Stalin died near the mid-point of the twentieth century, eight years after the end of WWII. In the early years of the century when the young Stalin (Koba) was making himself into a professional revolutionary and climbing into the upper reaches of the Bolshevik hierarchy there were no Communist governments anywhere, nor did there seem to be much likelihood at that time that there would soon be any. The Bolsheviks were a small, quarrelsome sect and scattered about Russia and Europe in exile. By the time of his death Stalinism had become a permanent ideological fixture in the world’s political firmament. Communist satrapies were firmly lodged over large portions of the globe – China, North Korea, Eastern and Central Europe were all under the watchful care of men who imitated or resembled the Kremlin Chief.
Four years later, Fidel Castro launched his own Bolshevik experiment ninety miles from the coast of Florida. Over a half a century lie ahead for the Cubans to digest the long lectures of Fidel, absorb his wisdom and learn to love the life of penury and servitude under the Lider Maximo. His brother, Raul, parked in the shadows, always made sure that the Cuban Gulag ran at peak capacity. No one contradicted Fidel and Raul. The Cubans people, themselves, were never given the opportunity of a free election to test just how popular the Castro brothers and their “Revolution” really were. Three years after Fidel’s triumphal march into Havana Khrushchev, Stalin’s understudy and successor, and John Kennedy brought the world to the brink of a nuclear WWIII over the Soviet missiles in Cuba that had been smuggled in and were aimed at the U.S.
Stalin’s ideological progeny had like the master made their revolutions, installed themselves in power and obliterated the opposition. Mao, Castro, Pol Pot – each one would display in his own unique way Stalin’s affinity for deceit, cult of personality, and homicidal rampages spoken of as war against “enemies of the people.”
The people under the rule of each and every new Stalinist who emerged in the latter half of the twentieth century experienced harsh deprivations of all the basic human necessities, both material and spiritual, similar to those that the Russians had long come to expect from their Bolshevik masters As well, each and every new Stalinist came to the stage with the admiration and applause of high placed adulators from the imperialist camp. Edgar Snow produced his hagiography of Mao for American readers. Herbert Mathews and the New York Times in the best tradition of Walter Duranty were enthralled with the Caribbean Robin Hood, Fidel. Various American notables made their political pilgrimages to the lands of the newly liberated downtrodden to show them support and to show contempt for the “criminals’ back home. [Paul Hollander, Political Pilgrims:travels of Western Intellectuals to the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba, 1928-1978, New York, 1981] Jane Fonda landed in Hanoi to enthuse over the “George Washington of Southeast Asia,” Ho Chi Minh, and to denounce American imperialist aggression. Meanwhile American soldiers were being killed by North Vietnamese Communists troops.
The outpouring of self-congratulations in the West in 1991 that lubricated the celebration of the victory of freedom and vindication of the market when the Soviet Union self-imploded and the Eastern Block countries shook off their Communists masters was to say the least, premature. More accurately, it was fatuous and self-deluded. Forgotten or overlooked were: the durability and adaptability of the Chinese Communists; the massive and permanent leftward cultural drift of the Western democracies in the 1960s and 1970s; and the resilience of the Left and its ability to reinvent and reassert itself.
The Democrat Party of Scoop Jackson and George Meany in the 1950s and early 1960s, blue collar and robustly anti-Communist, by the end of the century had moved far to Left. By the 1980s the once muscular, lunch bucket Democratic coalition of coal miners and auto workers was comprised of trial lawyers, teacher union activists, angry feminists and the Ivy League professoriate. Former President Jimmy Carter in 2004, after a career of embracing Left-wing dictators and tut-tutting the American people for their fear and suspicion of Communism sat in a celebrity box at the Democratic Presidential convention with Michael Moore, an avowed Socialist and admirer of Fidel Castro. In 2011 after a trip to Pyongyang, Carter accused the United States and its ally South Korea of “human rights” violations in its dealings with the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of North Korea, arguably one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world, one, that as of this writing starves large numbers of its own citizens. Our globe-trotting former President is perhaps the perfect embodiment of what Lenin described as the “useful idiot.”