For this post I’m going to take two premises as givens:
1. A totalitarian political regime exists in Cuba.
2. It’s better not to live under a totalitarian political regime.
From that I ask myself: What can we do to banish totalitarianism without leading to the establishment of another more terrible system? To answer this we would first have to understand the existing political system.
I don’t know about North Korea, but here in the tropical Caribbean, the chain of command descending down from Big Brother to the little brothers and sisters, to the little cousins and all of us little pichoncitos (dependent nestlings) is not a linear one. Rather, it has a fractal dimension.
“Fractal” was derived from the Latin “fractus,” meaning “broken” or “fractured.” Relatedly, the chain of command in Cuba seems broken and even wide open in many places. The farther away you are from the centers of power, the more that local leaders behave like regular people; they obey, going through the motions, but they don’t carry out what they’re ordered. This attitude is so pervasive that one wonders how the ship manages to stay afloat. It shakes and shudders yet it doesn’t sink.
The answer to this too is found in the wonderful world of fractals. A typical feature of fractal systems is that the basic pattern (of totalitarianism in this case) is spontaneously reproduced at the micro level.
Descending from the central bodies to the groups of local activists of the party, the CDRs, workplaces, companies, etc., we always find the same paradigm of human relationships. This consists of an authoritarian boss who legitimizes themselves behind a dogma with moral implications, and who’s hardly interested in feedback from their subordinates.
At the other end of the relationship are some subordinates who — though trapped in the same dogma — are eager for the proverbial cat to go away so they can play and do what they feel like. What’s curious is that this doesn’t occur only in government agencies; it also happens in churches, private businesses and in almost all families, even among anti-Castro dissidents.
Moreover, wherever there are asymmetrical relations of domination between people, as well as between people and spiritual entities (gods, ideologies, concepts), or between people and animals, and even between spiritual entities themselves, this relationship fine tunes itself, thriving on and indirectly contributing to the totalitarian system.
Seen as such, this fractal-like quality is not a problem but rather the essential condition of the system.
How do you combat this type of system?
Under conditions like those described above, it doesn’t help to bring down the central figure (at whatever level) because it will be reproduced with even greater strength.
If we want a truly profound change, I think there’s another way to begin gradually eroding the bludgeon from within – like termites. This requires establishing harmony and mutually beneficial horizontal relations between our fellow citizens.
Symmetrical power relations between free beings are more pleasant. They create happiness, peace, work efficiency and strength against adversity.
We must put these into practice. And if it everything turns out alright, if people note the positive results, we’ll be promoting these ideas even among those who are watching us. I think that only in this way will we make headway in exterminating totalitarianism without triggering something worse.