Tariq Ali, author of Obama Syndrome, has written a piece for the Sunday Herald on the ninety-nine percent protesters at Occupy sites around the world, but most famously at Occupy Wall Street. In it he compares this fledgling activist movement with the mass protests of the past. A section of the article is reproduced here:
"A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth glancing at," wrote Oscar Wilde, "for it leaves out the one country at which humanity is always landing. And when humanity lands there, it looks out, and seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias." The spirit of that 19th century socialist is alive among the idealistic young people who have come out in protest against the turbo-charged global capitalism that has dominated the world ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Occupy Wall Street protesters who have taken up residence at the heart of New York's financial distract, are demonstrating against a system of despotic finance-capital: a greed-infected vampire that must suck the blood of the non-rich in order to survive. The protesters are showing their contempt for bankers, for financial speculators and for their media hirelings who continue to insist that there is no alternative. Since the Wall Street system dominates Europe, local versions of that model exist here too. (Interestingly it was the Wall Street occupiers rather than the indignados of Spain or the striking workers of Greece who had an impact in Britain, revealing once again that the real affinities of this country are Atlanticist rather than European.) The young people being pepper-sprayed by the NYPD may not have worked out what they want, but they sure as hell know what they're against and that's an important start.
On Saturday, October the 8th 2011, the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, Trafalgar Square will turn into the meeting point for an "Anti-War Mass Assembly." The event will start at noon, and will be opened by Joe Glenton, an ex-soldier who was jailed for refusing to fight in Afghanistan, and Grace McCann, who in 2009 attempted a citizen's arrest on Tony Blair. Speeches and live performances will follow. A "Naming the Dead Ceremony" will be led by Joan Humphries, who lost her grandson in Afghanistan, and Rose Gentle, who lost her son in Iraq.
In September 2010, Verso published an anthology of writings on The Case fror Withdrawal from Afghanistan, edited by Nick Turse, and including contributions by Tariq Ali and Tom Engelhardt. The book is a must read for all those who oppose the deadly conflict that Barack Obama calls "just war."
Visit the Antiwar assembly website for more info on the demonstration, and to sign the "I will be there" pledge.
Tariq Ali gives his take on the Occupy Wall Street protests on the London Review of Books blog, asking "After the hopeful Wisconsin flutter, might this be the beginning of an Egyptian summer in New York"?
Spring has absconded from the heart of political America for far too long. The frozen winters of the Reagan and Bush years didn't melt with Clinton or Obama: hollow men who rule over a hollow system where money overpowers all and the much-maligned state is used mainly to preserve the financial status quo and fund the wars of the 21st century. Discussion, serious debate, openness have virtually disappeared from mainstream political life in the United States and its more extreme versions in Europe, with Britain as the cock on the dung heap. The extreme right is small. The extreme left barely exists. It is the extreme centre that dominates political and financial life.
The Occupy Wall Street protesters are consciously or sub-consciously demonstrating against a system of despotic finance-capital; a greed-infected vampire that must suck the blood of the non-rich in order to survive. The protesters are showing their contempt for bankers, for financial speculators and for their media hirelings who continue to insist that there is no alternative.
Visit the LRB blog to read the article in full.
On Thursday 8 September on BBC One, Question Time returned for a new series with a special programme - ten years on from the September 11 attacks.
Tariq Ali, author of The Obama Syndrome, was on the panel, along with Defence Secretary Liam Fox, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband, the leading advocate of regime change in Iraq Richard Perle, American-born playwright Bonnie Greer and Christina Schmidt, whose husband Olaf, a British Army bomb disposal expert, was killed in Afghanistan. Chaired by David Dimbleby from London.
You've probably heard it said a dozen times today: "It's like 28 Days Later out there." Every thirty seconds, there's a new riot zone. I've rarely known the capital to be this wound up. It's kicked off in East Ham, then Whitechapel, then Ealing Broadway (really?), then Waltham Forest... It's kicked off in Croydon, then Birmingham, then (just a rumour so far) Bradford... The banlieues of Britain are erupting in mass civil unrest. (Lenin's Tomb)
Why is it that the same areas always erupt first, whatever the cause? Pure accident? Might it have something to do with race and class and institutionalised poverty and the sheer grimness of everyday life? The coalition politicians (including new New Labour, who might well sign up to a national government if the recession continues apace) with their petrified ideologies can't say that because all three parties are equally responsible for the crisis. They made the mess.