As is clear from the title, Tariq Ali positions this book in defiance of the term ‘Axis of evil’ given by Bush Jr. And its a defiant book to the last page. And its a book that is both a manifesto of hope and a reminder of events which the mainstream media wants us to forget or worse, remain ignorant of.
The book is mainly about a new way of life that is being developed in Venezuela and Bolivia which takes Cuba’s legacy as its inspiration. The book traces the history of the region and talks about the various ups and downs that have taken place in the region’s (Latin America) struggle for self determination. He also makes a report card of how the progress has been.
What makes this book delightful, when the subject matter is such that it could have easily become a boring tome of facts and sloganeering, is the way in which Tariq Ali approaches the subject. In his inimitable style he takes on a host of varied subjects and ties it up together in one theme.
He starts off with a scathing attack on the turncoat socialists who abandoned their beliefs when the ‘end of history’ happened after collapse of Soviet Union. After this, he positions this book as an account of those who resisted and have been able to give us a different way of looking at social, economic and political problems of our time.
Tariq Ali dons the role of a pirate and revels in it. He discusses politics of the region and the fallouts especially Venezuala and its most famous leader till date – Hugo Chavez. The book discusses his rise and his consolidation and his socio-economic policies and why what he is doing is a lesson to everyone. Ali discusses Cuba and Bolivia as well, Cuba as the inspiration for Chavez and Bolivia and Morales as the inheritor of Chavez of both. He also discusses the history of the region with a whole chapter on Simon Bolivar, the inspiration for whole generations of Latin American revolutionaries. Its not only a discussion of events but is an analysis of whys and hows and which way in the future. Its the latter part that makes it so important.
The book never lets up and is a refreshing call to arms for people who are aware of the developments and a starting point for those unaware.
These discussions attain an important significance today with the collapse of neo-liberal policies, policies which were considered infallible till a few months ago and which have been proved to be hollow and worse, highly dangerous. This book, then, is a book of hope and of rebellion against ‘conventional wisdom’.