Once in while I'll come across one of those inexplicably embarrassing gaps in my knowledge of the world where it seems I've must have gone out of my way to avoid getting to know something or someone.
Is it just me who is only now discovering Tariq Ali? I came across him being interviewed the other day by Jonathan Derbyshire for his production of the Wittgenstein movie directed by Derek Jarman . I Googled Tariq to find out a little more about him. Here's a quote from Wikipedia.
In 1967 Ali was in Camiri, Bolivia, not far from where Che Guevara was captured, to observe the trial of Regis 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."
This says a lot about a man. Even if it wasn't true it's a first class anecdote. If you want to know my politics by proxy then before this weekend, I'd have said listen/watch/read everything Chomsky has to say. I'm now adding Tariq Ali to the short list of people who can't seem to put a foot wrong. This isn't quite as gemütlich as it may sound. I'd prefer it if I disagreed with someone on some points and at least once or twice fundamentally.
It's more plausible to have some disagreement isn't it?
However after working through a good deal of his online presence, I've yet to find that point. The video above is classy. I've noticed it seems to start at a slightly later point than when I originally watched it, so I may rectify that if it changes, but it's worth it just to see a man who can talk about the American Empire through the mind of the Roman Tacitus or even more juicy Neocon gossip, mentioning that the inside story on a troubled Korean peninsula is not about the North Korean's but perversely about the South Korean Generals who have already factored in the potential of acquiring nuclear weapons overnight in the event of conflict with the North. This would destabilize the region putting pressure on the Japanese to nuke up in double quick time. It actually makes startling sense for East Asia watchers, but then so does much of what the erudite but avuncular Tariq Ali says.
I've learned something recently. The really class acts are the people who sound most relevant the further you dig back into their historical record. It's hard enough to stand out from the crowd in the present, but to consistently stand out in the past? That's quite rare. Don't take my word for it with respect to this gentleman. There's a lot online and I'll be coming back to some of it now and again to knock on the head some double standards I can no longer remain silent over.