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Biography: Tariq Ali


Tariq Ali
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Tariq Ali (born 1943) is an author, filmmaker, and historian. He is also a long-time member of the editorial committee of New Left Review.

Ali was born and grew up in Lahore, now part of Pakistan, into a communist family. While studying at the Punjab University, he organized demonstrations against Pakistan's military dictatorship. His wealthy parents sent him to England to study at Oxford, because they feared for his safety due to his connections to radical movements. There he quickly became a leader, being elected President of the Oxford Union.

As one of the "brown sahibs" left by the British Empire, Tariq Ali distinguished himself a spokesman for anti-imperialism. His extensive knowledge of history and his dedication to the ideals of the Enlightenment made him a popular figure in the radical circles of the 1960s and early 1970s.

His reputation began to grow during the Vietnam War, when he engaged in debates against the war with such figures as Henry Kissinger and Michael Stewart. As time passed, Ali became increasingly critical of American and Israeli foreign policies, and emerged as a figurehead for critics of American foreign policy across the globe. He was also incensed by American relations with Pakistan that tended to back military dictatorships over democracy.

Active in the New Left of the 1960s he has long been associated with the New Left Review. Ali was drawn into involvement with active revolutionary socialist politcs through his involvement with Black Dwarf newspaper and joined a Trotskyist party, the International Marxist Group (IMG) in 1968. He was swiftly recruited to the leadership of the IMG and also became a member of the International executive Committee of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International. During this period he was co-author of Trotsky for Beginners a cartoon book. In 1981 the IMG dissolved when its members entered the labour Party and proscribed by the Labour Party Ali abandoned activism in the revolutionary left.

in 1990 he wrote a bitter satire, Redemption, on the inability of the Trotskyists to handle the downfall of the Eastern bloc which contains parodies of many well known figures in the Trotskyist movement.

His book Bush in Babylon attacks the invasion of Iraq by American president George W. Bush. The book contains a unique style, using poetry, and critical essays in portraying the War in Iraq as a complete failure. An atheist who grew up around Muslims, Ali believes that the new Iraqi government will not be effective.

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 until today.

Ali has been a critic of modern neoliberal economics and was present at the 2005 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil where he was one of nineteen to sign the Porto Alegre Manifesto.

Tariq Ali is also a contributor to Counterpunch Magazine.

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