The Vassal’s Revolt

Rejoice. Rejoice. The first chain of vassaldom has been broken. They will repair it, no doubt, but let’s celebrate independence while it lasts. For the first time in fifty years, the House of Commons has voted against participating in an imperial war. Aware of the deep and sustained opposition inside the country and within the military establishment, members of parliament decided to represent the will of the people. The speeches of all three leaders were pretty pathetic. Neither the opposition amendment nor the war resolution could muster enough support. That’s all we needed. The thirty odd Tory dissidents who made British participation impossible by voting against their leadership deserve our thanks. Perhaps now the BBC will start reflecting popular opinion instead of acting as the voice of the warmongers.

Given Britain’s status abroad as Washington’s bloodshot adjutant, this vote will  …

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On Intervening in Syria

The aim of the ‘limited war’ as set out by the United States and its European vassals is simple. The Syrian regime was slowly re-establishing its control over the country against the opposition armed by the West and its tributary states in the region (Saudi Arabia and Qatar). This situation required correction. The opposition in this depressing civil war needed to be strengthened militarily and psychologically.

Since Obama had said chemical weapons were the ‘red line’, the weapons were bound to come into play. Cui prodest? as the Romans used to inquire. Who profits? Clearly, not the Syrian regime.

Several weeks ago, two journalists from Le Monde had already discovered chemical weapons. The question is: if they were used, who used them? The Obama administration and its camp followers would like us to believe that Assad permitted UN chemical weapons  …

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Feeling Good

Mercifully, I was in South India for two events that showed the English at their worst: a long-delayed sporting triumph and the arrival of George Alexander Louis. So I missed the response to Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon and the eruption that greeted the birth of yet another royal. Before these there was the ‘multicultural triumph’ of the Olympics, followed recently by the ‘illegal immigrant’ buses and non-white citizens being stopped at railway stations. Even the UKIP leader denounced this as not being ‘the British way’.

‘Feel-good’ moments never last long; underneath the decay continues. Amazon is permitted to destroy the bookshops while Google, Yahoo et al hand over encrypted lists of their users to the intelligence services. Much simpler than paying taxes. The assault on education; the continuing privatisation of the NHS; the never-ending propaganda directed against benefit claimants; the  …

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Tariq Ali: In Ankara

How it changes. When I was in Istanbul last April the mood was sombre. Even the most ebullient of friends were downcast. The latent hostility to the regime was always present, but the AKP’s hegemony, I was told many times, went deep. Erdo?an was a reptile, cynical but clever and not averse to quoting the odd verse from Nâz?m Hikmet, the much-loved communist poet imprisoned by Atatürk. The poet had escaped in a boat and been rescued by a Soviet tanker. ‘Can you prove you’re Hikmet,’ the captain asked him. He laughed and pointed to a poster in the captain’s cabin which had his photograph on it. He died in Moscow in 1963. His remains are still in exile.

Talk now was of food (the exquisite wafer-thin pizzas from the Syrian border) or the delights of children produced in middle  …

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The Filthy Rich Election

Tariq Ali for the London Review of Books, 20th June 2013

Not long before last month’s elections, dozens of workers (the youngest was 12) were burned to death in factory fires in Karachi and Lahore. Pakistan’s rulers were unmoved: there were token expressions of regret but no talk of tough new laws being passed after the election. There is barely any safety regulation in Pakistan, and if any legislation does impede business a modest bribe usually solves the problem. Factory inspections were discontinued during the Musharraf regime in order, it was claimed, to protect industry from harassment by state inspectors. Ali Enterprises, the factory that burned down in Karachi, somehow passed an inspection by a New York-based body called Social Accountability International.

As for outright crimes, it’s best to use the cloak of religion to justify them. This effectively paralyses  …

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From the archive

  • ‘For one day only, I’m a Lib Dem’

    March 26, 2005

    ‘For one day only, I’m a Lib Dem’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, March 26, 2005

    We must take the politics of the anti-war front into the electoral arena

    The crucial events that led to the occupation of Iraq by the US and Britain are now classified, proven and documented. Tony Blair and his New Labour cohorts, backed by their Conservative allies, lied without shame to drag a reluctant country to war. A dung-heap of “facts” was manufactured by Alastair Campbell and hurled at television and the print media. Those who questioned them were traduced and harassed. The million and a half who marched to try to prevent the war were ignored. Iraq was occupied. Despite the rushed and half-baked elections, a savage chaos still grips the country. The Archbishop of Canterbury remains silent. After the 2001  …

  • Tariq Ali: ‘Um escritor de vários países’

    March 13, 2012

    Interviw with Correio Braziliense March 1, 2012.

    Convidado para participar da 1ª Bienal Brasil do Livro e da Leitura, o paquistanês Tariq Ali mira suas palavras contra o neoliberalismo e as ações dos EUA no mundo islâmico

    A democracia pode ser comparada a uma noz vazia: depois de esmagada no chão, constata-se que não há nada dentro. Tariq Ali não pensou na animação A era do gelo, mas gostou da metáfora ao ponto de repeti-la em diversas entrevistas. Membro do conselho editorial da The new left review, o paquistanês radicado em Londres, e conhecido como um dos intelectuais de esquerda mais críticos da contemporaneidade, acredita que a democracia está doente, que os Estados Unidos precisam rapidamente de um novo partido e que a Europa está se autoimplodindo.

    Ali desembarca em Brasília em abril para participar da 1ª Bienal  …