Posts Tagged ‘Tariq Ali’
Daniel Bensaïd: Illustrated by Charlie Hebdo Editor, ‘Charb’.
Book Launch (Daniel and Charb)
Yesterday the Verso Spring catalogue arrived.
Amongst the books they present it this one:
Published February 2015.
“France’s leading Marxist public intellectual.” –Tariq Ali.
And this – which indicates a lot about the ideology of Verso and New Left Review.
To announce this book’s publication Verso have put this on their site by Christine Delphy (from 2007).
Religion: a private affair? A rebuttal of a commonplace idea by Christine Delphy.
“Among other forms of intellectual, ethical and political regression, since the massacres of 7–9 January we’ve seen a brutal and authoritarian neo-laïcisme [French state secularism] coming back into force. And let’s say it frankly: it’s targeted against Muslims. Indeed, this neo-laïcisme radically subverts whatever may have been emancipatory about secularist thought and legislation between 1880 and 1905. More particularly, today we’re again hearing the absurd refrain about the supposedly secularist need for religion to stay ‘personal’ and ‘limited to the private sphere’.
For all these reasons, we thought it opportune to republish a short but punchy history lesson, taken from a book whose title [Un universalisme si particulier; ‘A very particular universalism’] is, unfortunately, once again very much relevant.”
It begins, with her statement,
Though it is a constant element of laïcard [aggressively secularist, in an atheist key] propaganda, the idea that religion belongs to the ‘private sphere’ is rarely contested. No one ever defines this ‘private sphere’: the term ‘private’ has many different definitions depending on the context, including as regards law. The laïcards are anti-Muslim, and mask their opposition to this particular religion in claiming to be opposed to all religions.
This text (above) is translated by David Broder.
We stumble here. David fails to note that ‘laïcard’ is by definition pejorative – it’s as if we start by saying that “Islamophobics are hostile to Islam”. That is what the suffix, ‘ard‘ means, as in Trotscard. This is argument by assertion.
It is used by the enemies of laïcite (secularism).
It is hard to see that anybody hostile to secularism ever saw anything ’emancipatory (or there ‘may have been’ something good) about it.
It is the language of the enemies of secular freedom, from the Catholic far-right onwards.
Just as the enemies of Trotskysim call Trotskyists – in French – Trotscards .
It is true that some on the French far-left (a small minority) also use the term.
To analyse the article seriously is not worth while.
It is essentially a sustained rant, whose quality can be judged by this statement,
The laïcards don’t attack freedom of expression, but defend it; and they would even be right to do so, if only they weren’t so selective. For them, this right is absolute when it comes to ridiculing Muslims and Islam, but not when you draw a policeman with a pig’s nose, which is a grave insult against the state – indeed, it’s close to blasphemous
It ends with this hysterical scream.
Is this country doomed to stumble from one form of intolerance to another? Will atheism become a new state religion, while those who believe in a god or gods will become the new ‘freethinkers’ – hounded, persecuted and imprisoned?
If Verso thinks this kind of statement is worth reproducing – and the following obscure ruminations about sects (his dada) by former Comités communistes pour l’autogestion (CCA) member Didier Leschi – then they are in a bit of a pickle.
This all leads us to ask about Christine Delphy’s politics. These are well known. She has some very reactionary views (against civil/gay marriage on the grounds that it is a ‘bourgeois’ institution), and is associated with figures in the orbit of the Muslim Brotherhood, Tariq Ramadan and has vauinted the British education system as a model, far better than French laïcité at accommodating Islam (indeed!) (More here).
The above text comes from the L’Indigène de la république site and this is her background with this group:
“In 2004-2005, she participated in the birth of the movement, the ‘indigènes de la République’.” (French Wikipedia).
We have covered them before, a homophobic, anti-laïcard (an expression we note with origins on the extreme right and Christian believers), the militant wing of post-colonial studies pretending to be the voice of the ‘banlieue’.
Here is one notorious example of their thinking:
“Houria Bouteldja principal speaker of the Indigènes de la République « le mode de vie homosexuel n’existe pas dans les quartiers populaires
The homosexual way of life does not exist in working class and deprived areas.” (from here).
The Charnal House writes more widely on the groupuscle,
Marxism? Enlightenment? Universalism? Rationality? All inventions of the decadent bourgeois West, apparently. Bouteldja situates her own indigenous perspective somewhere in the rarefied epistemic space of radical alterity. Decolonial thought, she contends, “defied the imposed margins: the margins of enlightenment thinking, of western rationalism/rationality, of Marxism, of universalism, of republicanism.” She therefore implores her fellow indigènes to “resist the ideology of White universalism, human rights, and the Enlightenment.” In Bouteldja’s view, the “the cold rationality of the Enlightenment leads…to the fanaticism of market and capitalist reason,” and engenders an “outrageous and arrogant narcissism to universalize historical processes (i.e., secularism, the Enlightenment, Cartesianism) that were geographically and historically located in Western Europe.” Karl Marx himself was nothing more than a white, Eurocentric chauvinist when he dismissed religion as the opiate of the masses. “There are societies which don’t need the separation between the Church and the State, and for which religion is not a problem,” Bouteldja has written. “Religion is not the opium of the people.”
This is Tariq Ali’s comment (26th January) on the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket massacres,
How serious is Islamophobia in France and other European countries?
France is the worst in Europe and tries to mask it by proclaiming its secular values (sound familiar?), but these values don’t apply to Islam. In fact, French secularism means anything but Islam. And when satirical magazines taunt them, they react. It’s as simple as that.
It is not expected that Verso has reproduced these cartoons by our murdered comrade Charb that appeared in Marx Mode d’emploi to illustrate the Daniel Bensaïd book.
From US ‘Tool Box’ Says Counterpunch.
Counterpunch published over the weekend these latest wise-guy revelations…
ISIS: the Useful Enemy
The dark force of ISIS is apparently an invincible and unstoppable war juggernaut that is mercilessly killing and conquering in pursuit of establishing an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In reality, however, it is not as out of control as it appears. It is, indeed, carefully controlled and managed by its creators and supporters, that is, by the United States and its allies in the regions—those who now pretend to have established a coalition to fight it!
Plumbing the depths Hossein-Zadeh tries to make political capital out of Kobane and the brave Kurds fighting there,
While the Kurdish city of Kobani in Northern Syria is being attacked by the disproportionately better armed forces of ISIS, and thousands of its besieged residents face certain mass killings if it falls, the forces of the “coalition to fight ISIS” are watching—in effect, playing a game of hide-and-seek, or perhaps trick-or-treat, with ISIS—as the outgunned and outmanned Kurdish forces are valiantly fighting to death against the attackers. Only occasionally the coalition forces carry out bombing missions that seem to be essentially theatrical, or just for the record.
The inaction or half-hearted action of the United States in the face of the preventable slaughter of the Syrian Kurds, which makes it complicit in the carnage, can be explained by its political horse-trading with Turkey in exchange for the Turks’ collaboration with the pursuit of its imperialistic interests in the region.
It is self-evidently true that the Islamist government of Turkey is viscerally hostile to the PKK and those in Syria allied to it. But Hossein-Zadeh does not propose any measures to alleviate their plight, or indeed express any solidarity with the people of Kobane.
How one could help them – leaving aside the inconvenient truth that the Peshmerga are actually there – are not his concern. He simply wallows in it.
The ‘argument behind all of this?
That, the US and its tentacles are at work. If you thought Seamus Milne’s Theory of why the USA is against the ‘multi-polar world’ is half-baked read this:
The U.S. approach to ISIS would be better understood when it is viewed in the context of its overall objectives in the region—and beyond. That overriding objective, shared and reinforced by its client states, is to undermine or eliminate “the axis of resistance,” consisting of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and, to a lesser extent, Shia forces in Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Achievement of this goal would also be achievement of another, even broader, goal: undermining Russia’s influence and alliances in the region and, by extension, in other parts of the world—for example, its critically important role within both the Shanghai Cooperation Council (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) and the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).
And one doubts if many would go as far as this
To intervene in order to achieve these goals, the U.S. and its allies need pretexts and/or enemies—even if it means inventing or manufacturing such enemies. Without ISIS, resumption of U.S. military operations in Iraq and extension of those operations into Syria would have been difficult to justify to the American people. A year or so ago, the Obama administration’s drive to attack Syria was thwarted by the opposition from the American people and, therefore, the U.S. congress. The rise of ISIS quickly turned that opposition to support.
Viewed in this light, ISIS can be seen as essentially another (newly manufactured) instrument in the tool-box of U.S. foreign policy, which includes “global terrorism,” the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, weapons of mass destruction, Iran’s nuclear technology, Al-Qaeda, and many other radical Islamic groupings—all by-products of, or blowbacks to, imperialistic U.S. foreign policies.
Let us, generously, assume that this article is not the famous Hope-Tipping (Hat-tip Rosie) famous for saying the opposite of what everybody else believes (accusing”D H Lawrence of showing a neglect of “the consciousness of sexual relationship, the male and female element in life).
So it is not to strike a pose the author claims, “Just because everybody thinks that Isis is virulently anti-US means….that the US created it……”
No we will not claim this. Counterpunch has published extremely well-informed material on the origins of Isis in the Iraqi and Syrian Matrices.
Well, okay,l one that I can find quickly: The Rise of ISIS and the Origins of the New Middle East War Tariq Ali talking to Patrick Cockburn.
…..they come most immediately from al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was at the height of its influence in 2006 [and] 2007 when it was an element–but not the only element–in the Sunni resistance to a Shia government and the American occupation. Ideologically, it comes out of the Jihadi movement and actually its religious beliefs are not that much different from Saudi Wahhabism, the variant of the Islam which is effectively the state religion of Saudi Arabia with its denigration of Shia as heretics, [along with] Christians and Jews.
It’s just carrying these beliefs to a higher and more violent level but it’s very much in the context of the Jihadi movement. …. ISIS has a number of different kinds of support. It has support of the alienated Sunni community in Iraq and also in Syria.
That at least their victors, after all these people have been defeated – they were defeated in ’91 by the Americans, they were defeated again in 2003, they were marginalised, persecuted – so victory is important to them. I think also they appeal to jobless young men, I mean sometimes referred to as the underclass, but actually just the poor, poor young men.
One could develop further from this that the group has an internal totalitarian dynamic, a machine of “disciplining and punishing” grounded in Islamism, that represents,as Cockburn suggests, not a radical break with other forms of Islamism, but an extreme exaggeration of their repressive efforts to shape human beings according to Divine Law. Or, failing that to cage them within it.
We can discuss for a long time the geopolitics, the Invasion of Iraq, and at present, the Syrian civil war, the stand of Turkey’s government, that have favoured these developments.
The contradictions within the Iraqi Kurdish power and the various Kurdish movements (including their own Islamists) and the complex issue of the Kurdish movements, the PKK’s inspiring programme of egalitarian social measures, decentralised power, secular freedom and sexual equality would fill pages.
But the point now is to mobilise support for the Kurdish fighters against Isis/Islamic State.
All this is blown to the winds by Hossein’s ramblings. – more than typical of the contributions on the site.
Is this deliberate?
That the real wish is to pile all the misery of the beloved peoples of the Middle East on the ‘West’s’ back?
Who can be certain?
Counterpunch – just when you thought unpleasant conspiracy theorists had had enough.
Highgate Sage Ali Speaks on Syria.
In his latest foray (LLB 28th of August) Tariq summed up the Syrian situation,
The aim of the ‘limited war’ as set out by the United States and its European vassals is simple. The Syrian regime was slowly re-establishing its control over the country against the opposition armed by the West and its tributary states in the region (Saudi Arabia and Qatar). This situation required correction. The opposition in this depressing civil war needed to be strengthened militarily and psychologically.
The present war is essentially driven by anti-Iranian forces,
Ever since the war and occupation of Iraq, the Arab world has been divided between Sunni and Shia components. Backing the targeting of Syria are two old friends: Saudi Arabia and Israel. Both want the regime in Iran destroyed. The Saudis for factional reasons, the Israelis because they’re desperate to exterminate Hizbullah. That’s the endgame they have in sight and Washington, after resisting for a bit, is playing ball again. Bombing Syria is the first step.
In lines that may well have been an attempt to rival Dean Swift he outlined the position of the United Kingdom,
It’s foolish to get too worked up about Britain. It’s a vassal state, de facto governed by a National Government that includes Parliamentary Labour. Its political parties have accepted permanently situating themselves in the ‘posterior of the White House’. Cameron was gung-ho for a war some months ago. When the US went cold on the idea, Downing Street shut up. Now they’re back in action with little Ed saying that he backs the war ‘reluctantly’, the most pathetic of positions. Conservative backbenchers are putting up a stiffer resistance. Will more Tories vote against than Labour? We shall see.
Ali described how his position evolved until September 2012 as follows (in Counterpunch),
From the very beginning, I have openly and publicly supported the popular uprising against the family-run Baathist outfit that rules Damascus.
But, as in Egypt, once the euphoria of the uprising and its success in getting rid of a hated despot evaporates, politics emerge. What is the strongest political force in Syrian politics today? Who would be the largest party in parliament when free elections take place? Probably the Muslim Brothers and in that case the experience will be educative since neo-liberalism and the US alliance are the corner-stone of the Turkish model that Morsi and other colleagues in the region seek to emulate. For half of the last century, Arab nationalists, socialists, communists and others were locked in a battle with the Muslim Brothers for hegemony in the Arab world. We may not like it (and I certainly don’t), but that battle has been won by the Brotherhood. Their future will depend on their ability to deliver social change. The Egyptian and Syrian working class have played a huge part in both uprisings. Will they tolerate neo-liberal secularism or Islamism for too long?
A NATO intervention would install a semi-puppet government. As I argued in the case of Libya once NATO entered the fray: whoever wins the people will lose. It would be the same in Syria. On this I am in total accord with the statement of the Syrian Local Coordinating Committeespublished on 29 August 2011.
What will happen if the present situation continues? An ugly stalemate. The model that comes to mind is Algeria after the military, backed strongly by France and its Western allies, intervened to stop the second round of an election in which the FIS were going to win. This resulted in an attritional civil war with mass atrocities carried out by both sides while the masses retreated to an embittered passivity.
This is why I continue to insist that even at this late stage a negotiated solution is the best possible way to get rid of Assad and his henchmen. Pressure from Teheran, Moscow and Beijing might help achieve this sooner than the military posturing of Sultan Erdogan, his Saudi allies and their surrogates in Syria.
ln criticising this position. the Syrian Leftist site, Syrian Freedom for Ever, claimed that,
TARIQ ALI says we are witnessing in Syria a new form of re-colonisation by the West, like we have already seen in Iraq and in Libya.
Many of the people who first rose against the Assad regime in Syria have been sidelined, leaving the Syrian people with limited choices, neither of which they want: either a Western imposed regime, “composed of sundry Syrians who work for the western intelligence agencies”, or the Assad regime.
The only way forward, in the interests of all Syrians, says Ali, is negotiation and discussion. But it is now obvious that the West is not going to let that happen because they are backing the opposition groups who are against any negotiation.”
What remains of this at present?
With greater confidence Ali now observes,
Every single Western intervention in the Arab world and its surrounds has made the conditions worse. The raids being planned by the Pentagon and its subsidiaries in Nato are likely to follow the same pattern.
After praising Boris Yeltsin as a democratic socialist (1) , and voting Liberal Democrat in the 2005 General Election (2), Tariq Ali is famed on the left for his canny nose for the Zeitgeist.
That is, his capacity for getting things completely wrong.
The Morsi outcome could be classed in the thick file of Ali’s efforts in this direction.
Now that said many of us will find that Ali’s geopolitical analysis fairly convincing (Robert Fisk says as much).
That he was wrong about the British Parliament and Labour’s willingness to defy Washington puts him the company of thousands, to no disgrace.
Vassals, little Ed, posteriors, and pathetic as they all may be, they didn’t act in the predicted way.
They may continue to show some independence, though this is less certain.
But there is not a word in Ali’s analysis about the fate of the Syrian democrats opposed to Assad.
Or how any democratic forces can be supported.
Not a dicky bird.
That really sticks in the craw.
(1)Ali’s Revolution From Above: Where Is the Soviet Union Going? (1988) is also dedicated to Yeltsin, whose “political courage has made him an important symbol throughout the country.”
(2) “In the tightly fought battle for the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, the Liberal Democrats have received the support of prominent writer and film maker Tariq Ali, who says he will be backing the party in the forthcoming General Election. Mr Ali, who lives in the constituency, is a long-time critic of the Government over the war in Iraq.” (Here) The Liberal Lynne Featherstone, won the constituency,
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 »