Writer · tariqali.org
21 October 1943 (age 80) Lahore, Punjab, British India (
University of the PunjabExeter College, Oxford
Aisha Ali, Chengiz Ali, Natasha Ali
Tahira Mazhar Ali, Mazhar Ali Khan
South of the Border, Wittgenstein, Hell's Angel
Shadows of the Pomegra, The Book of Saladin, The Islam Quintet: Shadows, The Clash of Fundamentalisms, The Stone Woman
Tariq ali the twilight of democracy festival of dangerous ideas 2015
Tariq Ali (; Punjabi, Urdu: طارق علی; born 21 October 1943) is a British-Pakistani writer, journalist, historian, filmmaker, political activist, and public intellectual. He is a member of the editorial committee of the New Left Review and Sin Permiso, and contributes to The Guardian, CounterPunch, and the London Review of Books. He read PPE at Exeter College, Oxford.
- Tariq ali the twilight of democracy festival of dangerous ideas 2015
- Tariq ali on election of jeremy corbyn as new labor leader
- Early life
- Emerging activism
- Personal life
He is the author of several books, including Pakistan: Military Rule or People's Power (1970), Can Pakistan Survive? The Death of a State (1983), Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity (2002), Bush in Babylon (2003), Conversations with Edward Said (2005), Pirates Of The Caribbean: Axis Of Hope (2006), A Banker for All Seasons (2007), The Duel (2008), The Obama Syndrome (2010), and The Extreme Centre: A Warning (2015).
Tariq ali on election of jeremy corbyn as new labor leader
Ali was born and raised in Lahore in British India (later part of Pakistan). He is the son of journalist Mazhar Ali Khan and activist mother Tahira Mazhar Ali Khan, who was the daughter of Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan, who led the Unionist Muslim League and was later Prime Minister of the Punjab from 1937 to 1942. Ali's father, Mazhar, had been "mobilising peasants in his family’s fiefdom" when he was invited to join the Pakistan Times by Mian Iftikharuddin, later becoming sympathetic to the Communist cause, although he never joined the party. Ali's father and mother, who were cousins, eloped; his mother later said: "Mazhar left for the Middle East on military service. I was very pregnant by then. We didn’t see each other for two years. Our son Tariq was born while Mazhar was away. By the time he returned, I had joined the Communist Party. I had given away my entire trousseau, including the family jewels, to the Party".
Ali first became politically active in his teens, taking part in opposition to the military dictatorship of Pakistan. An uncle who worked in the Pakistani military intelligence warned his parents that Ali could not be protected. His parents therefore decided to get him out of Pakistan and sent him to England to study at Exeter College, Oxford, where he studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He was elected President of the Oxford Union in 1965. In 1967 Ali was one of 64 prominent figures, including the Beatles, who signed a petition calling for the legalisation of marijuana. Ali's tenure at the Union included a meeting with Malcolm X in December 1964 during which Malcolm X expressed deep consternation about his own risk of assassination.
His public profile began to grow during the Vietnam War, when he engaged in debates against the war with such figures as Henry Kissinger and Michael Stewart. He testified at the Russell Tribunal over US involvement in Vietnam. As time passed, Ali became increasingly critical of American and Israeli foreign policies. He was also a vigorous opponent of American relations with Pakistan that tended to back military dictatorships over democracy. He was one of the marchers on the American embassy in London in 1968 in a demonstration against the Vietnam war.
Active in the New Left of the 1960s, he has long been associated with the New Left Review. Ali inserted himself into politics through his involvement with The Black Dwarf newspaper, he joined the International Marxist Group (IMG) in 1968. He was recruited to the leadership of the IMG and became a member of the International Executive Committee of the (reunified) Fourth International. He also befriended influential figures such as Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
In 1967 Ali was in Camiri, Bolivia, not far from where Che Guevara was captured, to observe the trial of Régis Debray. He was accused of being a Cuban revolutionary by authorities. Ali then said: "If you torture me the whole night and I can speak Spanish in the morning I'll be grateful to you for the rest of my life."
During this period he was an IMG candidate in Sheffield Attercliffe at the February 1974 general election and was co-author of Trotsky for Beginners, a cartoon book. In 1981, the IMG dissolved when its members entered the Labour Party: the IMG was promptly proscribed. Ali then abandoned activism in the revolutionary left and supported Tony Benn in his bid to become deputy leader of the Labour Party that year.
In 1990, he published the satire Redemption, on the inability of the Trotskyists to handle the downfall of the Eastern bloc. The book contains parodies of many well-known figures in the Trotskyist movement. In 1999 Ali strongly criticised US and UK interventions in the Balkans in the piece Springtime for NATO.
His book Bush in Babylon criticises the 2003 invasion of Iraq by American president George W. Bush. This book has a unique style, using poetry and critical essays in portraying the war in Iraq as a failure. Ali believes that the new Iraqi government will fail.
His previous book, Clash of Fundamentalisms, puts the events of the September 11 attacks in historical perspective, covering the history of Islam from its foundations.
Ali has remained a critic of modern neoliberal economics and was present at the 2005 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where he was one of 19 to sign the Porto Alegre Manifesto. He supports the model of Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.
He has been described as "the alleged inspiration" for the Rolling Stones' song "Street Fighting Man", recorded in 1968. John Lennon's "Power to the People" was inspired by an interview Lennon gave to Ali.
In an article published in CounterPunch, he responded to the Pope Benedict XVI Islam controversy and said: "The Bavarian is a razor-sharp reactionary cleric. I think he knew what he was saying and why. In a neo-liberal world suffering from environmental degradation, poverty, hunger, repression, a 'planet of slums' (in the graphic phrase of Mike Davis), the Pope chooses to insult the founder of a rival faith. The reaction in the Muslim world was predictable, but depressingly insufficient."
Ali has also written in favour of Scottish independence.
During the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016, Ali was one of the few figures on the left to support Britain leaving the European Union.
Tariq Ali's The Leopard and The Fox, first written as a BBC screenplay in 1985, is about the last days of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Never previously produced because of a censorship controversy, it was finally premiered in New York in October 2007, the day before former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned to her home country after eight years in exile.
In 2009, Ali, alongside Mark Weisbrot wrote the screenplay to the Oliver Stone documentary South of the Border. This gave a favourable account of Hugo Chávez and other left-wing Latin American leaders. Interviewed in the documentary, Ali explained the role that Bolivian water privatisation and the 2000 Cochabamba protests played in eventually bringing Evo Morales to power.
He currently lives in Highgate, London with his partner Susan Watkins, editor of the New Left Review. He has three children: Natasha from a previous relationship and Chengiz and Aisha with Watkins.