When Tariq Ali was introduced by Kerry O’Brien as the ‘lion of the left’, he said that no one could accuse Ali of being inconsistent – in his beliefs, in his actions or in his persistence to write some 19 books. In his discussion with O’Brien, Ali reflected on the world of capitalism, the blurring line between private and public enterprise as a result of corporate power, and the disenchantment of young people in today’s political climate.
“I never believed history was a linear progression,” Ali said.
“We have seen a clawing back from the political games we once thought unchangeable. There is an awkward period of transition in which we live.”
Ali told the audience that the “Americanisation of Australia was plain to see”, noting the symbiosis of money and politics was prominent in our culture. He drew on this further with references to the Obama administration.
Ali’s belief that basic human needs, such as healthcare and education, should not be subject to profit received a huge round of applause from the audience.
There was no political environment that Ali could not speak of with insight and clarity, referencing the culture of politics from Pakistan to China, and why he believed Islam is viewed as an enemy by the West.
Ali said young people had given up on democracy, noting that in many cases two opposing political parties offer no alternatives, and no foreseeable, real change. In response, O’Brien noted a recent study that reflected these views.
Ali’s wealth of knowledge and experience was barely touched in the hour-long session, but was without a doubt inspiring and insightful.
He noted that literary festivals, such as BBWF, are one of the last outlets where people can gather to discuss important issues freely and respectively.
Kaitlin Liemandt is Bachelor of Media student at Southern Cross University and has been working with #BBWF2015 on all things social media.