City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

EIBF 2017: Tariq Ali: The Revolutionary Road


By Allan Alstead - Posted on 13 August 2017

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Company: 
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Running time: 
60mins

This was one of the first events of the Edinburgh International Book Festival and featured Tariq Ali with Stuart Kelly in the chair.

Tariq Ali was introduced as someone who had built up an exceptional picture of Lenin, the man. In his new book, "The Dilemmas of Lenin", Ali covers some of the challenges and situations that Lenin faced.

Tariq Ali said that the idea for the book publication came to him when he was in the offices of his publisher; they talked about the books that had been published to mark the French Revolution and also about the possibility of something for South Africa, but there had been no one really to lead a revolution there.

He said that there had been some glimmer of hope when Obama became President of the United States but sadly he was too much influenced by the establishment. Now, of course, he spoke of, "that idiot" Donald Trump, in the White House who seems intent on provoking everyone in sight.

But Lenin's cause was to support the fact that the population did not want to continue fighting in the First World War. The slogan was coined, 'Men, Beef and Bread' and this summed up the feelings of the people. The revolution followed with three years of ghastly war, however, without the revolution the Tsarist rule would have continued but with little popular support among the ordinary people.

Churchill in his book about Lenin, which is quoted by Tariq Ali, writes that as a young man Lenin would insist on all the facts being in focus. He formed a provisional government and withdrew Russia from the First World War by signing a treaty with the Central Powers. Then he spent time promoting revolution in the world to oust capitalism and replace it with socialism.

After his death his body was 'used' by his supporters and it was placed on display. Long after his demise the Lenin influence still exists and it is followed by many to whom this book will give much comfort. He became an ideological figurehead and was seen as the head of Marxism-Leninism.

(60 minutes)