Back in the late 1970s the political scientist Paul Hollander performed a great public service with his book Political Pilgrims: Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society (still in print), in which he catalogued and eviscerated the naïve and mendacious leftists who always tromped off to the latest “people’s utopia” (Soviet Union, Cuba, Mao’s China, Albania, North Vietnam, even North Korea for a time, etc.) and came back proclaiming they had seen “the future that worked.”
Intellectuals and especially Hollywood celebrities are always prone to falling for the totalitarian temptation, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see a sequel beat down in the case of the Venezuelistas. But the surprise is where it appears: The certifiably left wing Guardian.
By Nick Cohen
Radical tourism is no different from sex tourism. In both the political and the coital, the inhabitants of the rich world go to the poor to find the thrills no one will give them at home. . .
For years, the top radical tourist destination, the political equivalent of the Pattaya Beach brothel, has been Chavista Venezuela. Hollywood stars, the leaders of the British Labour party and Spanish “popular resistance”, and every half-baked pseudo-left intellectual from Noam Chomsky to John Pilger has engaged in a left orientalism as they wallowed in “the other’s” exotic delights. . .
Venezuela stroked all their erogenous zones. Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro were anti-American and “anti-imperialist”. That both allied with imperial powers, most notably Russia, did not appear to concern them in the slightest. Venezuela, cried Seumas Milne in the Guardian, has “redistributed wealth and power, rejected western neoliberal orthodoxy, and challenged imperial domination”. What more could a breathless Western punter ask for?
Never underestimate the power worship of those who claim to speak for the powerless, or the credulity of the supposedly wised-up critical theorist. . .
There’s more, but you get the idea. (Whole thing very much worth reading.)
But since we’re on the topic of Venezuelistas, how about a throwback to a Power Line greatest hit on this topic from 2012, about Sean Penn:
And coda from yesterday’s gallery: