THE SPINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007
Cruel revolutions have a knack for attracting pampered fans. But mostly these fans come from countries other than those in which the revolutions make their promises and take away whatever freedoms -- usually not many -- the people had.The revolutionary of the decade seems to be Hugo Chavez, now on his way by constitutional usurpation to being dictator for life. Already he has drawn to his side such enthusiasts as Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Kevin Spacey and two hands full of others. "Useful idiots," is what Lenin called the social type. Now Naomi Campbell has joined the traipse to Caracas admiring the "love and encouragement" the chief comrade puts into his work.The tradition of political pilgrims goes back a long way, in the twentieth century to those who worshipped Lenin and Stalin. Lillian Hellman, bitchy and hardhearted, is the paradigm of these. But Mao and Castro and Ho and even someone so uncharismatic as the Nazi-Communist Walter Ulbricht also were magnets for the usual ignoramuses.You can read about these in David Caute's The Fellow Travelers and Paul Hollander's Political Pilgrims.Anne Applebaum, the scholarly columnist who once was an intern at TNR, is an expert on all of these types, including the most up-to-date like the gorgeous Naomi Campbell. In a Washington Post column she takes Naomi and Sean to the cleaners.