The poet here is Kevin Higgins, a life-long socialist activist, who has a decently profitable sideline in the kind of to-the-barricades socialist poetry that the average Irish journalist finds deeply moving. The poem itself is, at face value, a eulogy for what might have been, had Mugabe not turned into one of the most destructive dictators in the recent history of the African continent.

The point, at least in theory, is that Mugabe could  have turned out so much better than he did, if he had not, like almost every other socialist of his (and every time) betrayed true socialism.

On Mugabe, incidentally, I am reminded of the words of Ian Smith, the last white supremacist leader of Zimbabwe, and obviously no angel himself, who wryly remarked that he would happily join Mugabe for a walk down the main street of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, to see which of them got the better reaction.

But as to the Irish Times? What’s the point of publishing this nonsense if not to hint at the idea that Mugabe wasn’t all bad? His regime tacitly encouraged a campaign of terror against landowners in the country, resulting in thousands being driven from their farms.

He corrupted election after election, suspending the constitution, and remaining in power illegally, until finally even his natural supporters had enough and removed him in a Coup.

I mean, one might say, with equal legitimacy, say that Hitler had plenty of potential, until he started rough-housing the Jews and other minorities. Or poor old Augusto Pinochet, who could have done so much for Chile if he hadn’t decided to kill all those people. And who can leave out the potential of Saddam Hussein, that young visionary, who, oh so sadly, lost his way?

The Irish left, of course, are addicted to the idea that failed socialism is glorious simply because it was tried. Who can forget our President’s eulogy for Fidel Castro, slayer of gays and capitalists? Or the abiding affection Sinn Fein have for the monstrous destruction being perpetrated in Venezuela?

Still, what might have been, eh? As always, with the Irish Times, there’s one rule for the left, even the very, very, very worst of the left, and another rule for everyone else.