The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.
March 06, 2015 “ICH” – “Truthdig” – Tariq Ali is part of the royalty of the left. His more than 20 books on politics and history, his seven novels, his screenplays and plays and his journalism in the Black Dwarf newspaper, the New Left Review and other publications have made him one of the most trenchant critics of corporate capitalism. He hurls rhetorical thunderbolts and searing critiques at the oily speculators and corporate oligarchs who manipulate global finance and the useful idiots in the press, the political system and the academy who support them. The history of the late part of the 20th century and the early part of the 21st century has proved Ali, an Oxford-educated intellectual and longtime gadfly who once stood as a Trotskyist candidate for Parliament in Britain, to be stunningly prophetic.
The Pakistani-born Ali, who holds Pakistani and British citizenships, was already an icon of the left during the convulsions of the 1960s. Mick Jagger is said to have written “Street Fighting Man” after he attended an anti-war rally in Grosvenor Square on March 17, 1968, led by Ali, Vanessa Redgrave and others outside the U.S. Embassy in London. Some 8,000 protesters hurled mud, stones and smoke bombs at riot police. Mounted police charged the crowd. Over 200 people were arrested.
Ali, when we met last week shortly before he delivered the Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture at Princeton University, praised the street clashes and open, sustained protests against the state that erupted during the Vietnam War. He lamented the loss of the radicalism that was nurtured by the 1960s counterculture, saying it was “unprecedented in imperial history” and produced the “most hopeful period” in the United States, “intellectually, culturally and politically.”
[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading Tariq Ali: The Time Is Right for a Palace Revolution, by Chris Hedges
The Implications of SYRIZA and the Greek Elections
Tariq Ali was interviewed by Kostas Vlahopoulos and Thomas Giourgas for www.nostimonimar.gr.
1. For the first time in Greek political history, a radical left party, SYRIZA, is the strong favorite to win the general elections taking place in January the 25th. What kind of reaction do you expect from the neo-liberal Europe and in particular from Germany?
Tariq Ali: If SYRIZA wins it will mark the beginnings of a fightback against austerity and neo-liberalism in Europe. Two concurrent processes will be in motion from the beginning of the victory. There will be a strong attempt by the EU elite led by Germany to try and tame SYRIZA via a combination of threats and concessions. The aim of this operation is simple. To try and split SYRIZA at a very early stage.
Secondly there will be a high level of expectation from SYRIZA’s electorate and beyond. Mass mobilizations will be extremely important to sustain the new government and push it to carry through the first necessary measures. The debt and the readjustment measures must be repudiated immediately before moving on to implement a plan that restores the social gains that have been achieved and are being dismantled by the Troika-led governments. The first three months will be decisive in terms of revealing the contours of the political and economic landscape envisaged by SYRIZA. Neo-liberalism can not be dismantled overnight but the will to do so must be paramount. Bandwagon careerists must not be allowed to sabotage what can and should be done.
[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading Greece’s Fight Against European Austerity, interview with Tariq Ali
We quite often get caught up in a whirlwind of geopolitics, popular sentiment, personal hopes and sheer desire to finally see someone stand up to the status quo. What we forget in these moments is that life is almost never that simple.
India is not just a great land mass but also one that has been grossly mismanaged for many reasons, the root of some are in its very creation. It is celebrated as the “world’s biggest democracy” but seldom do we stop and think about the majority for whom nothing ever really changed.
The current Prime Minister, Narendra Modhi, does in fact hail from a Hindu Nationalist party whose cadres are quite the opposite of what might be found on the left in any shape or form.
Arundhati eloquently presents to us not just the status quo of Indian affairs but the key driving force behind it.
It was a horrific event. It was condemned in most parts of the world and most poignantly by many cartoonists. Those who planned the atrocity chose their target carefully. They knew that such an act would create the maximum horror. It was quality, not quantity they were after. The response will not have surprised or displeased them. They don’t care a damn for the world of unbelievers. Unlike the medieval inquisitors of the Sorbonne they do not have the legal and theological authority to harass booksellers or printers, ban books and torture authors, so they go one step further and order executions.
What of the foot-soldiers? The circumstances that attract young men and women to these groups are creations of the Western world that they inhabit – which is itself a result of long years of colonial rule in the countries of their forebears. We know that the Parisian brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi were long-haired inhalers of marijuana and other substances until (like the 7 July bombers in this country) they saw footage of the Iraq war and, in particular, of the torture taking place in Abu Ghraib and the cold-blooded killings of Iraqi citizens in Fallujah.
[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading Conversation: Maximum Horror, by Tariq Ali
Tariq Ali talks to Mabruk Derbèsh, Professor at University of Tripoli (now in exile) about the failure of international policy on Libya including NATO’s 2011 intervention. Also discussed are the rise of ISIS/Deash and the desire of Libyans to determine their democratic future without international intervention.
Trapped in a System Where Nothing Changes
‘We live in a post-racial society,’ Obama enthused, referring to his own victory, soon after entering the White House. It sounded hollow at the time, though many wanted to believe it. Nobody does today. Not even Toni Morrison. But the response of tens of thousands of young US citizens to the recent outrages in Ferguson, Cleveland and New York is much more important and interesting than the vapours being emitted in DC.
There is a vital energy to these protests. The scale, speed and intelligence of the protesters took the country by surprise. In New York they emerged unannounced at different locations avoiding the pitched battle scenario in Berkeley, created by the Bay Area cops whose penchant for rioting at the first possible opportunity is well known. Two miles outside Ferguson, white supremacists torched a black church while cops maintained order in the city. There is police-state talk of making the use of phone cameras illegal in these situations. In other words, mass arrests.
In Chicago, medicine and law students came out and lay down on the ground. It’s hardly a secret that they tend to be among the more conservative students on campus, eclipsed only by the engineering faculty and lavishly funded business studies departments. Their solidarity with the victims of state brutality against African-Americans is an impressive sight. Might it be more than a one-off?
Radical politics in the US was badly derailed by the destroyed hopes and betrayed illusions of the early Obama years (not a few of those who occupied squares in the 99 per cent movement voted to give him a second term, despite the wars and drones and a refusal to hold Bush, Cheney and gang responsible for manufactured lies and torture). Has the worm finally turned or will we see a similar outpouring of joy for Hillary Clinton, led this time by deluded feminists? If a mixed-race president could not move towards a post-racial society, what chance is there of another warmongering Clinton (with dodgy positions on almost everything including abortion rights) paving the way towards post-patriarchy? We need a break and perhaps this generation will provide one. Perhaps.
Dozens of black Americans have been killed by cops in recent years without exciting similar outrage. Most of the traditional black leaders capitulated without shame to the Obama White House. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are two of the better known names, the latter now trying to hustle a quick march on DC to regain at least one credential. The black caucus in Congress is loyal to White House and Wall Street alike. A similar situation exists for the rest of the country. People feel unrepresented. The anger over the recent deaths reflects, I think, a growing disgust with a system in which nothing changes regardless of who is elected.
The torture revelations, too, are bound to have an effect. The worst aspects are still hidden from public view, but it’s been going on for a long time. In 1975 the former CIA operative Philip Agee broke with his employers and published Inside the Company, an account of unremitting torture in South America. In Vietnam, US marines would disembowel one prisoner to scare another into revealing locations. We still do not have a full account of the way women prisoners were humiliated and tortured in Iraq. And everything since 9/11 happened with the collusion of the EU. Tony Blair, Jack Straw, David Miliband were all aware of what they had sanctioned. As were their French, German and Italian counterparts. The East Europeans, too, were more than happy to serve their new masters.
Perhaps the students and others protesting in America now will spark off something new and permanent to challenge the system on many levels. I hope.
Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.
The kind of degenerative drivel that passes for “news” in the mainstream media is beyond lies,distortion,misreporting and appeasement of the Empire. The reporting also comes from a place of attributing to oneself the higher moral ground despite mass murder and oppression prevalent the world over under the US hegemony. The US dollar is just paper, but it is paper backed by violence and a military presence in over 190 countries.
This piece in the NY Times is just another example of the sewage that passes for journalism. Joseph Goebbel’s would be proud of his proteges at the NY Times,Washington Post,Time,BBC and the rest.
Of course, by advocating a revolving term limited head of state one increases the prospects for a US funded puppet to rise to power. A leader working for the national interest is a threat to ‘democracy’ because if he stays in power longer then the harder it is to prostitute the country back into the Imperial domain.
The mainstream papers continue to champion the ’cause’ of Imperialism, justifying mass murder, occupation and many other downstream aspects of Empire. Right from promoting the bullshit from Hollywood glorifying The fascist US army and police state apparatus to demonizing historical figures to literally re-writing and omitting historical context.
The western media are not media, they do not employ journalists, they do not report the truth and they ARE part of the Fascist US Empire propaganda network. This includes prostituted European, Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin american governments (except for the notable exceptions such as Venezuela,Cuba, Bolivia and others slowly making their way out of the clutches of Empire).
The below talk by Tariq Ali is an excellent recap of “The United States: The First And Last Global Empire”.
Tariq Ali is a brilliantly skilled writer who has a unique ability to weave his narrative through the fabric of time and history in a manner that allows the reader to be immersed in the picture being painted.
This is an excellent and highly recommended read for those who wish to understand Islam from a secular point of view. A point of view which actually brings out a rational discussion of the religion, its achievements, its decline, subsequent hijacking and relevance in todays world.
Through the prism of history, politics, economics and society one can begin to understand how this once enlightened social movement emerged out of the Arabian dessert, conquered vast swathes of land, contributed to human development and then, like other empires, eventually lost its power.
I never believed in God, not even between the ages of six and ten, when I was an agnostic. This unbelief was instinctive. I was sure there was nothing else out there but space. It could have been my lack of imagination. In the jasmine-scented summer nights, long before mosques were allowed to use loudspeakers, it was enough to savour the silence, look up at the exquisitely lit sky, count the shooting stars and fall asleep. The early morning call of the muezzin was a pleasant alarm-clock.
There were many advantages in being an unbeliever. Threatened with divine sanctions by family retainers, cousins or elderly relatives – ‘If you do that Allah will be angry’ or ‘If you don’t do this Allah will punish you’ – I was unmoved. Let him do his worst, I used to tell myself, but he never did, and that reinforced my belief in his non-existence.
My parents, too, were non-believers. So were most of their close friends. Religion played a tiny part in our Lahore household. In the second half of the last century, a large proportion of educated Muslims had embraced modernity. Old habits persisted, nonetheless: the would-be virtuous made their ablutions and sloped off to Friday prayers. Some fasted for a few days each year, usually just before the new moon marking the end of Ramadan. I doubt whether more than a quarter of the population in the cities fasted for a whole month. Café life continued unabated. Many claimed that they had fasted so as to take advantage of the free food doled out at the end of each fasting day by the mosques or the kitchens of the wealthy. In the countryside fewer still fasted, since outdoor work was difficult without sustenance, and especially without water when Ramadan fell during the summer months. Eid, the festival marking the end of Ramadan, was celebrated by everyone.
One day, I think in the autumn of 1956 when I was 12, I was eavesdropping on an after-dinner conversation at home. My sister, assorted cousins and I had been asked nicely to occupy ourselves elsewhere. Obediently, we moved to an adjoining room, but then listened, giggling, to a particularly raucous, wooden-headed aunt and a bony uncle berating my parents in loud whispers: ‘We know what you’re like . . . we know you’re unbelievers, but these children should be given a chance . . . They must be taught their religion.’
[Please click below to read] Continue reading Mullahs and Heretics: A Secular History of Islam, by Tariq Ali