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

  • ‘How Obama surrendered at home and waged war abroad’

    October 31, 2010

    ‘How Obama surrendered at home and waged war abroad’ by Tariq Ali for the Daily Telegraph, October 30, 2010

    As the midterms rapidly approach, the beleaguered US President’s ratings are in steep decline, putting him on the defensive with little to offer his supporters except fine words. Those supporters have been voicing their discontent on the television networks but, much more seriously, are likely to punish Obama by staying at home and ignoring the ballot box on Tuesday.

    Indeed, this has been a humiliating time for the once seemingly messianic President. This week’s decision for Obama to appear on the US satirical current affairs TV programme The Daily Show – which is largely watched by liberal voters – was a disaster. The audience openly laughed at him; the presenter, Jon Stewart, gave Obama the honour of being the first  …

  • Tariq Ali’s speech at the National Demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

    August 13, 2014

    Here is a video of Tariq Ali’s speech at the largest UK demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

  • ‘Unhappy Yemen’ in The London Review of Books

    March 23, 2010

    ‘Unhappy Yemen’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review of Books, March 25, 2010

    I left for Yemen as Obama was insisting that ‘large chunks’ of the country were ‘not fully under government control’, after Senator Joseph Lieberman had cheerfully announced that it was a suitable target for war and occupation. The sad underwear bomber who tried to blow up the Amsterdam flight on Christmas Day had triggered a new interest in the country, and in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), by claiming that while he was converted to hardcore Islamism in Britain, his crash course in suicide terrorism, mercifully inadequate, had been provided by AQAP somewhere in Yemen.

    Yemen is a proper country, unlike the imperial petrol stations dotted across other parts of the Arabian Peninsula, where the ruling elites live in hurriedly constructed skyscrapers designed  …

  • Tariq Ali’s speech at the National Demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

    August 13, 2014

    Here is a video of Tariq Ali’s speech at the largest UK demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

  • ‘Six years of a war of terror’

    October 26, 2007

    ‘Six years of a war of terror’, an interview with Tariq Ali by Sherry Wolf for Socialist Worker, October 26, 2007

    This is the sixth anniversary of the U.S. war on Afghanistan, which a lot of people see as the “good” battle in the “war on terror,” as opposed to Iraq. Is that true?

    I have always argued that this was essentially a crude war of revenge to hit back immediately after the September 11 attacks—for political leaders to show the American population that “we are busy defending you.” It had no other major purpose to it other than being for revenge—an eye for an eye.

    The second aim of this war, as Bush spelled it out, was to capture Osama bin Laden “dead or alive.” Those were his exact words, which we shouldn’t forget. Apart from that,  …