The interview below was conducted via email by Selim Nadi as part of his research on theoretical and political exchanges between the French and German radical left during the era of decolonization, between 1945 and 1975.
How did you politicize yourself? In particular, what was the process that made you such a leading figure in the anti-imperialist camp (especially during the Vietnam war)?
It wasn’t exactly a self-politicization. I was born in Lahore, grew up in that city, went to school and university, and didn’t move to Britain until October 1963. My class locations were contradictory: the larger family were feudal, but my parents had broken loose on many levels and become members of the Indian Communist Party and later, after Partition, its weak Pakistani offshoot. In other words, I grew up in a communist milieu, and mixed, from a very young age, with the intellectuals, poets and journalists of the left, as well as peasant and trade union leaders who were always welcome in our house. My first recorded attendance of a meeting is when I was almost 6 years old. There was a large May Day meeting in Lahore in 1949, as the Eighth Route Army and other guerrilla detachments, triumphant against the Japanese occupiers and the corrupted and brutal nationalists of the KMT, were converging on Beijing. The main chant in Lahore was “Friends, we will take the Chinese Road.”
Earlier today, CounterPunch published an interview with author and filmmaker Tariq Ali. Ali's recent book, The Obama Syndrome, predicted the failure of Obama's first term, and Ali discusses why Democrats are still supporting him—and why they will still vote for him—in his conversation with CounterPunch's Collin Harris.
The crux of the argument is what Harris refers to as "lesser evil-ism," or the idea that, despite his faults, Obama is better than the other option. Ali argues that Obama is able to get away with far more than the Bush administration was because of his public image and the willingness of his middle-class liberal supporters to turn a blind eye to his actions. As Ali says of what would have happened if George W. Bush had attempted to pass the National Defense Authorization Act, "One can even imagine Senator Obama jumping up and down in manufactured rage denouncing these assaults on the Constitution."
Visit CounterPunch to read the interview in full.
Tariq Ali, the acclaimed writer, filmmaker and author of The Obama Syndrome: Surrender At Home, War Abroad delivered a riveting talk at Brooklyn's Galapagos Art Space entitled "From Cairo to Madison: The Arab Revolution and a World in Motion." The sold-out event was co-sponsored by Verso and Haymarket Books. Delivering his usual sharp and insightful commentary, Tariq traced past and contemporary patterns of resistance in North Africa and the Middle East that accompanied imperial interference. It comes as no surprise then to discover commonalities between the so-called Arab Spring and resistance to anti-democratic assaults, like the ongoing attacks on public sector workers, in the imperial heartland.