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In the 1960's (and onward) there were plenty of liberals who supported the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, and other left-wing and not so left-wing dictatorships.

Why?

I understand that the US isn't perfect, with the NSA and everything, but however bad it is, most communist countries are an order of magnitude worse (in terms of almost everything that liberals love, such as freedom of speech, freedom of thought, racial rights of minorities).

Why don't far-left liberals support the US or other western democracies?

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    Off-topic... In Europe, "Liberal" usually means "economically liberal" - ie. allowed to decide over your own money. In other words, not pay much tax, don't have to pay for "socialized healthcare" (which many European countries have), private rather than public schools - maybe even "insurance based" fire department. In other words, "liberal" is what you Americans would call "conservatives" - maybe even "tea party conservatives". And "socialist" means more "social democrat", than a code-word for "communist" as in the USA. – Baard Kopperud Nov 23 '15 at 0:14
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    "Why don't far-left liberals support the US" = uh, what? Also, what liberals are you talking about? And what do you mean by "support the Soviet Union, Cuba, etc."? – user1530 Nov 23 '15 at 7:54
  • It's hard to understand what you mean by the word "liberal" here. Do you just mean "left-wing people"? – Lembik Nov 24 '15 at 7:27
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    I think by "far-left liberals" the asker means people who would, in other countries, be called "hard-line socialists" or even "communists" - I believe in the US there's a taboo around socialism (possibly since McCarthyism). – user568458 Nov 24 '15 at 15:17
  • This is waaay to broad. They just do, because they have some interest in common. – Bregalad Nov 24 '15 at 20:33
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Hmm... You could also ask why so many conservatives supported right-wing dictators - like Pinochet in Chile, Franco in Spain and Marcos in the Phlipines... and the less said about the conservatives - and the rich - support of Hitler from 1933 to 1939 the better - for the conservatives. We all have things we're not proud of. But I digress...

I guess most of the reason was that the liberals - or if you like the socialists - saw that capitalism wasn't working very well, and often made things worse for the poor... that the majority would never succeed under the capitalist model. So they welcomed anything different, and hailed it as socialism - like Israel and it's kibutzes... (until they (socialists) realized what happened to the Palestinians.)

Remember the goal of communism - which was the goal - was never a strong, paranoid Government, lead by a strong man... using secret police and an iron fist to prevent counter-revolution. The goal was to dismantle all government and let the people in the communities govern themselves by together deciding what was best for their community - real communism. Unfortunately, it always stopped at socialism in the form of a "we know best" government dictatorship.

I guess such movement will always attract the power-hungry... and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. And an other problem was that sometimes the ideology-based theories didn't work in practice in the real world (of course we see the same in capitalism - ie. Reagan's "new economy").

Anyway, the liberals/socialists in other countries, partly ignored the tales of atrocities coming out... partly hoped way too long for the leaders to give power back to the people... and partly had become too invested by what they'd already said and done, to just abandoning their support - even when it was obvious things had gotten bad. Add to that, that they probably still thought capitalism to be worse.

Edit/Add-on: Also in Europe "socialist" and "labor-unions" are not dirty words, most countries have strong socialist/labor-parties - many of which at least had some connections with the Soviet Union and the Communist Party... although often just breifly. And the Nazi-occupation in many countries, certainly "cured" many of too much leaning toward the right. Finally, due to the devastation in many countries during the war, there was a "lets pull together" attitude after the war, which may have strengthen socialist ideas (if not the communist ones).

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    There was pragmatic support for right wing strongmen that acted in the interests of the US, which at the time usually meant keeping a communist strong man out of power. The left wing support in the US for the soviet union was more remarkable because they really were true believers in the project. – user1450877 Nov 23 '15 at 2:29
  • Still, overthrowing a democratically elected "left wing" politicians that promised reform to help the poor - after years of abuse; and replacing him with a right-wing military dictator, certainly ins't right - even if it may be pragmatic. Also USA attitude towards even the slightest of left-leaning or socialist policy, forced such governments further to the left and into the arms of the Soviet Union - for protection against the USA and/or because the USA/Western countries refused to trade with them. The USA's blockade towards Cuba, certainly didn't make them any less socialist! – Baard Kopperud Nov 23 '15 at 15:17
  • of course they say they are going to help the poor, that's what they all say. – user1450877 Nov 23 '15 at 16:25
  • Well, many of them actually were quite successful in doing so - until the USA took action. And really, is it's unreasonable for the Government to provide things like healthcare for the poor, nor that the wealth is distributed to some degree through taxes. After all, the labor of the workforce do also add value to what is produced too - not just the capital, the grunder and means of production. Besides, helping the poor is the Christian way to do - seems many have forgotten that "it's easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to get into Heaven", – Baard Kopperud Nov 23 '15 at 20:54
  • The historian Eric Hobsbawm, a reformed one-time Stalin apologist, is a textbook example of what you describe, there are some good quotes on his Wikipedia page where he reluctantly muses on his past foolishness in thinking the USSR's totalitarian excesses were some kind of painful stepping stone to utopia. – user568458 Nov 24 '15 at 15:52
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The label "liberal" doesn't give you that much information. The core of liberalism is the belief in freedom and equality. What really matters is how you would go about achieving them.

Many left-wing libertarians in the past saw the inherent defects of capitalism. This is why they supported alternative forms of government such as the Soviet Union's. Most people would agree that this alternative turned out to be much worse than the problem itself.

There is a variety of different approaches that "liberals" take. For instance, the right-wing libertarians in the United States like Ron Paul believe that laissez-faire economics with minimal government intervention will lead to freedom and equality. Some libertarians, on the other hand, believe that free market and the liberal ideals cannot coexist.

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Generally the people supporting left wing authoritarian regimes are not classically liberal but left wing progressives.

The Soviets put a lot of money, time and effort into propaganda and espionage to create a base of support for their political ideology among the democratic western nations, this was not in vain.

The answer is that these left leaning individuals were taken in and influenced by soviet agitprop.

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