LRB Diary

Conversations in Cairo are punctuated by dates: 11 February (Mubarak’s fall), 24 June (Morsi’s election), 30 June (Sisi’s coup), which takes a bit of getting used to. On the street murals depicting the martyrs are defaced with black ink; barbed wire, state-constructed barricades and gates used to seal off roads remain in place. My publisher, Karem Youssef, talks me through the geography of the uprising, describing how she herself was radicalised as week followed week. It’s too soon to treat the events nostalgically since, according to some, they are not yet over. I’m not sure about that, but what is indisputable is that hope is dead.

During and after the uprising Mubarak’s name stood for amorality, cynicism, duplicity, corruption, greed and opportunism. A few months after Morsi’s triumph at the polls, the same adjectives were being used to describe his rule,  …

Read more

How Vladimir Putin became evil

Once again, it seems that Russia and the United States are finding it difficult to agree on how to deal with their respective ambitions. This clash of interests is highlighted by the Ukrainian crisis. The provocation in this particular instance, as the leaked recording of a US diplomat, Victoria Nuland, saying “Fuck the EU” suggests, came from Washington.

Several decades ago, at the height of the cold war, George Kennan, a leading American foreign policy strategist invited to give the Reith Lectures, informed his audience: “There is, let me assure you, nothing in nature more egocentric than embattled democracy. It soon becomes the victim of its own propaganda. It then tends to attach to its own cause an absolute value which distorts its own vision … Its enemy becomes the embodiment of all evil. Its own side is the centre  …

Read more

The Abbotabad Incident: A Lesson For Young Americans

Antigone: Death yearns for equal law for the dead. Creon: Not that the good and bad draw equal shares. Antigone: Who knows that this is holiness below? Creon: Never the enemy, even in death, a friend. Antigone: I cannot share in hatred, but in love. Creon: Then go down there, if you must love, and love the dead. No woman rules me while I live.

Antigone, Sophocles, 441 BCE  

U-S-A. U-S-A. Obama got Osama. Obama Got Osama. You can’t beat us (clap-clap-clap-clap-clap-clap). You can’t beat us. Fuck bin La-den. Fuck bin La-den.

N+1 Blog, chants heard at Ground Zero, New York, May 2011

We got Voldemort, We Got Voldermort.

Chant, heard on campuses at Iowa, Stanford, and UC Davis, May 2011

 

Contrary to what many liberals imagined in November 2008, the debasement of American political culture continues apace. Instead of reversing the trend,  …

Read more

Stuart Hall’s message to those who want change

It is the way our sympathy flows and recoils that really determines our lives. This opening sentence from Stuart Hall’s 1960 review of Lady Chatterley’s Lover belongs to DH Lawrence. The critic had unearthed it from deep inside the novel. It could serve as an epitaph for Stuart himself. His own sympathies and aversions played a huge part in determining his political makeup. It is not easy to sum up what he leaves behind in a few words. Soon, one hopes, that the conversation his colleague and friend, Bill Schwartz had been conducting with him over several years will be edited and published in book form.

He was, first and foremost, a political person. Politics mattered to him and enabled him to develop his skills as a mesmerising orator.

He was a 1956-er. The twin crises that erupted that year  …

Read more

Pakistan’s future is tied to the Taliban

Twelve years ago, a few weeks into the occupation of Afghanistan, I suggested (in these pages) that the euphoria aroused by an easy conquest was misplaced. It would be a long war and one of its side effects would be to seriously destabilise Pakistan. Unfortunately, events have not contradicted the analysis. The spillover into Pakistan has been creating havoc for years. The view that this has nothing to do with Afghanistan is too shallow to deserve serious consideration.

It’s no secret that, since 9/11, successive governments –Musharraf, Zardari and now the Sharif brothers – have agreed to US drone attacks and been aware of covert CIA operations being carried out in Pakistan. Opinion polls, however, reveal that a large majority of Pakistani citizens are opposed to US policies. The capitulation of liberal secular parties to Washington left the field wide  …

Read more

From the archive

  • Tariq Ali: From Cairo to Madison

    March 24, 2011

    From Cairo to Madison: The Arab Revolution and a World in Motion

    Join renowned author Tariq Ali at Brooklyn’s Galapagos Art Space for a discussion of the global implications of the revolts shaking North Africa and the Middle East.

    This is a free event open to the public—doors at 7pm, talk at 8pm.

    PLEASE REGISTER TO ATTEND

    Brought to you by Haymarket Books and Verso Books.

    Tuesday May 17th 7.00pm – 10.00pm Galapagos Art Space 16 Main Street, DUMBO Brooklyn, NY 11201 United States

  • ‘A beacon of hope for the rebirth of Bolívar’s dream’

    November 9, 2006

    ‘A beacon of hope for the rebirth of Bolívar’s dream’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, November 9, 2006

    A shadow of his former self, Ortega’s victory is still an expression of the wider demand for change sweeping Latin America

    Daniel Ortega, blessed by the church, flanked by a former Contra as his vice-president and still loathed by the US ambassador, may be a sickly shadow of his former self, but his victory undoubtedly reflects the desire of Nicaraguans for change. Will Managua follow the radically redistributive policies of anti-imperialist Caracas or confine itself to rhetoric and remain a client of the International Monetary Fund?

    Ortega’s victory comes at a time when Latin America is on the march again. There have been some spectacular demonstrations of the popular will in Porto Alegre, Caracas, Buenos Aires, Cochabamba and Cuzco,  …