Friday, July 16, 2010

Hitch-22

HH: But you upset your comrades, because you asked this director, you know, why can’t we criticize Castro, and you write, “if the most salient figure in this state was immune from critical comment, then all the rest was detail. Ah, never forget how useful the obvious can be.” And so, when I was reading your part about the Palestinians, no one could ever criticize Arafat. The same obvious detail about these societies has always been there.

CH: Sure. The obvious is very handy. I mean, there was a very famous movie director called Santiago Alvarez. He’s internationally well known. He was brought to this sort of seminar camp that we were partly work, partly propaganda, partly Marxist debate. And I asked him well, what’s it like working in the arts in Cuba, and he said you know, we have very untrammeled, it’s not like the Soviet Union, you know, there’s great artistic freedom here. And there was indeed in those days quite a lot of burgeoning of magazines and movies and so on in Cuba, and cultural writing. It was brief, but it was real. But then, and I said well, would this, for example, would this extend so far as to criticism of the leader, Fidel Castro? And he said well no, obviously not. We wouldn’t expect to be able to say anything critical or rude about the supreme leader. And I thought well, that’s not an exception, is it? I mean, it’s not, with the exception of that, everything’s okay? He’s the most important person on the island. So I made this remark, repast, and a terrible coldness descended on the meeting. And I was later told the people would, started to view me as a potential counterrevolutionary, which people really were talking like that. It was as if one had been called a capitalist running dog, or I forget how it goes now, lackey of the bourgeoisie, or hyena or something. But people actually do talk in this way. It was very educational.


Read the rest of Hugh Hewitt's interview with Christopher Hitchens.

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