The Traitors

Erasmo Calzadilla

HAVANA TIMES — Living only a few miles off the coast of a powerful and aggressive military power isn’t an easy undertaking. A small and poor nation must act with a firm hand if it wants to maintain its sovereignty.

To some extent, this has justified the top-down command structure and the stiffness of its laws, but is insufficient since democracy here is conspicuous by its absence.

The idea is simple: In a democracy people fight against an aggressor out of conviction. Moreover, democracy provides human beings the discovery of their own dignity, and it’s more difficult to subdue them.

On the cognitive-emotional plane, the leaders of the “Revolution” declared an open war against illiteracy, ”bourgeois” values and other insidious and subtle pro-democracy imageries that continued to survive among people’s common sense.

To kill that restless bug, they resorted to various psychological, ideological, mass media and propaganda devices. I will cite a few:

– They totally distorted the democratic and libertarian component of the Marxist doctrine.

They identified real democracy with “liberal bourgeois democracy,” multi-political parties and capitalism. (I’m speaking in the past tense, but all one has to do is listen to any one of the analysts on La Mesa Redonda (The nightly Roundtable television show) to understand that this struggle continues.)

They manipulated the country’s history so that:

     All previous struggles were against a foreign enemy or for a “Free Cuba” in order to overthrow a bloodthirsty tyrant – but not to implement democracy (The cartoon series with Elpidio Valdes is a good example of this).

     – The post independence (1902-1959) Republican period was no more than an orgy of corruption, until Comandante Fidel came to power and ordered it to stop.

     – Liberation was achieved, basically, by exceptional men.

They have tried to replace the idea of Cuba as a state of rights with the notion of Cuba as a Spartan brotherhood or a grand family. The insistence on calling the president “comandante” is part of that effort.

I’m not saying anything new. The battle of ideas against democratic imagery has been intense and, fortunately, is well documented.

In conclusion: If you agree with me that real democracy is the key to maintaining sovereignty in the environs of a powerful and aggressive empire, then we can identify new species of “worms,” “traitors” and people who are “unpatriotic” (to use their own jargon).


14 thoughts on “The Traitors

  • Do you really think we are free here in the U.S., Griffin?! Cuba may have only one party, but here in the States our two parties essentially represent only the military-industrial comples and the multi-national corporations. There methods may differ (the Republicans more nakedly agressive, the Democrats the representatives of “friendly fascism”), but both are bought and paid for by their economic masters. Since these poweres have the wealth and power, almost all media outlets reflect their wishes. Of course the the rise of the internet, this is a bit less true, but it is only the few who actively search for the truth, rather than the mass of passive citizens, who find it. In a metaphorical sense, most Americans, especially the working class ( now depicted as the “middle-class”) are mental slaves, passive recipients of the bilge pumped out by the mass media. Yet this was not alway so. I am haunted by a photo from the earlier part of the last century which reveals a giant auditorium, packed with workers (in ties and suits and formal dresses, no less) avidly listening to Will Durant deliver a talk (not on Marxism, but rather) on world history. Many in the audience were, no doubt, denied much of a formal education due to having to work in the factories starting at age 6 or 7, but still, they had an insatiable desire to learn. Such a drive no longer really exists today. Instead, they are apathetic, or distracted by illusions and amusements.
    Intuitively, however, they know that it is not in their interest to fight the imperial wars of their masters. Their masters know this; since Viet-Nam, they have made the military a volutnary proposition. True, many workers willingly join, thinking this may be a path towards upward mobility, or for gaining new skills, but many of the veterans are quikly disillusioned by the traumatic experiences they endure. Hence, in the long-run even these folks will realize that the military is a dead-end to realize such aspirations. In the declining years of the Roman Empire the Legionaires increasingly realized that rather than fight for their decadent rulers, that they themselves could sieze state power, and that they did by marching on Rome. No doubt the same process will eventuate with our own decaying empire.

  • One dream that I have, Griffin, is that thinking people like you will take a look at our “corrected socialist program,” understand it and discuss it democratically.

  • Dear Grady,

    Do you actually use a phrase such as “corrected socialist program” and still keep a straight face? Dream on.

  • No nation is truly sovereign when the people are not free. Castro denied the Cuban people freedom, democracy and sovereignty. A nation of slaves cannot be sovereign. Only when Cuba is free and democratic will Cuba have true sovereignty: the capacity to decide for themselves their future.

  • Quoting the infinitely wise Yoda, “Poke fun, I must. Civil, always I am.” Good luck with your movement. Seriously.

  • Our movement in the US is miniscule, are more accurately, microscopic, Moses, but we have a corrected socialist program and look forward to the future with optimism.

    One of these days, sooner or later, an experienced, revolution-minded Marxist with a bit of genius is going to talk to us and embrace our ideas. This will be the peaceful equivalent in the US to the military landing of the Granma in Cuba.

    Our four cardinal principles are non-violence, legality, openness and persuasion. We intend to achieve state power by winning the US people to our transformationary program for a new society, a new society that doesn’t threaten anyone. Poke fun if you wish, but keep it civil. Otherwise, we can’t talk.

  • I assume English is not your first language. Cuba is hardly starving. I have seen starving nations and Cuba ain’t it. If Cubans have hungry days it is because of corruption and mismanagement in their food distribution system. I have seen food spoil in a Cuban bodega near my casa particular while two blocks away in another bodega there was a shortage. The only “prize” in Cuba today is its human capital and a free and democratic Cuba avails that human capital to not only the US but to the entire world.

  • Lawrence should read the post and then read my response again. I am asserting that the US embargo is a response to aggressions taken by Fidel. Cuba, as kids say, “hit me first”. Yes, Haiti is soveriegn. Being poor and vulnerable is not a measure of a lack of sovereignty. If it were, Cuba would be among the first in the dependency line. Indeed, if Haiti had the benefit of the remittances received by Cuba from the diaspora and an equal amount of foreign aid as Cuba receives from Venezuela, I can only imagine how much better off they would be. Of course, the US embargo has impacted Cuba. It just hasn’t achieved the desired goal of toppling the dictatorship and freeing the Cuban people. Keep in mind the offset of Soviet and now Venezuelan aid as welll as foreign remittances mitigates a large share of the impact. I admit that. Do you think my “superiors” will spare me now? 🙂

  • Bringing examples of Dominican Republic, Bahamas.. etc. Moses – you are talking micro spheres entirely dependent on whims of USA. Yet we don’t even bother caring – these are negligible entities with next to garbage status with minimum or no value. PUerto Rico brings more interest so we sort of took it over. Still Cuba is the ultimate prize so we tried to ‘suck them in” but those darn spikes… Who gives about political orientation, we depend on Chinese commies and got no problem with that. US is perfectly happy with common criminals ruling the region as long as they respond to us. At any disobedience we send specks or troops and replace one criminal with another. This whole thing boils down to who’s controlling more more lucrative and strategically important region. And that’s better be US or else. So now we have Castro tough nuts so we have no problem starving entire nation to submission till we get another Batista to suck it up to us every time we whistle. And about your “political” sorrows… get real- it’s all holly smoke for your eyes only.

  • ‘Moses’ asks if there is a movement, ignoring the Occupy Movement and a great deal of unrest taking place in his country and Canada, in common with others oblivious of what inevitably happens. Sooner or later, it happens. Don’t take my word, read history. Sooner or later, heads roll. Don’t take my word, read history. Enjoy it while it lasts ‘Moses’, in the end people have always prevailed.

  • Sorry ‘Moses’, you continuously try to tell us black is white, that US imperialism has nothing to do with Cuba’s problems. So 50 years of trying has been a failure? Thank-you for admitting to US failure. Can we assume you will be taken out and shot by your superiors for admitting it?

    Asserting that “Haiti is “sovereign” in the current context is obcene considering its current occupation and situation as Hurrican Isaac bears down on it. I know you don’t care a tinker’s damn about it. Let me express one highly emotional response in singularly Anglo Saxon terms- god damn your eyes!!!

  • Grady, you state “Our movement in the US believes…”. There is a MOVEMENT? Where? Headquartered in your garage? Talk about being grandiose! Is there even a website? You don’t seriously believe that there will ever be a socialist form of government in the United States of America? We think Universal Health Care is too socialist. Come on, Grady, take your meds. 🙂

  • Yes, Erasmo, it is true that “real democracy is the key to maintaining sovereignty in the environs of a powerful and aggressive empire,” as you say. But calling for real democracy–real political and social democracy–within a state monopoly socialist economic system will be an exercise in futility. This is because real political and social democracy can only arise and be maintained on the basis of economic democracy.

    If this is correct, then democratic striving in Cuba–as in any country–should always include a movement for a democratic form of socialist economy. This immediately calls forth the question, “What is such a democratic economic form?

    Our movement in the US believes it is where the people hold state power through their socialist party or parties, and mandate the transfer primary ownership of all or most productive property to those who do the work. This would mean working cooperative associates in most significant industry and commerce, and private individuals and families for most small-scale industry and commerce.

    Socialist government could then hold a silent, non-controlling, co-ownership stake in most enterprise and get ample quarterly revenues from a dynamic and vigorous national economy without taxes or tax bureaucracies.

    Upon such a democratically-owned economy, political and social democracy could then arise and play its proper role in social development. Private property rights and the conditioned market could then exist and be utilized for their revolutionary, transformational potential.

    I am afraid however that, as long as the Cuban leadership clings to the state monopoly concept of socialist property, you will continue to have choking bureaucracy, endemic corruption and a rigid, top-down political and social structure.

  • The “cause and effect” suggested in this post is reverse of the reality that existed and continues to exist. The writer suggests that because of the imperialist intentions of the US, Cuba was forced to adapt to a totalitarian form of governance to maintain its sovereignty. The opposite is more likely the truth. Because Fidel lusted for personal power and assumed the dictatorship, the US responded with actions deemed “imperial”. Is Haiti sovereign? Dominican Republic? Cayman? Bahamas? Of course they are. Yet these are all island nations also just a few miles off the coast of the US. It is hogwash to say that because of proximity to the US, one must be totalitarian to maintain one’s soveriegnty.

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