Tariq Ali on history and fiction

James Saville writes for the Dhaka Tribune:

On Sunday evening Tariq, who came here to attend the Hay Festival Dhaka 2013, captivated an audience of students and professors at ULAB with a talk entitled ‘History and Fiction’

Always eloquent, and by turns sombre and witty, Tariq Ali, the renowned British Pakistani writer and journalist, beguiled his audience with a potted history of capitalism since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Tariq, who came here to attend the Hay Festival Dhaka 2013, captivated an audience of students and professors at ULAB with a talk entitled ‘History and Fiction.’

He told of the astonishing success of China’s particular brand of capitalism, and how he believes this has turned it into such an unequal society.

“More so than the United States of America, or any western European capitalist country, the gap between rich and poor  …

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L’islam est un roman

La nuit du papillon d’or (Night of the Golden Butterfly) reviewed by Philippe Chevilley for Les Echos, October 4, 2011

 

Tariq Ali auteur d’un « Quintet de l’islam », c’est un peu comme si Besancenot avait écrit une saga romanesque sur Jésus et ses disciples. Héraut de la « new left », cet intellectuel anglo-pakistanais athée, né à Lahore, a fourbi ses premières armes contre la guerre du Vietnam. C’est, depuis, un pourfendeur acharné de l’empire américain, du néolibéralisme, mais aussi un analyste très critique du fondamentalisme musulman… Pourtant en complément de ses prises de parole, de ses articles et de ses essais politiques acérés, cet anticonformiste fringant de bientôt soixante-huit ans a décidé il y a vingt ans de faire de l’islam un roman. Il sort cette semaine en France le cinquième et dernier volet censé boucler la boucle : « La Nuit  …

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Tariq Ali’s Hazlitt Society annual lecture: ‘Is Capitalism A Threat to Democracy?’

‘Is Capitalism A Threat to Democracy?’ reviewed by Kate Webb for the Camden New Journal, September 22 2011

The form of capitalism we are living under today is defective and it’s wrecking everything generations have achieved. If it goes on for three more decades we will be unrecognisable. Something must happen, but what?”

So said Tariq Ali on Saturday at Conway Hall as it hosted the Hazlitt Society’s annual memorial lecture.

Ali was this year’s speaker – at 67 one of England’s grandest and yet most public-friendly intellectuals, he is usually to be found debating in town halls or bookshops, on Newsnight or Al Jazeera.

He used the occasion to ask the question now on many people’s minds: as bankers and politicians frogmarch us into financial catastrophe, and armed police are turned on angry, rioting citizens: “Is Capitalism  …

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‘Shimmering Prose against the Clash of Civilisations’

Night of the Golden Butterfly reviewed by Claudia Kramatschek for Qantara, June 10, 2011

Since 9/11 at the latest, every fable on the state of our world appears to follow a formula that is as cheap as it is simplifying: The dominant rhetorical model is that of a clash of civilisations, depicting one side as enlightened and therefore per se in the right, and the other as backward and caught up in the constant agony of crisis and terror.

The western media – and if nothing else the journalist and novelist Tariq Ali, who was born in Pakistan in 1943 and emigrated to London in 1963 owing to his political activities, also makes this clear in his new novel – add their own model to the mix, with the result that the word Islam automatically makes people think  …

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“Barbed and Brilliant”—Tariq Ali’s The Obama Syndrome

Two book reviews in Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry and Opinion contrast the style and substance of Tariq Ali’s The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad to veteran US journalist Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars. While Woodward “mumbles, in cotton mouthed grammar” about imperial ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ali

pronounces the US-and-European-installed puppet government in Afghanistan a “bogus construct [that] never had the slightest legitimacy in the country, lacking even a modicum of the narrow but dedicated base the Taliban had enjoyed.”

Woodward focuses on the struggles between those walking the corridors of power, while Ali places Obama within the historical trajectory of the imperial presidency, suggesting that “Obama has acted as just another steward of the American empire.”

Visit Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry and Opinion to read more.

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From the archive

  • The Obama Syndrome

    August 25, 2010

    Forthcoming from Verso, October 2010

    A merciless dissection of Obama’s overseas escalation and domestic retreat …

    What has really changed since Bush left the White House? Very little, argues Ali in The Obama Syndrome, apart from the mood music. The hopes aroused during Obama’s election campaign have rapidly receded. Following the financial crisis, the “reform” president bailed out Wall Street without getting anything in return. With Democratic Party leaders and representatives bought by the lobbying system, the healthcare reform bill was quickly eviscerated, public education delivered to the market and the big banks rewarded with light-touch regulation. Abroad, the “war on terror” continues: torture on a daily basis in Bagram, Iraq indefinitely occupied, Israel permanently appeased, and more troops and drone attacks in Af-Pak than under Bush. Obama’s failures are paving the way for a Republican surge, while his own  …

  • Scotland on Sunday reviews The Protocols of the Elders of Sodom

    August 9, 2009

    The Protocols of the Elders of Sodom reviewed by  Marc Lambert for Scotland on Sunday, August 9, 2009

    The intrusion of politics into a work of literature, Stendhal once wrote, “is like a pistol shot in the middle of a concert, something loud and vulgar, and yet a thing to which it is not possible to refuse one’s attention”. This piece of wit introduces Ali’s entertaining and informative selection of occasional pieces, documenting his literary, political and cultural interests over the last three decades.

    Each essay is a shot in the air, even if most have been aired before. There is some repetition, and some duds, such as the essay which gives the book its title, a spoof on Proust, Zionism and homosexuality that doesn’t quite work. But for the most part Ali is provocative, polemical and  …