Would he be allowed to say this on a campus near you? Or in China. h/t Brian Gladish on Facebook Critical Rationalism page.
His new book The Call of the Tribe refers to seven champions of liberalism – influential authors: Adam Smith, José Ortega y Gasset, Friedrich von Hayek, Karl Popper, Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin and Jean-François Revel.
My generation in Latin America was awoken to reason in a continent of monstrous inequalities and military dictatorships backed by the United States. For a young, somewhat restless Latin American, it was very difficult not to reject this caricature of democracy. I wanted to be a communist. I thought communism represented the antithesis of a military dictatorship, corruption and, above all, inequality. I started at the National University of San Marcos with the idea that there would be communists I could mix with there. And there were. But the communism in Latin America was pure Stalinism, with parties subject to the Comintern in Moscow. I was only militant for a year, then continued to be a socialist in a more relaxed fashion, a stance strengthened by the Cuban revolution, which at first seemed to be a different, less dogmatic style of socialism. I became enthusiastic. In the 1970s, I went to Cuba five times. But gradually, disillusionment seeped in, particularly after the UMAP – Military Units to Aid Production – was introduced. There were raids against young people I knew. It was traumatic. And I remember writing a private letter to Fidel telling him that I was disconcerted, and asking how Cuba, which seemed to be a tolerant and open style of socialism, could put “worms” and homosexuals in concentration camps alongside common criminals. Fidel invited myself and a dozen other intellectuals to speak to him. We spent the whole night, 12 hours, from eight in the afternoon to eight the next morning, basically listening to him speak. It was impressive, but not very convincing. From then on, I became a little dubious. The definitive rupture came with the Padilla case – when the writer Heberto Padilla, jailed in 1971 was obliged to denigrate himself in public, marking the end of the idyllic relationship between important intellectuals and the Cuban regime. I went through a long and difficult process, embracing democracy and moving gradually towards the liberal doctrine – I was lucky enough to live in Britain during the Margaret Thatcher years.