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Melvin J. Lasky

Journalist, co-founder and editor of Encounter Magazine


One by one, [the illusions of Eldridge Cleaver, the exiled American 'Black Panther', collapsed]. In Castro's Cuba, he found a racism as bad as that he had complained about in the United States; even worse, since back home he at least had the freedom to complain. He began to feel that perhaps bourgeois liberties were not a farce, but the very real basis for extending democratic rights. The 'Left-Fascist' dictatorships of North Africa disillusioned him completely ... [Returning to the USA, agreeing to face trial, his new book, Soul on Fire, 1978] referred to his latter-day sense of burning mission. He reconsidered the importance of constitutional liberties, recognised the collective inhumanity of totalitarian forms of government, and made a return to religious values the basis of personal morality in a free society.

1990 - from an essay in Encounter No. 71