"Why can't we protest against cuts like the French?": Tariq Ali on dissent (or lack thereof) for the Guardian

As protests spread in France over the planned increase to the pension age, Tariq Ali asks "Why can't we protest against cuts like the French?"

Considering the lack of parliamentary opposition in Britain to cuts and the relative passivity of the British trade union response, Ali points out that we have a proud history of dissent and argues that now is the time to import the French spirit of resistance.

This is a country without an official opposition. An extra-parliamentary upheaval is not simply necessary to combat the cuts, but also to enhance democracy that at the moment is designed to further corporate interests and little more.

Bailouts for bankers and the rich, an obscene level of defence expenditure to fight Washington's wars, and cuts for the less well off and the poor. A topsy-turvy world produces its own priorities. They need to be contested. These islands have a radical past, after all, that is not being taught in the history modules on offer.

Ali ends eloquently, quoting Shelley, quoted in The Verso Book of Dissent:

"Given the inability of the official parliament to meet real needs why not the convocation of regional and national assemblies with a social charter that can be fought for and defended just as Shelley advised just under two centuries ago:

Ye who suffer woes untold
Or to feel or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold.
[. . .]
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you.
Ye are many, they are few."

Visit the Guardian to read the article in full. 



Tariq Ali will be speaking at the London V40 events: a screening of Jarman's Wittgenstein at the Tate Modern on 22 October, and a free US mid-terms discussion 'The Obama Syndrome' at the Free Word Centre, 25 October coinciding with the publication of his latest book The Obama Syndrome.

More in #Articles