The Strange World of the Post-Soviet Left

I found this little piece fascinating. The quiz attached to the article is a fart in a whirlwind, but the essay itself is worth reading.

Where do you stand in the new culture wars?

A glorious culture clash took place in Iran recently that made me laugh out loud. The children of Che Guevara, the revolutionary pin-up, had been invited to Tehran University to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their father’s death and celebrate the growing solidarity between “the left and revolutionary Islam” at a conference partly paid for by Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president.

There were fraternal greetings and smiles all round as America’s “earth-devouring ambitions” were denounced. But then one of the speakers, Hajj Saeed Qassemi, the co-ordinator of the Association of Volunteers for Suicide-Martyrdom (who presumably remains selflessly alive for the cause), revealed that Che was a “truly religious man who believed in God and hated communism and the Soviet Union”.

Che’s daughter Aleida wondered if something might have been lost in translation. “My father never mentioned God,” she said, to the consternation of the audience. “He never met God.” During the commotion, Aleida and her brother were led swiftly out of the hall and escorted back to their hotel. “By the end of the day, the two Guevaras had become non-persons. The state-controlled media suddenly forgot their existence,” the Iranian writer Amir Taheri noted.

After their departure, Qassemi went on to claim that Fidel Castro, the “supreme guide” of Guevara, was also a man of God. “The Soviet Union is gone,” he affirmed. “The leadership of the downtrodden has passed to our Islamic republic. Those who wish to destroy America must understand the reality and not be clever with words.”

Don’t say you haven’t been warned, comrade, when you flirt with “revolutionary Islam” as if it were a mild form of liberation theology. But it is time, too, for Che to lose his secular halo. If he were still living, the chances are he would be another dictator like Castro, who has ruled Cuba with an iron fist for half a century but gets a pass from liberals because he provides a modest health service.

The rest of the article is telling–just as there’s debate within conservative circles about how to live in the world, liberals and leftists (not the same thing) seem to be conflicted about the strangeness of the world.


About Nathan Gilmour

Nathan P. Gilmour is a Christian, a husband, a father, and a college English teacher. He tries to do all of that and write something worthwhile on occasion.


5 thoughts on “The Strange World of the Post-Soviet Left

  1. >How about capitalists against traditionalists? I suppose in addition to anything else it’s a reminder that politics, even conservative politics, always deserves today’s thought rather than yesterday’s leftovers. The incident in Tehran illustrates, I think, what happens when the Cold War is still the paradigm.

    Posted by Nathan P. Gilmour | October 26, 2007, 8:07 pm
  2. >Culture war(s) pitting progressives vs. leftists, moderate Muslims vs. Islamists, and, I would add, conservatives vs. conservatives (sorry, can’t think of accurate contrasting “conservative” titles right now). Interesting stuff.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | October 26, 2007, 7:41 pm
  3. >Love the piece. There’s so many superb parts I don’t know where to begin. Here are my favorite lines:Christopher Hitchens: “You cannot stand for multiculturalism if you represent a group that wants to kill all the Jews and Hindus. Shouldn’t that be obvious?” Hitchens asks. “Martin [Amis] was saying, ‘Look, there’s a real problem here’, and good for him. “The name of the problem is religion, and there is only one religion that threatens us with this kind of thing . . . There is a reason people look askance at a mosque in their neighbourhood, and they are not mad or cruel or stupid or selfish or bigoted to worry about it.”Nick Cohen: ““The left are like old-style Tory imperialists, who believe rights are all very well for western Europe but not for Johnny Foreigner, and that the liberation of women is essentially for white-skinned women, not brown-skinned women,” Cohen says.”Natasha Walter: ““What sticks in the throats of many of her [Ayaan Hirsi Ali] readers is not her feminism, but her antiIslamism” – as if the two could be separated. It was Hirsi Ali’s culture that led her to be genitally mutilated as a girl, and it was her Muslim former co-religionists who murdered her friend Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker. Why should she remain quiet?” Irshad Manji: ““Human beings are born equal but cultures are not,” she believes. “They are human-made and for the most part man-made. There is nothing sacred about cultures and nothing blasphemous about reforming them.””

    Posted by Jeff Wright | October 26, 2007, 7:38 pm
  4. >I enjoyed that line as well.The strange thing about it all (hence the title) is that all of the critiques of the Islamist-coddlers are themselves self-proclaimed leftists. I’m not sure that I had a point in posting the article, really, other than noting how strange the world is.

    Posted by Nathan P. Gilmour | October 26, 2007, 7:28 pm
  5. >OK, I just started reading the article but this has got to be the best line:”But then one of the speakers, Hajj Saeed Qassemi, the co-ordinator of the Association of Volunteers for Suicide-Martyrdom (who presumably remains selflessly alive for the cause),…”Got ’em. That’s hilarious.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | October 26, 2007, 7:11 pm

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