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“Venezuela is engulfed in a government-inflicted economic crisis twice the size of the Great Depression, which has provoked the largest movement of refugees in the recent history of Latin America. Meanwhile, the regime that has presided over this catastrophe is morphing from a nasty autocracy to a potentially full-blown dictatorship.
The American right is already using the failure of Venezuelan socialism as a means to attack the socialist movement. Yet Venezuelans are starving, and to weaponize the fact merely to bash the left represents not only the height of bad taste but also the maximum of solipsism. The posturing of pundits is insignificant next to the suffering on the ground.
But while such criticisms are often made in bad faith, the Western left does need to take a serious look at itself over Venezuela—not least because of what it says about the health of leftist elements that, in Britain and elsewhere, are close to attaining real power.
If you’re familiar with Cuban politics, the so-called Bolivarian Revolution begun by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has been ringing alarm bells for many years now. The idolization of a charismatic leader, the unwillingness of the regime to brook any opposition, the gross economic mismanagement, and blaming every failure on the machinations of the United States—all are familiar tropes for Cuba watchers.
Yet much of the Western socialist left has persisted in ignoring the trajectory of Venezuela in order to sustain a fantasy of “21st-century socialism.” It’s reminiscent of the Western apologists for the Soviet Union that Arthur Koestler once compared to peeping Toms “who watch History’s debauches through a hole in the wall” while not having to experience it themselves.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"Political leaders from all French parties, including former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, joined Jews and non-Jews in Paris’s Place de la Republique to condemn antisemitic acts."
"Eighty years ago tonight, thousands of Americans gathered in New York to rally behind the Nazi Party and its ideals. An Oscar-nominated short documentary retrieves footage of the event, but leaves out the context that gives it meaning."
"The PM has persuaded the religious-Zionist Jewish Home to partner with the Kahanists of Otzma Yehudit. It makes cynical political sense for his interests, but what of Israel’s?"
"IFC’s series Documentary Now! began as an affectionately parodic tribute to the classics of nonfiction cinema. Its first episode, “Sandy Passage,” was a note-perfect evocation of the Maysles brothers’ Grey Gardens..."
"Making our choices count is, however, far from straightforward, and this is the subject of Martin Hägglund’s book This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom."
"Teens in the United States are coming of age at a time when digital technology is truly ubiquitous, where smartphones are all of our “constant companions.”"
"...the Smollett story, if the “trajectory” leads to evidence of fakery, would actually reveal something else modern America is about: victimhood chic."
"Cool in the humanities isn’t that different from cool in other areas of cultural life, like planking, hotdog-legs photography, mason jar rehabilitation, and novels whose main character is a city."
"It’s true that high-octane, hardworking child-rearing has some pointless excesses, and it doesn’t spark joy for parents. But done right, it works for kids..."
"Cape Town in South Africa is a foodie destination. Some people in its renowned restaurant industry are trying to spread the food wealth citywide."
"...for many “space expansionists,” escaping Earth is about much more than dodging the bullet of extinction: it’s about realizing astronomical amounts of value by exploiting the universe’s vast resources to create something resembling utopia. "
"After facing persecution in the former Soviet Union and a new wave of antisemitism in the United States, Marya Zilberberg decides to put her Jewishness on display."