What is it about the left-wing tyrant that’s so attractive to Leftists the world over? Sure, the Right supports its share of bastards, and is often willing to look the other way if the thug in question is upholding national interests, defending corporate property, or battling communists. But let that murderous jerk step out of line or screw up, and the Right abandons him in a heartbeat. Not so the Left. Once they give their heart to a tyrant, it matters not at all what he does, or how he does it. Whether he kills a dozen or a million, as long as he loudly proclaims his leftist credentials from time to time he’s golden.

Consider, for example, the strange love affair that Leftists have for Fidel Castro and his latest protégé, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Or the odd pass that brutal thug Alyaksandr Lukashenka of Belarus gets. And, oh, the love fest when they get together. It’s as if the Left courageously forces itself to believe that these are great-hearted champions of the people, willfully denying the reality that the only love these scum have is for their own power and fame.

You can almost understand it with Castro, who, after all, did overthrow a vicious dictator (who had the bad habit of being the wrong sort of dictator from a Leftist perspective). Of course his next step was to liquidate his former allies and turn his island nation into a prison and himself into a Stalinist Giant Poster. But, hell, his heart was in the right place.

But Chavez? This isn’t a guy who liberated his country from violent oppression. This is a guy who’s following the Mein Kampf playbook step for step: failed coup, appeal to the masses, orchestrate chaos, gain power through elections, start rewriting the constitution to consolidate power, move against the free press, rig the economy to benefit your cronies and distribute goodies to the poor, drum up fear against external enemies and use that to gain emergency powers, and, then, ensure you can remain leader for life. The only steps left are to actually remove the vestiges of democracy and start invading the neighbors.

Fortunately, Chavez is just a tinpot idiot ruling over a mercifully small (though oil-rich) country. So his chances for real world domination are slim and none. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t throw his country into misery. Just consider another darling of the Left, Robert Mugabe, and what he’s done to poor, starving Zimbabwe. Long hailed as a visionary leader by Lefties, Mugabe’s luster has faded as his madness finally rises above even their ability to overlook. Consider the tone of the left-leaning daily The Guardian. Sadly gone are the days when Mugabe was hailed for outsmarting the nasty imperialist west, or when his dictatorial status was questioned . Now it’s all whining about how he’s gone too far, etc., etc.

Well bad news for everyone: Mugabe was never a fine upstanding human being. He personally oversaw a group responsible for 20,000 deaths during the five year civil war that consolidated his ZANU party’s hold over Zimbabwe. From 1980, when the ZANU won elections in the midst of violence, through 1987, when Mugabe became President-for-life, into the 1990s, there was never a period of peace and prosperity in Zimbabwe. There were, of course, better and worse times, but Mugabe was never a blessing from heaven. While he hasn’t always been the absolute psychopath he’s become, he was never an enlightened ruler of sweetness and light.

What Mugabe did have, and what he shares with both Castro and Chavez, was a nicely packaged dedication to leftist ideals and a willingness to express those ideals in his society—no matter the cost. In other words, he has conviction in spades, even to the point of being willing to sacrifice his people on the altar of leftist ideology. Even his blatant transfer of land to his cronies was wrapped up in the rhetoric of kicking out white oppressors and empowering black farmers (never mind that those “farmers” were his lackies).

In the past, perhaps, you could point to some of the extreme anti-Communism on the right as a sort of mirror image. Some of those old anti-Communists got almost dewy-eyed over such bastards as Batista, Pinochet, Savimbi, and that whole Argentinian gang—though much of even this was “enemy of my enemy” sort of stuff. But those days are long gone, killed by senseless brutality and the collapse of Communism. These days the Right sees accommodation with right-wing dictators to be a necessary evil: either a pragmatic concession to fight some other, greater threat or the best of bad options. The Left, however, is unwilling to sully itself with anything so impure as alliances of convenience. Only the ideologically pure and clearly dedicated merit its allegiance. Sadly, compassion and respect for human rights need be no part of that dedication.

Oh, the Left will pay lip service to those ideals, and demand the most refined, unattainable form of them for the West. But impose these Western standards on leftist dictators? If only you knew the terrible conditions under which the regime must operate. If only you understood how much is at stake, and how much more important those stakes are than the lives of a few thousand third-world peasants. After all, when you’re building Utopia, what are a few thousand lives, more or less? When Utopia’s on the line, conviction must always trump compassion, and tyranny is just another way of saying how dedicated you are to building Heaven on Earth.

And that makes all the difference. It’s hard to get all teary-eyed about a pragmatic compromise or making peace with a bad deal because all the other deals are worse. But supporting a visionary leading the world into a glorious New Dawn? That’s something you can really get your heart behind. It’s just too bad you have to leave both your mind and your soul behind to do it.