Anti-stalinist socialists and communists never supported the political regimes of Stalin or Mao. Sure we gave support to the people of nations who were attacked by imperialism. But we always called for the workers to overthrow their dictatorial government. Revolutionary socialists do not want a single party state to rule. Some of us had illusions in many leaders who seemed to be anti-stalinist. Like the Yugoslav dictator; Josip Broz Tito. This leader got a conflict with Joseph Stalin in 1948. Many anti-stalinist marxists hoped that Tito could become a genuine communist. Unfortunate for them, Tito was a stalinist. He was anti-Stalin, but not anti-stalinist. The political system of Yugoslavia remained based on the stalinist bureaucratic system.
Young revolutionaries in the western world were easy pray for the propaganda of the stalinist world. The ruling stalinists knew that many young people, had enough of conservatism and the rule of capitalists. So they abused their anger towards imperialism and turned them into their puppets. How many young socialists and communists felt sympathy for anti-imperialist dictators? Too much unfortunate!
The anger towards conservatism and capitalism exploded in 1968. But because of social democratic and stalinist betrayal, the capitalists remained in power. The main workers parties did not pushed for socialism, while many young students wanted it. Those students soon came under the influence of a new revolutionary ideal called; maoism. All across Europe and the western world, these maoist groups appeared To separate themselves from the conservative communist parties, they used the name ''Marxist-Leninist'' in their name. Like the Marxist Leninist Party of Germany founded in 1982!
Life in a maoist group was very hard. You had little to no personal freedom. The group leadership around a few persons, were in absolute control. They decided were you lived, who your friends were and who you could marry. Many left-wing students felt that this was needed for the revolution, so they devoted their young days for a group that was sectarian, dogmatic and not at all favored by the workers. By the 1980's most of these maoist groups had disappeared. Those students who were maoists now called it a youth error. Most of them left the marxist ideology completely and accepted the rule of capitalism. Very few were still dogmatic loyal to Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin after the collapse of stalinism in 1991.
A favorite leftist dictator among young revolutionaries during the cold war was Fidel Castro. This Cuban leader became president of Cuba in 1976, but was already dictator since 1959. Castro led a nationalist movement against right-wing dictator; Batista. After a short revolutionary war, Batista fled and Fidel Castro took power. At first he was not a ''communist'', but his anti-imperialism drove him into the stalinist camp. By 1961, the Republic of Cuba became a ''socialist'' nation according to Fidel Castro. US imperialism was not happy and created a embargo again Cuba. This unfair embargo proofed to be very much in Castro's favor. It kept him in power for 49 years!
Those who opposed the ''socialist'' revolution in Cuba were jailed. Workers who opposed the bureaucratic planned economy were branded ''counterrevolutionaries''. Even old fighters who fought with Castro were jailed if they opposed his rule. Cuba was indeed a personal dictatorship, there was no ruling communist party in the first years. Castro did founded the Party of the Cuban Socialist Revolution, but it was not until 1965 before the Communist Party of Cuba was founded. Yet even after the foundation of the party, Castro kept all power for himself. The party was only there to ensure loyalty to him alone. This we seen in the few congresses that were held. Before the last congress in 2011, the party did not had a congress in over 21 years!
Young leftists were also in ''love'' with anti-imperialist Arab dictators. Leaders like Nasser in Egypt or Gaddafi in Libya. The Arab world was very conservative after 1945. Corrupt kings were only kept into power because of western imperialism. Soon the king of Egypt was removed from power by young army officers under the leadership of Nasser. He turned Egypt into his personal Arab nationalist-socialist state. Communists and socialists who opposed his Arab nationalist-socialism were jailed and murdered. The mighty Egyptian Communist Party was as much of the threat to Nasser as the Muslim Brotherhood was. But many leftists in the western world, supported the Egyptian dictator against British imperialism. This while many leftists in Egypt were jailed because they wanted democracy and freedom of speech!
One of the most charismatic Arab anti-imperialist dictators was the 27 year old; Muammar Gaddafi. He led the 1969 revolution in Libya. Gaddafi and his officers founded the Libyan Arab Republic and wanted to unite the Arab world under their banner. But the Arab leaders did not liked the revolutionary talk of this young Gaddafi. Nasser died in 1970 and his successors had no love for this young Libyan leader. By 1977, Gaddafi had removed all his former friends from power and was absolute leader. He replaced the Libyan Arab Republic with the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. This new Libyan state should have been a ''state for the masses''. A islamic-socialist council based democracy. Huge councils of ordinary people should be the ones in power, according to the Green Book of Muammar Gaddafi. Many young leftists studied this little Green Book!
In reality, Gaddafi degenerated into a madman. His anti-imperialism went so high that he supported every left-wing terrorist group who fought against capitalism. From the IRA in Ireland to the Red Army Fraction in Germany and the ETA in Spain. Soon Libya was called a nation who supported terrorism by the western world. A little hypocrite since the western world was arming anticommunist dictatorships. Even Pol Pot in Cambodia was armed with western guns!
The love for Pol Pot was founded in the maoist groups in the western world. Like the Group Marxist-Leninists in The Netherlands. The GML is the only Dutch maoist group that has survived the death of Mao and the collapse of stalinism. Even with all the evidence against Mao, they still claim he did good. One of those people who claimed that Mao was great, was Paul Rosenmöller. This man would later be the leader of GreenLeft, a reformist green political party. But between 1976 and 1982, Rosenmöller was a GML member and defended the genocide of Pol Pot in Cambodia. He and his GML friends even raised money for that monster, who killed almost 1,2 million peasants!
It is ironic that all those supporters of radical leftist dictators, all became pro-capitalist again after 1991. For them, socialism was a religion. A religion that died when the red flag in Moscow was taken down. Revolutionary leftism was a youth thing in the 60's and 70's. If you were not radical leftist in that era, you were not cool. Today revolutionary idealism is partly gone. It seems to have died in the 90's. But even after 23 years of capitalist propaganda, we see that leftism is growing. But right-wing ideals are also common among the youth. Making money and getting rich is a dream for many. This was not cool in the 60's and 70's if you wanted to get rich!
After the collapse of stalinism, new young leftists sometimes hold on to old stalinist dictatorships. Cuba remains for many the last bastion of their ''marxist-leninist'' dreamworld. Most revolutionary young people oppose North Korea, they have no choice in that matter. Because supporting North Korea would mean total isolation from others. But the Arab revolutions of 2010 have show us that revolutionary leftist groups are still blinded by old style anti-imperialist rhetoric coming from those Arab leaders!
When the revolution started against Gaddafi, most people supported it. But soon as rebels started to kill pro-Gaddafi people, the revolutionary ( stalinist ) left groups started to support the Gaddafi goverment. Suddenly Gaddafi was a hero again and his Jamahiriya was a anti-imperialist bastion. No word about the 2003 reforms and the 2007 opening of a capitalist stock market. Or what about the work with the CIA? The criminal intelligence agency of the USA!
Yet Gaddafi's regime fell, he was killed in October 2011 in his home town of Sirte. Many revolutionary leftists called the rebels ''puppets of western imperialism''. This is very unfair since many youth in Libya fought and died for basic freedoms. Freedoms that Gaddafi never gave to them. Those stalinist groups have no right to call them ''puppets of imperialism''. They only wanted freedom and justice. Sure Libya will not get rich under capitalism. But that is why a workers party is needed. A party for workers on a socialist program, against sectarianism for a democratic socialist Libya!
Dictator two who gets massive support from revolutionary ( stalinist ) leftist groups, is Bashar Al-Assad of Syria. This dictator got power in 2000 and was pro-capitalist. His government privatized many parts of the Syrian economy leading to poverty. It was Syria under his father; Hafez Al-Assad that aided US imperialism against Iraq during the first Gulf War. Syria used to have a planned economy, but today its economy is a mixed market one!
The revolutionary left must not support dictatorships. Freedom of speech is holy for all people. Conservatives, liberals, socialists and communists must respect that freedom. Unfortunate conservatives and many communist groups ( from stalinist to trotskyist ) have difficulties with that. Liberals and socialists have a better reputation when it comes to freedom of speech. Rosa Luxemburg said that ''Freedom is always the freedom of the other-thinker''. She was murdered in 1919 for that. That ideal led genuine revolutionary socialists to rise up against stalinism and all dictatorships.
Socialists will defend that freedom, because win out freedom of speech and the freedom to oppose a system, you cannot have socialism and never communism!