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

  • ‘Obama hope was all hype’

    October 29, 2010

    ‘Obama hope was all hype’ by Tariq Ali for the Guardian, October 28 2010

    As the midterms approach, 15 million Americans are out of work and Obama’s ratings hover at about 40% to 45%. There is no doubt Democrat majorities in house and Senate may disappear. Democrats in marginal seats keep the president at arm’s length, aware that the mood of the electorate reflects the desperate straits in which the country finds itself.

    Obama’s electoral triumph of 2008 coincided with the most colossal economic crisis since the Great Depression (and far more global in scope); to add to his troubles, two wars were under way on difficult terrain in far away Islamic lands. The first few months of 2009 became the most abbreviated honeymoon period granted a new president in recent memory.

    In times of crisis, the incumbent suffers. And the  …

  • Tariq Ali on Imperialism, the Arab Spring, and the crisis

    March 23, 2012

    David Barsamian interviewed Tariq Ali in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on October 26, 2011 for the International Socialist Review.

    The Revolts in the Arab Middle East, beginning in Tunisia in December of 2010, seemingly took the world by surprise. But before we talk about what’s happened in the last year, set the historical context of the post-colonial Arab states.

    Essentially what happened in the Arab world after the Second World War was that the weakening of the British and French empires made it very difficult for them to exercise any real control. So it was only a question of time. Saudi Arabia had already been sorted out during the Second World War itself, when Roosevelt and the American government took charge of the kingdom without a word of thank you to the British. Saudi Arabia was then safe with  …