In a recent Guardian interview with Stuart Jeffries, Tariq Ali despairs of Westminster and the ‘extreme centre’ that dominates politics today. His solution? It’s not to trust Ed Miliband – it’s to follow the principles laid out by his father.
‘You can’t just wait for something to happen. You have to do something’ … Tariq Ali. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian.
Tariq Ali is recalling a party for the late Tony Benn on the House of Commons terrace shortly after Labour’s 1997 election victory. “Edward Miliband, as he was known then, came up to me, eyes shining, very excited, asking: ‘Tariq, what would you do if you had just won?’ I said: ‘The first thing I would do is to renationalise the railways. Between 70 and 80% of the people want that, it would be very popular.’ And he rolled his eyes in despair at me.”
The author of Close to Home: A Materialist Analysis of Women’s Oppression and the forthcoming Dominating Others: Feminism and Racism after the War on Terror interrogates the new French state secularism.
The January 7th massacre at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris has sparked an outburst of critical conversation across social and other media concerning freedom of expression, the politically charged proliferation of the ‘je suis Charlie’ slogan, and the consequential upsurge of anti-Muslim sentiment. On the London Review of Books blog, Adam Shatz considers the implications of the populist Charlie slogan as a “declaration of allegiance” that counterpoises itself against those “on the other side…the Islamic enemy that threatens life in the modern, democratic West”. In The New Yorker, Teju Cole questions whether it is possible to defend racist speech without endorsing racism, arguing that it is possible to condemn the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists without condoning the ideology of their cartoons. Along similar lines Tariq Ali reflects on the contents of Charlie Hebdo itself – satire that primarily targeted Islam, and paid far less attention to Judaism and Catholicism. Also well worth a look is Joe Sacco’s take on the events – a cartoon that is itself a pastiche on satire, the medium responding to the medium, so to speak. We have put together an essential reading list of works that contribute to these current debates, including books by Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Tariq Ali, Patrick Cockburn and Gareth Peirce.