Sohail: Ali, you are a
psychiatrist yourself and interviewing other people is part of your profession.
How do you feel being interviewed by someone else today?
Ali: Itís a great relief for a psychiatrist to
be able to talk about his own issues, thoughts and feelings. I often say to my
wife that you are my 24 hour a day on call therapist. She hears all about my
clinic work because I need to talk to her when I come home.
I am curious about recent changes in your life. When I met you last year for the
first time, I thought that you were well settled in America, having your
profession, your family and your house. I was surprised, rather shocked, when I
found out that you were planning to go to Pakistan, not for a visit, but for
good. That did not sound very good to me. Now I am curious whether it is a
recent development or you have been thinking about it for a long time?
Ali: No, the idea is not new. In fact it has
been part of the plan every since I came to America. I had planned to come here,
do my training in psychiatry and go back. But I stayed longer than I had
originally planned. I have been visiting
Pakistan every year for the last 15 years. I had my children here. Now that they
are getting older I want to take them back to their country and culture.
to see how it feels to live and work in Pakistan. I want to experience first
hand the social problems of Pakistan and help people coping with them. In
America I deal with broken marriages and broken families that I had not seen
growing up. So I am curious how it would feel to live there and see how my
community and country has changed. In your opinion the human condition might be
universal but in my opinion social conditions affect the human condition and I
want to experience those differences between East and West. But going back to
Pakistan also means leaving a nice job and a comfortable lifestyle. I am a
socialist and I wonder if I have some 'misplaced Marxist guilt'(as my father
calls it!) living in an affluent society while my country men and women are poor
and suffering. Now I have decided to go back so that I can soak my children in
their traditional culture and language and extended family.
If you were a single person, you would have been free to make choices about your
future. Having a wife and children makes it difficult as your choices affect
them whether they like them or not. I have never met your wife. I am curious
about her position. Is she happy with your choice?
Ali: I never wavered from the desire and
conviction to go back in our 11 or 12 years of marriage. She is a woman from a
conservative family. That is why, for obvious reasons, she wants to live in a
liberal American society. Here she is used to driving her car freely, going
wherever she wants and enjoying other freedoms. She is concerned that she would
lose some of her freedoms in Pakistan. I try to reassure her that women in my
family are liberated and she does not need to worry. But she worries because the
broader society is conservative in Pakistan which is true.
Sohail: It seems as if she is
not as enthused to go back as you are.
Ali: You are right. She is not as enthusiastic
as I am. Sheís dreading it a little bit more. If it was her choice she would
prefer to live in America and visit Pakistan frequently. I have a strong desire
to give something back to Pakistan. There are times she rolls her eyes when we
discuss such issues. Because of my family name and being the grandson of the
famous poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz, my responsibility is a little more than other
Sohail: Now that I have
become your friend I feel emotionally connected to what happens to you. Now I
feel about your family the way I feel about my sister Amberís family that lives
in Lahore. I feel very concerned about them as I feel that Pakistan is no longer
safe as it is part of a war zone. She told me that last time when bombs blasted
in town, her windows rattled. Does that not worry you about your children? Donít
you worry that you are taking them from safe America to unsafe Pakistan?
Ali: Well yes, I do worry about their physical
safety in an environment where bombs are exploding and people are being shot and
killed in the streets. But I think the good outweighs the bad. In America their
father has a nice job. They are comfortable but they are also exposed to
American social ills. My oldest is nine. If we stay here in the next few years
as a parent I have to worry about marijuana and drugs and alcohol in the school.
For me moving from America to Pakistan is like moving from a low crime area to a
high crime area for a greater goal and hoping for the best. Let me share a
Middle Eastern story to prove my point.
In a Middle Eastern town, in old times, there was a young prince
who was very rich and proud and lived in a palace. One day he went to his garden
and saw the angel of death. It looked into his eyes and pointed at him. The
prince was terrified and ran to the king and told him that he had seen the angel
of death. He begged the king to lend him a horse so he could run away to
Baghdad, a far away city. So the king gave him his best horse and the prince ran
and went to the other town. The King was angry and went to his garden to
confront the angel of death. He asked him why he had scared the prince. The
angel of death said, your majesty, I did not mean to scare him. I was just
surprised to see him so I pointed at him and asked him what he was doing here
since I have a rendezvous with him this evening in Baghdad.
that is the philosophical interpretation of it. I mean if something bad is going
happen what is there to stop it from happening anywhere? If all of us worried
about bad things happening to us all the time we would never get out of the bed
in the morning.
sitting on the ninth floor of a hotel right now.
What will happen if there is an earthquake? What I mean is that you canít worry
about things like that.
So far I was asking you realistic questions. Now let me ask you a hypothetical
question. What will happen if after three years you realize that you had made a
bad choice and you should not have gone to Pakistan? Would you come back to
Ali: I would not be opposed to that at all. I
just donít like change for the sake of change. So Iím going back with the idea
that I want to stay there. Let my kids grow up there, and do their college there
and spend time with both sets of grandparents and all that. But if we realize
that it is better to come back we will, but I cannot conceptualize that at this
Now let me take a step further and ask you a personal question. Can you share
how your relationship with your parents changed since you moved to America? How
is it different now when you go back and visit them in Pakistan?
Ali: When I left Pakistan I was 25 and like
most Pakistani children I had lived at home all my life. After finishing my
medical school I was ready to leave home. In the West children leave earlier but
in Pakistan it is not unusual to stay with your family until you complete your
university and many times not even then. You may get married in your parents'
house, have children there and so on. When I came to America I studied
psychiatry in Houstan for four years. Then I got married and moved to a
different State in America.
time, I canít really pinpoint any specific time, my relationship with my mother
and father has changed and become more loving and forgiving. Rather than a child
/ parent relationship it has become more of an adult / adult relationship. When
you are living with your parents, sometimes you develop a certain hostility to
being treated like a child, which will always be the case if you never leave
home. But it has become better now. It really improved after I had children and
they became grandparents.
father and I have had a very close relationship because he is a psychologist and
a leftist. It is very easy for us to connect. My mother and I have a different
kind of relationship but she is in a different profession and she is very busy
and keeps on becoming busier. We do not talk about ideological things but I am
very proud of her. She was a career woman in Pakistan when such a thing was
unheard of. She is a leader in her field of journalism and broadcasting and has
inspired a whole generation of Pakistani women and she is not done yet!
In our earlier conversations you jokingly mentioned that one of the reasons you
want to go back to Pakistan is to resolve your relationship with your dad. Can
you tell me a little more about that? There seems to be a mystery about that
Ali: I donít think itís too much of a mystery
because I think it has the same dynamic that operates between every son and
every father, perhaps more so between the first born son and the father because
the first born son is the designated 'prince' and heir, so of speak, the heir to the
'throne'. I understood the dynamics better when I became a father myself. It
used to bother me that I did not get the approval of my father. My younger
brother and I always talked about it and he felt exactly the same way, although
they have a different kind of relationship. But when I became a father of two
sons I realized that mothers do more nurturing while fathers do more
disciplining. I realized how much my sons needed and wanted my approval and
realized how I could use that to push them towards achievement. When I was 12 I
used to ask myself about my father, Ďwhat makes this man tick?í It is like
trying to resolve oneís Oedipus Complex. Who is this man who my mother loves and
who is in charge of all of us and how can I become him? It
was sort of a complex relationship. My father has a very strong personality
because he grew up as an orphan and he is the youngest of three brothers. He is
the psychologist and I am the psychiatrist and that maybe generates some
professional rivalry also.
How were your choices in life affected by him?
Ali: The two biggest decisions of my life, my
career and my marriage were both suggested by him. In my high school I was not
very good in Physics and Maths. My father told me one day that (other than
Physics and Maths), I was good in studies so why didnít I try to become a
doctor? I did not really have anything else in mind so I said it sounds okay and
I became a doctor.
finishing my medical school I was planning to come to America for my
specialization. I remember sitting on the dinner table and talking with my dad
about different things. When I mentioned becoming a psychiatrist he was wise
enough to remain cool. He did not say anything. It seemed as if he did not fully
approve. Later on I realized that there is some professional jealousy between
psychiatrists and psychologists as psychologists feel that psychiatrists are
coming to America the first year was very rough for me. I was living on my own
for the first time, far away from home with no friends or family. At one point I
felt that doing psychiatry was the worst mistake of my life but since it was on
my own decision I could not go back. I used to talk to my dad and he was always
supportive. I used to tell him that I am working with homeless people and drug
addicts in a big city, I don't know what to do with them, they have no families,
no social support, I don't know how to help them. He was always encouraging
though, he used to say you are learning all kind of new things so just be
second main choice was marriage. He wanted me to get married before I came to
America. He wanted to make sure that some White woman did not get hold of me.
(jokingly) Some wicked White nurse (both laugh)
Ali: (laughing) Back then, I could not say Ďnoí
to him. He tried to arrange a marriage with a relative but it did not work out.
After I graduated he tried to arrange something with the daughter of one of his
old friends. I went along as I did not love anybody else and I had not seriously
thought about that issue. There was even an engagement. And then one day while I
was visiting New York for my training interviews, a family friend I was staying
with said you are going to get married and you donít know what you are doing.
And that got me thinking. So after I went back to Lahore, I met my fiancť I told
her that I wanted to wait a few months as I had to think it over. But she got
upset and talked to her parents and they got mad and broke it off. May be she
was not ready either.
wife now, is the sister of one of my oldest friends. We grew up together. We
used to like each other as teenagers. But my dad told me to focus on my studies.
I had a little bit of lingering resentment from that so when he proposed
marriage to her my first reaction was to say ĎNoí because of the old resentment.
But then I thought that's silly. I also discussed it in my therapy when I was a
student of psychiatry. I had to face two questions. Who was I going to marry and
where did I want to spend majority of my life. I was pretty sure I did not want
to marry an American or someone raised in America because I wanted to go back to
live in Pakistan.
How is your relationship with your dad
different from that with your mom?
Ali: I donít know if I talked to you about the
story when I was getting therapy?
I donít think so.
Ali: When I decided to do therapy in Houston,
you could get 12 free sessions as a psychiatry resident (trainee doctor) with a
faculty member. My therapist was a very nice older woman who was one of our
professors. We had a few sessions. One day she said how come you never talk
about your mother, you always talk about your father. I thought for a few
seconds and said there is nothing to talk about. What do you want me to say? Let
me tell you another story of my childhood. My mother is the one who wrote about
this in an essay in a magazine recently. My mom used to work in a television
station. I was nearly two years old and my dad took me to the television station
to pick up my mom. I was waiting to see her but she could not go as she was
busy. I was crying. I don't remember that but she does. She wrote about how
heartbreaking it was for her to see me crying and wanting to be with her while
she had to work. A child psychiatrist friend in Houston told me that memories
before 3 or 4 are nonverbal which means you cannot really express those memories
by speaking because a child of 3 or 4 years has very limited speech and no way
to find words for those emotions so you cannot put those feelings into words.
What he meant was that my mom's 'absence' so to speak in my early memories is
also very significant. To him it meant there is some pain there, maybe anger or
some negative feelings that I have repressed because they were painful and
unacceptable. A part of me used to be resentful maybe or sad that she was not
around even though she worked, made an income for the family that allowed us to
have a higher standard of living than we would otherwise have had. It was also
what she enjoyed and what made her happy. I'm fine with it now. We are closer
than we used to be and we talk quite a bit. She is still as busy as ever, she
recently got elected to be the president of the Commonwealth Broadcasting
Association so she will be even busier.
How was she when you
became a teenager and started showing interest in girls?
Ali: I canít remember back to my teens any kind
of interaction with her about that. In my 20ís I had a girlfriend once and
almost married her and she knew about that. I donít remember her being punitive
or upset or disapproving which would have been out of character for our family
any way. Again it was my dad who was there. He would comment on it Ďdo thisí or
Ďdonít do thatí. My mother is more attached to my younger brother, like moms
usually are to younger children. I was always a little more independent, a
little more aloof maybe. He followed her into the media business. If he was
sitting in my chair he could tell you a lot about his relationship with his mom.
Let me ask you another personal question. How do you see the relationship
between your mom and dad?
Ali: They were married in 1967 so they have
been married for 42 to 43 years. So that by itself says something about their
commitment and love and caring. There was also a history as my fatherís older
brother had married my motherís older sister. It was a love marriage. My mom and
dad also had a love marriage. The families knew each other. In 1970s Pakistan
was quite liberal. There were a lot of artistic and cultural activities. There
was a socialist movement. People were involved in social issues bigger than
themselves. My grandfather was still alive and he had a larger than life
personality and people from all over the world called him and came to see him.
There was a time there was some tension between my mom and dad when she went to
Hawaii to do her studies for two years while we were young. Because she was a
non-traditional woman it was harder for my father to adjust to that. In spite of
that he encouraged her to go to America to get more education and she always
gives him credit for that.
You grew up in a family where your aunt and uncle and grandparents were big
celebrities of Pakistan. How did you feel as a teenager belonging to such a
family? You grandfather Faiz married a British woman Alys at a time when mixed
marriages were unheard of. How do you feel being the grandson of such a
Ali: As a teenager it was hard. My mother was
in the media. My uncle was in the television. We were socially prominent. My
grandfather was famous. As a teenager you want to fit in. We were called
Communists and I did not know what it meant. My uncle and aunt were actually
more socially prominent because they were in front of the camera on the screen
on T.V as they produced childrenís programs. My mother was behind the camera as
she was the producer. It was hard as a teenager as I felt as if I did not have
an identity of my own. I was somebodyís son, somebodyís nephew and somebodyís
grandson. I remember a story from medical school. I had a professor who was my
fatherís childhood friend. I did a one month rotation with her. On the last day
she asked me whose son are you and I told her and she asked me why did I not
tell her before. I said I wanted you to judge me on my performance and not
because of my dad. Also, in Pakistan, it is never a good thing to advertise that
you are part of a Communist family especially when your grandfather was charged
with sedition and treason. That all changed when I came to America. When I came
to America nobody cared who I was, it was very liberating. And then one day
someone mentioned in a party that Ali is the grandson of Faiz and I got a lot of
affection and love. But by then I had become a psychiatrist and had my own
identity. So it was fine. I'm proud of my family now because I understand what
they stood for all those years ago and what they still stand for. Funnily
enough, now I want to return to Pakistan for the same reason because I feel I
can accomplish more socially there since I am from a prominent family.
Sohail: You are a member of a
creative family and I have a keen interest in creative families because my
fatherís side of the family is also creative family. My uncle Arif Abdul Mateen
was also a famous Urdu and Punjabi poet in Pakistan and knew your grandfather in
Amritsar and Lahore. I struggled with some of the issues you mentioned. Do you
feel creativity is genetic? How did you feel when you became aware that you were
also a creative person and you can become a writer like your grandfather?
Ali: I have no doubt that there is some sort of
genetic predisposition to it. I mean some of that is passed on, but of course
thereís a lot of nurturing as you get older. I was surrounded by books when I
was growing older and there were people who liked to write and liked to paint.
My aunt is an accomplished painter. People used to make fun of me that I think
too much. Interestingly although I was the grandson of Faiz, Urdu was not my
strong suit. I always felt more comfortable in English as I belonged to the
upper middle class being raised in English medium schools. My grandmother was
also English and I used to talk to her in English. It was the first language for
me. It is only recently that I am getting comfortable in Urdu. I remember
writing an article about exercise when I was 13 or 14 and it was published in a
magazine. My mother was an editor of that magazine. I was thrilled as it was a
big deal at that age. I remember my dad coming out of the washroom with a towel
round his waist to my room and shaking my hand as he had read my article in the
magazine. He told me it was a great article and I should keep on writing. I
realized then that I could get my dadís approval by writing more. I wrote for a
while but then I got busy with studies and did not write for several years but
then I picked up writing again and wrote some articles for chowk.com.The very
first essay that was published on chowk was actually after I got to Arkansas
about ten years ago. It was about the very first psychotherapy patient that I
ever saw in Houston and she taught me a great deal about therapy and about
myself and about the process and all of that. Since then I have written a number
of articles but for me creativity is a conscious process.
writers are full time writers but I write after a full time job in my office.
For that one needs to be disciplined. In the last few years I have been trying
to be regular about my writing. Sometimes some thing strikes deeply and I want
to write about it right away. Iím still struggling with the discipline that is
required to write well. I admire what you have done in terms of setting aside a
specific time every week for your creative writing. I am still working up
towards that. What keeps me going is that every time I have written something I
have received a lot of positive feedback.
What are your dreams as writer in the next few years?
Ali: For a while I went through a phase where I
really wanted to have a book published until my mother pointed out and my father
also that any Tom, Dick and Henry can have a book published, that itís no big
deal. For me publishing a book was a goal in itself. Then I reflected on it and
there are millions of
people who have their books published and so what is the purpose of writing or
why do you write? I think one writes in order to express oneself. You write in
order to show other people what you see in the world around you. The special
gift of an artist is to see what is hidden from a non-artist and then show it to
others. He can see what is not obvious to others.
Whatever truths you see you should show to the rest of the world if you think
they are worth showing. Thatís what you have to express in your art and in your
writing. As you are aware my writings are inspired by socialist, progressive and
humanistic ideals. I want to serve something bigger than myself.
is something my father and I have talked about numerous times and of course he
has always been steadfast about that. I serve myself and my wife and my children
and after I have done that I want to serve my community and my society. How can
I do that? Well, every person needs to decide that for themselves. To me, I
enjoy writing and so that's the medium I choose in order to speak out against
injustice, oppression, inequality. My family has a history of doing that. Life
changes, its not static and an artistís work is never done, never complete.
Let me ask you a question as a writer and an artist. How important it is for you
to create something with high literary standards and how significant it is for
you to bring a social change with your writings?
Ali: Well I think we all have to choose. I mean
if an artist or writer decides to write about something without consciously
to accomplish something else like social change, thatís fine. Maybe they just
want to tell a story or describe what they see in the world around them. That is
a goal in itself. We all have biases towards certain points of view. If someone
says I'm 'neutral', I'm not biased, well, not having a bias is also a bias. Some
motives are more conscious than others. People who profess that they do not want
to bring social change are really saying that they are supporting the present
Ali: That is right. Artists can chose to paint
apolitically and writers can choose to write
apolitically as long
as they realize they are supporting the status quo by taking that position. They
are different than those who want to bring social and political change. Some
writers focus on inner change, emotional and family change rather than broad
political processes and social struggles. In my opinion as a writer oneís life
should be in the service of a larger goal, a goal larger than oneself. What that
goal should be and who is to determine that, well that's up to each of us to
donít have any disagreements with somebody who says well my goal is to earn
enough to feed my family and keep a roof over our heads and put my children
through school and thatís my only goal. Thatís fine. I donít have any
disagreement with that. As long as they realize that in the end, that's not
enough. I couldn't live with myself if I did that and thatís part of my familyís
legacy. The larger world outside the family will always intrude into our lives
and we can choose to ignore it or actively engage with it, for better or worse.
Really as an artist I donít think that kind of art, 'impartial', would be very
Let me take the dilemma of personal and political writings a step further. Some
people are motivated by their personal anger and their creativity has a
cathartic value but others can get inspired by that and bring a social change
although that creation was inspired by personal tragedies. What do you think of
that because you are a psychiatrist as well as a socialist?
Ali: If I look back on some of the things I
wrote 10 years ago, if I do them now I will make them more beautiful and say
them in a different way. But at that time I was in a different state of mind and
my writings reflect where I was in my life at that time.
believe that if you are engaged in something that is meaningful then the anger
or despair or loneliness or isolation automatically disappears. We have
discussed the writings and work of Dr. Irvin Yalom at Stanford. He has written a
lot about 'existential' issues, life, meaninglessness, despair and basically he
says the same thing. What I am writing now is meaningful now but when I see it
in five years it might mean something different. I am inspired by writers that
lived before me. Reading about them and their work and wanting to do the same
kind of thing, that's what inspires me and dispels my despair on my bad days.
Faiz, Iqbal, Ghalib and Meer were also inspired by writers before them. It is
the gift and the curse of artists, writers and poets to have the 'third eye',
that vision to see things hidden from ordinary people. Sometimes, that can be
painful and demoralizing but as long as we are engaged in life, in things we
enjoy, things that inspire us, usually creative things, that pain does not last
long and can give birth to something profound and beautiful.
When I was giving you my book as a gift I wrote, Ďfor my friend who is a Marxist
mysticí. How can you be a socialist as well as spiritual. How do you bring these
two philosophies together?
Ali: The program of psychiatry that I trained
in was psychoanalytical, inward looking. But being a socialist I am also outward
looking. And I try to bring these two perspectives together. Marx taught us that
our concept of reality is based on our material conditions and that seems fairly
straightforward to me. If we accept that humanity is one whole, that there is
more that unites us than divides us and that we are all part of the universe,
then everything around me is also within me and everything within me is
reflected outside. That's the Sufi concept of 'Unity of Existence', that
everything is part of one unified whole. Some days that requires some effort
because all of us are so automatically wired to consider ourselves as separate:
from each other, from the world around us and so on.
let me come back to where we started. Pakistanis are at a crossroads. On one
side are religious fundamentalists and on the other side are American
imperialists with their armies. What are your views about the present Pakistani
Ali: I have no doubt in my mind that the
American intervention in Pakistan
is making the
situation in that area a lot worse than it was. But then there has been military
intervention going on in Pakistan for 50 years or even before that. You know all
the motivating factors including oil and natural resources. But the US is having
a hard time because they cannot maintain the military presence for very long,
its too expensive and the country is virtually bankrupt. It owes huge amounts to
China and other foreign creditors. Sooner, rather than later, they will have to
pull their army out. They simply won't be able to afford not to. The situation
is becoming similar to that of Vietnam in the 70s. As the US economy continues
to decline, they will have to scale back their military interventions to focus
at home. We would all love for them to leave and let us work it out for
ourselves but thatís not going to happen anytime soon because they have their
Pakistan has never had a semblance of any kind of autonomy in
terms of governmental or military policies. I was reading something by Faiz just
a few days ago in which I remember that he said by the time he got out of jail
in 1955 and these were his words in Urdu that the country had been sold to the
Pakistan as it is currently constituted and governed is not a
viable state. Iím not making an ideological judgment. What was the reason that
within 10 years of the formation of Pakistan the military had to take over and
since then the military has been in charge more often than not? To me, the
country is not viable as a nation state in its current political formation and
it never was. The only way to hold it together is to do it by force. So the
force is the military and bureaucracy that is funded mostly by Americans and by
American aid. If that aid was to stop I think the country would probably split
very quickly along ethnic and regional lines. I would hate to see blood shed but
perhaps redrawing the borders would be a good thing. Perhaps it would work
better as a loose confederation of the various ethnicities and regions. Perhaps
that could be expanded to include the Indian confederation as well. That would
go a long way towards undoing some of the damage that was done in 1947. India is
having her own troubles with ethnic and regional unrest. In their case, they
have had much more seasoned and experienced political parties in charge so the
army has never felt the urge or had the ability to intervene. Also they made
sure to protect their native industries in the first 2-3 decades after the
British left and now can dictate much more favorable terms to Western powers.
Failing that, in Pakistan, for the next few years I think itís not going to be
much different from the way the last few years have been.
Let me ask you the last question. You have strong feelings for Pakistan and you
are going back to serve your country. But you are also an American. Do you find
yourself in conflict because of American foreign policy especially towards
Pakistan and other Muslim countries?
Ali: I have an aunt who is a Pakistani
American. She told me that when she is in Pakistan she is defending America and
when she is in America she is defending Pakistan. I never feel that burden. I
feel I have a unique opportunity to have the best of both worlds. I wrote an
essay about the greatness of America. Our local paper published it and people
sent me all kinds of positive feedback. It was about 9/11 and how Muslims were
treated after that in America. I described my own experience of not having had
any problems after that attack even though I live in a very religious,
conservative, Southern area. My neighbors, co-workers, even strangers in the
street were all extremely kind and supportive. I have lived in America for 16
years and it has made me a better person. I disagree with American foreign
policy and America's military invasion of other countries. But for me the
American government is different than the American people. I do not confuse
American people with the administration. I have many American friends who
disagree with the policies of their government. I am also aware that I support
America's wars by my tax money but I do not have a choice. I could stop paying
taxes but that would not be wise as it would have its legal consequences. In
America, people go every four years to the polls to choose people they believe
will do what they want them to but the main thrust of the administration's
policies changes very little from one administration to the next .
How did you feel about the last American elections when Barack Hussain Obama
made the promise to change and received a Nobel peace Prize afterwards?
Ali: He should have won the war prize not the
peace prize. He is a smart man like Bill Clinton but he has his own motivations.
I live in Arkansas which is a conservative area and one of my friends wanted to
put an Obama sign in front of my house and I said fine. It was the only one in
my neighborhood. But he won on the platform of moving the war from Iraq to
Afghanistan and Pakistan which is what he has done. Unfortunately, in the
electoral arena, there is not much to choose from. In America there is not much
room for the people of the Left. I am not surprised at what he is doing because
this is what the people who paid for his campaign want. In America to run for
elections you have to have a lot of money. You basically buy a seat in the
Congress or White House. America's industrial capacity is declining while rivals
like China and India are growing because the big corporations took all their
factories there to make more profit from cheaper labor since they pay workers
there a fraction what they make in America. When you outsource all your business
to other countries, you make more profit temporarily but others progress and
develop industrial strength. The only industry growing in America is
the military industry since they need that to control the world. Some
predictions say that by 2020 China's economy will be bigger than America's. I
think the American Empire is already on the decline and this will accelerate in
years to come. Every Empire that came before it in history believed that their
rule would last for all time and where are they all now? I do not like war or
bloodshed but history has its own logic and laws.
what is my role or your role or the role of writers or artists here? To point
out what's happening and why. To point out if thereís an alternative and then
keep doing it again and again, whether anyone's listening or not, whether
anything is changing or not. I often joke that what I really want is for all of
this political change to happen in my life. Preferably in my youth so I can see
with my own eyes but that's not realistic. Our lives are brief, 60, 70 years is
not a very long time in the history of mankind even though it is the sum total
of one person's life. My dad used to say that each one of us needs to realize
that we are just one stone of the dam holding back the flood. Faiz died in 1984
and he mentioned in one of his books that he could see the Soviet Union
declining. If Faiz was alive in 1991, he would have been very sad to see the end
of the USSR. It was very painful for many Left Wing writers and intellectuals to
see that downfall. One wishes to leave the world a better place and it is sad if
it becomes worse in oneís lifetime in spite of one's best efforts but in the
end, one must be satisfied that one did one's part and that has to be enough.
Those who follow will have to do the rest.
: thanks for the interview and sharing your ideas so openly and candidly.