The Prophet Alarmed
The Extreme Center: A Warning (Book Review)

Wald, Alan
Date Written:  2015-07-01
Publisher:  Against the Current
Year Published:  2015
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21233

Review of Tariq Ali's The Extreme Center: A Warning. In The Extreme Center, Ali gives more than just a pungent and entertaining smack-down of corruption in British politics.



Squeezing massive amounts of history into the cramped format of a small book requires certain shortcuts, but Ali keeps a focus on the ever-evolving relationship between the corruption of democracy (a process he calls "Americanization" on page 3) and the promise of alternative futures to be found in recently-emerging social movements.

To be sure, he has some droll fun tweaking the noses of leaders of the Extreme Center, not the least of whom are David and Ed Miliband, sons of Ali's old comrade and fierce Marxist sociologist Ralph Miliband: "Both had risen rapidly, as senior epigones to Blair and [Gordon] Brown respectively... both were parachuted into safe working class constituencies in the North."

But I find considerable strengths on display in his recapitulations of the histories shaping the present moment - whether it is that of the National Health Service (NHS) and the British Broadcasting Company (where Ali relies heavily on interviews), the evolution of NATO, the history of Scottish nationalism, or the sequence of events by which Britain evolved from "a semi-vassal state to the United States in 1945" to "full vassal status in 1980."

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