Alex ConstantineWho is Tariq Ali?Fri Apr 15, 2005 02:3322.214.171.124
WHO IS TARIQ ALI? …
A: TARIQ ALI IS A BBC COMMENTATOR, ALSO A FREQUENT GUEST ON PACIFICA STATIONS, THE AUTHOR OF NUMEROUS BOOKS AND ARTICLES ON THE AMERICAN SLOUGH OF FOREIGN POLICY DISASTERS. HE WAS EDUCATED AT OXFORD AND IS QUITE CAPABLE OF RESEARCHING THE ROOTS OF FAR-RIGHT POWER BROKERING AND ITS TIES TO THE SAME CORPORATIONS THAT QUIETLY SUPPORTED GERMANY'S NAZI PARTY (NOT TO MENTION HUNDREDS OF DOMESTIC FASCIST FRONTS) … YET CLAIMS WITH COMPLETE CONFIDENCE THAT THE U.S. IS "NOT FASCIST." STRIKING COMMENT. HISTORIANS OF AMERICAN FASCISM - GEORGE SELDES, SAYERS AND KAHN, LINDA HUNT, CHRISTOPHER SIMPSON, MARTIN A. LEE, MICHAEL PARENTI, MAE BRUSSELL, THE CONTRIBUTORS TO COVERT ACTION INFORMATION QUATERLY, TO NAME A FEW - WOULD WRINKLE A BEMUSED BROW AT THIS WRONG-HEADED STATEMENT.
B: INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT TARIQ ALI IS A PAKISTANI, AND THAT HIS UNCLE WAS HEAD OF THE GENOCIDAL, HEROIN-SMUGGLING, TERRORIST-SUPPORTING ISI, PAKISTAN'S NOTORIOUS MILITARY INTELLIGENCE DIVISION, LINKED FINANCIALLY TO ACCUSED SUICIDE-PILOT MOHAMMED ATTA AND THE DECIMATION OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER.
… After graduating, HIS UNCLE, THEN HEAD OF PAISTANI MILITARY INTELLIGENCE,, told Tariq's parents to send him abroad: his radicalism was becoming dangerous and he risked imprisonment. He came to Britain and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Exeter College, Oxford….
C: TARIQ ALI WAS A JOHN KERRY SUPPORTER, AND HIS HOLLOW ARGUMENTS DREW THE IRE OF MANY LIBERALS AND MOST ESPECIALLY HIS FELLOW SOCIALISTS:
Was the vote for Bush a vote for war?
by Joe Auciello
Leading up to the 2004 presidential election, some prominent figures on the left, including Tariq Ali, author of "Bush in Babylon" and an editor of New Left Review," urged the defeat of George Bush. Ali’s voice was a surprising addition to the "Anybody-But-Bush" crowd.
As a socialist, Ali would have been expected to call for a political break from the Republicans and Democrats and in favor of an independent, working-class perspective. But Ali and many other left-wing opponents of President Bush’s election campaign argued that a vote for Bush would be seen throughout the world, especially by Arab nations, as a vote for the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
According to this argument, a second Bush term would signal that millions of Americans, for the first time, declared themselves in favor of the Iraq war, in favor of attacking a country that had not and could not attack the United States. It would mean that most Americans, from workers to "soccer Moms," supported a bloody, brutal imperialist conquest and occupation.
In an October radio interview, Ali explained, "This is what I constantly say when I’m in this country to people on the left: Look, you have a responsibility to the rest of the world as well. This is no time to fool around. Do not mimic the imperial rulers of your country and think exclusively about yourselves and your own interests, whatever these may be.
"Just look at the situation globally and ask yourselves this: How would a defeat for George W. Bush be seen in the rest of the world? I am 100 percent confident … this defeat would be seen as a victory.…
"To say that Bush shouldn’t be defeated is to underestimate the loss of Iraqi lives and the loss of American lives in this conflict. … You have to vote against Bush, which means behaving politically and maturely and voting for Kerry." (The entire interview is available on-line in audio at www. leftbusinessobserver.com/Radio.html#041028.)
It is hard to imagine a younger Tariq Ali, leader of the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign in Britain, urging a vote for Democratic Party presidential candidates Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and George McGovern in 1972 on the grounds that a Democratic electoral victory would have been seen by Vietnam and the rest of the world as a victory for the Vietnamese revolution.
Instead, Ali called for "struggle against imperialism abroad, struggle against capitalism at home" ("The Extra-Parliamentary Opposition," in Tariq Ali, ed., "The New Revolutionaries," William Morrow & Co., Inc., New York, 1969).
Another prominent "Anybody But Bush" supporter, feminist columnist Katha Pollitt, agreed with Tariq Ali’s opinion that a vote for Bush meant a vote for war. In an article entitled "Mourn," she lamented Kerry’s defeat and suggested, "Maybe this time the voters chose what they actually want: Nationalism, pre-emptive war…" (The Nation, Nov. 22, 2004).
In this view, the 2004 election was an implicit, if not overt, referendum on the Iraq war. Bush’s victory, then, would be a mandate for continued hostilities. But is this belief, in fact, true? There is good reason to think it is not.
First, it is necessary to state the obvious. In this election, voters were given no real choice. Both George Bush and his Democratic opponent, John Kerry, supported the war. Only minor, marginal candidates called for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Kerry, who said, "I voted for it the first time before I voted against it," pledged to fight a better war by fighting a bigger one. He promised to send more U.S. soldiers to Iraq and to draw in more support from U.S. allies in Western Europe. Kerry’s promises for a better war were hardly inspirational.
The logic of "don’t change horses in midstream" favored the Republican president. With no real choice, voters merely expressed a preference. They pulled the lever for the genial, friendly-appearing Republican with the folksy drawl rather than the stiff Boston Brahman Democrat with the elite accent….
D: ON ALI'S ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE NADER CANDIDACY:
"Tariq Ali is urging a vote for the Democrats because he thinks that There Is No Alternative. In his own words: "Because that's the alternative. There's no third party…"
[NOTE: CONTRAST THIS TRASHING OF RALPH NADER'S PRESIDENTIAL BID WITH THIS STATEMENT, MADE IN 1971, CONCERNING AN IDENTICAL SITUATION DURING ELECTIONS IN THE UK: "At present there exists no alternative to the Tories which the revolutionary movement could support. . . The only real alternative to capitalist politics is provided by the revolutionary left groups as a whole. Despite their smallness and despite their many failings, they represent the only way forward." Tariq Ali, 1971, The Coming British Revolution)]
Ali seems to have forgotten that Nader received 2,882,955 votes in 2000, which was 2.74% of the total vote. While Debs won 6 percent of the vote in 1912, his first campaign in 1900 yielded a paltry 87,814 votes. If Nader had the support of the Greens and the liberal intelligentsia in 2004, it is entirely possible that his support among the broader population would have been even larger, especially in light of the elimination of Howard Dean as an antiwar candidate. Instead, people such as Doug Henwood, Micah Sifry, Norman Solomon and Medea Benjamin have used their intellectual and moral authority to stampede anybody who would listen into voting for a candidate who pledges to win the war in Iraq.
In a more fundamental sense, Ali's problem is this. He has become so far removed from the world of practical politics that he cannot think strategically, at least in terms of what Marxists should do. For Ali, there is no grasp of transition. We are stuck in mutually exclusive static states. Today and for the foreseeable future obviously, we have awful Republican Party candidates and Democrats who are not so awful. In order to prevent the more awful candidate from taking power, we have to insure the victory of the less awful. Since somebody like Ralph Nader will obviously never be able to win a majority vote, he can only succeed in stealing votes from the less awful candidate.
Missing entirely from this schema is a prescription for how radical alternatives, especially on the electoral front, can be created. You are stuck with the minimalist here-and-now and a maximalist outcome far down the road when American workers arise from their slumber and become willing to cast a vote for a contemporary version of Eugene V. Debs. However, for Marxists the only question worth addressing is how to get from the current stage of politics to something more advanced. As James P. Cannon (the founder of American Trotskyism and just the sort of figure derided in Tariq Ali's satire on Trotskyism titled "Redemption") once put it, "The art of politics is knowing what to do next."
ALI POOH-POOHS ANY CHALLENGE TO THE ESTABLISHMENT LINE ON 9/11 AND "THE WAR ON TERRORISM" AS DIM-WITTED CONSPIRACY THEORY.
… Most of the endless stream of "analysis" from the Left or "progressive" side has centered on "terrorism", posing and answering questions such as "what is terrorism?" or "why do they hate us?" For example, the "Marxist" Tariq Ali's critique of events amounts to pointing out the ineffectiveness of the US military assault as a method of eliminating terrorism. His main conclusion seems to be that the US rulers are really dumb; anybody with half a brain can see that the attack in Afghanistan will only breed more terrorists! It never occurs to him that maybe they're not dumb, but have a different purpose in mind; he takes their propaganda at face value. And so do most other "critics" of the war. This is the wrong way to stamp out terrorism! Wage peace instead! Dispense justice! Be nice! Then "they" won't hate "us" anymore (and "we" can carry on with our relentless pursuit of money and goodies like SUVs).
Evidently the Left, like everybody else, spends too much of its time watching TV and reading the newspapers, i.e., absorbing propaganda. How else to comprehend why almost everyone from "liberal" Democrats and "progressives" to Marxists and anarchists has accepted the propaganda line of the corporate media and psyops specialists in the US government: the attacks on September 11 were planned and carried out by Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorists, namely Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaida, and caught the US national security apparatus completely offguard. The fact that no proof has ever been produced doesn't seem to bother anyone. And when this lack of proof is pointed out, and all the innumerable facts and circumstances that cast very serious doubt on this story are brought up, even "critics" of the war dismiss these persistent questions as lunatic "conspiracy" mongering. . . .
The failure to look hard facts in the face could be fatal, especially to the Left, which, judging by its response to this point, doesn't seem to realize that it is one of the principal targets of the coming global war. . . A huge mass of evidence suggests that the events of September were planned and carried out by the same team of "rogue" secret government planners and operatives who have wrought so much murder and destruction worldwide for the last 40+ years: the CIA, the Pentagon, the National Security Agency and their contractees.
- Alex Constantine
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