Posts Tagged ‘Tariq Ali’
Joseph Anton. A Memoir. Salman Rushdie. Jonathan Cape. 2012.
In early September demonstrations against the video The Innocence of Muslims, took place across the world. Wednesday the 19th of the month saw the French leftist satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo published, to more protests, caricatures of Mohammed.
Two days later, Tahar Ben Jelloun argued, in Le Monde (21.9.12) against any concessions to Islamist inspired rage. He began by asking why Islam seemed so fragile that fiction, cartoons, or a bad film, His answer was the some Moslem countries encouraged this reaction to stave off creating states based on individual rights. Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses was the template for this strategy. It been used by the Iranian regime to quash any criticism of Islam, and to cement an “appartence absolue à la communité” (absolute adhesion to the community). Jelloun had no time for the provocations of Charlie. Yet he recommended ignoring them, and turning to the transcendental spirit of Islam.
Tareq Oubrou, the Rector of the Bordeaux Mosque, wrote on the same Le Monde Débats page, even more clearly against those who wished to suppress ‘blasphemy’. “La liberté de conscience et d’expression est un aquis occidental incontesté et incontenstable. Une avancée et un progrès philosophical-moral réels de notre humanité.” – Freedom of speech and conscience are established, unchallenged, and indisputable facts in the West. This is a step forward and real moral and philosophical progress for humanity”. Oubrou did not just repeat the standard argument (even sued by some Islamists, in the absence of a state ruled by the Sharia) that Muslims should submit to French law. All criticism of writing and art should be within their own terms, “La critique d’art se fait par l’art, la philosophie par la philosophie, and les idées par les idées.”
On the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton, at the end that Month Le Monde put the author on the front page followed by a long, respectful, article/interview. It dealt with Rushdie’s criticisms of “Actually Existing Islam” as well as the Satanic Verses and the Khomeini Fatwa that has marked his life.
The present work does not neglect this political-religious theme, “During the worst excesses of Soviet Communism…Western Marxists had tried to distance ‘actually existing Socialism’ from the True Faith, Karl Marx’s vision of equality and justice.” Now, with Communism’s faults there for all to see, “it was no longer possible to believe in a True Faith untainted by the crimes of the real world.” Yet, “as Islamic states forged new tyrannies, and justified many horrors in the name of God, a similar separation was being made by Muslims; so there was the ‘actually existing Islam’ of the bloody theocracies and there was the True Faith of peace and love.” (Page 356) The crisis is profound, and cannot be wished away by this appeal, Rushdie says, “something was eating away at the faith of his grandfather, corroding or corrupting it, making it an ideology of narrowness and intolerance, banning books, persecuting thinkers, erecting absolutions, turning dogma with which to beat the undogmatic. That thing needed to be fought and to fight it one had to name it and the only name that fitted was Islam.”(Pages 356-7) Read the rest of this entry »
Ali: Now defends Droit du seigneur for Assange.
The Guardian says,
Assange addressed around 100 well-wishers, with supporters including Tariq Ali and former British ambassador Craig Murray making speeches from the street.
Ellingham Hall where Julian Assange lived before his present dramatic escapade, is a ‘Hide’ , in Suffolk terms, a Gemoot or ‘hiding.’
This gave the advanced thinker of Highgate a few ideas.
Comrade Tariq Ali is now prepared to offer, generously, Julian Assange the right to be Lord of the Manor in His Norfolk domains.
This will make Julian Assange safe from prosecution under British law.
Under Tariq’s unique jurisdiction it is understood that the Droit du seigneur continues.
Tariq also wrote this moving poem,
Tired, Ô so tired!
The questing mole slowly wandered from the splashing mist
To tell us what was right and why.
You spoke loudly and clearly,
Each leek a leak!
Assange Thou Hast Great Allies!
The Obama Syndrome. Surrender at Home, War Abroad. Tariq Ali. Verso 2010.
In January 2010 Tariq Ali wrote, “A year since the White House changed hands, how has the American empire altered?” (New Left Review ll. 61) In The Obama Syndrome, the author begins his second chapter with the words, “Two years since the White House changed hands, how has American empire altered?” (Page 35) * The nature of American power, and its world-wide impact is a defining political issue of our age. This alone is a good reason to look seriously at Ali’s reply to the question. That he writes fluently and – to this non-American at least – knowledgeably about the subject is a bonus. A lot less appealing are his ‘anti-imperialist’ alternatives, beginning with Islamist-inspired ‘resistances’.
Does Ali’s “preliminary report” on the first 1,000 days of Obama’s presidency help us understand the nature of this global player? The unfolding Egyptian drama, and Washington’s response to the revolt, indicate the character, and the limits, of US domination. Obama’s predecessors brought Cairo under its wing and shored up Mubarak’s authoritarian regime. Will the President facilitate or obstruct a transition from the rule of the Raïs to a viable democracy? Whose interests, and what parties, will he promote? Will they permit an independent democratic left-leaning and secular force to develop? ? Can we expect to see that something has really changed in the White House? Why would we even consider the question? The Obama Syndrome opens, and concludes, on these issues of power.
Happy-Days Are Here Again.
Barack Obama’s election as President of the United States was greeted, with a “wave of ideological euphoria not seen since the days of Kennedy.” (Ibid) A broad cross-section of the domestic and international “mainstream centre and left believed that the White House had been liberated, by a “mixed-race Democrat”, from a “coterie of right-wing fanatics.” The President’s wife was of slave ancestry. His victory was widely seen as a posthumous victory for the Civil Rights movement, one of the country’s greatest campaigns of social justice. Post these heady times, and after The Obama Syndrome went to press, mid-term elections indicate the survival and revival of the hard-line right. But still the memory of Obama’s triumph glows in many progressive Americans’ minds. Read the rest of this entry »
Review: The Idea of Communism. Tariq Ali. Verso. 2009.
Communist spiders, capitalism as a nervous disease, the triumph of liberal capitalism, when “utopia, together with all notions of collective activity and its misshapen Communist children, was buried safely in the family vaults..” the Flying Machine of the Tailor of Ulm… The opening pages of The Idea of Communism are full of confusing metaphors and allusions. We steady around the motif that, “the idea of ‘Communism’ grew out of the need to challenge wage-slavery of workers during industrial capitalism of the nineteenth and twentieth century”. From Europe and North America as wage slavery spread, resistance to it developed – the twin sides of the “first wave of globalisation”. It was the analysis of this process, of its “longue durée”, that Marx and Engels offered. “Because of its lasting value, it will last as long as the planet”. Tariq Ali has not published a memorable, well-researched or even well written book, (in comparison with his The Duel, 2008, on Pakistan and Afghanistan). But its 126 pages have great ambitions to say something of value.
The Idea of Communism is not so much an exploration of Communism, as an account (cobbled together from historical insights of varying quality, and his own published writings of decades past ) of the fate of one type of Communism. This begins with the Communist Manifesto (1848) and concludes, as the “light is dim” with a call for “new forms” of combat “between the possessors and the disposed.” An evocation of William Morris’s A Dream of John Ball (1888) Where “fellowship shall be established in heaven and on the earth” completes the elegiac tone. An unfortunate reference. Perhaps Ali imagines himself as the Lancelot in Morris’s The Defence of Guenevere (1858). Mounted on the “roan charger” who comes to rescue Communism “at good need”.
The history of the “idea” of communism it is not. Nor does it explain its Ali’s claim that as long as capitalism exists so will a communist challenge. It never specifies why resistance to markets and private property have to be communist as such (Interview here, rhetoric in full flow here). It is an account of the views of “Communism’s founding fathers”, Marx and Engels, their appropriation by the leaders of the October Revolution, and a balance-sheet of that event and its consequences for today’s left. That is, there is nothing about pre-capitalist communist utopians, the communism of Moses Mendelson, Wilhelm Weitling and Étienne Cabet, anarchist communism, or contemporary communist thinkers such as Michael Hardt and Toni Negri. The “practice” is that of Marxist parties, post-1917 that followed the Leninism codified and (transformed) by Stalin and their (largely) Trotskyist or former Trotskyist, critics. It is a story of the “divorce of theory from practice” – a promise of social equality and freedom that would come with the abolition of wage labour, and a bureaucratic reality. Repressive dictatorships – founded on other waves, of terror. There is plenty on the search for a true “praxis” that unites the two realms. Pre-Lenin the 1870 Paris Commune comes close to the ideal. Apparently in opposition to the ‘social’ republic that its leaders supported. Or as Marx stated, the “vital elements” which “frankly avows ‘social emancipation’ as the great goal of the republic” (First Draft of ‘The Civil War in France’ 1871). The author of Capital saw in it the germs of a transformed state. The future lay, not in rejecting ‘republicanism’ . It was in the way it went beyond it through its “organised power” and its role as “the vanguard of working men of all nations”. But then Ali’s image of the Commune has more in common with the vivid (c more essential) novel by Commune participant Jules Vallès in L’Insurgé (1885) than a thought-out, critical, historical inquiry. Read the rest of this entry »
Foe of the Enlightenment and French Secularists.
By TARIQ ALI (who “comes from an old, crusty, feudal family” - here)
Ali’s comment on the controversy about the NPA candidate with the veil (a subject posted on here frequently), and the recent row over wearing the Burka, starts reasonably,
Patriarchal traditions, cultural habits and identity are what is at stake here and they vary from generation to generation. Pushing people back into a ghetto never helps.
Pushing people into ghettos by subsidising religious communalism is a bad idea. Such as the British state’s sponsorship of multiculturalism and state funded ‘communtiy’ eladers. Or pandering to religious customs which clearly oppress people -as with all other “cultural habits” (from British sexism) that are against universal human rights. But one suspects this is not what Tariq has in mind.
This is what he is referring to,
The Algerian women who fought in the resistance against French republican colonialism did so as anti-imperialists. Some were partially veiled, others not. It did not affect the way they fought or the methods used by the French to torture them. Perhaps the torturers should have been more brutal to the hijabed freedom-fighters to help integrate their progeny better in the Republican tradition.
Well, that’s clear: critics of the veil are the progeny of racist French imperialist thugs. Indeed we are the offspring of torturers.
Apparently no-one has a right to criticise the NPA having a veiled candidate because the world is such a bad place:
The anger against Ilhem and the NPA is completely misplaced. The real state of the world leaves the defenders of the Republic completely unaffected: the million dead of Iraq, the continuing siege of Gaza by Israel and Egypt, the killing of innocents in Afghanistan, the US drone attacks in Pakistan, the brutal exploitation of Haiti, etc. Why is this the case?
Several years ago I noticed that French protests against the Iraq war were muted compared to the rest of Western Europe. I don’t accept that this was due to Chirac’s opposition to the war [after all de Gaulle had opposed the Vietnam war even more strongly], but to Islamophobia: an increasing intolerance of the Other in French society, reminiscent of the attitude towards Jews in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The conformism of that period explains the popularity of Vichy during the early years of the war.
Ah yes, them Frenchies are anti-Semites. Criticism of Islamism is in a direct line with the ravigns of Édouard Adolphe Drumont’s La France Juive. Having transferred this loathing to a new Other, they hate Islam so much they (including the conformist secualrists) backed Bush.Or at least were happy to see him invade Iraq without their help.
A pretty long chain of non-sequitors. But what can you expect from a man who called for a Liberal Democrat vote in the last election on the grounds that they were opposed to the War on Iraq. Not sense at any rate.
Islamophobes and anti-Semites share a great deal in common.Islamophobia: an increasing intolerance of the Other in French society, reminiscent of the attitude towards Jews in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The conformism of that period explains the popularity of Vichy during the early years of the war.
Now we know where we’re going. Frenchies (always secret defeatist fascists), French secularists, are, well French, thus: secularist Left = Vichy.
Ali is never shy of showing off his wider intellectual culture:
How many Western citizens have any real idea of what the Enlightenment really was? French philosophers undoubtedly took humanity forward by recognizing no external authority of any kind, but there was a darker side. Voltaire: “Blacks are inferior to Europeans, but superior to apes.” Hume: “The black might develop certain attributes of human beings, the way the parrot manages to speak a few words.” There is much more in a similar vein from their colleagues. It is this aspect of the Enlightenment that appears to be more in tune with some of the Islamophobic ravings in sections of the global media.
Doddery old Tariq obviously doesn’t know much about the Enlightenment either. Such as Condorcet’s appeal against slavery and for equality. Or the Society of the Friends of the Black People. Or the abolition of slavery under the First French republic (rescinded by Napoleon).
Most people would say that racist comments are against the Enlightenment, whether the Philosophes said them or not. That is, that they contradicted their won principles. As did the occasional racist or homophobic remarks of a certain Karl Marx.
Le Monde on February 20, 2010.
Tariq Ali’s wrong-headed and unwelcome comments neglect the central point: Islamist attempts to enforce dress codes are part of their political programme. Since he so fortiche in Algerian History he might profit from following what happened when this programme was attempted -to the misery and terror of Algerian women. Which is a central reason why the French secularist left is hostile to the veil and religious symbols in the equal public domain – though not in favour of a ‘ban’ by law of the, say, the Burka. Or remark on the fact that Sarkozy is very pro-religon, and would like to adopt – to a small degree it’s true – elements of ‘multiculuralism’ that Ali admries so much.
As someone who admires Islamist ‘anto-imperialists’ Tariq Ali is now at the end of his political trajectory: mouthing insults against the Englightenment and French Secularism. Let;s hope he doesn’t go even further and defend Jamaat-I-Islami War Criminals.