Tag Archives: Trotskyism

Trotskyist or Trotskyish?

‘Trotsky: past, present… future?’ an interview with Tariq Ali by Kirsty Jane for Vulpes Libris, September 3, 2010

A leading figure of the Trotskyist movement in the sixties and seventies, Tariq Ali’s engagement with Trotsky goes far beyond party politics. Kirsty Jane met up with him at the Edinburgh Book Festival, where he was presenting his new novel Night of the Golden Butterfly, to talk about old friends… and new strategies.

You mentioned in Street Fighting Years that you first read Isaac Deutscher’s biography of Trotsky when you were ill in bed (and I wish I hadn’t known the rather TMI details of that… you’ve scarred me for life). How, then, did you begin to read Trotsky? What was your first contact with him?

After reading the Deutscher trilogy, I was just quite naturally drawn to read the writings of the subject of this amazing biography, which has no precedent. There’s nothing quite like it. So then I read My Life, Trotsky’s own account of his life, which is beautifully written and almost reads like high quality fiction. The literary quality of Trotsky appealed to me enormously. Then I started reading his other writings. For my generation he was very important, because he offered us an alternative to a system which we could see even then wasn’t working and was going very wrong. It was reading him which finally led me to become a Trotskyist for that period of the sixties and seventies. Ernest Mandel was another leading figure. The strange thing was that one met people in that period who knew or had direct links with the Bolsheviks, and so it was like we were just continuing that tradition. But Trotsky himself always stayed with me, and the prescience of some of his analyses… when I think back on it, in the book which he called What is the Soviet Union and Where is it Going?, which was mistranslated as The Revolution Betrayed—a very sober book—he said that, in the future, either the Soviet Union will move and advance and become a socialist democracy; or there will be a regression and it will revert to capitalism, and many of today’s bureaucrats will become tomorrow’s millionaires. And his opponents said, “this is just crazy stuff”. No-one else ever thought so far ahead and in that way. He had a very fine mind, and I guess it was his qualities as an intellectual and as a revolutionary which combined to create this appeal, certainly for me, and for lots other people who were coming of age in the sixties as well. read more

From the archive

  • The Abbotabad Incident: A Lesson For Young Americans

    February 13, 2014

    Antigone: Death yearns for equal law for the dead. Creon: Not that the good and bad draw equal shares. Antigone: Who knows that this is holiness below? Creon: Never the enemy, even in death, a friend. Antigone: I cannot share in hatred, but in love. Creon: Then go down there, if you must love, and love the dead. No woman rules me while I live.

    Antigone, Sophocles, 441 BCE  

    U-S-A. U-S-A. Obama got Osama. Obama Got Osama. You can’t beat us (clap-clap-clap-clap-clap-clap). You can’t beat us. Fuck bin La-den. Fuck bin La-den.

    N+1 Blog, chants heard at Ground Zero, New York, May 2011

    We got Voldemort, We Got Voldermort.

    Chant, heard on campuses at Iowa, Stanford, and UC Davis, May 2011

     

    Contrary to what many liberals imagined in November 2008, the debasement of American political culture continues apace. Instead of reversing the trend,  …

  • The Legacy of 1968

    March 22, 2008

    ‘Where has all the rage gone?’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, March 22, 2008

    In 1968, fury at the Vietnam war sparked protests and uprisings across the world: from Paris and Prague to Mexico. Tariq Ali considers the legacy 40 years on

    A storm swept the world in 1968. It started in Vietnam, then blew across Asia, crossing the sea and the mountains to Europe and beyond. A brutal war waged by the US against a poor south-east Asian country was seen every night on television. The cumulative impact of watching the bombs drop, villages on fire and a country being doused with napalm and Agent Orange triggered a wave of global revolts not seen on such a scale before or since.

    If the Vietnamese were defeating the world’s most powerful state, surely we, too, could defeat  …

  • ‘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  …