Delhi: Twenty-one years after the fall of the East Bloc, Karl Marx is becoming relevant to students of politics, economics and modern history across the world who want to understand capitalism, says noted Pakistan born novelist, historian and political activist Tariq Ali.
"Marxism is one of the things people are reading now. I know of universities in the US where the students have formed Marxist Study Circles to understand capitalism," Ali, who is based in London, told reporters here.
Marx is "bestseller in Europe again because young people are talking about him", said Ali, 68, who was in India to release a short biography of progressive Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz.
According to him, Marxism in the genre in which it existed in Russia and China has gone.
"...And that is a not a bad thing… It did not actually educate the party members and allow them to think critically so that it could create a social layer that could think, which Marx was all about. That was a foolish way of developing a political organisation.
"The character in Greek mythology that Marx really loved was Prometheus who was expelled from heaven... Yet Prometheus gave the earthlings the gift of fire. If they misused it (the ideology), it was not Marx`s fault," Ali said.
Explaining the conflicting relationship between religion and politics, he said "it has been a time-honoured historical tradition all over the world for political parties to use religion to push their agendas... and all of it is authoritarian agenda.
"When they do it in Islam, it angers me because the history of Islam in many parts of the world is the history of dissent from within. The rise of religion is a modern phenomenon," he said.
Considered one of the best orators in the world of contemporary socialist intellectuals, Ali laces his observations with caustic wit.
"The new president of Pakistan (Asif Ali Zardari) is not a religious man... it is one of the positive things about him. His religion is money and other people`s money.
"Why he went to Ajmer, I was surprised... but it will come out. Everything in Pakistan is exposed, the country has changed," he laughed.
He added that the residents of Lahore were praying to Allah "to grant US their avatar of Zardari".
The son of journalist Mazhar Ali Khan and activist Tahira Mazhar Ali Khan, Tariq is is an authority on Islamic military history and the Left movements all over the world.
He has authored 17 books including "Protocols of the Elders of Sodom and Other Essays", "The Obama Syndrome", "The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power" and "Islam Quintet" (a five-part fictional history of ancient Islamic civilisations) and hundreds of articles espousing his views of a "free, thinking and just social structure".
Ali is often dubbed the "alleged inspiration" for the Rolling Stones 1968 track "Street Fighting Man"; an interview John Lennon gave to Ali inspired the iconic singer to later write "Power to the People".
The Left intellectual does not like coming to India.
"The last time I came was in 2006. I was mostly in Kolkata (and a bit in Delhi). Getting a visa is a struggle. I had to wait for three months for a visa to India.
"It is what we suffer from the bureaucracy. It is not as easy any more as it was in the 1970s and 1980s.
"I hope this tension which began after 9/11 does not punish common people travelling in the subcontinent. You cannot learn unless you travel..." he rued.
Ali said he was writing a new book. "It is about the American empire and how long it will last," he said. He expects to complete it in a year.
All sane left wing pakis are based outside pakistan and for good reason. Pakis are ruled by extremist right wingers (right wing extremists are often religious fanatics too)...pakis are prime example of a society that lacks liberals and plunges into darkness.
Having only liberals is also not good! must have a dose of both and balance like India.
Its really irritating to see so many middle class actually buying this crap called communism. If there ever was a Hypoccrit it must be them . Either that or they are bunch of deluded idiots like that Marx moron
Don't use the word enslave here. They Will start the rhetoric that the way it was implement(authoritarian) was wrong while the concept was superb. What they don't understand is that even basic principles of communism is wrong/useless and takes away the freedom and liberty.
For example "to each according to his needs and to every one according to his abilities. ". There can't be a crappier sentence than this. How exactly are they gonna find out what my ability is and what my needs are? Who Will decide them if not me? If some one else is to decide the needs and my abilities for me then what about my liberty? But in the name of liberty, If they allow me to decide on my needs and my abilities- then will they be ok if I say that I desire everything the president has but Will work for only one hour a day as it is my ability to work just one hour a day? Obviously not. In that case Will they force me to work? Obviously yes. Which is what happened/happening in al the commie countries.
When I say enslave, I mean literally enslave. Having no legal right to personal property is the de facto definition of enslavement because all citizens just become immaterial pawns to be worked and starved to death.
I truly hate this "left-wing" and "right-wing" BS. These terms arose out of a very particular situation (the prelude to the French Revolution) and at best only describe politics in Europe (18th/19th century European politics at that). Yet in India we go around calling each other "leftwing, rightwing" without even knowing what these terms mean. In India we misuse these terms to the maximum extent.
Marx was never "irrelevant" and we he won't be for a long time; in fact it can be argued that Marx is even more relevant today than he was in 1848. Whether or not you agree with him is irrelevant.
I think Marx is more relevant today than that 40 years back.
When Marx wrote his capitalist system theory the capitalism was an emergent economic system. So, the world that Marx imaginated would to be, it was thoroughly capitalist, an world where capitalism rules only, without another concurrent system, such the so-called 'real socialism', as it was the world in Cold War Age.
After the socialism fall, the current world passed be an all-capitalist world. However, the current capitalism is very much complexified than the industrial capitalism of Marx's time. Now we have the financial-stage of capitalism, and lately the carbon-credit-stage of capitalism. Such things Marx did cannot see or imaginated nor other classical economists as Smith and Ricardo. Maybe for this, Marx's theory of capitalism can never be proofed: the current thoroughly capitalist global economy is not the same thoroughly capitalist world of Marx's theory.
Anyway, Marx was one of few capable thinkers to systematize the capitalism, so I think he is a reference. What Marx can not be is the unique reference to understand the today capitalism.
In other words, we need contemporary thinkers to philosophize, enrich upon, modify, augment, and adapt Marxism in the current context, taking care to ensure Stalinist purges do not recur in the name of Marxism.
I have had enough of the leftist/socialist bull shit. Even your own quotes are against socialism. Well lets slug it out on whatever thing you want - be it economy ,ideology or any thing else where Marxism and other brainfarts of socies and commies can be shredded to pieces. You up for it?
Even you Civ . We can have an another round of debate on shredding communism but this time it Will be even more ugly now that I know more about you.
20 years ago Islam was more tolerant than today especially in India, the more Islam pushes the more others will come up. Though Tariq ali talks about crony capitalism ( rightfully so), guess who indulges in it more than the americans and chinese : Welcome to the Middle East.