Fidel Castro and the Radicalization of Non-Alignment

DOI10.1177/0020881717726853
Date01 April 2016
Published date01 April 2016
Subject MatterArticles
Fidel Castro and the
Radicalization of
Non-Alignment: A Political
Psychology View
Theodor Tudoroiu1
Abstract
This article tries to advance the theoretical study of non-alignment through
the use of a political psychology-based approach related to the important but
seldom mentioned influence of political leaders’ personality traits on the Non-
Aligned Movement (NAM). Key non-aligned leaders were highly charismatic
and voluntaristic individuals whose personality features clearly impacted the
creation and development of the NAM. The article analyses the case of Fidel
Castro, whose efforts to shape the non-alignment process were particularly
important during the 1960s and the 1970s. A close causal relationship is identi-
fied between the features of Castro’s revolutionary totalitarian personality—
which include revolutionary spirit, charisma, narcissistic desire for power and
prestige, and ‘evangelistic’ foreign policy style—and his actions intended to
radicalize non-alignment. The case study of the Cuban leader suggests that the
systematic analysis of the personality traits of key non-aligned leaders would
provide a useful perspective on the evolution of the NAM.
Keywords
Fidel Castro, revolutionary totalitarian personality, Non-Aligned Movement, Cuba,
Bandung, radicalism
Introduction
This article tries to advance the theoretical study of non-alignment by introducing
a new, political psychology-based approach related to the important but seldom
mentioned influence of political leaders’ personality traits on the evolution of
Article
International Studies
53(2) 118–135
2017 Jawaharlal Nehru University
SAGE Publications
sagepub.in/home.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0020881717726853
http://isq.sagepub.com
1 Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine,
Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies.
Corresponding author:
Theodor Tudoroiu, Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science, The University of the West Indies,
St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies.
E-mail: theodor.tudoroiu@sta.uwi.edu
Tudoroiu 119
non-alignment. This is done using the case study of Fidel Castro’s contribution to
the radicalization of this movement.
Most if not all prominent non-aligned leaders were highly charismatic and
voluntaristic individuals. Their personality features that included revolutionary
spirit, charisma, narcissistic desire for power and prestige, and ‘evangelistic’
foreign policy style clearly impacted the creation and development of the Non-
Aligned Movement (NAM). Yet, this aspect has never been analysed systematically
despite the rich literature on the political psychology of various world leaders.
However, filling this gap is a huge task that cannot be accomplished within the
narrow space limits of an article. This is why the present text only scrutinizes
the impact of one specific leader, Fidel Castro. Of course, he was not one of the
founding fathers of the NAM. He was nevertheless chosen because, on the one
hand, his efforts to shape the non-alignment process were particularly important
during the 1960s and the 1970s. His 1965–1968 ‘tricontinentalism’ and, eventu-
ally, the massive military and civilian assistance to African revolutionary regimes
that brought him unprecedented prestige and influence in the Third World provided
key opportunities he used in an ambitious effort to radicalize non-alignment. On the
other hand, from a methodological point of view, his case has the considerable
advantage of being associated with a well-studied political psychology category,
the revolutionary totalitarian personality. The latter’s features include all the traits
enumerated at the beginning of this paragraph. Moreover, other key non-aligned
leaders such as Josip Broz Tito, Kim Il Sung, Ho Chi Min and Mengistu Haile
Mariam had the same type of personality. The following sections find a close
causal relationship between the features of Castro’s revolutionary totalitarian
personality and his efforts to radicalize non-alignment. Accordingly, the case
study of the Cuban leader suggests that the systematic analysis of the personality
traits of key non-aligned leaders would provide an interesting and useful per-
spective on the evolution of the NAM.
The article is structured as follows: the next section presents non-alignment
and the theoretical aspects of the revolutionary totalitarian personality. The ensu-
ing three sections analyse the three successive stages of Castro’s relationship with
non-aligned states. Findings are further discussed in the final section.
Bandung, the NAM and the Personality of its Leaders
Bandung and Non-Alignment
Between 18 and 24 April 1955, 29 countries participated in the conference of
Afro-Asian nations at Bandung, Indonesia. Perhaps the most important result of
this conference was the emergence of the ‘Bandung spirit’ of cooperation between
the new nations of Asia and Africa, which in turn led to the launching of non-
alignment while giving an actual political dimension to the concept of the Third
World (Arnold, 2006, pp. 37, 211; Abraham, 2008, p. 197; Badiul Alam, 1977,
p. 167). The Bandung ten principles of peaceful coexistence represented a code of
conduct for inter-country relations that rejected the power politics of the Cold War

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