‘A revolution’s not a bed of roses’

LEP Columnist Barry Freeman
LEP Columnist Barry Freeman
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Is anyone exactly certain how the British people would respond to seven years of brutal military dictatorship?

Not I.

Nor, by the same token, could yours truly say confidently no form of savage reprisal would ensue in the event of successful violent popular uprising against said State.

Oh, I’d like to think we might look kindly upon those who had been, over the previous seven years, active participants in a State machine that had publicly executed around 20,000 of our fellow citizens – friends, family, civic leaders, union members – but who could be so bold?

Similarly, in dealing with those who continued to fight on behalf of said State over the months and years ahead – the guerilla, the terrorist, the mercenary – would leniency and fair play be our watchwords?

Maybe. Maybe not. In my humble opinion, based on all I know of human nature, absolutely not. Our fury, indeed, the fury of any people anywhere on this green Earth, I’d argue, would be lethal and, within the confines of that situation, righteous.

And it is in this context that Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who died last week, must be judged.

Sadly context is long forbidden in British public discourse – for fear the herd begin to see the world in its true shades of grey – and so instead we observed the spectacle of our political and media class in all its reheated Cold Warrior glory.

From the comfort of Safe European Homes they scathed Castro, ignoring the Cuban narrative of all-out and ongoing violent struggle, judging him solely against the standards of advanced wealthy liberal democracies.

Some even had the brass-neck to compare him to Pinochet, an inversion of logic and decency that should turn any fair-minded stomach.

In terms a child could grasp, the difference is this. Pinochet overthrew a democratic government and murdered thousands of poets, trade unionists, teachers.

Castro led the fight to topple a violent military junta which had slaughtered tens of thousands and, in the course of doing so and the long aftermath, executed thousands of its functionaries and armed supporters.

So was Castro a saint? Absolutely not, but then, this world has no place for them. Was he then a sinner? At times yes, a price he and most of us pay, to some degree, for being human.

The truth of the man lays somewhere in between.