We're all aware that the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Livingstone are and were completely gaga for Castro and his revolution. To the point that any muttering about executions and gulags was met with "But free health care!" as if we'd not built our own NHS without shooting anyone.
But to show how deeply the rot went consider this from the normally considered to be much more moderate Willy Hutton:
But Castro, and perhaps more importantly, his right-hand man, Che Guevara,were ambassadors for what seemed a different kind of communism. They planted doubts in our young minds. While Russian tanks crushed the Hungarians and, later, Dubček’s Prague Spring and Mao’s Red Guards committed countless atrocities, Cuba seemed to represent something different. Maybe communism did not have to collapse into gulags, prison camps, thought control and atrocity after atrocity. Maybe there was a different vision of society than exploitative capitalism or tyrannous communism. Israel’s kibbutzs, representing a new form of communal shared living, and Cuba’s new socialist order might – just might – represent a future in which the idealistic could believe.
Given the drugs and the hedonism of the time, not to say that mindgargling ignorance of youth, perhaps it might just about have been possible to believe such then. But now?
And yet. We did dance for liberty and freedom. But we also danced for a world in which, as Fidel proclaimed, we looked out for each other. Most Cubans want to retain the great egalitarian legacy he has left, even while they try to combine it with a more dynamic economy and genuine political freedoms. The dream remains to combine all three. I dreamed it then. I dream it now.
It's that mention of the kibbutz which is so important. They were and are entirely voluntary. As is John Lewis, the Co Op, the RNLI, Meals on Wheels and all the rest of what Burke called the little platoons and which are the manner in which we cooperate and look out for each other. All of them being organisations which work precisely because the people in them are there voluntarily.
That is, the underpinning of this great adventure has to be liberty, liberty first and always. Rather than some planner of society, like, say, Willy Hutton, telling us all what we should be doing. Which is to say that we must start by being liberals, as we are and most of the British left is not, and only then can any of the other problems be solved, desires met.