The Jurassic Left Doubles down on Maduro

The far left in the U.S. still seems to be more worried about protecting its ideological certainties than in listening to Venezuelans’ legitimate grievances.

If you thought people on the Left had already lost heart and given up on the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela, think again. Right now, we’re in the middle of the “Emergency Days of Action to Stop US Intervention in Venezuela.”

“The corporate media – the voice of the Pentagon and White House – has set up an international campaign of blatant lies that try to present the terrorist actions of the fascist hoards [sic] as repression from the Revolutionary Government,” the campaign website helpfully explains. “The truth is that these terrorist acts are directed against state’s buildings and agencies and against the supporters of the revolution. The aim of these protests is to create chaos to declare a ‘humanitarian crisis’ and demand US intervention.”

Who talks like this anymore? The International Action Center (IAC) does. It comes out of the revolutionary communist Worker’s World Party (WWP), both of which are connected to the founding of the International A.N.S.W.E.R. organization (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism).

If you’re tempted to think these are just tiny millenarian communist cults, think again. Early in the last decade, A.N.S.W.E.R. organized some of the largest demonstrations against the Iraq war, and International Action Center continues to be a central hub of left-wing activity in major US cities.

The aim of these protests is to create chaos to declare a ‘humanitarian crisis’ and demand US intervention.

That such groups well into the 21st century could be called “progressive” is oxymoronic. They’re living fossils from a bipolar world – remnants from the Cold War when the CIA and the KGB each went around toppling governments in their enemy’s sphere of influence. You remember the Cold War, right? Half of you won’t — folks born after, say, 1982 can hardly be expected to. But some dinosaurs are reputed to have extraordinary memories despite their utter obliviousness to present reality.

For many on the younger Left that came up post-Cold War, this Paleolithic Left is no mere oddity. They show up to “be the vanguard” at demonstrations and “lead” the marches. Another glaring irony: this utterly retrograde, backward-looking left seems to feel it owns its place at the head of the parade.

Then there’s this left’s perspective regarding the current uprising in Venezuela. Insinuating it is a result of “US intervention” removes all agency from the Venezuelan people and imposes a frame as patronizing as anything the imperialists could come up with. Young people in Venezuela take their lives in their hands – they face heavily armed agents of state violence, they get rounded up and imprisoned en masse, when not wounded or out-right killed to fight for what they believe – but none of it matters, because their ideas and thoughts, their very existence as autonomous beings able to think and act for themselves is erased, in one bold stroke, with one brain-dead accusation: imperialists! This is the “white man’s burden” turned on its head.

But these left relics are blithely unaware that they pose any offense to the modern world, nor do they see the contradictions of forming an “ad-hoc Committee to Save Venezuela” that’s simply a reflection of the “missionary mainstream media” they criticize.

After all, Venezuelans can’t be expected to save themselves now, can they? They need us!

Insinuating it is a result of “US intervention” removes all agency from the Venezuelan people…

But in the end, whether it’s this “ad-hoc Committee,” ensconced in the comfortable recesses of their ivory tower where they’re barricaded against criticism by titles and tenure, or the sects making up the “Emergency Days” actions, this entire Left resolves to little more than a millenarian communist cult.

Like any sect, it has its sacred symbols, doctrines and articles of faith. And, truth be told, they really have no interest in “saving Venezuela” or being in solidarity with “Venezuela.”

Actual Venezuelans desperately want to get rid of the catastrophe that the Nicolás Maduro administration has become. That’s what the December 2015 elections indicated, what polls have confirmed ever since, and what the current protests all over the country drive home, day after bloody day. That’s what the kids facing down tanks scream at the top of their lungs. It’s the kind of rebellion the Left was supposed to celebrate… and does – when its political orthodoxy isn’t challenged.

Millenarian “Leftists” aren’t interested in the least in the real Venezuela or in the wishes of its real people. They only want to protect their “vanguard” in power so they can keep alive the illusion that “Socialism” is the future; that the “Revolution” is inevitable and that some idealized abstraction of “The People” — which has absolutely nothing in common with the actual people you meet if you actually go to Venezuela — will win in the end.

What’s at stake here isn’t what happens to Venezuelans. What matters to them is the integrity of their doctrinal system, of its symbols and shibboleths. Preserving this, looking out for its integrity matters to these guys. Whether Venezuelans eat or starve? They couldn’t care less.

Clifton Ross

Clifton Ross recently published his political memoir documenting his conversion from Chavismo to the opposition. He lives in Berkeley, California with his wife and co-editor, Marcy Rein, and their two cats.