parties that they might well give it a bit more time.
Or, as is also possible, AAP will implode and fragments will move to other groups.
Speaking of which, there’s growing support for BJP’s Narendra Modi from India’s middle class compared to UPA’s Manmohan Singh — how do you view this?
The tragedy of contemporary India is that its two major political parties, just like in the US and EU, with a majority of its elites, civil servants, urban intelligentsias and media networks, share a common ideology in relation to the economy and the management of politics.
Modi’s role in Gujarat’s riots is therefore seen by many as insignificant — as long as he can run an effective authoritarian capitalist state, which is clearly beyond the capacities of both Manmohan Singh and the bird-brained remnants of a fading dynasty.
Modi-isation is viewed as modernisation which is seen by the elites as a capitalist steam-roller that should crush anything that stands in the way of profits.