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Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The enemy of my enemy may still be an asshole

As a socialist, I've always been baffled at the seemingly large support amongst "the left" of such pseudo-socialist states as North Korea and Cuba. Granted, much of the hardcore support comes from the small-but-overwhelmingly-vocal democratic-centralist groups such as the Workers World Party (the people who organized International A.N.S.W.E.R.) or the Revolutionary Workers Party, but a suprising amount of support for "socialist" states comes from the regular "leftist" rank-and-file, who are fairly naive and don't know any better, and from the academic left, who most definitely should know better.

Why the support? The only reason I can seem to find is that those states stand in defiance of the United States. The enemy of our enemy is our friend, right? No matter how hideously they may treat their own people, no matter if they actually are worse in every way even when compared to the US, they're the good guys because the US opposes them. They may starve and bleed their people to death, but in theory, according to their constitutions, they're wonderful people's paradise. The only reason they're so repressive and brutal is because of US foreign policy; Castro executes dissidents because of the US embargo and the people of North Korea starve because of the US's unwavering support of South Korea. The fact that they are led by brutal dictators really has nothing to do with it; they would play nice of the US played nice.

So goes much of the reasoning (if one can call it that) I've come across over the past few years. Do I think things would be much different in both countries if the US treated them fairly? Of course. Can the leaders in power, and those abroad who support them, honestly present the US as an all-encompassing excuse for why they choose to repress and oppress their people? Absolutely not. Just because the US is a perpretrator of unkind acts on a global scale does not automatically make its targets or critics the good guys. While that is clearly true in regards to Cuba and North Korea, the same is easily said of such symbols of the recent unthinking-peace movement as France, Turkey, Russia, and China. To refer to any of those states as "peace-loving" is to be a complete fool, and is the same as thinking Cuba and North Korea have some sort of Darth Vader complex--corrupted by evil outside forces but really nice, soft, cuddly and human on the inside.

Needless to say, I was quite tickled to receive this humorous little tidbit in my inbox today:


We the undersigned are leftists and progressives who do not feel it is productive or prudent to criticize the Cuban government at this or any other time. We believe that the US government continues to undermine the independence of the Cuban people, and therefore any action the Cuban government takes is fine by us. We do not support the death penalty, except when it is employed by socialists or Marxists. We favor freedom of speech, association and assembly for ourselves, but not for those who should be grateful to live in a socialist country. If we lived in Cuba, we would spy on our neighbors and report any suspicious activity to the government at once. We believe in the wisdom and fairness of the Cuban Communist Party, and feel that it is one and the same as the Cuban people. We support Fidel's slogan, "Socialism or Death!" We deplore those "leftists" who have the nerve to tell the Cuban government what they think, unless it is wholly supportive of the Party's line. And above all, we will overlook, rationalize and explain away any and all contradictions and hypocrisies evident in the Cuban leadership. The goal of a progressive future demands it.

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