…it dont matter whose name is on the label…be it Stalin, Marx, Trostsky or castro…
The following is a quote from Christopher Hitchens at City Journal, where, along with five other sixties leftists journalists, we learn all about media and political snake oil of that decade. All six editorials are must reads.
As the Paris revolt faded from its May glory, and as the blooms of the Prague Spring began to feel a pinch, I vanished to Cuba and spent a hot summer in a camp in the province of Pinar del Río, where sixty-eighters of every stripe had forgathered, ostensibly to plant coffee but mostly to drink it (and rum) and to discuss new horizons of revolution. Cuba was torn between grim austerity for its people and flamboyant hedonism for its revolutionaries, and one’s elementary socialist principles managed to register the gross injustice of this even while hoping (perhaps) that the engine of history would make up the deficit. Meanwhile, of course and as ever, the struggle.
Cuba was an unusually good vantage point for the 1968 phenomenon since it advertised itself as a new beginning for socialism that would avoid the drabness and conformity of the Eastern bloc. I was able to test this proposition in practice and in two ways. At a “cultural seminar,” I heard the distinguished Cuban film director Santiago Álvarez say that any form of criticism was allowed in Cuba, except direct criticism of Fidel Castro. This seemed a rather large exception, but when I tried to be funny about it (so often a mistake in revolutionary circles), I had my first experience of being denounced, in unsmiling tones, for “counterrevolutionary” tendencies. It was a slight surprise to find that people really talked like that.
The second moment of truth came when the Warsaw Pact invaded what was then still Czechoslovakia. As a Trotsky-Luxemburg partisan, I had long bet that this invasion would happen and that it would bring the hoped-for split in the Left that would discredit what we called “Stalinism” for good. Many, if not most, of the comrades in our summer camp felt the same way. It was actually possible in Havana to dish out leaflets giving our views and to talk to Cubans who had demonstrated outside the Russian embassy. But Castro’s eventual verdict—in effect, a strong endorsement of the repression in Prague—was to install a gray regime in Cuba itself and to help dispel the Third-World-as-revolutionary-vanguard illusions of at least one section of the Left. When I last revisited Cuba, it was hard to buy a cup of coffee, so my efforts at planting the stuff, and in such hospitable soil, seemed a double waste of time.