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The Extreme Centre: A Warning

Britain’s leading radical delivers an eviscerating attack on the indistinguishable political elite of the UK.

What is the point of elections? The result is always the same: a victory for the Extreme Centre. Since 1989, politics has become a contest to see who can best serve the needs of the market, a competition now fringed by unstable populist movements. The same catastrophe has taken place in the US, Britain, Continental Europe and Australia.
In this urgent and wide-ranging case for the prosecution, Tariq Ali looks at the people and the events that have informed this moment of political suicide: corruption in Westminster; the failures of the EU and NATO; the soft power of the American Empire that dominates the world stage uncontested.
Despite this inertia, Ali goes in search of alternative futures, finding promise in the Bolivarian revolutions of Latin America and at the edges of Europe. Emerging parties in Scotland, Greece and Spain, formed out of the 2008 crisis, are offering new hope for democracy. 


  • “Ali remains an outlier and intellectual bomb-thrower; an urbane, Oxford-educated polemicist.”
  • “It will not open doors at the White House because it makes for uncomfortable reading ... a wide-ranging and powerfully argued critique, that gives pause for thought.”
  • “Tariq Ali has not lost the passion and vim which made him a symbol of the spirit of ‘68 ... has not seen fit to join forces with the terminally cynical, or set up a graven god that can be accused of failing ... Ali has spent much of his life documenting America as the arsenal of counter-revolution.”
  • “For years, left-wing critics have framed the debate. Angela Davis, Ruthie Gilmore, Marc Mauer and, more recently, Michelle Alexander gave us the terminology to speak about all this: the prison industrial complex, abolition, non-reform reform and The New Jim Crow…. [Ali’s theorized term “extreme center”] provides us with a new language to describe our problems…[O]ne of the key tasks of the extreme center is to take center stage, to ensure that no alternative seems either reasonable or possible.”


  • The Beating Heart of Macronism

    Logically enough, everything is proceeding in concert. At the very moment of Macron’s election, we discover that La Poste [French post office] is enriching its range of services with a "Check in on my parents" offer, starting at €19.90 a month (there’sseveral options: 1, 2, 4 or 6 visits a week). The person tasked with this will doubtless no longer be called an "agent" (so impersonal and bureaucratic, they’ll say); we will see if La Poste goes as far as calling them "the family friend." They will pop round, have a coffee, and send a little text message to keep the relatives updated. In short — as the prospectus itself says — it "maintains the social bond." In summary: just to maintain the social bond alone costs €19.90 a month. And for a concrete social bond (6 visits a week) it’s €139.90. Even so, ultimately the same also holds for living together.

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  • Performances

    In any case, what sticks out amidst this mass vote is a feeling of absurdity. The absurdity of a mechanism that brings to power a man we know nothing about, and who has grounded his success precisely in his capacity to say nothing (the back cover of his book Révolution has not one line of text, but just a full page photo of Macron himself). The absurdity of a system that gives a crushing majority to such a man, in order to avoid a danger that is largely imaginary. Most of all, the absurdity of a focus on elections that we all feel have nothing to do with our lives, and which we all feel are playing out on a sort of flying carpet, above our heads.

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  • General Election 2017: Essential Reading

    “Strong and stable!” is Theresa May’s slogan for the upcoming election, empty words for most considering the current Tory landscape of soaring cuts, poverty and inequality.

    Here we present our essential reading: featuring leading voices dealing with issues ranging from privatisation, inequality, capitalism, neo-liberalism, socialism, migration, and more.

    All these books are 50% off until May 15 at midnight (UTC). Click here to activate your discount.

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