Cuba’s Silvio Rodriguez and Anarchism

Dmitri Prieto

Silvio Rodríguez

HAVANA TIMES, Dec 19 — In a previous post, I wrote about the blog of Cuban troubadour Silvio Rodríguez. At that time I celebrated his anti-bureaucratic commitment, since what particularly appealed to me was his phrase “Libya deserves something better than Qaddafi.”

We then witnessed an indirect online debate between Silvio and Pablo Milanes, two of the founders and leading exponents of Cuban Nueva Trova, at which time many of us were surprised by the irreconcilable tone of the polemic.

Another controversial situation occurred recently also related to Silvio.

Marfrey Cruz — a young activist, cultural promoter, Christian, and supporter of environmentalist, anti-war and anarchists positions — organized an environmental arts festival in his hometown of San Antonio de los Baños (also the hometown of Silvio).

The festival was supported by a network of volunteers (Marfrey spent years participating in various youth organizations and ecological and cultural networks), and it was approved by the Municipal Department of Culture. Cultural promoters then plastered San Antonio with posters explaining the purposes of the festival and inviting residents to participate.

In my opinion, at a time when the most visible alternative to young people is the ideological formalism and consumerism represented by reggaeton, the idea of ??Marfrey and his friends should have set an example and received the full support of those who desire a better future for Cuba and the planet.

But the opposite occurred.

The day before the event, unknown people tore down the promotional posters for the festival and spread news about the Department of Culture having “canceled” the event.

Shocked and outraged by such an arbitrary act, Marfrey (who is also a poet) called for the support of his fellow San Antonian singer Silvio Rodriguez through the musician’s blog [November 27].

It would seem perfectly natural for one poet to seek the support of another one — right? — especially when Silvio had planned to give a concert within a short time in his hometown.

Silvio’s response to Marfrey [in the same blog, November 28] was swift and scornful.

It’s not my intent to sum up what was written by Silvio (I’ll only mentioning that he attacked “opportunism” and irresponsibility while defending the role of official institutions), though he is an artist who — as we know — was banned during the initial period of his career in revolutionary Cuba.

Essentially, Silvio demonstrated his reservations about the autonomous manner in which Marfrey and friends were approaching the festival.

What I found particularly interesting was Silvio’s opposition to “anarchism” [libertarian socialism]. Silvio declared himself a defender of order, and especially the “social order.”  He believes that anarchy is the law of the survival of the fittest. Thus the defenders of order, such as himself, must oppose anarchism.

The anarchist statements of Marfrey are, for Silvio (I presume), only symptoms of irresponsibility, or a lack of maturity; or opportunistic, manipulative and ill will.

I don’t want to get into a debate about anarchism (which generally doesn’t attack order, only the dominant order, while arguing for autonomous order, since “anarchy is the mother of order,” according to a famous libertarian slogan).

Instead, what I want to point out is a clear inconsistency in Silvio’s thought.

If anarchy were simply the survival of the fittest, then it would be logical that the strongest political subjects (institutions and individuals) on the planet would defend anarchism tooth and nail.

Does that happen?

Quite the contrary. The strong are the ones who advocate various forms of domination (by the state, the military and capitalists).

Anarchists don’t run corporations, command armies or preside over governments.
They only seem to be a bunch of crazies fighting for a world without such domination. Another possible world, a better world.

So who’s right?


One thought on “Cuba’s Silvio Rodriguez and Anarchism

  • Excellent, intelligent journalistic piece. I can’t answer the question, regarding anarchism and Silvio Rodriguez but
    you posed some extraordinary questions and thoughts. Perhaps, when things settle a bit in Cuba, Dimitri Prieto’s name will be among those who will lead Cuba back to sanity, prosperity, hope and most of all “a new dawn!”

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