All in the Name of Revolution: Fidel Castro, Charisma and the Personalized Institutionalization of Cuba

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Title All in the Name of Revolution: Fidel Castro, Charisma and the Personalized Institutionalization of Cuba
Author Di Piramo, Daniela
Publication Title All in the Name of Revolution: Fidel Castro, Charisma and the Personalized Institutionalization of Cuba
Year Published 2008
Abstract According to Max Weber, charismatic leaders are extraordinary individuals who have the ability to mobilise their followers on the strength of their personal attributes; endowed as they are with authority that is as powerful and tumultuous as it is fleeting, they often challenge the status quo and thereby claim their place in history as revolutionaries. In practice, revolutions are problematic political processes for these leaders: they favour the pursuit of their goals outside institutional boundaries, but as their power is usually transient, practical and structural constraints oblige them to engage with the institutional system in order to keep the charismatic relationship alive, albeit in diluted form. Most importantly, institutionalisation is a way of delivering and preserving socio-political change. Nobody understood this better than the recently retired Fidel Castro who, in spite of his disdain for impersonal institutions and his dislike of the bureaucracy, set out to institutionalise the Cuban revolution and cultivate revolutionary consciousness in Cuban society by presenting the revolution to the people as part of a greater historical movement against tyranny and oppression, a progressive struggle for which every participant is rewarded with membership in the creation of a new superior social order. In contrast to explanations that emphasise lust for personal power, this paper argues that Castro's primary aim was to ensure that the ideals underpinning the revolution would outlast the short-lived enthusiasm of personal transitory attachments. However, this process of 'personalised institutionalisation' has led to a paradoxical predicament: the imposition of revolutionary ideals on Cuba's civil society means that those ideals can no longer be logically defined as progressive. Subsequently, as the means undermine the end, the power relations that underlie this political process have turned out to be almost as oppressive as those that they are meant to challenge, thereby illustrating the antithetical and self-defeating nature of revolutions from above.
Peer Reviewed No
Published Yes
Publisher URI http://www.polsis.uq.edu.au/apsa-2008-conference-homepage
Conference name Australasian Political Science Association 2008 Conference
Location University of Queensland, Brisbane
Date From 2008-07-06
Date To 2008-07-09
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/28286
Date Accessioned 2010-01-12
Date Available 2010-01-14T07:06:04Z
Language en_AU
Faculty Griffith Business School
Subject Political Theory and Political Philosophy
Publication Type Conference Publications (Full Written Paper - Non-Refereed)
Publication Type Code e2

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