Tariq Ali argues that terrorists have changed the world in ways that serve their own religious, political and ideological aims. They've forced the West to compromise on the very foundations of liberal democracy and wind back hard-won freedoms in the name of security.
Speaking at the recent Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Ali provocatively suggests that the terrorists' actions pale in comparison to the West's retributive "Wars on Terror". In fact he calls these wars "State Terrorism" of which the cruel backlash has been an increase in the ranks of extremist organizations.
In this broad-sweeping discussion, Ali draws a parallel with the current geopolitical situation and that of the Western world in the late 19th century. Like today, that society was in a period of transition, with no meaningful political opposition. What emerged then was a group of violent activists in the form of anarchists.
Ultimately Ali's message is: we must understand the motivations of terrorists in order to deal effectively with them. And to Ali this means relinquishing our bias to Israel and our occupation of parts of the Middle East.
Tariq Ali appeared at the 2010 Festival of Dangerous Ideas, presented by the Sydney Opera House and St James Ethics Centre. Chair of the discussion was Ann Mossop.
Tariq Ali was in Australia to present the 2010 Edward Said Memorial Lecture at the University of Adelaide.
Scion of a famous Punjabi political family, Tariq Ali is a writer, filmmaker and occasional broadcaster. He has written more than two dozen books on world history and politics, and seven novels (translated into over a dozen languages) as well as scripts for the stage and screen. He is a regular contributor to "The Guardian" and the "London Review of Books", and is a longstanding editor of the "New Left Review". He currently lives in London.