Friday, April 25, 2008

Radical Activists Touring for Revolution in Venezuela


The Christian Science Monitor reports that Venezuela's become the magnet for social revolutionaries around the world, activists who're drawn to the regime of Hugo Chavez, where the air of anti-Americanism hangs over daily activities throughout the country:

Caracas in the early 2000s has become what Petrograd was under Lenin in the early 1900s. It's what Havana was in the early days of the Cuban revolution. It's what Chiapas, Mexico, became for a time in the 1990s when "Subcomandante Marcos" launched an armed struggle to help the indigenous people there – a magnet for socialists and students, radicals and revolutionaries, leftists and a few Hollywood luminaries.

Until recently, they didn't have anywhere to go. Socialism was in retreat, "revolutions" scarce. Then along came Mr. Chávez and his gambit to forge a "21st century socialism." Suddenly, Caracas is the new leftwing petri dish. "This is the most interesting social experiment in the world taking place today," says Fred Fuentes, an Australian who moved to Caracas last July, as he sips from a mug with the government motto "Rumbo al Socialismo" (On the way to Socialism). "Venezuela is the key place to be observing."

Since being sworn in as Venezuela's president in 1999, Chavez has championed the cause of the poor, making them the protagonists of his policies. He calls his crusade the Bolivarian Revolution, after Simón Bolívar who helped liberate Venezuela from Spain in the 1800s. His supporters say he is the only one who has ever cared about them. Critics call his peasant-class evangelism posturing – a man with too much oil money using politics as a personal sandbox.

Either way, he has given a sense of hope to and unleashed a fervor among millions of Venezuelans. "This is truly a revolution," notes Cira Mijares, a Caracas resident who says she found her voice when she joined a community council, a Chávez initiative to boost the poor.

It is this same sentiment that foreigners are arriving to steep in. At the International Miranda Center, which sits on the top floor of a hotel suite that houses large numbers of Cubans, who have been in Venezuela providing medical care and baseball training to the poor, visitors from around the world – with government aid – prepare conferences and papers on the merits of the country's social revolution. They talk politics, quote Lenin, and discuss the new cooperatives and councils....

The waves of wandering leftists usually co-incide with domestic upheaval in their own country. In the 1930s, when many trekked to the Soviet Union, it was widespread economic collapse around the world. In the 1960s and '70s, the Vietnam War and social unrest drove some dispirited Americans to socialist outposts. More recently the Iraq war has caused people to pack up their political tenets, such as Cindy Sheehan, the peace activist, who visited Chávez in 2006.

Other high-profile people have made brief appearances here, too, including actors Danny Glover and Sean Penn. But most are people like Jordan Winquist, who was working as a waiter in Philadelphia after college. One day searching Craigslist he found a job teaching English in Caracas. But politics was the real reason he journeyed here in 2006.

I wonder if people like Winquist genuinely understand the movement to which they're so romantically attracted.

As regular readers know, I do a lot of blogging on the radical left.

I found an interesting article recently on the antiwar movement, which has emerged during the Bush administration as the spearhead for the worldwide anti-capitalist revolution.

John Tierney, in his essay, "The Politics of Peace: What’s Behind the Anti-War Movement?", has some background on the membership and goals of today's "romantic" revolutionaries:

The irony of the modern “peace” movement is that it has very little to do with peace— either as a moral concept or as a political ideal. Peace is a tactical ideal for movement organizers: it serves as political leverage against U.S. policymakers, and it is an ideological response to the perceived failures of American society. The leaders of anti-war groups are modern-day Leninists. As Lenin used Russian war-weariness in 1917 to overthrow the Czar, so American street evolutionaries use reactions to the war on Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein as a way to foment radical political change at home.

The current peace movement is “neo-Communist,” says David Horowitz, the onetime radical-turned-conservative. This is a revealing and accurate label. In fact, the movement is heir to the Commu nist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), even though the party’s global base—the Soviet Union—no longer exists.

A variety of CPUSA splinter groups claim the mantle of the Left even as they spin-off a dizzying series of front groups and issue-oriented action “committees.” ANSWER is only the largest of these groups, which also include United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, Not In Our Name,the Green Party and the Institute for Policy Studies. The Bush Administration’s war on terror, which includes the Iraq war, has prompted all of them to form coalitions and seek allies. Their aim is a “struggle” against “oppression” and “imperialism,” code words in the lexicon of revolutionary socialism. Not In Our Name (NION), a satellite of the Revolutionary Communist Party, decries the War on Terror as a Bush Administration ploy: “We will not stop until all of us are free from your bloodthirsty domination.”

After the attacks of 9/11, when the enemy targeted Americans for terror and death, the need for a “peace movement” vanished. Remember the isolationist group America First? On December 11, 1941, four days after Pearl Harbor, it honorably disbanded, declaring “The time for military action is here.” But the current movement just does the opposite. As this study demonstrates, many of today’s antiwar organizers used to support the Soviet Union and its proxies such as the Vietcong, the Sandinistas, North Korea, Castro’s Cuba and the Communist guerrillas in El Salvador. It is no exaggeration to say that the modern peace movement is composed of the ideological remnants of Communism. These groups are motivated by anti-Americanism, anti-capitalism, anti-Semitism and anti-globalization. They are enamored of socialism, world revolution and class solidarity.

One of the great benefits of the Democratic Party's long nomination fight is that as the race grinds on, the public's offered penetrating revelations on just how deeply the modern Democratic Party base is rooted in the most radical forces on the contemporary political scene.

For example, ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers, whose relationship to Barack Obama is receiving intense scrutiny in the press, is an unbowed revolutionary who has said that ''I don't want to discount the possibility" of returning to direct violent action against the United States.

As Captain Ed point out, just last September Bernardine Dohrn, addressing an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the SDS, spoke of her movement's continuing radical activism to "overthrow" this government's "hateful structures" (at about 2:50 minutes):

Today, of course, top radical commentators around the left blogosphere have formed a tacit alliance with the most implacable antiwar and revolutionary activists on the scene.

Under the banner of "progressivism," radical bloggers like Jane Hamsher, and groups like and the United for Peace and Justice coalition, have adopted electoral poltics as the most acceptable, mainstream method of overturning the traditional capitalist status quo.