Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Tariq Ali: Vichey to Blame for French Left Secularists.

with 9 comments

Foe of the Enlightenment and French Secularists.

The assault on Illhem (here)

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.

There’s no fool like an ageing old New Leftist Fool.


Written by Andrew Coates

February 28, 2010 at 12:01 pm

9 Responses

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  1. Wonder what his missis thinks, as she was a feminist in her day.

    Sue R

    March 1, 2010 at 2:09 pm

  2. So the real issue is this: socialists should reject candidates on the one criterion of their head gear.

    More reading for racists on the left:Muslim candidate Ilham Moussaid unveils Islamophobia in the French Left

    Dave Riley

    March 2, 2010 at 4:37 am

  3. Yep, reckon they should.

    Sue R

    March 2, 2010 at 10:55 am

  4. “So the real issue is this: socialists should reject candidates on the one criterion of their head gear.”

    To which SueR replies:

    “Yep, reckon they should.”

    Jesus fucking Christ, which particular IMG were you a member of, Sue? Was there a special ‘Tendency Bigot’ in your parallel world?

    Lobby Ludd

    March 2, 2010 at 10:36 pm

  5. ‘Away with all your superstitions,
    Let the masses arise, arise,
    We’ll end forthwith the old conditions,
    And spurn the dust to win the prize.
    So, comrades, come rally, the last fight
    Let us face,
    The Internationale unites the Human Race.’.


    Sue R

    March 5, 2010 at 11:06 am

  6. I remember the National Abortion Campaign, of which Sue Watkins was the full time worker at one point, had a slogan, ‘Keep your laws off my boby’. Obviously, this means ‘man-made laws’, ‘divine laws’ are fine for some people.

    Sue R

    March 5, 2010 at 3:17 pm

  7. SueR what are you talking about? What have Susan Watkins’ views got to do with this, and what are you trying to say about them?

    Good grief.

    Lobby Ludd

    March 5, 2010 at 7:30 pm

  8. I began by asking what were Mrs T Ali’s views on this, and then I remembered what she used to think 30 years ago. That’s all. Heavens to Murgatroyd!

    Sue R

    March 6, 2010 at 3:54 pm

  9. […] Two from Coatesy: towards a reassessment of Michel Raptis and Pabloism, and on crusty feudal Tariq Ali’s historical illiteracy when it comes to French secularism. […]

    Ish « Poumista

    March 17, 2010 at 6:09 pm

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