By Armando Chaguaceda

The Cuban countryside. Photo: Arnaldo Labarada

HAVANA TIMES – I have decided to end this series of columns that I’m writing during quarantine, with this one. Because quarantine seems like it’s going to go on for a while, and nobody knows for sure when it will end or what will happen afterwards.

I’d prefer a kind of retreat, an intimate moment of reflection, from what lies on the horizon. Sharing with you some quick ideas about what forms my imperfect view of the world which I believe would be desireable to live in.

I am a modern, urban man and a member of what we call the West. This is my inheritance and my borders. My possibilities and my limits. This is where my view of the world comes from, mixing memory and fate. And I’m OK with not having the definite truth or answers for every challenge Nature or fellow humans throw our way.

I believe that the individual, community and Nature need to work in harmony. And that science, free from dogmas and tyranny, is the best way to achieve this. Both in its technical sense, so we can interact with our surroundings, as well as in a social sense, which is focused on explaining and anticipating human issues.[i]

During these times of terror and prayers for protection to the Gods or national leaders, governments need to be elected and auditable, but authorized and given everything they need to rule effectively (as long as they don’t change the law to stay in power indefinitely or to suppress the opposition). Citizens should have the basic right to express themselves in speech, at the polls and in the public space. This also means they need to take the time to reflect, to be responsible and in solidarity.

Over these past few weeks, withdrawing into quarantine has not only been the best way to protect me and my family; it’s also been a way to prevent infecting others, to take care of our elderly and sick, not overburden our health system and its hardworking personnel and specialists.

Ensuring the individual enjoyment of collective goods – work, health, food, safety – is a valuable purpose of society. Without the economic and institutional means to sustain them, any appeal to live the Good Life is just empty rhetoric. Therefore, the productive sovereignty and redistribution based on solidarity between classes, families, regions and countries, organized according to public health and sustainable development criteria, should be the heart of tomorrow’s economy.

I believe that the modern Republic (liberal and of the masses) is the best, understood and perfectible way forward – and many centuries of history have proven this. So, we can have a Government of Humans and an Administration of Things, avoiding the traps of possessive individualism and unappealable authoritarianism. 

I am tired of the middle class’ savage liberalism which continues to violate the healthcare pact, turning to leisure and lavish consumerism instead. Confusing any cautious and established limit of their rights to freely move and consume, in order to protect life of the community, including their own. I am reviled by the police officers that are dressing up badly as the protective father, trading off our safety for freedom. Without knowing (it’s more of a hunch) that it would be bad business if we earn some of the former, sacrificing all of the latter.

Great crises put all of the above to the test. There are no predictable endings, terrible or bright. But if we all take action and reflect, with humility above all else, we might be able to save ourselves and maybe even be somewhat happy. See you soon.







Armando Chaguaceda

Armando Chaguaceda: My curriculum vitae presents me as a historian and political scientist. I'm from an unclassifiable generation who collected the achievements, frustrations and promises of the Cuban Revolution and now resists on the island or contributes through numerous websites, trying to remain human without dying in the attempt.

12 thoughts on “Taking a Break

  • Resent. I had sent it to the wrong address.

  • Mr Circles R.
    Can you pleas provide Mr MacD with my email address.

  • No email address Nick

  • Nick, you failed to say whether that 50% of DNA lies in the skin or the edible part of the banana. Your comment reminded me of watching the monkeys carefully discarding the skin! So?
    As you correctly gathered, I think that Beveridge is little recognized for his talents and ability to not merely talk, but to take action. He managed to spur politicians to similarly and eventually take action. Without him, the world would be different. There may be a door, but it takes a key to open it.

  • Mr MacD,
    Re London Olympics: I seem to recall that the announcement of the Olympic award was followed the next day by a series of horrific terrorist attacks on the grand old capital.
    I recall being in Edinburgh during those two days.
    I have the utmost respect for Wm Beveridge but make the point that his report was eventually commissioned after many years of pressure from the British socialist fraternity. I was not previously aware of the AAC that you mention. Thank you for pointing this out. My respect for Wm Beveridge rises yet further.
    It comes as no surprise to learn that you have written comparing Fidel Castro to Adolph Hitler. I seem to recollect drawing parallels between Fidel Castro and the likes of George Washington and Winston Churchill in my comments on this forum.
    They do say that a human being has 50% of it’s DNA in common with a banana don’t they?
    If you feel the need to share this comparison with me then I shall receive it gratefully and respond accordingly.

    Mr Circles R, you would be more than welcome to provide Mr MacD with my email address if you should so choose. Thanks.

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