Who’s Your Favorite Dictator?

What was behind the love, on the part of Western intellectuals, for the dictator Fidel Castro? Dalrymple says it was partly envy of his power.

Just as everyone has his favorite crime, so everyone has his favorite dictator. For much of the 20th century, Fidel Castro was the darling of the intellectuals: partly because, like them, he was so slovenly in appearance, and partly because he represented so completely their wish fulfillment (inside every rebel there’s a dictator trying to get out). To rant for hours in front of a captive audience unable to answer or object: What greater bliss could an intellectual dream of?!

Latin America has a long history of dictatorship, as the reign of Dr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia in Paraguay shows. But Dalrymple notes one difference between Francia and Castro: Francia didn’t pretend to be democratic.

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