Ever since Francis Bacon in The Wisdom of the Ancients revised the earliest myths of the race in order to make man over, it has been a habit of the modern mind to interpret actions in the form of myth. Whether Prometheus, Hamlet, Falstaff, Oedipus or Captain Nemo endured their spasm of flesh is secondary to the larger reality through which they reflect the joys, anguish and inner struggle of human beings.
In our time such a myth-symbol is Fidel Castro. It is no accident that President Eisenhower made a special trip to South America in order to throw the charismatic weight of his personality over the lengthy shadow of Cuba’s leader. It is no accident that Premier Khrushchev, in the heat of his attack against the United States at the recent Summit Conference, singled out Fidel Castro for praise. And specific voyages to Cuba planned by President Sukarno of Indonesia and leading figures of the new Arab and African nations, as well as literary lights like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, indicate that the Maximum Leader of the Cuban Revolution has caught the imagination of the world.
The excitement aroused by Fidel Castro is largely due to his being the only heroic figure in the world today. Industrial societies and enormous sprawling agrarian lands cannot produce heroes, in the sense of individual figures rising against the might and power of organized society. A Churchill, a Roosevelt, a Stalin, a Hitler, even a Lenin, are the products of too many complex forces to seize the inchoate idealism among the poor and disinherited. They represent races, nations, classes but they do not recapture the primeval yearning for a Hero as Man, an individual cloaked in all the spring-desire for purity which still rings in even the most skeptic heart. Fidel Castro springs from Plutarch more than the lexicon of Karl Marx and the blood always calls more closely than clever words.
Let us not forget the rich lionesque young man who was a leader in the student revolts at the University of Havana, when politics was no mere shell game but a question of beatings, castration and violent death. Let us not forget imprisonment, exile, a landing of 82 men on a tropical shore from which a mere dozen escaped in flight to the mountains. And let us not forget how a golden dozen swelled to hundreds, defeated a government expedition of 5,000 seasoned soldiers, and then swept on to victory. This is the vision of fulfillment at its most glorious to the mass of men who live humble and frustrated lives.
“Es fortuna inconmensurable la de ser jovenes en momentos que seran decisivos para la historia” Jorge Valdes-Miranda, the chronicler of the Cuban Revolution, stamps on the preface to his account. What glory to be young at a decisive moment of history! What fortune to share one’s dreams with the paladin who swept to power by crushing every organized force in society, all the haughty men of pomp and money and class. For only ...
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