In January’s early days, a double-header of inaugurations highlighted the breadth of the “pink tide” sweeping politics south of the
Ortega has come a long way from his days leading the Nicaraguan revolution against the contras in the 1980s. He went to great pains to soothe the worries of the country’s entrenched elite, watering down his economic demands to something like moderate social democracy. Chavez has taken a very different, aggressively anti-capitalist course, backed by a vibrant popular movement carrying out what is known as the Bolivarian Revolution. In the first days of 2007, the Venezuelan leader has already announced the nationalization of electric and telecommunications companies, emphasizing that this is part of a larger trend in which “everything that has been privatized will be nationalized.”
The diversity among such Latin American leaders has caused some to identify “two lefts” in the region. In last May’s Foreign Affairs, Jorge Castaneda, the former foreign minister of Mexico under Vincente Fox, counterposes “modern, open-minded, reformist, and internationalist” nominally socialist regimes in Brazil and Chile with “nationalist, strident, and close-minded” governments in Venezuela and Bolivia.
Castaneda, a former Marxist intellectual turned minister in a conservative regime, is precisely the type of turncoat upon which Tariq Ali enjoys venting all of his considerable polemical skills. The Pakistani-born Ali, a veteran activist, playwright and writer based in Britain, has, for instance, savaged former comrade-in-arms Christopher Hitchens’s support for the Iraq war in both print and live debate. Early in 2006, Ali released the book Rough Music, a short and wicked denunciation of Tony Blair. He has since turned his pen to the rebirth of the left in
A bridge from Cuba
The pirates in question are
In a world as beset by inequality and imperial war as ever, Ali takes hope from this new Latin American alliance, examining the radical reforms underway in Venezuela and Bolivia and assessing the role played in these new political movements by the old revolution in Cuba and its ailing octogenarian commandante en jefe. The Cubans are a bridge from an earlier political era, according to Ali, whose own background is as a Marxist critical of the Soviet, Eastern European and other bureaucratic states.
The “old man in
According to Ali, another type of revolution is now also taking place in
Pirates of the Caribbean is richly footnoted and contains lengthy appendices in which Ali takes out his own polemical revenge on a number of those apostates of the left who now use their talents to demonize their former allies. For anyone interested in understanding