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

  • Tariq Ali on Scottish Independence

    March 11, 2014

    Tariq Ali’s upcoming series of talks in Scotland on the campaign for a Yes vote in the upcoming Scottish Independence Referendum are being covered across the Scottish media.

    Speaking to the Herald, Ali said “”England has been politically petrified since the Thatcher era.” Although the Tories were soundly beaten by New Labour in 1997, Blair was the heir to Thatcher, he says. “An independent Scotland could also lead to something quite new in England; but not something nutty like UKIP.””

    Read the interview in full on the Herald website.

    Speaking to the Daily Record, he said “My hope is that independence will create spaces of critical thought in England as well as in Scotland because people down here are very depressed and demoralised too.”

    Read his interview with the Daily Record in full on their website.

  • 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  …

  • ‘Law and order’

    May 16, 2007

    ‘Law and order’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, May 16, 2007

    Sixty years old this August, Pakistan has been under de facto military rule for exactly half of its life. Military leaders have usually been limited to a 10-year cycle: Ayub Khan (1958-69), Zia-ul-Haq (1977-89).

    The first was removed by a nationwide insurrection lasting three months. The second was assassinated. According to this political calendar, Pervez Musharraf still has another year and a half to go, but events happen.

    On March 9 this year, the president suspended the chief justice of the supreme court. Unlike some of his colleagues, the judge in question, Iftikhar Chaudhry, had not resigned at the time of the coup, but like previous supreme courts, had acquiesced to the bogus “doctrine of necessity” that is always used to judicially justify a military takeover.  …