Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Sunday, October 15, 2006

'Pirates of the Caribbean'

Whatever else one thinks of veteran Marxist writer Tariq Ali, one cannot deny he has an excellent sense of humour, not least when it comes to designing the covers of his books. Take a look at his forthcoming book, Pirates of the Caribbean:


Marvellous stuff (though I can't for the life of me understand quite why Fidel Castro has a halo above his head - he is not an 'angel', despite the claims of many people including George Galloway). Anyway, clearly Tariq's forthcoming book is not about Johnny Depp or Keira Knightley, far from it:

'A revolution is moving across Latin America. Since 1998, the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela has brought Hugo Chávez to world attention as the foremost challenger of the neoliberal consensus and American foreign policy. Tariq Ali shows how Chávez's views have polarized Latin America and examines the aggression directed against his administration. Pirates of the Caribbean guides us through a world divided between privilege and poverty, a continent that is once again on the march.'

It looks like it will be an interesting book certainly - though I have one initial concern. Portraying Chavez, Morales and Castro as 'pirates' - outlaws fighting the Project for the New American Century - ignores the fact that they are all (well, bar Castro) currently heads of capitalist states. Their progressive nationalist politics of 'socialism from above' are distinctly 'un pirate like' in this sense - real pirates like Blackbeard et al were enemies of all state powers, 'villains of all nations' (as Marcus Rediker puts it). There is therefore a contradiction here in the politics of Chavez et al, one which I hope Tariq Ali does not simply pass over in what I am sure will be a facinating work.

Edited to add: A critical review of the book in SW.

Labels: ,

16 Comments:

At 7:19 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, when I went to Bolivia it wasn't in the Caribbean.

Also, everything achieved was by the grassroots, and there were huge strikes against the government... maybe Morales isn't leading the movement?

I guess there's no strikes in Cuba at all though...

 
At 11:52 pm, Blogger DJN said...

The halo is really fucking creepy. It ruins a good idea.

 
At 11:31 am, Blogger Snowball said...

I suppose Ali thinks that by the time the book comes out Castro might well have popped his clogs - and so it would seem a little odd if Castro was still masterminding the new 'axis of hope'.

 
At 9:17 pm, Anonymous Imran said...

Hi Snowball...I too like the cover and title of Tariq Ali's new book...

 
At 10:33 pm, Anonymous Imran said...

I've read comments by writers such as Mr Chomsky that mention the human rights abuses by the Cuban Government.

Snowball...why do you think that Mr Galloway supports Mr Castro?

 
At 11:47 pm, Blogger paddington said...

I think David Broder may have a point - I am rather out of touch with the situation in Bolivia, though I hope to be there soon after the new year, but to laud Morales for the Bolivian
"revolution" is misleading.

Morales is ultimately a parliamentarian - a radical one, tis true, but a parliamentarian nevertheless. The direct action by the tin-miners et al is a world away - literally, in fact, since while much of the real action was taking place in Bolivia a couple of years back, Evo was in Europe discussing the future of parliamentary reform.

That said, Morales seems a decent enough figurehead, and if he puts too many feet wrong, I suspect there is a sufficient democracy in Bolivia for him to be kicked out.

This - http://awopbopaloobop.blogspot.com/2006/04/viva-america.html - is what I wrote about Latin America six months or so ago. Though, as I say, I am rather behind on the situation.

 
At 10:51 am, Blogger Snowball said...

Why do I think Mr Galloway admires Mr Castro?

Because Castro has been a consistent thorn in the side of the US Empire since 1959 and Galloway has only been a consistent thorn in the side of the US Empire since about 1970.

Both Castro and Galloway also had rather a penchant for the Soviet Union, though it should be said that many orthodox Trotskyists also have rather a thing for Castro (like Tariq Ali).

It is a pity that Galloway never seems to have read Cliff's 1963 analysis of the Cuban Revolution.

Paddington - I like your redesigned blog.

 
At 4:17 pm, Blogger DJN said...

Here's Ali on today's Democracy Now, talking about the book.

 
At 6:04 pm, Anonymous Imran said...

Thanks snowball...

Indeed the Cuban government has done much for the people of Cuba and for other countries too...but if they do commit human rights abuses then I don't understand why people admire him...

Perhaps the human rights abuses are not clear cut...

 
At 10:51 pm, Anonymous Jen said...

I'm sure there are human rights abuses in Cuba even nowadays. Just look at that Guantanamo bay!

 
At 2:10 am, Blogger DJN said...

zing!

 
At 11:02 am, Blogger Roobin said...

'I don't understand why people admire him...'

It's a revolution that's far away but has guns and an NHS... and the Buena Vista Social Club...

It's a reformist/revolutionary tourists' dream.

 
At 12:48 pm, Anonymous Imran said...

Thanks roobin...but at the same time don't they commit injustices e.g. imprisoning innocent people into prison...???...

 
At 4:40 pm, Blogger Roobin said...

Yes, they do. There's a long tradition of hopless lefties seeking comfort in 'supporting' another regime, just ask Lord and Lady Passfield.

 
At 11:55 am, Blogger Snowball said...

It might be a little difficult for Imran to ask Lord and Lady Passfield anything, given they are both long dead.

Imran - did you ever buy Newsinger's book in the end?

 
At 7:58 pm, Anonymous Imran said...

Hi Snowball...No, I haven't purchased it yet :(

I'm trying to free some time up in order to read it once I get it...it's definetly on my must-read list...

I've also been checking to see if anyone else (apart from yourself) has reviewed it and as far as I'm aware no-one has...I mailed Socialist Worker asking them to review it but no reply...I don't know if that's to do with amazon.co.uk giving it a release date of October 31st...

 

Post a Comment

<< Home