British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge was correspondent for the Manchester Guardian in Stalin’s Russia in the 1930s. He was amazed by the travels there of British pilgrims interested in seeing first hand the “great socialist experiment.”
Of them he wrote:
Their delight in all they saw and were told, and the expression they gave to that delight, constitute unquestionably one of the wonders of our age. There were earnest advocates of the humane killing of cattle who looked up at the massive headquarters of the OGPU [later the KGB] with tears of gratitude in their eyes, earnest advocates of proportional representation who eagerly assented when the necessity for a Dictatorship of the Proletariat was explained to them, earnest clergymen who reverently turned the pages of atheistic literature, earnest pacifists who watched delightedly tanks rattle across Red Square and bombing planes darken the sky, earnest town-planning specialists who stood outside overcrowded ramshackle tenements and muttered: “If only we had something like this in England!” The almost unbelievable credulity of these mostly university educated tourists astounded even Soviet officials used to handling foreign visitors…
Today, of course, the pilgrims travel to Havana, Caracas and Beijing, but the effect is the same.