I’m going to exercise my neurons a little by modifying the map of the Cuban political environment that Haroldo Dilla proposed in a Havana Times article. I’m making a few changes so that it better reflects my points of view and interests.
I would like for it to accommodate as much as possible by locating the political positions of the rulers of the island; but not with them being a point of reference (like on Haroldo’s map).
From my point of view, the key word that identifies the left (at least one of them) is “participation,” not passive but active, in creating their own living conditions and we can break down participation into its economic and political components.
Like Dilla I divided the plane into four quadrants with a pair of perpendicular axes: one for “political participation” and the other for “economic participation.”
In the region that in mathematics we would call the third quadrant (the bottom left, where economic and political participation are simultaneously reduced owing to the presence of monopolies or prohibitive laws), here we find totalitarian regimes: North Korea, fascist states, neoliberal governments, and the Cuban model – until just yesterday. Almost no one wants to live under one of these regimes except for those who benefit directly from the circumstances and certain people in a state of temporary insanity.
To the side of this, in the fourth quadrant (the bottom right), I locate the zone of political freedoms but not economic ones. I believe that the welfare state is accommodated here: the monopolies do their jobs, they earn money, and this doesn’t run counter to a high level of civic participation, not as long as the power of the economic consortia isn’t threatened.
A large group of Cubans would love to live under such regimes. When they’re able to visit or reside in a nation with these characteristics, they feel free because they can express themselves, meet, criticize, etc., and with a much wider margin than what they could on the island.
In the second quadrant (top left) lies the kingdom of economic freedoms but not political ones. This can arise when very closed systems are presented with financial problems and, in order to solve those, they allow certain freedoms in the area of private businesses. This relates well, in my view, to what’s happening in Cuba at the moment.
To many Cubans this is enough for them to feel good as enterprising people who aspire to an opportunity to prosper based on their own initiative. They don’t mind (at least at the beginning) being obedient or paying high taxes.
The first quadrant (the top right) is an aspiration, the ideal. All those who seriously want emancipation, all those who cannot tolerate a boot on their neck, that aspire to freedom in both senses, because one is truly impossible without the other. This does not represent the sprouts of freedom that grow at the feet of the powerful, nor is it about living at the expense of others.
This has been no more than a very simple exercise, a modification to Dilla’s political map to attempt something that could not be done previously due to the characteristics of his graphic. Here I tried to locate Cuba’s current ruling elites, who are said to be on the left.