[Marxism] Re: To Tariq Ali

Nick Fredman sra at scu.edu.au
Thu Aug 12 22:38:17 MDT 2004

In late June I saw Tariq Ali speak for the first time, in the 
affluent, hippy/New Age flavoured resort town of Byron Bay, near my 
abode in more proletarian Lismore. He's spoken quite a few times in 
the major centres in Australia in recent years, to increasingly large 
crowds, sometimes for Socialist Alliance or Green Left Weekly. A 
couple of Byron activists somehow got him to fit this meeting in on 
his way to some literary event in the big smoke. Anyway, after a 
decent outline of Iraq, imperialism etc, he was resoundingly 
anti-Bush, anti-Blair and anti-Howard, saying we had a great 
opportunity to toss them all out in the next few months, but without 
a word on building an alternative to the bourgeois parties.

That's fine, if unfortunate, if that's his opinion, but what was 
annoying is that through an entire hour of questions (facilitated by 
himself) he ignored my raised hand. I don't know if he was avoiding 
difficult questions, but he probably saw me selling GLW out the 
front, and maybe guessed that I wanted to ask about his views on 
building a political alternative that actually stood up for working 
people, as opposed to voting for the lesser evil bourgeois candidate. 
Also, I'd intended to raise the proposal for Australia-wide 
pre-election anti-war rallies, and without that the 200 people there 
were left with absolutely nothing to be involved in, apart from 
voting against Howard. Most of the questions were puerile liberal 
dribble, or space cadet conspiracy theories, all of which seemed to 
annoy the great man no end, so serves him right if in fact he was 
avoiding me.

Oh well, we were also leafletting for a Pilger film screening and 
discussion at Byron soon after, and quite a few at the Ali meeting 
also came to that, so the latter wasn't a total movement-building and 
party-building loss.

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