Failures of the Western Left

by Andre Vltchek

It is tough to fight any real war. And it takes true guts, discipline and determination to win it.
For years and decades, the so-called ‘left’ in the West has been moderately critical of North American (and sometimes even of European) imperialism and neo-colonialism. But whenever some individual or country rose up and began openly challenging the Empire, most of the Western left-wing intellectuals simply closed their eyes, and refused to offer their full, unconditional support to those who were putting their lives (and often even the existence of their countries) on the line.
I will never forget all those derogatory punches directed at Hugo Chavez, punches coming from members of the ‘anti-Communist left’, after he dared to insult George W. Bush at the United Nations in 2006, calling him a “devil” and choking, theatrically, from the sulfur that was still ‘hanging in the air’ after the US President’s appearance at the General Assembly.
I will not be dropping names here, but readers would be surprised if they knew how many of those iconic leaders of the US left described Chavez and his speech as ‘impolite’, ‘counter-productive’, and even ‘insulting’.
Tens of millions of people have died because of Western imperialism, after WWII. Under the horrid leadership of George W Bush, Afghanistan and Iraq have been reduced to ruins… But one has to remain ‘polite’, ‘objective’ and cool headed?
Well, that is not how real revolutions have been ignited. This is not how the successful anti-colonialist wars are fought. When the real battle begins, ‘politeness’ is actually mostly unacceptable, simply because the oppressed masses are endlessly pissed off, and they want their feelings to be registered and expressed by the leaders. Even the search for ‘objectivity’ is often out of place, when still fragile revolutions have to face the entire monumental hostile propaganda of the regime – of the Empire.
But the question is: do most of the Western leftists really support revolutions and anti-colonialist struggles of the oppressed world?
I believe they don’t. And this is clearly visible from reading most of the so-called alternative media in both North America and Europe.
Whoever stands up, whoever leads his nation into battle against the Western global dictatorship, is almost immediately defined as a demagogue. He or she is most likely christened ‘undemocratic’, and not just by the mass and ‘liberal’ media, but also on the pages of the so-called ‘alternative’ and ‘progressive’ Western press. Not all, but some, and frankly: most of it!
Chavez actually received very little support from Western ‘left-wing’ intellectuals. And now when Venezuela is bleeding, the ‘Bolivarian Republic’ can only count on a handful of revolutionary Latin American nations, as well as on China, Iran and Russia; definitely not on the robust, organized and militant solidarity from Western countries.
Cuba received even less support than Venezuela. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, no attempt was actually made by Western leftists to bail the heroic nation out. It was China, in the end, which ran to its rescue and saved Cuban socialism. (When I wrote about it, I got hundreds of Western leftists at my throat, and in the end it took Fidel to confirm, in his ‘Reflections’, what I was saying, to get them off my back). Then, when the Obama administration began making dangerous advances on Havana, almost everyone in the West began screwing those cynical grimaces: ‘you see; now everything will collapse! They will buy Cuba!’ They didn’t. I travelled to the beloved green island, and it was so clear from the first moment there, that the ‘revolution is not for sale’. But you will not read it often in the Western ‘progressive’ media.


It is of course not just Latin America that is ‘disliked’ by the progressives in the West. Actually, Latin America is still at least getting some nominal support there.
China and Russia, two powerful nations, which are now standing openly against Western imperialism, are despised by virtually all ‘liberals’ and by most of the Western ‘left’. In those circles, there is total ignorance about the Chinese type of democracy, about its ancient culture, and about it’s complex but extremely successful form of Communism (or calls it ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’). Like parrots, the Western leftists repeat ‘liberal’ propaganda that ‘China is being capitalist’, or that it is being ruled by ‘state capitalism’. The internationalism of Chinese foreign policy is constantly played down, even mocked.
The hostility of the Western ‘left’ towards China has disgusted many Chinese leaders and intellectuals. I only realized the extent of this revulsion, when I spoke, last year, at the First World Cultural Forum in Beijing, and mingled with the thinkers at the China Academy of Social Sciences, the right (intellectual) arm of the government and the Party.
China can count on its allies in Russia, Latin America, Africa and elsewhere, but definitely not in the West.
It is pointless to even mention Russia or South Africa.
Russia, ‘the victim’ during the horrid Yeltsin years was ‘embraced’ by the Western left. Russia the warrior, Russia the adversary to Western imperialism, is, once again, loathed.
It appears that the ‘progressives’ in the United States and Europe really prefer ‘victims’. They can, somehow, feel pity and even write a few lines about the ‘suffering of defenseless women and children’ in the countries that the West is plundering and raping. That does not extend to all countries that are being brutalized, but at least to some…
What they don’t like at all, are strong men and women that have decided to fight: to defend their rights, to face the Empire.
The Syrian government is hated. The North Korean government is despised. The President of the Philippines is judged by Western liberal media measures: as a vulgar freak who is killing thousands of ‘innocent’ drug pushers and consumers (definitely not as a possibly new Sukarno who is willing to send the entire West to hell).
Whatever the Western ‘left’ thinks about North Korea and its government (and in fact, I think, it cannot really think much, as it is fully ignorant about it), the main reason why the DPRK is hated so much by the West regime, is because it, together with Cuba, basically liberated Africa. It fought for the freedom of Angola and Namibia, it flew Egyptian MIGs against Israel, it struggled in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) as well as in many other countries, and it sent aid, teachers and doctors to the entire continent devastated by the Western colonialist barbarity.
Much good it received in return! At best, indifference, at worse, total spite!


Some say that the Western ‘left’ doesn’t want to take power, anymore. It lost all of its important battles. It became toothless, impotent, and angry about the world and itself.
When in January 2016 I spoke at the Italian Parliament (ending up insulting the West for its global plunder, hypocrisy), I mingled a lot with the 5 Star Movement, which had actually invited me to Rome. I spent time with its radical left wing. There are some great people there, but overall, it soon became clear that this potentially the biggest political movement in the country is actually horrified of coming to power! It does not really want to govern.
But then, why call those weak bizarre selfish Western entities – the ‘left wing’? Why confuse terms, and by that, why discredit those true revolutionaries, those true fighters, who are risking, sacrificing their lives, right now, all over the world?


Wars are all extremely ugly. I have covered many of them, and I know… But some of them, those that are fought for the survival of humanity, or for survival of the particular countries, are inevitable. One either fights, or the entire Planet ends up being colonized and oppressed, in shackles.
If one decides to fight, then there has to be discipline and single-mindedness; total determination. Or the battle is lost from the very beginning!
When the freedom and survival of one’s motherland is at stake, things get very serious, ‘dead-serious’. Battle is not a discussion club. It is not some chat.
If we, as ‘leftists’, have already once decided that imperialism and colonialism (or ‘neo-colonialism’) are the greatest evils destroying our humanity, then we have to show discipline and join ranks, and support those who are at the frontline.
Otherwise we will become an irrelevant laughingstock, and history will and should judge us harshly!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.


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Oct 8, 2016 2:58 AM

*This will be my 3rd time posting this. I was about to give up (and put it up on my blog in the ‘disappeared’ category) hen OG got back to me about it and informed me that it wasn’t them. They said that too many links leads to moderation and a message informing he poster of that fact. But I saw nothing at all after hitting send, both times. Just to move this along, I’ll post one more time, but with all the links removed. This is a very interesting, and disturbing, article by Andre. I completely agree with him. And completely disagree with him. He’s absolutely right, from the standpoint of one who doesn’t possess faith and thinks – like Noam Chomsky, with whom he wrote “On Western Terrorism” – that unless we (imperfect, limited) human beings heal humankind and the planet that we’ve fairly destroyed, then salvation won’t… Read more »

Oct 6, 2016 7:39 PM

Of course Cuba was bailed out by the West. When Cuba defaulted on its debts in 1986, its borrowings from European banks was the highest per capita in Latin America. Castro had fooled the bankers into gifting his revolution billions. Then later Cuba only emerged from the so-called ‘Special Period’, because of the money sent home by the 2 million Cubans that live and work abroad, mainly in the US and Europe, and because of the money brought into the country by the tourists from Canada and Europe. If Mr Vltchek thinks the ‘revolution is not for sale’, then he clearly doesn’t understand what a lot of women are saying to him. Finally and most remarkably are the imports from the US. A Cuban in Havana is likely to buy bread made from wheat grown in Kansas and pay for it with money earned in Miami. Of course, neither the… Read more »

Oct 4, 2016 8:11 PM

Coincidentally, I was just thinking about this; whatever happened to the Left? Why no demonstrations against the attack on Syria? The almost absolute absence in the corporate media of any serious critical voices has a lot to do with it. People who used to get their stuff published; like Pilger, Ali, Hersh, have been vanished, almost exciled from our media. So people don’t know what’s really happening there. There are no alternative views allowed anymore, and the Guardian is leading the war hysteria, not questioning it, so huge swathes of liberal/left opinion is effectively neutered. The coverage is far, far, worse than before the attack on Iraq, which compared to today was a time of wonderfully open and vigerous debate. Of course, what the powerful learned from this, was that it should never be allowed to happen again. Which, is rather depressing. I think the central problem, not just for… Read more »

Oct 4, 2016 7:18 PM

I’ve read many of Vltchek’s articles over at CounterPunch website. At first he comes across as an original thinker on the left: he travels to far away lands, to countries far and wide, covering the cause of Communism, anti-imperialism, etc. He writes passionately, boldly. But last summer he wrote some really nasty articles about Czechs being collaborators with the Nazis–I mean really raking them over the coals and most definitely inaccurately so. This was during the height of the Ukraine conflict and that US military convoy from Poland to Germany. I sent him an email politely questioning the accuracy of his claims about the Czechs being avid collaborators with the Nazis and–kaboom!–he became totally unhinged making shit up, putting words in my mouth, etc. My complaint with this guy is he acts like he’s the left’s man, a revolutionary of some type….but if you dare to question him he can… Read more »

kevin morris
kevin morris
Oct 4, 2016 5:27 PM

I have studied of china for many years. The country doesn’t have a complex form of communism; rather it is a dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party over the Chinese people. The state offers none of the benefits that left- leading states might be expected to offer to their people, such as free housing, free medical treatment, free education, generous unemployment and sickness benefits and old age pensions. The huge banking reserves that China seemed intent on lending to the rest of the world only exist because the Chinese, fearing penury without the support of a benevolent state, save much more than others. China has a moribund legal system and many of its corrupt apparachiks are able to take advantage of the fact as those held in prison without charge after protesting corrupt land deals often discover to their cost. China treats Tibetans whose lands it has occupied illegally since… Read more »

Oct 4, 2016 7:57 PM
Reply to  kevin morris

Human rights? Theresa May just announced European human rights rules do not apply on the battlefield; one might rather think that the battlefield is where human rights are most needed. France opted out of the European Court of Human Rights altogether in november 2015. In Italy asylum seekers no longer have the right to appeal. In Austria the right for asylum is limited to 35.000 requests per year.
Soon the concept of human rights will only be a distant memory.

Kenneth Lindemere
Kenneth Lindemere
Oct 4, 2016 9:16 PM
Reply to  passerby

Human rights is just a catch-phrase that’s used by the West to justify the wars that oppress dissenting opinions and steal the valuable resources of the world’s less fortunate.

kevin morris
kevin morris
Oct 5, 2016 11:09 AM
Reply to  passerby

So you conflate the position here with that in China do you? I suggest that you have exercised your human rights by expressing your opinions freely and in a public medium. Had you done so in China there is a good chance that you would have met with official harassment at the very least and the real possibility of a long jail sentence.. There really is no comparison. As I have said above, the left in the West tend to be sanguine about China. Given their dangerously damaging environmental policies in Tibet, their appalling treatment of minorities and their cruel, barbaric and often totally arbitrary treatment of offenders I remain extremely surprised at the ignorance on such matters when it comes to the response of those all to ready to criticise aciions in their own countries. Of course, human rights abuses in the west are reprehensible and need condemning but… Read more »

Oct 4, 2016 12:54 PM

western left fall begun during 80ties, when leaders of left-wing parties realised that there was far more money from oligarchs and tycoons than from donations and membership fees…they had to modify their ideology a bit – turned their backs to working class, and embraced lgbt and radical feminist “genderism” ideology…

Oct 4, 2016 12:34 PM

There is no such thing as a liberal (moderate, timid, obedient, …) left. Because these bastardised spawns are just right’s (e. g. capitalism’s) servants. Maybe, some of us will not like this idea. Get used to it, then.

Feb 19, 2021 6:48 AM
Reply to  Nerevar

Half a Holocaust, and saying that, can get you banned from the Guardian! wobble man casual fun game

Oct 4, 2016 11:13 AM

When I was a kid, Jesuit priests tried to convince me I was a sinner because Eve ate an apple, long before I was born.
A couple of weeks ago, someone tried to convince me we needed to accept refugees. He told me I was guilty because of colonial crimes committed in Africa, long before I was born.
We’ve gone a long way if we can’t tell the difference anymore between a Jesuit priest and a left-wing sympathizer.

Seamus Padraig
Seamus Padraig
Oct 4, 2016 6:11 PM
Reply to  cliff

Yup. Political Correctness is our new civic religion, and being white is the new original sin.

Oct 4, 2016 8:21 AM

Speaking from a realist perspective the ‘left’, albeit a rather nebulous concept, is nonetheless guilty of a nauseating sentimentalism which has proven to be a vital tool for the imperialists. From their perspective, the world consists of ‘nice’ countries or ‘nasty’ countries (usually) referred to as ‘regimes’. And the nasty/backward regimes should be summarily dealt with by the nice/enlightened ones. Soft power, hard power if this fails. Mass murder is okay and well as a general destabilisation of the global order in order to bring the American dream to the benighted masses outside of the US global empire, who are apparently yearning to be like America. Actually, it really doesn’t, and shouldn’t matter, what the internal systems of governance of any sovereign nation state are, provided that they do not threaten another sovereign nation’s vital interests. As far as I am concerned the internal affairs of Mali or Papua New… Read more »

Oct 4, 2016 5:54 AM

Reblogged this on EU: Ramshackle Empire and commented:
The whole of politics has been shifting to the right in the west. Even in Sweden this is so, neutral still but leaning towards America. Yet global hegemony is in decline everywhere, and it is only a matter of time before the balance shifts decisively in favour of Russia and China.