When I read about the United Kingdom’s ongoing Brexit struggle, my first association is always with Stalin. Back in the late 1920s, the Georgian was asked by a journalist which deviation is worse, the rightist one (of Bukharin and company) or the leftist one (of Trotsky and associates), and he snapped back: “They are both worse!“
Indeed, it’s a sad sign of our predicament that, when we are confronted with a political choice and must take a side, even if it is only the less-bad one, quite often the reply that imposes itself is: “But they are both bad!“
This, of course, does not mean that both poles of the alternative simply amount to the same. In concrete situations, we should, for example, conditionally support the protests of Yellow Vests in France or make a tactical pact with liberals to block fundamentalist threats to our freedoms (say, when fundamentalists want to limit abortion rights or pursue openly racist politics).
However, what it means is that most of the choices imposed on us by big media are false choices – their function is to obfuscate the true option. And there is a sad lesson to be drawn from this: if one side in a conflict is bad, the opposite side is not necessarily good.
Let’s take today’s situation in Venezuela: do we want Maduro or Guaido?
They are both worse, although not in the same sense. Maduro is “worse” because his reign brought Venezuela to a complete economic fiasco with a majority of the population living in abject poverty, a situation which cannot be attributed only to the sabotage of internal and external enemies.
It is enough to bear in mind the indelible damage that the Maduro regime did to the idea of socialism: for decades to come, we will have to listen to the variations on the theme “You want socialism? Look at Venezuela.”
However, Guaido is no less “worse“: when he assumed his virtual presidency, we were without doubt witnessing a well-prepared coup orchestrated by United States, not an autonomous popular insurgency (which is precisely the “better” third term missing in the alternative of Maduro and Guaido who are “both worse“).
[Abstract. Appeared in RT on February 22nd 2019.]