Transcript: Tariq Ali on his book Street-fighting Years | Jun 04, 2005

Tariq Ali stands behind a wooden lectern in a library. He's in his late forties, with wavy salt and pepper hair and a moustache. He's wearing a denim jacket over a white cotton tee.

A picture of his book "Streetfighting years" appears on screen on top of the U of T Bookstore logo. The cover of the book features an impressionistic photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono wearing helmets.

Tariq says I WANT TO START
BY TALKING ABOUT HISTORY, IN
THE FOLLOWING SENSE, BECAUSE MY
WORK WHETHER IT'S FICTION OR
NONFICTION, ESSENTIALLY
CONCERNS HISTORY.
AND LET'S START BY AN APHORISM
BY AN OLD GERMAN.
MARX USED TO SAY THAT HISTORY
REPEATS ITSELF, THE FIRST TIME
IS TRAGEDY, THE SECOND TIME IS
FARCE.
AND LIKE MANY OTHER PHRASES HE
COINED, THIS BECAME A CLICHÉ
AND WAS REPEATED ALL OVER THE
WORLD AND STILL IS.
THE PROBLEM IS, IT ISN'T TRUE.
HISTORY RARELY REPEATS ITSELF,
EITHER AS TRAGEDY OR AS FARCE,
BUT IT ECHOES AND THESE ECHOES
OF HISTORY ARE STILL WITH US
AND THEY DON'T GO AWAY.
AND YOU SEE IT IN DIFFERENT
WAYS, YOU HEAR THESE ECHOES AT
VARIOUS TIMES, AND THE SOUNDS VARY.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Tariq Ali. Author, 'Street-fighting years: An autobiography of the sixties.' U of T Bookstore Reading Series. Hart House Library. May 1, 2005."

Tariq continues BUT THESE ECHOES
REMAIN WITH US, AND THAT'S WHAT
MAKES HISTORY EXTREMELY
IMPORTANT.
AND IT'S IMPORTANT TO STRESS
THIS IN A CULTURE WHERE CERTAIN
ACADEMIC FASHIONS IN THE LAST
25 YEARS, MORE OR LESS
OBLITERATED HISTORY AS A
SERIOUS DISCIPLINE.
AND IT'S THIS STRUGGLE FOR HISTORY TO REVIVE
HISTORY WHICH HAS BECOME
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT NOW, AND
NOT EVEN DENIED WITH THE EVENTS
THAT FOLLOWED 9-11.

He clears his throat and continues
I HAD VIRTUALLY STOPPED WRITING
WORKS OF HISTORY IN 1989, AND
HAD STARTED A SERIES OF FICTION
WHICH WERE TWO SEPARATE SERIES,
ONE WAS DEPICTING THE CLASHES
BETWEEN ISLAMIC CIVILISATIONS
AND WESTERN CHRISTENDOM, A SET
OF BOOKS WHICH I STARTED
WRITING IN 1991, WHICH THE LATE
EDWARD SAID, THEN CHRISTENED OR
MUSLIMED--


[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues
Tariq continues AS THE ISLAM QUINTET, AND
URGED ME TO FINISH THIS, AND
NOT SORT OF GET DIVERTED BY
ANYTHING ELSE -- THIS SERIES OF
NOVELS.
AND AT THE SAME TIME, I BEGAN A
TRILOGY OF NOVELS ON THE
COLLAPSE OF COMMUNISM AND THAT
WHOLE WORLD, WHICH HAD SUDDENLY
BECOME LIKE ATLANTIS,
FORGOTTEN, IGNORED.
SO IT'S THESE TWO CONCURRENT
SETS OF BOOKS THAT I'VE BEEN
WORKING ON NOW FOR THE LAST 15
YEARS ALMOST, AND THE ISLAM
ONES, OF COURSE BECAME SUDDENLY
CRITICAL AFTER 9-11, WHEN
PEOPLE WANTED TO KNOW THE
HISTORY OF THAT WORLD, BUT THE
NOVELS I WAS WRITING, OF COURSE
WERE DESIGNED TO ATTRACT TWO
SORTS OF READERS, OF COURSE
APART FROM ALL THE OTHERS, BUT
THEY WERE DESIGNED ESSENTIALLY,
BECAUSE EVEN IN 1989-1990, I
FELT THAT RELIGION WAS
SOMETHING THAT WAS GOING TO
BECOME MORE AND MORE CRUCIAL
AND IMPORTANT, AND NOT IN A
POSITIVE SENSE, BUT IN A
NEGATIVE SENSE IN THE WORLD IN
WHICH WE LIVE, AND THAT IT WAS
THEREFORE IMPORTANT TO DRAW
BACK A BIT AND SEE WHAT HAD
HAPPENED IN THE PAST.
AND SO...

He clears his throat and continues I ASKED MYSELF THE FOLLOWING
QUESTION, THIS WAS ESPECIALLY
DURING THE FIRST GULF WAR, WHEN
A VERY PROMINENT COMMENTATOR
WHO SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER,
SAID ON BBC TELEVISION THAT THE
ARABS WERE A PEOPLE WITHOUT A
CULTURE.
THIS WAS ACTUALLY SAID IN ORDER
TO JUSTIFY THE FIRST GULF WAR.
AND THAT ANGERED ME GREATLY BUT
IT ALSO RAISED A QUESTION FOR
ME, WHICH WAS THE FOLLOWING,
WHICH WAS, WHY, OF ALL THE
THREE GREAT MONOTHEISTIC
RELIGIONS, WHICH HAVE DOMINATED
THE CULTURE OF THE WORLD, MORE
OR LESS, HAD ISLAM NOT HAD ITS
OWN REFORMATION?
A REFORMATION WHICH HAD TAKEN
PLACE IN DIFFERENT WAYS IN
CHRISTIANITY, JUDAISM, BUT
APPEARED TO HAVE LEFT ISLAM
UNAFFECTED.
AND IN ORDER TO SEARCH FOR THE
ANSWERS, I WANTED TO STUDY THE
REAL OLD EUROPE, NOT THE OLD
EUROPE OF RUMSFELD'S
IMAGINATION.

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues BUT THE EUROPE PRIOR TO THE
15th CENTURY.
AND THAT OLD EUROPE, OF COURSE,
WAS A MULTICULTURAL EUROPE IN
THE TRUE SENSE OF THE WORD,
THAT IN THE IBERIAN PENINSULA
AND IN SICILY, YOU HAD ISLAM
AND YOU HAD, CO-EXISTING WITH
ISLAM, JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY.
NEIGHBOURHOOD ESPECIALLY IN ISLAMIC SPAIN,
THIS CO-EXISTENCE, THE
COMMINGLING OF THESE THREE
CULTURES PRODUCED A REMARKABLE
INTELLECTUAL SYNTHESIS IN THE
FIELD OF LITERATURE, IN THE
FIELD OF PHILOSOPHY.
AND MANY PEOPLE
TODAY ARE SHOCKED WHEN I POINT
OUT THAT ONE OF THE FIRST
PHILOSOPHERS IN EUROPE TO RAISE
THE QUESTION OF WOMEN AND THEIR
PLACE IN SOCIETY, WAS AN
ANDALUSIAN MUSLIM PHILOSOPHER,
IBN ROSHD, KNOWN TO THE WORLD
OF THE RENAISSANCE, AS
AVERROES, FOR SOME REASON.
I'VE NEVER QUITE DISCOVERED WHY
HIS NAME WAS THAT DISTORTED,
BUT IN ANY EVENT, AND IBN ROSHD
FIRST RAISED THIS QUESTION.
IN THE EARLY MEDIEVAL PERIOD,
MIDDLE MEDIEVAL PERIOD, SAYING
THAT A SOCIETY WHICH DOES NOT
GIVE ITS WOMEN THE SAME RIGHTS
AS ANY OTHER CITIZENS, RIGHTS
OF HALF THE POPULATION OF A
COUNTRY.
AND IF YOU REDUCE HALF THE
POPULATION OF A COUNTRY TO
VEGETABLES, THAT WAS THE EXACT
PHRASE THAT HE USED, SUCH
SOCIETIES WILL ATROPHY.
AND THERE WERE DISCUSSIONS ON
THIS, AND THESE THEMES AT THE
TIME.
AND SO I WENT BACK TO THIS
WORLD, AND WHEN I WENT TO SPAIN
AND I SPENT ROUGHLY ABOUT SIX
MONTHS THERE, ON AND OFF,
MOVING IN AND OUT -- AND SAW
THOSE OLE MONUMENTS OF ISLAMIC
CULTURE.
IN CORDOBA, ONE OF THE MOST
BEAUTIFUL MOSQUES EVER BUILT,
BRUTALLY RAPED BY A CATHOLIC
CATHEDRAL, LITERALLY BUILT IN
THE HEART OF IT, AND THE
SPANISH KING AT THE TIME,
WOULDN'T LET THEM TAKE --
DESTROY THE MOSQUE, AND HE GOT
VERY ANGRY WITH THE MONKS, AND
HE SAID, YOU HAVE DESTROYED
WHAT IS UNCREATABLE AGAIN, WITH
SOMETHING WHICH WE HAVE ALL
OVER, AND STOPPED THEM.
SO THAT'S WHY THAT PARTICULAR
MOSQUE WAS PRESERVED, BUT ALSO
IN OTHER PARTS OF SPAIN, ONE
SAW THIS.
AND SLOWLY, AS I YOU KNOW,
WALKED AROUND AND SAW, IT CAME
TO ME THAT THIS HAD TO BE DONE
AS A FICTIONAL WORK, TO RE-
EVOKE THOSE DAYS AND THE
DECLINE AND DEFEAT OF THAT
SOCIETY.
AND THAT'S HOW "SHADOWS OF THE
POMEGRANATE TREE," THE FIRST OF
THE ISLAM QUINTET EMERGED.
THE TRAGEDY OF AL-ANDALUS WHICH
WAS NOT SIMPLY THE TRAGEDY OF
ISLAM, BUT THE TRAGEDY OF
EUROPE.
BECAUSE ON THE DAY THAT THEY
BURNED, IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE IN
GRENADA, ALL THE ARAB BOOKS OF
LEARNING, EXCEPT THOSE THAT
THEIR SCHOLARS WOULDN'T ALLOW
THEM TO BURN, THE CATHOLIC
INQUISITION SETTLED THE
QUESTION OF THE NEW EUROPEAN
IDENTITY.
THIS WAS SETTLED IN THE 15th
CENTURY, AND THE MASS EXPULSION
OF JEWS AND MUSLIMS FROM
ANDALUS DETERMINED THE
CHARACTER OF WHAT WAS GOING TO
HAPPEN, IN SICILY, SUCH EVENTS
HAD TAKEN PLACE IN THE 13th
CENTURY, ALREADY IN ITALY, WITH
THE BIG ETHNIC CLEANSINGS WHICH
TOOK PLACE IN SICILY WHERE A
MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION WAS
ISLAMIC.
SO THE DESTRUCTION OF ISLAM IN
EUROPE, AND THE DESTRUCTION OF
THE MULTICULTURAL EUROPEAN
IDENTITY DAMAGED BOTH SIDES
PRETTY GRIEVOUSLY, AND THAT'S
WHERE MY QUESTION GOT ANSWERED,
WAS THAT IF ISLAM HAD NOT BEEN
BRUTALLY EXTERMINATED AND
PUSHED OUT OF MEDIEVAL, LATE
MEDIEVAL EUROPE, IT WOULD HAVE
DEVELOPED IN A VERY DIFFERENT WAY.
IT WAS REALLY PUSHED BACK.
SO THESE WERE SOME OF THE
THEMES THAT I EXPLORED IN THOSE
FICTIONAL WORKS, AND THE FOURTH
OF THESE NOVELS, WHICH IS SET
IN ISLAMIC SICILY, OR JUST SOON
AFTER THE FALL OF ISLAMIC
SICILY.
"A SULTAN IN PALERMO," PALERMO
IS A CITY, THEY USED TO SAY,
WITH 500 MOSQUES, ONE OF THE
GREAT CITIES OF THE MEDIEVAL
WORLD, TOGETHER WITH BAGHDAD
AND CORDOBA, AND MANY ITALIANS,
LIKE MANY SPANISH, DIDN'T KNOW
THE HISTORY OF THEIR OWN
COUNTRY, OR WHAT IT HAD BEEN
LIKE, BECAUSE THIS HISTORY HAD
VIRTUALLY BEEN WIPED OUT.
SO ALL FOUR NOVELS ARE NOW
DONE.
"A SULTAN IN PALERMO," WILL BE
OUT IN A COUPLE OF MONTHS, IT'S
PUBLISHED ALREADY.
AND THE FIFTH NOVEL, OF COURSE,
IS THE MOST DIFFICULT NOVEL,
BECAUSE THE FIFTH NOVEL IS SET
TODAY.
AND WHEREAS IN THE PAST WE CAN
FIND MANY GLORIES AND
SPLENDOURS, WHEN YOU LOOK
CLOSELY AT WHAT'S GOING ON
TODAY-- SO IT MAY WELL TURN
INTO A SATIRICAL NOVEL.

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues I DON'T KNOW, I DON'T KNOW, I
HAVEN'T DECIDED ON WHAT TO DO
WITH IT.
BUT COMING BACK TO THE ECHOES
OF HISTORY, WHEN I WAS WRITING
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW
EDITION OF "STREET-FIGHTING
YEARS, AN ACCOUNT OF THE
SIXTIES" I CAME ACROSS A LOT OF
ECHOES OF THAT OLD YOU KNOW,
RECENT HISTORY.
AND WHAT TRIGGERED OFF THESE
ECHOES WAS A THING I SAW, A
SLOGAN PAINTED ON A STICKER AND
THEN REPRODUCED, AND THEN, YOU
KNOW, USED AS BUMPER STICKERS
AT NEW YORK, AT AN ANTI-WAR
DEMONSTRATION ON IRAQ.
AND THE STICKER SAID, "IRAQ IS
ARABIC FOR VIETNAM."
UH, WHICH WAS A VERY NICE THOUGHT AND IT DID
TRIGGER OFF A SET OF MEMORIES,
AND THERE ARE ECHOES OF VIETNAM
IN IRAQ, BUT OF COURSE IT'S A
TOTALLY DIFFERENT STORY, WHAT
IS GOING ON THERE, AND HOW IT
WILL END, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY,
THE PEOPLE WHO ARE BEING
COMPELLED TO FIGHT FOR THEIR
COUNTRY'S INDEPENDENCE ARE NOT
OF THE SAME POLITICAL BREED
THAT THE VIETNAMESE WERE.
BECAUSE THE WHOLE
WORLD HAS NOT BEEN TRANSFORMED
AND CHANGED.
AND SOMETIMES PEOPLE SAY TO ME,
AND USUALLY ON U.S. CAMPUSES,
BUT-- THAT IT'S VERY OLD
FASHIONED TO USE THE WORD
IMPERIALISM ANY LONGER.
AND I SAID, WELL I'M
SYMPATHETIC TO THAT IDEA, BUT
IT'S EQUALLY OLD FASHIONED TO
INVADE COUNTRIES.

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues AND UH... ANY LONGER, BUT IT
HAPPENS, AND IT'S EQUALLY
UNFASHIONABLE TO GO AND REMOVE
REGIMES YOU DON'T LIKE ANY
LONGER, AS USED TO BE DONE IN
THE PAST, BUT IT HAPPENS.
AND AS LONG AS THESE COUNTRIES
ARE IN THE OIL BELT OF THE
WORLD, IT'S DONE WITHOUT ANY
PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER.
SO THAT'S WHY I SAID I USED THE
WORLD IMPERIALISM.
AND SUBSEQUENTLY I'VE NOTED
THAT MANY NEO-CONS QUITE
PROUDLY SAY, YES, WE ARE AN
EMPIRE, WE ARE THE EMPIRE, AND
SO WHAT?
WELL FIND, SO NOTHING, SO IT
HAS TO BE RESISTED, THAT'S
WHAT.
AND THE BIG DIFFERENCE, AND
THEY SOMETIMES HAVE GRANDIOSE
IDEAS IN THE UNITED STATES THAT
WE ARE THE EMPIRE, WHICH IS
TRUE, AND WE'RE LIKE THE
ROMANS.
BUT THAT'S NOT TRUE, AND THEY
HAVE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY
ARE.
THERE IS NO OTHER EMPIRE TODAY
IN THE WORLD, THE UNITED STATES
IS THE ONLY EMPIRE, AND THAT IS
A UNIQUE SITUATION IN THE
HISTORY OF HUMANKIND, NEVER
HAPPENED BEFORE.
THE ROMANS, FOR A BIT, USED TO
THINK THEY WERE THE ONLY ONE,
THEN GRADUALLY THEY DISCOVERED
THAT THERE WERE OTHERS IN PLAY,
THE PERSIANS FOR A START, AND
THEN FURTHER AFIELD, AND THEY
DIDN'T TOTALLY EVERY REALISE,
THIS, THE GREAT CHINESE
CIVILISATION AND EMPIRE OF THAT
PERIOD WHICH PREDATED ANYTHING
IN EUROPE.
BUT THE ONE THING I SAY TO MY
AMERICAN FRIENDS, AND ENEMIES
IS THAT ONE THING YOU SHOULD
LEARN FROM THE ROMANS, WHICH IS
THAT WHEN THE ROMANS CONQUERED
MEDITERRANEAN EUROPE, AND WENT
TO BRITAIN, ETC, AND SOMETIMES
DID A LOT OF HORRIBLE THINGS,
THEY NEVER EXPECTED TO BE LOVED
FOR IT, WHEREAS THE UNITED
STATES DOES ALL THESE HORRIBLE
THINGS, AND THEN ACTUALLY
EXPECTS PEOPLE TO LIKE IT.

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues YOU KNOW, WE'VE INVADED YOUR
COUNTRY AND YOU'RE BEING
HORRIBLE TO US.

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?
AS IF IT'S A MATTER OF
SURPRISE, AND OFTEN THEY ARE
SURPRISED BY THINGS THEY
SHOULDN'T BE SURPRISED BY.
AND ONE OF THE THINGS THEY
SHOULDN'T BE SURPRISED BY, IS
WHEN YOU INVADE AND OCCUPY A
COUNTRY THERE'S BOUND TO BE A
RESISTANCE.
AND THERE'S NO POINT IN GOING
ON YOU KNOW, HOW VIOLENT THE
RESISTANCE IS, BECAUSE YOU
KNOW, ALL OCCUPATIONS ARE
VIOLENT.
AND THE RESISTANCE IS USUALLY
NEVER AS VIOLENT AS THE
IMPOSITION.
AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE FIGURES
FROM VIETNAM AND IRAQ, THE
PROPORTION OF DEATHS ARE NOT
TOTALLY DISSIMILAR -- THAT IS
AN ECHO.
AT THE END OF THE VIETNAM WAR,
30 YEARS AGO THIS WEEKEND,
50,000 AMERICANS HAD DIED, 2
MILLION VIETNAMESE.
AND MILLIONS OF TONS OF
CHEMICALS HAD BEEN POURED ON
VIETNAM TO DESTROY ITS ECOLOGY
AND MAKE IT UNINHABITABLE.
AND IN SOME OF THOSE AREAS
WHERE THAT WAS DONE, IT IS
STILL UNINHABITABLE.
AND THE CANCERS WHICH GREW IN
THAT COUNTRY AND THE DISEASES
THAT THEY HAVE HAD TO FACE, GO
ON TO THIS DAY.
AND IN IRAQ, THE DEPLETED
URANIUM, SO CALLED DEPLETED
URANIUM THAT THEY USED IN THE
FIRST GULF WAR, KILLED KIDS,
KIDS WERE BORN DEFORMED, THE
SO-CALLED GULF WAR SYNDROME WAS
RELATED PRECISELY TO WHAT THEY
DID AGAINST THE IRAQIS AND THE
DEATH TOLL IN IRAQ TODAY IS
120,000 PLUS OF IRAQIS, AND
AMERICAN SOLDIERS DEAD, 1,500
AND A FEW MORE, WITH MASSES
WOUNDED ON BOTH SIDES.
SO THE PROPORTION
OF DEATHS IS NOT SO DISSIMILAR,
AND THAT, TOO IS AN ECHO FROM
THE PAST, A BIG DIFFERENCE, OF
COURSE, BEING THAT THE UNITED
STATES HAS NOT YET INTRODUCED
THE DRAFT.
SO ONLY THE-- IT'S A VOLUNTEER
ARMY, AND ONLY THEY SUFFER, THE
SOLDIERS WHO VOLUNTEERED.
BUT DISSENT IS
BEGINNING EVEN INSIDE THAT
VOLUNTEER ARMY.
AND WHAT IS NOT GOING TO
HAPPEN, I DON'T THINK, IS
INVASIONS OF NEIGHBOURING
COUNTRIES, BECAUSE THEY SIMPLY
DON'T HAVE THE TROOPS TO DO IT.
SO DESPITE-- DESPITE WHAT THEY
THOUGHT AND IMAGINED, THIS WAR
HAS TURNED OUT BADLY FOR THEM,
AND THEY'RE ALSO FINDING IT
DIFFICULT TO CONTROL PARTS OF
LATIN AMERICA, WHICH HAVE
ESCAPED THEIR NET, LIKE THE
VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT, THE
BOLIVARIAN GOVERNMENT IN
VENEZUELA, WHICH WAS
DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED EIGHT
DIFFERENT TIMES, IN EIGHT
DIFFERENT WAYS, THREE ATTEMPTS
MADE BY THE UNITED STATES TO
DESTROY THIS GOVERNMENT,
BECAUSE IT'S AN OIL RICH
COUNTRY, AND IN ALL OIL RICH
COUNTRIES, THEY PREFER TO RULE
THROUGH OLIGARCHIES, AND
OLIGARCHS, AND THIS, WHAT I'M
TALKING ABOUT NOW, I HAVE
COVERED IN MY NONFICTION BOOKS,
BECAUSE MUCH TO MY IRRITATION
AND ANGER, MY FICTIONAL
PROJECTS WERE DISRUPTED BY
GEORGE BUSH, AND OSAMA BIN
LADEN -- I BLAME BOTH OF THEM.

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues BECAUSE AFTER 9-11, I JUST GOT
AWAY FROM MY FICTION, AND WROTE
"CLASH OF FUNDAMENTALISMS," AND
"BUSH IN BABYLON," AND THE LONG
NEW INTRODUCTION TO "STREET-
FIGHTING YEARS."
BUT I HAVE ALSO MANAGED TO DO
"A SULTAN IN PALERMO," AND SOON
I WILL RETURN TO MY FALL OF
COMMUNISM TRILOGY, IN WHICH THE
LAST VOLUME WILL BE DEDICATED
TO ALL THOSE ALL THOSE SWEET
AND NICE FRIENDS WE HAD IN THE
'60s AND '70s WHO BECAME TOTAL
RENEGADES, ABANDONED EVERY
SINGLE IDEA THEY HAD BELIEVED
IN, AND SOME OF THEM TODAY, IN
VIRTUALLY EVERY SINGLE EUROPEAN
CABINET, THERE ARE THESE THREE
OR FOUR PEOPLE ONE KNOWS,
BECAUSE THEY WERE WITH US.
AND OFTEN WHEN YOU RUN INTO
THEM, OR SOMETIMES WHEN YOU RUN
INTO THEM AT CONFERENCES, THEY
REALLY HIDE THEIR FACES AND
WALK AWAY, WHICH IS VERY
INTERESTING.
WHAT'S ALWAYS -- THESE ARE
PEOPLE WHO WERE ACTIVISTS, BUT
THERE WERE A LAYER OF
INTELLECTUALS WHO WERE ALSO
ACTIVE, AND WHO TODAY DEFEND
PRIVATISATION, RAPING THE
ECOLOGY, EVERY SINGLE THING
THAT NEO-LIBERAL CAPITALISM
DOES, WITH THE SAME DOGMA THAT
THEY USED TO DEFEND LEFT WING
CERTAINTIES IN THE OLD DAYS, SO
THEIR CHARACTERS HAVEN'T
CHANGED.
WHAT I'VE ALWAYS WORRIED--
WONDERED IS WHAT ABOUT THE GUYS
AND GALS WHO WROTE VERY
SERIOUS, POWERFUL WORKS, IN
DEFENCE OF WHAT THEY BELIEVED
IN AT THE TIME, AND I ALWAYS
WONDER WHAT THEY DO WITH THESE
BOOKS WHEN THEY TURN?

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues DO THEY KEEP THEM IN THEIR
CELLARS HIDDEN, AND GO
SOMETIMES AND SECRETLY LOOK AT THEM?

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues DO THEY STOP THEIR CHILDREN
READING THEM?
DO THEY HIDE THEM FROM THE
KIDS?
DO THEY BURN THEM, DO THEY
DESTROY THEM?
I DON'T KNOW, I REALLY DON'T
KNOW, AND ONE CAN NEVER KNOW,
BECAUSE THEY NEVER TELL THE
TRUTH.
AND THAT IS WHY ONE HAS TO
EXPLORE THIS IDEA IN FICTION.
THANK YOU.

[Applause and Cheering]

Later, an unseen woman from the small audience says
A COUPLE OF NOTES.
YOU MENTIONED THE LATE EDWARD SAID.
I KNEW -- I KNOW HIS DAUGHTER
NAJLA SAID.
REFORM ISLAM, YOU DIDN'T MAKE
MENTION OF THE ISMAILI FAITH,
JUST INTERESTED IN YOUR
THOUGHTS ON THAT.
THE THREE MONOTHEISTIC FAITHS,
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE
ZOROASTRIAN FAITH WHICH COULD
BE-- IN SOME CIRCLES, REGARDED
AS THE FIRST MONOTHEISTIC
FAITH, AND THE FAITH THAT
SUPPORTED ALL THREE, AND THE
POSSIBILITY OF THE ZOROASTRIAN
FAITH PLAYING A ROLE IN CERTAIN
AREAS OF THE MIDDLE EAST, IN
STABILISING THE FORCES OF
JUDAISM, ISLAM AND
CHRISTIANITY, WHICH ARE
CLASHING RIGHT NOW, AND LAST
QUESTION, YOU MENTIONED THE
COEXISTENCE IN EUROPE OF ISLAM
AND CHRISTIANITY.
I ALSO WANTED TO DRAW A
PARALLEL IN INDIA IN THE
VILLAGES.
YOU KNOW, THERE ARE MUSLIM
COMMUNITIES AND HINDU
COMMUNITIES THAT COEXISTED
QUITE HAPPILY BEFORE BRITISH
IMPERIALISM, SO INTERESTING HOW UH...

Tariq says WHEN I WAS
SPEAKING ABOUT RELIGION, YOU
KNOW, I WAS SPEAKING ABOUT THE
THREE RELIGIONS, TWO OF WHICH
ARE VERY DOMINANT CULTURALLY,
ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY, AND
JUDAISM TO A LESSER EXTENT, BUT
IT'S BECOME VERY STRONG BECAUSE
OF ISRAEL, SO IT HAS TO BE
DISCUSSED QUITE SERIOUSLY.
PRIOR TO THAT, IT
WAS ITS CULTURAL INTELLECTUAL
PRESENCE WHICH WAS VERY
POWERFUL AND AFFECTED THE WHOLE
WORLD IN TERMS OF THOUGHT AND
TRADITIONS AND CULTURE.
THE OTHER RELIGIONS YOU
MENTIONED, THE ISMAILIS ARE A
SECT WITHIN ISLAM, A
PROGRESSIVE SECT, PARTICULARLY
GOOD ON THE WOMEN QUESTION, BUT
I DIDN'T PARTICULARLY--
YOU KNOW, I DIDN'T FEEL THE
NEED TO GO INTO THAT, BECAUSE
MY TALK TODAY ISN'T ABOUT
RELIGIONS AS SUCH.
THE OTHER POINTS YOU MENTION
ABOUT INDIA PRIOR TO THE
BRITISH, IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE,
THAT THERE WASN'T BIG FIGHTS,
RIVALRIES, KILLINGS BETWEEN
MUSLIMS, HINDUS OR, LATER, SIKHS.
THERE WERE OCCASIONAL STRUGGLES
FOR FREEING THEMSELVES FROM
THEIR RULERS, BUT THESE WERE
LARGELY MULTI-DIMENSIONAL
STRUGGLES, AND ALL THE MOGUL
KINGS, WHICH WERE THE LAST BIG
MUSLIM DYNASTY TO RULE INDIA,
HAD ARMIES, BOTH IN TERMS OF
THOSE WHO SERVED IN THESE
ARMIES, AND THOS WHO LED THESE
ARMIES WHICH WERE TOTALLY
MULTICULTURAL.
HINDU GENERALS IN THE ARMY OF
THE MOST CONFESSIONAL MINDED
MOGUL RULER, AURUNGZEBE.
IT'S WHEN EMPIRES CONQUER
DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE WORLD --
THIS IS A CLICHÉ, OF COURSE,
BUT THE EASIEST WAY FOR THEM TO
RULE IS THROUGH DIVIDING
PEOPLE.
AND THE BRITISH, IT'S
INTERESTING TO KNOW THIS, AT
THE PEAK OF THE BRITISH
PRESENCE IN INDIA, THEY HAD
36,000 WHITE ENGLISH SOLDIERS,
WHICH IS PEANUTS, TO RUN A
MULTI MILLIONED CONTINENT,
WHICH MEANS THEY DISCOVERED TWO
THINGS -- A, THEY COULDN'T
TOTALLY RUN IT BY FORCE, BUT
SECONDLY, IN CASE THEY HAD TO,
THEY NEEDED TO DIVIDE THE
POPULATION, AND THEY OUGHT TO
EXACERBATE DIVISIONS, AND THEY
DID SO, PARTIALLY ALONG
RELIGIOUS LINES, AND PARTIALLY
ALONG MORE INSIDIOUS LINES,
WHICH WERE, THEY CHARACTERISED
CERTAIN RACES IN INDIA, AS
MARTIAL RACES, SO THE PUNJABIS,
THE JATS, THE RAJPUTS, WERE A
MARTIAL RACE, AND OF COURSE,
THE GHURKHAS OF NEPAL, WHO ARE
STILL A MARTIAL RACE, POOR
BLEEDERS, AND ARE USED -- BEING
USED BY THE BRITISH AS
MERCENARIES IN IRAQ TO THIS
DAY.
SO THESE THINGS TAKE ROOTS AND
GO A LONG WAY.
YEAH?

Now a man from the audience says
YEAH, BACK IN THE
PREVIOUS TIMES, WHEN YOU TALK
ABOUT THINGS LIKE NUCLEAR
POWER, WE HAVE THIS DEBATE
AMONG CERTAIN PEOPLE ON THE
LEFT THAT CAPITALIST NUCLEAR
POWER WOULD BE BAD, OF COURSE,
BUT PERHAPS SOCIALIST NUCLEAR
POWER WOULD BE GOOD.
AND I SEE THIS KIND OF THING
SORT OF MADE BACK TO
[Inaudible] POINT, ABOUT, IN
YOUR -- IS THERE SUCH A THING--
I GUESS MY QUESTION IS, IS
SOCIALISM A PREREQUISITE TO
WHETHER WE NEED A GREEN PLANET?
NOW WE'VE GOT GREEN CAPITALISM
THAT ACTUALLY WORKS -- DOES IT
HAVE TO BE SOCIALIST TO BE GREEN?

Tariq says YEAH.

The man continues
AND THE SAME THING,
WHEN YOU PULL THIS INTO ISSUES
LIKE IRAQ, AND SOVIET
SOCIALISM, IS THE ECONOMIC AND
POLITICAL ASPECT OF THAT, IS
THAT A PREREQUISITE TO
PROGRESS, OR IS THERE SOME
OTHER ALTERNATIVE OTHER THAN
SOCIALISM?

Tariq says WELL THAT'S A
GOOD QUESTION.
I MEAN, IF YOU SAY SOCIALISM A
PREREQUISITE TO HAVING A
HEALTHY ECOLOGY, IF YOU
CHARACTERISE THE REGIMES WHICH
WERE TOPPLED BY THEIR OWN
POPULATION IN THE SOVIET UNION
AND EASTERN EUROPE, OR WHAT THE
CHINESE DID, IF YOU
CHARACTERISE THOSE AS
SOCIALISM, THEN ONE HAS TO SAY
NOT, THAT ONE OF THE LEAST
CONCERNS THEY HAD WAS ECOLOGY.
THEY DIDN'T CARE WHAT THEY WERE
DOING, BECAUSE THEY SAID, WE
HAVE TO CATCH UP WITH THE WEST,
NOTHING ELSE MATTERS, NEITHER
OUR POPULATIONS NOR THE
CONDITIONS IN WHICH THEY LIVE.
FAILING TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS
MODEL OF SOCIALISM WAS DESIGNED
TO FAIL, AND TO BE FAIR, MANY,
MANY CRITICS OF THE SYSTEM, THE
ACTUALLY EXISTING SOCIALIST
SYSTEM, POINTED OUT THAT THEY
COULD ONLY FAIL IF THEY WENT
DOWN THIS ROUTE.
SO WE DO NEED A NEW ALTERNATIVE
TO THE WAY IN WHICH THE PLANET,
AND YOU KNOW, THE ENTIRE WORLD,
VIRTUALLY, WITH THE MARGINAL
EXCEPTIONS OF VENEZUELA AND
CUBA ARE BEING RUN TODAY.
WE DO NEED AN ALTERNATIVE, AND
IN MY OPINION, IT DOES --
ELEMENTS, IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF
SOCIALIST THINKING HAVE TO BE
INCORPORATED IN IT, BUT IF IT'S
RUN ON THE MODEL OF WHAT WE'VE
ALREADY SEEN, IT WILL COLLAPSE,
BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER WAY
FORWARD, EXCEPT TO HAVE A FORM
OF DEMOCRATIC PLANNING TO SAVE
THE RESOURCES OF THE PLANET.
BECAUSE AS PEOPLE
HAVE POINTED OUT, TIME AND TIME
AGAIN, THE PLANET SIMPLY DOES
NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES FOR
EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THE
PLANET TO LIVE IN THE LIFESTYLE
OF SAY, THE AMERICAN OR
CANADIAN OR WESTERN MIDDLE CLASSES.
IT AIN'T THERE.
AND THIS DESPERATION TO GO DOWN
THAT ROUTE IS WRECKING LOTS OF THINGS.
I MEAN WHY -- IT'S AN
INTERESTING DEBATE, BY THE WAY,
WHICH IS GOING ON IN CHINA,
WHICH IS PROBABLY THE MOST
DYNAMIC CAPITALIST SOCIETY
TODAY, OF, ARE WE GOING TO GO
DOWN THE ROUTE OF BUILDING OUR
CAR INDUSTRY OR PUBLIC TRANSPORT?
BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE WEALTH
NOW TO BUILD THE MOST ADVANCED
FORM OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT EVER
SEEN, AND THERE'S A DEBATE GOING ON.
I MEAN THERE'S A BIG PRESSURE,
AS YOU CAN IMAGINE, FROM
SECTIONS BOTH OF CHINESE AND
FOREIGN CAPITAL, SAYING CARS,
CARS, CARS, CARS, CARS.
BUT THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE
RAISING OBJECTIONS TO IT.
THIS IS NOT EVEN TO DO
PARTICULARLY WITH SOCIALISM OR
CAPITALISM, BECAUSE CHINA IS
CAPITALIST, AND THE CHINESE
COMMUNIST PARTY, WHICH STILL
CALLS ITSELF THAT.
I'VE OFTEN SUGGESTED COULD JUST
KEEP THE SAME INITIALS BUT
CHANGE ITS NAME.

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues BUT THEY HAVE TO, THEY HAVE TO
BEGIN TO THINK A BIT
DIFFERENTLY, AND THIS COULD BE
DONE EVEN TODAY.
IT MEANS IT'S ONE BIG SECTOR OF
THE WORLD'S OF THE WORLD'S
CAPITALIST INDUSTRY, THE CAR
MANUFACTURERS WOULD SUFFER, BUT GOOD.
YOU KNOW, THEY SHOULD SUFFER,
BECAUSE WHAT THEY'VE DONE IN
COUNTRY AFTER COUNTRY, WHICH
NORTH AMERICA, AND PARTICULARLY
THE UNITED STATES IS A MASSIVE
EXAMPLE, WHERE THE CAR INDUSTRY
PLAYED A BIG ROLE IN CURBING OR
DESTROYING SYSTEMS OF PUBLIC
TRANSPORT.
SO THESE ARE ELEMENTARY THINGS.
AND WHAT YOU EVEN--
YOU KNOW, THESE THINGS CAN EVEN
BE IMPLEMENTED WITHIN THE
PRESENT SYSTEM AS LONG AS YOU
HAVE POLITICIANS OF VISION.
BUT WE HAVE A SITUATION WHERE
THE LATEST PHASE OF CAPITALISM
HAS HOLLOWED OUT DEMOCRACY
COMPLETELY SO THAT CENTRE LEFT
OR CENTRE RIGHT, PEOPLE JUST
CAVE IN BEFORE THE CORPORATIONS
AND THAT'S A MASSIVE PROBLEM.
YEAH?

Another man from the audience says
YOU MENTIONED RUNNING
INTO FORMER COLLEAGUES AT
VARIOUS CONFERENCES WHO ARE NOW
HIGHER UP.
WOULD YOU CARE TO COMMENT ON
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE
CORROSION OF IDEALISM AND THE
ACQUISITION OF POWER?

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq says WELL IT DEPENDS
ON WHERE-- WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT.
BUT THERE ARE CASES WHICH PROVE
THE EXACT OPPOSITE AS WELL, AND
I COME BACK TO THIS ONE BRIGHT
SPOT IN THE POLITICAL FIRMAMENT
TODAY, WHICH IS VENEZUELA.
HERE YOU HAVE A POLITICAL
MOVEMENT, NOT ORGANISED ALONG
TRADITIONAL LEFTIST LINES,
WHICH HAS BUILT REALLY AMAZING
ORGANISATIONS, THE BOLIVARIAN
CIRCLES IN THE SHANTY TOWNS IN
THE COUNTRYSIDE, MOBILISED THE
POOR, WHO POUR OUT TO VOTE FOR
A REGIME THAT ACTS IN THEIR
INTERESTS, AND IT'S NOT THAT IT
SAYS IT ACTS IN THEIR
INTERESTS, BECAUSE THAT
WOULDN'T CONVINCE THEM, BUT IT
ACTUALLY DOES IT IN THE FIELD
OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, LAND
RIGHTS, RIGHTS FOR NATIVE
PEOPLES, GIVING SLUM DWELLERS
THE RIGHT TO THEIR LANDS, ALL
THESE THINGS THEY DO, AND MANY
OF THE PEOPLE ACTIVE IN THIS
REGIME, I MEAN THERE'S HUGO
CHAVEZ, WHO'S THE GREAT SORT OF
LEADER OF THIS MOVEMENT, AND
ITS PRESIDENT.
BUT SURROUNDING HIM ARE A WHOLE
GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO WERE
ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN POLITICS IN
THE '60s AND '70s, ALI
RODRIQUEZ, WHO WAS FORMERLY THE
OIL MINISTER, AND IS CURRENTLY
FOREIGN MINISTER OF VENEZUELA,
ACTUALLY LED AN ARMED STRUGGLE
GROUP AGAINST THE OLIGARCHY IN
THE '70s AND HURT HIS LEG IN
CLASHES THAT TOOK PLACE.
SO I DO HASTEN TO POINT OUT
THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE LIKE THAT
ALL OVER THE WORLD.
THE ONES WHO HAVE COME TO POWER
INSIDE MORE TRADITIONAL
ORGANISATIONS, LIKE SOCIAL
DEMOCRATIC OR LIBERAL PARTIES,
THESE ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE
FORGOTTEN THE BEST THINGS THEY
DID, AND REMEMBERED THE WORST.
SO THEY'VE REMEMBERED ALL THE
WORST SIDES OF LIFE IN THE '60s
AND '70s, THE SORT OF STREAK OF
AUTHORITARIANISM, THE EGOISM,
THE DOGMATISM, BUT THEY NOW PUT
THIS IN THE SERVICE OF
CAPITALISM, AND IT'S A HORRIBLE
COMBINATION.
IT WAS BAD EVEN THEN, BUT NOW
IT'S JUST UNSPEAKABLE.

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues SO THERE ARE LOTS OF THESE
PEOPLE AROUND, AND I THINK
THEIR IDEALISM DISAPPEARED A
LONG TIME AGO.
THEN, THERE ARE
NEW FANGLED WAR MONGERS, ONE OF
THEM IS ACTUALLY RATHER WELL
KNOWN IN YOUR COUNTRY, WHO USED
TO BE SOMEONE ON THE LEFT AT
ONE POINT IN TIME, AND NOW
DEFENDS IMPERIAL WARS, MICHAEL IGNATIEFF.
[Murmuring]
I'M TOLD THAT THE LIBERALS ARE
GROOMING HIM TO POSSIBLY BE A
FUTURE LEADER.
WELL BEST OF LUCK TO THEM IS
ALL I CAN SAY.
BUT UH... I MEAN
THIS GUY IS NOW RUNNING A HUMAN
RIGHTS DEPARTMENT AT HARVARD,
AND HE WAS-- HE WAS, YOU KNOW,
TALKING IN PUBLIC ABOUT THE
TORTURE AT ABU GHRAIB, AND
SAYING HOW HE WAS, YOU KNOW,
THOUGHT ABOUT IT LONG AND HARD,
WHETHER THIS SHOULD BE OPPOSED OR NOT.
AND FINALLY HE
CAME DOWN TO OPPOSE IT, BUT FOR
A PROFESSOR OF HUMAN RIGHTS TO
EVEN HAVE A SECOND THOUGHT ON
TORTURE, AND SO I WILL PROBABLY
IN ONE OF MY NOVELS, INTRODUCE
A DEBATE BETWEEN--

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues BETWEEN SOMEONE ARGUING IN
FAVOUR OF DEMOCRATIC TORTURE,
AND AUTHORITARIAN TORTURE.

[Audience Laughter]

A third man from the audience says
A TWO PART -- ONE OF
THEM, GIVEN THE FUNDAMENTALISM
IN ALL RELIGIONS RIGHT NOW.

Tariq says YEAH.

The man continues
ARE YOU HOPEFUL THERE
MAY BE A REFORM MOVEMENT WITHIN
ISLAM IN THE NEAR FUTURE, AND
SECONDLY, INTERESTINGLY OF THE
SNUFFING OUT OF
MULTICULTURALISM IN THE EDGES
OF EUROPE IN THE 16th CENTURY,
ARE YOU HOPEFUL THAT THERE'S A
MULTICULTURALISM EMERGING NOW
IN THE WITH MUSLIMS THROUGHOUT
EUROPE AND POSSIBLY TURKEY
JOINING THE EU.

Tariq says HMM... JUST
REMIND ME OF YOUR FIRST PART?
NO, I'M SORRY, BECAUSE I'VE
GOT--

The man says REFORMATION WITHIN ISLAM, IS THAT IN...

Tariq says YEAH.
WELL THIS IS A...
WE DON'T KNOW, OBVIOUSLY,
THERE'S NO ONE HAS THE ANSWERS,
BUT THE COUNTRY I'M MOST
HOPEFUL OF IS IRAN.
BECAUSE HERE YOU HAVE A YOUNG
POPULATION, 60 percent OF WHOM ARE
UNDER 25 YEARS OF AGE, AND 70 percent
OF WHOM ARE UNDER 35 YEARS OF AGE.
AND THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE
LIVED ALL THEIR LIFE UNDER
CLERICAL RULE.
AND THE BULK OF THEM HATE IT.
EVERY YEAR THEY DEMONSTRATE IN
DIFFERENT WAYS, THEIR ANGER
AGAINST IT.
AND SOME OF THIS ANGER, WHICH
THE CULTURE PRODUCES, YOU CAN
SEE IN THE IRANIAN FILMS, WHICH
I TELL EVERYONE -- THE IRANIAN
NEW WAVE CINEMA OF author
FILMS, IS THE MOST ADVANCED
CINEMA IN THE WORLD TODAY.
MUCH BETTER THAN ANYTHING
PRODUCED CERTAINLY IN THE
WESTERN WORLD, SO I HAVE HIGH
HOPES FOR WHAT IRAN WILL
PRODUCE.
IT GAVE US KHOMEINI AND THE
CLERICS, AND IT NOW IS ITS DUTY
TO GIVE US SOMETHING WHICH IS
EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE, PROVIDED
THE UNITED STATES DOES NOT GO
IN THERE, WHICH I DON'T THINK
IT WILL FOR ITS OWN REASONS.
ANY FOREIGN INTERVENTION WOULD
STRENGTHEN AND HARDEN THE
CLERICS WITHOUT ANY DOUBT, SO
IT SHOULD BE COMPLETELY LEFT
ALONE.
BUT LISTEN, I MEAN WE TALK
ABOUT ISLAM AND ISLAMIC AND
RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM WHEN
YOU SAY IT TO SOMEONE, IF YOU
DID THE SORT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL
TEST AND SAID, RELIGIOUS
FUNDAMENTALISM -- ISLAM.
WE KNOW IT HAS IT, BUT WHAT THE
HELL IS GOING ON IN THE WEST?
I MEAN I DON'T KNOW IF ANY OF
YOU WERE SHOCKED, BUT THE
MASSIVE COVERAGE, THREE DAYS OF
COVERAGE GIVEN TO THE DEATH OF
THE LAST POPE, IN-- EVEN IN
COUNTRIES THAT ARE PROTESTANT
COUNTRIES.
WHAT IS GOING ON?
WITH ONE VOICE THE LEADERS OF
THE WEST TELL THE ISLAMIC
WORLD, THERE'S TOO MUCH
RELIGION.
AT THE SAME TIME, THE POPE IS
JUST PROMOTED IN THE--
WHICH NEVER USED TO HAPPEN IN
THE CASE OF PREVIOUS POPES, AND
THIS PARTICULAR POPE, WHO WAS
AN OPUS DEI, POPE, IT'S TRUE HE
OPPOSED THE WAR, BUT HE WAS
REACTIONARY ON VIRTUALLY
EVERYTHING ELSE.
AND HIS DEATH IS
PRESENTED AS A BIG CELEBRITY
FUNERAL EVENT IN WESTERN
CULTURE, AND THEN HE'S
SUCCEEDED BY A GUY WHO HE
APPOINTED AS A CARDINAL, AND
TOGETHER THEY NOMINATED 50
OTHER CARDINALS, EQUALLY RIGHT
WING, WHO THEN VOTE THE NEW POPE IN.
AND WE ARE TOLD
THIS IS A WONDERFUL
DEMONSTRATION OF PAPAL DEMOCRACY.
GIVE US A BREAK.

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues AND PEOPLE BENDING OVER
BACKWARDS ABOUT RATZINGER TO
SAY, YES IT'S TRUE HE WAS A
MEMBER OF THE HITLER YOUTH, BUT
THAT WAS MANDATORY.
MANDATORY?
WHO FORCED HIM TO?
JOINING THE ARMY WAS MANDATORY,
BECAUSE YOU WERE CONSCRIPTED,
MOST PEOPLE WHO JOINED THE
HITLER YOUTH IN BAVARIA, PARDON
ME FOR SAYING THIS, BUT DID IT
BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO.
SOME BRAVE FOLK DIDN'T.
SO TO SAY IT'S MANDATORY IS TO
COVER IT ALL UP.
AND WHAT ABOUT YOUR GREAT
NEIGHBOUR THE UNITED STATES?
THERE IS MORE RELIGION IN THE
UNITED STATES THAN IN MOST
ISLAMIC COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD.
AND THE FIGURES ARE
FASCINATING.
90 percent OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN THE DEITY.
70 percent BELIEVE IN ANGELS – SLIGHT DISCREPANCY.

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues I MEAN I OFTEN WITH IT WAS THE
OTHER WAY ROUND, BECAUSE ANGELS
HAVE SOME SORT OF SURREAL
QUALITIES TO THEM.

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues 60 percent BELIEVE IN THE DEVIL, AND
AS GOETHE ONCE REMARKED, THOSE
WHO BELIEVE IN THE DEVIL ARE
ALREADY IN HIS GRIP.

[Audience Laughter]

Tariq continues SO THIS IS THE UNITED STATES,
WHERE RELIGION PLAYS SUCH A BIG
PART, AND THIS IS THEN HELD OUT
AS A MODEL TO EVERYONE ELSE.
AND I AM PRETTY CONVINCED THAT
IF OPINION POLLS AND A PRIVATE
SERVICE WERE TAKEN IN THE
MUSLIM WORLD, AND PEOPLE
WEREN'T NERVOUS OF TELLING THE
TRUTH, WHICH THEY ARE IN MANY
OF THESE SOCIETIES, YOU WOULD
HAVE A MUCH, MUCH HIGHER
PROPORTION OF PEOPLE YOU KNOW,
CONFESSING TO ATHEISM,
AGNOSTICISM, UNBELIEF IN
PROBABLY MOST MUSLIM COUNTRIES,
AND POSSIBLY EVEN IN SAUDI
ARABIA, WHICH IS A
STEREOTYPICAL ONE.
SO THAT'S THE WORLD WE LIVE IN,
AND YEAH, WE NEED A REFORM IN
ISLAM, BUT WE ALSO NEED BIG
REFORMS IN THE WESTERN WORLD,
TOO, TO STOP THIS BUSINESS.

Another woman from the audience asks
ONE LAST QUESTION?

Tariq says YEAH, LAST QUESTION, YEAH?

A fourth man from the audience says
YEAH, ON THE TOPIC OF
RESISTANCE IN IRAQ, IT'S OFTEN
SAID THAT IF ZARQAWI DIDN'T
EXIST, THE STATES WOULD HAVE TO
MAKE HIM UP, BECAUSE--

Tariq says WHO?

The man continues
ZARQAWI DIDN'T EXIST,
YOU WOULD HAVE TO MAKE HIM UP,
BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO DEMONISE
THIS RESISTANCE.
COULD YOU TALK ABOUT SUPPORTING
RESISTANCE AND RESISTANCE.

Tariq says WELL LOOK, MY
POSITION ON THE IRAQI
RESISTANCE IS THIS.
AS I SAID EARLIER, IT'S A VERY
DIFFERENT FORM OF RESISTANCE TO
VIETNAM OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT,
BECAUSE OF THE CONDITIONS IN
WHICH WE ARE TODAY, GLOBALLY
AND IN IRAQ.
AND THE IRAQI PEOPLE HAVE A
RIGHT TO RESIST AN OCCUPATION,
AS ANY PEOPLE HAVE, AND ONE
CAN'T SET LIMITS OR DETERMINE TERMS.
WE WILL ONLY GIVE YOU THE RIGHT
TO RESIST, IF YOUR RESISTANCE
GROUPS ARE LIKE US.
CAN'T DO THAT TO ANY RESISTANCE
ORGANISATION.
THE GREAT ENGLISH SOCIALIST
WILLIAM MORRIS CELEBRATED THE
FALL OF KHARTOUM TO THE MAHDI,
A GREAT RELIGIOUS LEADER, AND
HE WROTE, BECAUSE BERNARD SHAW
AND LOTS OF THE FABIANS WERE
INCREDIBLY CHAUVINISTIC
IMPERIALISTS, JINGOISTS,
WILLIAM MORRIS WROTE A
WONDERFUL LETTER TO HIS
DAUGHTER, ATTACKING THIS NOTION
AND SAID, "I AM REALLY PLEASED
KHARTOUM HAS FALLEN.
THE SUDAN IS NOW BACK IN THE
HANDS OF THE PEOPLE IT BELONGS
TO," AND IT WAS VERY MOVING.
AND IN IRAQ, TOO, THERE ARE
DIFFERENT FORMS, DIFFERENT
GROUPS, CARRYING OUT THE
RESISTANCE.
THE LEAST POPULAR ONE INSIDE
IRAQ ITSELF IS THIS GROUP WHO
GETS THE MOST PUBLICITY IN THE
WEST, ABU MUSAB ZARQAWI
NOW WHEN I'VE TALKED TO PEOPLE
FROM IRAQ, AND VERY GOOD IRAQI
JOURNALISTS AND PEOPLE WHO KNOW
WHAT'S GOING ON, THEY SAY THE
FOLLOWING TO ME.
THEY SAY THERE
WAS A GUY CALLED ZARQAWI, WHO
WAS A LIEUTENANT OF OSAMA BIN
LADEN, BUT HE IS A GUY WHO HAD
HIS LEG AMPUTATED AND WAS IN
HIS LATE 50s.
AND THIS GUY, WHO
YOU SEE SOMETIMES IN VIDEOS
RELEASED BY HIS ORGANISATION,
IS IN HIS 30s WITH BOTH LEGS INTACT.
SO THE WHOLE OF IRAQ IS SAYING,
WHO THE HELL IS HE?
WHERE HAS HE COME FROM?
HE WAS NEVER IN IRAQ, AND HE
CAME WITH THE OCCUPATION.
WHETHER... WHO KNOWS WHO
BROUGHT HIM?
SOME PEOPLE SPECULATE THAT HE
WORKED FOR JORDANIAN MILITARY
INTELLIGENCE, AND SINCE JORDAN
IS, AT THE MOMENT, AND HAS BEEN
FOR SOME TIME, A U.S. ISRAELI
PROTECTORATE, WHO KNOWS WHO
THIS GUY IS?
MAYBE NO ONE IS EVEN TELLING
HIM TO DO THESE THINGS, MAYBE
THAT'S WHAT HE BELIEVES IN, BUT
CERTAINLY HE IS HATED BY MOST
IRAQIS.
NO ONE TAKES HIM SERIOUSLY AND
HE IS CONSTANTLY USED AS THE
ONLY VOICE -- OR HIS ACTS, IF
THEY ARE HIS, WHEN THEY HAPPEN,
ARE GIVEN MASSIVE PUBLICITY, SO
ONE HAS TO LEARN TO BE
INCREDIBLY SCEPTICAL IN THIS
AGE, WHERE THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA
HAS BECOME A CENTRAL PILLAR OF
ALL IMPERIAL WARS.
THANK YOU.

[Long applause]

Watch: Tariq Ali on his book Street-fighting Years