Communism as an inspiration: Latin America
During the 60’s and the 70’s in Latin America the notion of what the “free” world was about was clear; it was bullshit. This was the period when the rich developed Capitalist countries intervened in the continent’s local affairs. They wanted the southern hemisphere to swallow their bitter pill at whatever cost in order not go to the communists. For this they sponsored numerous military dictatorships where there was everything but freedom.
In most cases the military’s main concern were not the people whose lives and futures were most affected, the uneducated masses, but the leaders of potential uprisings. These were middle class knowledgeable students who understood what was going on and who were in favor of more egalitarian avenues to development. The example of Cuba was in everyone’s mind and provided a unacceptable scenario in the offices that dealt with the richness and the future of the LatinAmerica.
Taken out of the context of the cold war, the bearded revolutionaries had a Robin Hood like appeal that inspired a generation. For sure this is what drew a great part of the middle class kids towards them and not their disastrous Stalinist way of controlling their people. This was brought about by the economic blockade imposed by the US and its allies and forced the Castro regime to approach the Soviet Union and become an important pawn in a wider conflict.
In Brazil, for young people living under a dictatorship set to destroy it, the word communism was uplifting. First of all it was forbidden; mentioning the tabu word was like talking about porn and anything in this condition is exciting. Secondly it sounded like the antidote of an unjust and elitist solution that the powerful forced down the country’s throat. Lastly and most important, due to the secrecy surrounding this ideology, the only thing we knew about it was its name, which alluded to something that did not sound bad at all: sharing. There must have been something very good being kept from us.
To our uninformed minds and souls the word common implied privileging what belonged to everyone. For us a system with these worries seemed better than one that wanted the world as a place where individuals fought for survival in a hellish Darwinian fire of vanity and consumerism. The military dictators then, as the mainstream politicians now, seemed to want to appease and bow to the interests of these powerful forces “beyond their control” that created evil instead of focusing on common grounds such as our future, our ecology, our wealth, our education, our children, our friendship, our love ( the list is endless).
This giant task of standing up to these idols with unimaginable wealth, armies, police forces and prisons while fighting to transform the world into a more communal place was set long before neo-liberalism, the Latin American dictatorships and Karl Marx himself. The demonized and abused word communism stood in our minds as representing this struggle. We did not know about the parties, the purges, Siberia etc.. what we knew was that our oppressive system struggled against it and saw it as a serious threat.
The more profound and “realistic” interpretations of communism created state sponsored monsters in a similar way that the holy scriptures caused inquisitions, jihad and land grabbing. We were going to learn about this later but what we hopefully never forgot was the stream of clear water that this ideology originally drank from.