By Erasmo Calzadilla
In a civil trial held six months ago at the Court Building in the Havana municipality of Plaza de la Revolucion, the judges upheld the decision to permanently remove me from my job. That act of firing had been executed by the administration of the Institute of Science and Applied Technologies, where I had worked as a professor.
For their finding in favor of the school officials, the judges gave several reasons, though from my point of view all were flimsy and perfectly refutable through official documents.
Nonetheless, at this time I want to concentrate on just one of those reasons.
Specifically, I’m focusing on the assertion that I had subverted the teaching of values by not following the educational program on Marxism Leninism propagated by the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
The teaching of values is a wonderful endeavor. I appreciate it as an attempt to educate human beings in a more comprehensive manner, and not to reduce it to the transmission of techno-scientific knowledge to students presumed to be politically neutral.
I advocate -as does the Cuban Communist Party- an explicitly political education, but I understand this as diametrically opposed to the way it is being done at the moment.
The teaching of values is presently understood as lectures given by teachers -who do so under obligation from above- about the nation’s heroes, historic anniversaries, love for the homeland, solidarity between peoples, along with the demand that students comment on Fidel Castro’s “Reflections” and Raul Castro’s speeches.
Until the other day I still thought that this was only a bureaucratic distortion of a good idea, but taking another look at the situation I ended up considering that the problem was not only at the intermediary rung.
There in fact exists a law -the one by which I was judged- which requires the teaching of a sole “philosophy,” one erroneously referred to here as Marxism-Leninism. Isn’t it clear -terribly clear- that where there’s no freedom to decide one’s own values, there is no teaching of values that is worth that name?
I couldn’t get my arms around the fact that such a learned people could allow the adoption into law of the absurd idea that teaching values could take place under the chains of a particular philosophy. (In addition to the fact that this chained philosophy is not a philosophy.)
Yes the teaching of values is a magnificent idea to fight against positivism and against hegemonic alienating ideology. However, this same principle in hands of a system with totalitarian desires can become just another means of self-justification and a powerful tool for even more effective control over people’s lives.
This form of teaching values would be serving the very opposite of why it was created.