In 1962, future Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alex Haley sat down with jazz musician Miles Davis for what would become an institution of American journalism—the Playboy Interview. To celebrate the Interview’s 50th anniversary, Playboy has culled 50 of its most (in)famous Interviews and will publish them over the course of 50 weekdays (from September 4, 2012 to November 12, 2012) via Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. Here, a glimpse at our conversation with then President of Cuba Fidel Castro from the August 1985 issue.
“Money does not motivate me; material goods do not motivate me. Likewise, the lust for glory, fame and prestige does not motivate me. I really think that ideas motivate me. Ideas, convictions are what spur a man to struggle in the first place. When you are truly devoted to an idea, you feel more convinced and more committed with each passing year. I think that personal selflessness grows; the spirit of sacrifice grows; you gradually relinquish personal pride, vanity…all those elements that in one way or another exist in all men.
If you do not guard against those vanities, if you let yourself become conceited or think that you are irreplaceable or indispensable, you can become infatuated with all of that—the riches, the glory. I’ve been on guard against those things; maybe I have developed a philosophy on man’s relative importance, on the relative value of individuals, the conviction that it is not the individual but the people who make history, the idea that I can’t lay claim to the merits of an entire people. A phrase by José Martí left in me a deep and unforgettable impression: ‘All the glory of the world fits into a kernel of corn.’”
“I honestly believe that the President of the United States has much greater power and more capability of giving direct, unilateral orders. If his power includes something as monstrously undemocratic as the ability to order a thermonuclear war, I ask you who, then, is more of a dictator: the President of the United States or I?”
“During the past 26 years, Cuba’s record in this regard has been spotless, because the first thing the Revolution did in our country, where drugs were once freely used, sold and produced, was to eradicate that problem. Strict measures were taken to destroy marijuana plantations and to strongly punish all forms of drug production and trafficking. Since the victory of the Revolution, for 26 years, no drugs have been brought into our country, nor has any money been made from the drugs coming from anywhere else.”
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