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  …

Read more

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  …

Read more

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  …

Read more

‘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  …

Read more

“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.

Read more

From the archive

  • ‘At the Manor of the White Queen’ – Tariq Ali blogs for the LRB

    August 10, 2010

    Tariq Ali on Zardari for the London Review of Books Blog, August 10, 2010

    As the floodwaters surged through Pakistan, killing hundreds of people and displacing millions, the president was on his way to Europe. Properties had to be inspected; his son had to be crowned as the future leader of Pakistan at a rally in Birmingham. And to reinforce Zardari’s pose as the permanent widower of the ‘goddess of democracy’, the kids had to be introduced to both Sarko and Cameron.

    Mercifully the coronation in Birmingham was postponed. It was too crass even for the loyalists. Instead Zardari delivered an appalling speech and a Kashmiri elder, angered by the nonsense being spouted, rose to his feet and hurled one of his shoes at the businessman-president. Zardari left the hall in anger. ‘Zardari joins the Shoe Club with  …

  • ‘Imperialism and democracy don’t mix’

    January 1, 2008

    ‘Imperialism and democracy don’t mix’, an interview with International Socialist Review, Jan-Feb 2008

    What role is the U.S. trying to play since 9/11 in Pakistan?

    Musharraf has succeeded in isolating himself from the population, including from sections of the elite, because he’s played his cards very badly. When he came in—like all these military rulers who run countries—he pledged a whole set of reforms. He was the first Pakistani military dictator who didn’t censor the press or ban political parties and trade unions. He said all that will carry on as before, which is unusual.

    In fact, in the first years of his rule the media flourished. It was much freer than it had been even under civilian governments. A whole number of television stations sprang up, which are still in operation. This is one of the ironies  …

  • ‘Toward A New Radical Politics’

    August 8, 2006

    ‘Toward A News Radical Politics’, an interview with Tariq Ali by Paige Austin for Mother Jones, August 8, 2006

    Mother Jones: In the letter that you and several other writers published on July 19, you said the “liquidation of the Palestinian nation” is proceeding more rapidly these days. How long have you felt that the possibility of Palestinian statehood is gone?

    Tariq Ali: I have felt that for some years, even before these latest Israeli actions. Once it became clear to the Palestinians that the Oslo accords were a farce and that no Israeli government was prepared to implement even the limited concessions they had promised in them, then it was only a matter of time. My view has always been that either the Palestinians get a fair and just state or you have a single-state solution—there is  …