The media portrays the western far-right as a citadel of economic delusion, and anger as an end in itself. To some degree this is fair. Sadly, the far-right has too many Marine Le Pens and not enough Pat Buchanans.
But how about some parity in disdain for the western far-left?
After all, the far-left gets far less negative coverage than the far-right. Where the far-right is portrayed as malevolent, the far-left is presented as well-intentioned but delusional. And that's wrong. The western far-left is every bit as despicable. To understand why, we only need listen to what the top far-left thinkers say.
Take Tariq Ali, one of the most respected. On Monday, Oxford University released a video of Ali's recent speech to students and faculty. Ali begins by lamenting the Soviet Union's demise. It meant, he said, "millions of people feeling that there is no alternative... its existence offered them a space to be active, to be critical."
As absurd as this might sound, it is a frequent refrain of the western far-left. They truly believe that the Soviet Union provided moral good by keeping all its citizens in relative rather than absolute poverty. They attempt to revise history with such statements about how "active" and "critical" its citizens were permitted to be. Crucially, in their allowance for Soviet tyranny, this belief illustrates the far-left's sympathy for power controlled at the very top.
Ali then expands on the tragedy of the Soviet demise: It has induced a "tooth and claw capitalism" that has infected the western political consensus. Ali explains that this political class "makes wars at the asking of the Americans, it has no sympathy whatsoever for its poor, it cuts down on public spending every single year, it privatizes the most hallowed provisions in the old social substructures."
Aside from the inherent belief that public spending is good and private capital is bad, we're glossing over several wars the Soviets started, encouraged and funded, in addition to their routine policy of conducting assassinations and kidnappings even on foreign soil, and of mass political imprisonments at home — including, as Aleksander Solzhenitsyn memorably described, of World War II veterans whose only crime was that they allowed themselves to be captured by the enemy. All of these things make Vladimir Putin look like a small-timer.
But Ali was only just getting started. "I am not one of those who believe American power disappearing," he said. "I wish I could ... Nor is American capitalism disappearing. One has to be very cold and hard-headed about this."
Here we see another sacrament of the western far-left: its pathological hatred for America. I say pathological, because America's international legacy is provably good. The American-guaranteed international supports human freedom and has allowed people to trade and travel without fear of attack. In doing so, it has lifted billions from poverty. For the western far-left, however, facts don't matter.
Instead, cheap shots are the play of the day. Ali explains that American strategy is inherently evil. Thanks to capitalism, he says, America is now "devoid of humanity" and "what it cannot it achieve by guile, it achieves by wars."
Such words drip with venom. America, Ali would have us believe, is a monster. A blood-soaked, money obsessed, psychopathic nation.
But then comes the tell. Ali notes that he has an alternative in mind. He speaks of a "big shift of the world market" towards China, which has "done many good things, it has to be said." Why is China Ali's favored nation? Because of its growth in incomes over the past generation. As Ali puts it, "globalization couldn't achieve that in the west ... But in China, because of the way in which they implemented these policies, they've succeeded to a large extent."
This is wholly untrue, of course. In reality, China's great disparity between disparate sectors of urban wealth and immense rural poverty defines the regime. Moreover, contrary to Ali's claims, China's economic growth is not a function of communist ideology, but of rapid growth, born of low-wage, low-cost exports, and greater economic liberalization. And today, China's model is increasingly at risk as other, poorer nations can now undercut its rising wages.
But again, consider what it says about Ali and the far-left that they so yearn for communist authoritarianism and lament capitalist democracy.
It speaks to the heart of far-left's ideology. Namely, the far-left's belief that power must be reallocated from individuals to the center. To elites, like Lenin, who know best. This isn't to say that individuals don't matter to the far-left, they do. But only to the degree that individuals serve the masters of better knowledge.
There's also a foul arrogance here. By centralizing government control over the means of production (nationalization) and people (see "collectivism"), the far-left assumes that its leaders are somehow less fallible than private entrepreneurs. Again, the evidence speaks to the contrary: the private sector is more productive and efficient than the public sector. Hence why capitalism is defined by improved living standards, and communism by kleptocracy and starvation, of which memories in Ukraine are still rather raw.
In the end, it's all about trust in people. Where the Right, the center-right and the center-left believe empowering individual opportunity maximizes social good, the far-left believe that people must be controlled to ensure good. And when their system fails, as it always does, impoverishing millions, they add insult to injury by claiming human beings just aren't good enough for it.
As I say, the western far-left deserve far more scorn that they currently endure.