Brandon Martinez / Non-Aligned Media
Left-wing British-Pakistani activist and writer Tariq Ali exemplifies what is so wrong with political ideologues, not just of the leftist bent but also those on the right, who refuse to condemn or hold accountable certain regimes for their human rights violations and brutality simply because of what “side” they are on geopolitically.
In this exchange on BBC, Ali and Peter Hitchens discuss the legacy of Cuban communist ruler Fidel Castro.
The interviewer quotes a letter Ali penned some years ago in which he categorically denied that the Castro regime had committed a single human rights offence in its more than half a century of iron-fisted dictatorship. No disappearances, no suppression of dissent, no torture, no executions – the Castro regime was a spotless harbinger of all that is righteous and fair, according to Ali and the radical left’s fictional account of history.
Ali genuflected to Castro’s “revolution” for ousting the corrupt, mafia-linked Batista dictatorship. But when confronted with facts of Castro’s abuses, such as using firing squads and torture against dissidents, “counter-revolutionaries” and critics, Ali began rattling off the supposed positives of Castro’s communist program, such as universal health care and education, as if these things somehow morally balance out the lives extinguished by the regime. This kind of moral reasoning would never apply to a normal citizen who, if convicted of murder, could not plead for a lighter sentence by citing all the “good” deeds they have done throughout their lives. But somehow political leaders are held to a radically different standard than us mere mortals who don’t hold power over others through the barrel of a gun.
The host pointed out that if an American or Western politician did what Castro had done throughout his reign, Ali would be the first to condemn and rail against it. Responding to that, Ali said that when evaluating politicians he “would also see which side I’m on,” meaning that what it really comes down to for this far-left ideologue is the political orientation of the abuser, not the nature or scale of his transgressions. Ali is willing to be extremely forgiving to regimes that reflect some of his leftist economic and social values, but if they don’t share any of his predispositions, they will be subjected to his rhetorical wrath and righteous indignation. Pinochet and other US-backed military dictators in Latin America were excoriated wholesale by Ali, not simply for their brutality but because they allied with the evil capitalist Americans. Ali makes no attempt to look at the “positives” of those regimes because they did not live up to his left-wing bias.
Ali boasted of Castro liberating his island from American domination. But, as Hitchens observed, Castro simply converted the island from an American colony to a Soviet one. But that’s not a problem for Ali because he was sympathetic to the Soviets also – they were the “good” socialist Eastern empire vs. the evil capitalist USA. For people like Ali, no amount of bloodshed or tyranny – in the case of Stalin and Mao tens of millions of deaths – will dampen his enthusiasm for a regime that calls itself socialist and professes to be “of the people.”
This same kind of irrational apologism exists on the political right-wing, with neo-Nazis and assorted fascists not being able to accept criticisms of their political heroes: Hitler, Mussolini, etc. But leftist, particularly communist, re-writing of history is especially appalling and extreme. For instance, the openly Bolshevist “historian” Grover Furr claims that Soviet tyrant Josef Stalin didn’t commit “a single crime” during his decades of miserable, totalitarian rule in Russia. Nobody died an unnatural death under the paradise of Bolshevism, claims Furr, and anyone who believes otherwise has fallen victim to “CIA Cold War propaganda.” This delusional position is symptomatic of a type of political narcissism where ideologues internalize their side’s propaganda and they actually begin to believe their own lies.
Hitchens is not without his blindspots, however. While he challenges the far-left ideologue Ali to be consistent in condemning the misconduct of all governments regardless of their politics, he has shown a penchant to excuse the excesses of Putin’s Russia on the basis that it pursues a more rational, regional-based foreign policy than the main Western powers. In talks and speeches Hitchens has praised Putin for his alleged social conservatism, brushing over vile crimes committed by Putin’s Kremlin against its opponents and critics, including assassinations, torture, censorship and unjust imprisonment of dissidents. While accepting Putin’s guilt in his crackdowns on opponents and his war crimes in Chechnya and Ingushetia, Hitchens seems to be willing to overlook those faults in the spirit of pragmatism and realpolitik. If he’s going to condemn leftists for whitewashing Castro, then he too should be held to the same standard on Putin.
We are seeing an almost identical phenomenon play out with the issue of Syria and its authoritarian Baathist President Bashar al-Assad. Biased political hacks fronting as “alternative” practitioners of journalism have anointed themselves PR officers for Assad’s war effort. Any criticism of Assad’s excesses are met with hysterical accusations of “siding with NATO” or harbouring sympathies with the “head chopping jihadists.” These low IQ simpletons cannot comprehend the position of non-alignment and holding all sides to account for their misdeeds.
As we can see the superior non-aligned model, a founding principle of this website, is the only consistent approach to politics because it elevates certain universal moral standards and principles above petty political prejudices. This allows for a forthright, clean and unfettered honesty to prevail over the highly selective bias of ideologues on the left and right.
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