The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity / Edition 1

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The aerial attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, a global spectacle of unprecedented dimensions, generated an enormous volume of commentary. The inviolability of the American mainland, breached for the first time since 1812, led to extravagant proclamations by the pundits. It was a new world-historical turning point. The 21st century, once greeted triumphantly as marking the dawn of a worldwide neo-liberal civilization, suddenly became menaced. The choice presented from the White House and its supporters was to stand shoulder-to-shoulder against terrorism or be damned.

Tariq Ali challenges these assumptions, arguing instead that what we have experienced is the return of History in a horrific form, with religious symbols playing a part on both sides: ‘Allah’s revenge,’ ‘God is on Our Side’ and ‘God Bless America.’ The visible violence of September 11 was the response to the invisible violence that has been inflicted on countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Palestine and Chechnya. Some of this has been the direct responsibility of the United States and Russia. In this wide-ranging book that provides an explanation for both the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and new forms of Western colonialism, Tariq Ali argues that many of the values proclaimed by the Enlightenment retain their relevance, while portrayals of the American Empire as a new emancipatory project are misguided.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Ali’s style is vigorous, his narrative compelling, showing that the short-term, self-interested and oil-greedy policies of the British and Americans in such countries as Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iran must make our much-vaunted ideals of democracy and equity seem like a bad joke.”—Karen Armstrong, The Times

The Clash of Fundamentalisms is well worth reading ... it shows that the harshest critics of fundamentalism are often exponents of a rival fundamentalism.”—John Gray, Independent

“In this timely and important book, Tariq Ali puts the events of September 11 into sweeping historical perspective. As we have come to expect from him, he is lucid, eloquent, literary, and painfully honest, as he dissects both Islamic and Western fundamentalism.”—Howard Zinn

“It will not open doors at the White House because it makes for uncomfortable reading ... a wide-ranging and powerfully argued critique, that gives pause for thought.”—Financial Times

“... urbane, highly intelligent and vividly written.”—Richard Sennett, Times Literary Supplement

“The book is an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the nightmare of history from which so many people are struggling to awake, and deserves serious engagement and consideration. Ali broadens our horizons, geographically, historically, intellectually and politically ... His mode of history telling is lyrical and engaging, humane and passionate.”—Anthony Arnove, The Nation

“[Ali] finds little to distinguish between the organised violence of the United States and that of those who oppose it ...”—Sydney Morning Herald

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859844571
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 4/17/2003
  • Edition description: PBK
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 342
  • Sales rank: 483,009
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 8.05 (h) x 1.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Tariq Ali is a writer and filmmaker. He has written more than a dozen books on world history and politics—including Pirates of the Caribbean, Bush in Babylon, The Clash of Fundamentalisms and The Obama Syndrome—as well as five novels in his Islam Quintet series and scripts for the stage and screen. He is an editor of the New Left Review and lives in London.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Paperback Edition
Prologue 1
Pt. I Mullahs and Heretics 13
1 An atheist childhood 15
2 The origins of Islam 24
3 The empire of the world 31
4 Jerusalem, Jerusalem 39
5 Ottomanism 44
6 The joys of heresy 49
7 Women versus the eternal masculine 60
Pt. II One Hundred Years of Servitude 69
8 A spring memory 71
9 The roots of Wahhabism 73
10 The kingdom of corruption 79
11 Zionism, the First Oil War, resistance 86
12 Marginal notes on the chapter of defeats 114
13 The anti-imperialism of fools 126
14 An ocean of terror 141
Pt. III The Nuclear Wastelands of South Asia 155
15 The case of Anwar Shaikh 157
16 Plain tales from Pakistan 166
17 Afghanistan: between hammer and anvil 203
18 The story of Kashmir 217
19 The colour khaki 253
Pt. IV A Clash of Fundamentalisms 279
20 A short-course history of US imperialism 281
21 September surprise 316
22 Letter to a young Muslim 329
Pt. V Epilogue: The Road to Bali 341
23 A small town in Java 343
24 Islam on the Equator 353
25 A tropical gulag 369
26 An island made secure 386
App On the Israeli-Arab war 394
Index 413
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2003

    Great,challenging book!

    I had a very good time reading this book.Even though I thought that it was going to be a little bit partial to the Muslim community,I was surprised to see how balanced and objective he could remain. Using this technique,he was much more persuasive in his criticism of the West as well,since nobody could say that he was favoring his own particular group. I would strongly recommend it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2003

    Engaging reading, substantial insights, thought-provoking!

    One can't tell a book from it's cover, but in this case, at least one can get an idea that the author has a sense of humor! Perhaps it may be well that such a serious topic as terrorism and religious fundamentalism be approached with a some humor. At the same time, it is a serious book, one of the few books on terrorism that actually delve into the roots of it all to discern a solution. The book is quite voluminous, nearly 330 pages, packed with information and deep analysis, with many notes. The author's brilliant writing style makes it an incredibly difficult book to put down. I ended up finishing the whole book over the Christmas / New Year holiday, with many sleepless nights, that is. The book is divided into 4 major parts: one on the early history of Islam; one on the last 100 years of relations with the West, marked by colonialism and upheavals; a special part focusing on South Asia (India and Pakistan) the region about which the author is most familiar; and the last part on the United States and it's relations with the Islamic world. The book is fascinating not only because it draws upon the author's deep knowledge of the history of Islam, but also because he punctuates it with poetry and quotations from diverse literary works over the ages. The book exhibits a deep understanding of the subject, and posits a thesis directly confronting the much-touted 'clash of civilizations' model. A major strength of this book, however, is that the author is daring enough not to stand with the crowd. While many intellectuals from the Muslim world do little to explain current events beyond laying the blame on the West, Tariq Ali is not afraid to look squarely at his own culture with the same critical eye he uses to examine Western imperialism. In this day and age, I would say this is a must-read!

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