Internet vs. Nationalism

Daisy Valera

Photo: Caridad

Since my earliest elementary school experiences, I remember my teachers teaching us love for our homeland, national culture and all those things that were said to be 100 percent Cuban.

What schoolchild didn’t feel that same pride for being from this island?

In the mornings as we lined up before entering the school, I was one of the ones who would recite out loud more than a few of the poems by our national hero, Jose Marti.

Now that I can look back at the past — with a cool head and away from all the slogans — I realize, among other things, that nationalism is one of the tools that have been used so that Cubans do not relate too closely with peoples of other cultures.

These days, thanks to the internet, even a child can follow the day-to-day life in a neighborhood in Tokyo.

People can share many of their experiences: the beauty of a place they visit, their customs, the problems on their job, or what solutions they come up with to their everyday problems – to name just a few.

With all these exchanges, many people are able to identify more closely with the foreign lifestyles with which they’ve come into contact.

It’s logical then for them to think about how to change their situations based on the experiences in a world that exists outside.

Since here we have virtually no access to internet (much less are we able to travel), we Cubans are isolated, largely unaware of what life’s like beyond our shores.

This is how nationalism and misinformation become very useful tools for dictating privileges and denying rights.

Those who proclaim themselves diehard anti-imperialists and patriots are the first ones willing to sell golf course properties to affluent foreigners for life.

Meanwhile they refuse to let campesinos accept tractors donated to them in solidarity by friends overseas and they give these farmers land for a mere 10 years.

Likewise, they support the new rules for car sales, whereby only foreigners and a select few Cubans have the option of purchasing a new car.

The fact that something went wrong with the investment in a fiber optic cable for optimal internet access shouldn’t surprise us. It was very opportune.

Therefore, for a little more time, the ultra-nationalists can keep doing and undoing as they please.

One thought on “Internet vs. Nationalism

  • Good piece, Daisy. You point out the contradiction between the selling of golf courses to affluent foreigners “for life,” and giving Cuban farmers land for “a mere 10 years.” This is a practice that just doesn’t compute.

    It brings up a fundamental issue. How can a nominally socialist party and government justify ideologically the giving of private property rights to foreign capitalists, through such things as “joint ventures,” while denying private property rights–the right to own their own lands–to indigenous campesinos? It doesn’t compute! (The “why” of course is income expediency in trying to rescue a dysfunctional statist mode of production.)

    What it seems to come back to is the ideological prejudice against the historically evolved institution of private productive property rights, and the role of this prejudice in the old concept of socialist economy. This old concept demonizes private property as though it were Satan, himself, and then abolishes it prematurely when state power is somehow achieved. A solution suggests itself naturally: value the institution of private property rights as necessary during the socialist bridge stage, and discard the ideological prejudice against it.

    It only needs to be added that those who call for “democracy in the workplace” under a concept of socialism that rejects private property rights moralistically–and prematurely–are “spinning their wheels.” Democracy in the workplace will only come when the working people own their workplaces directly, and no amount of bellyaching about the bureaucracy will have any effect–except to waste precious time.

    Nationalism and misinformation apparently are being used in Cuba in “dictating privileges and denying rights.” I think this can best be combated by identifying the source of the problem, the ideological demonizing of private property rights during the socialist bridge to a future classless society.

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