Who Alienates More?

Erasmo Calzadilla

Cuban students. Photo: Caridad

On the little screen today, they showed scenes of the Chilean student uprising at its height. Am I being the victim of another spell cast by the media? Possibly, but what I saw fascinated me. What energy, so clean, and what level of organization shown by those toddlers who weren’t even in their 20s!

I immediately began to compare the Chileans with the kids I saw around me when I was teaching in a high school, and others that I often pass by in the street, those dear angels in their blue uniforms.

Our youth have also achieved a high-level of organization, at least in all that’s related to escaping from school, skipping classes, bribing teachers and cheating.

Careful, I’m not saying our kids are bad. This is only the way they’ve discovered to struggle against an obsolete and authoritarian educational system that’s so alien from their immediate interests. I’d add that these youngsters are above all the product of the society in which they live.

Why don’t our little “Cubanitos” struggle like those kids in Santiago de Chile if our schools are in ruins just like theirs? Is it because education is free here? Is it because college entrance exams don’t cost anything to take in Cuba?

Only in appearance and on paper; because reality is quite distinct.
In the first place, they don’t organize because they don’t see the adults doing it. Plus, it would cost them too much (they know full well what happened to the leaders of the uprising at the University of Santiago de Cuba a few years ago).

But more than anything, they’re not organized because it’s not in the atmosphere. Individualism, hedonist consumerism and alienation permeate everything. Having a social consciousness and being seen as a weirdo are almost the same thing, unless it’s clearly no more than “revolutionary” posturing.

If capitalism generates its own gravediggers, state “socialism” seems to be more efficient on that point.

2 thoughts on “Who Alienates More?

  • Once again I’m struck by common parallels shared by Cuba and the U.S. of A. Although both societies are very different, [e.g. Cuba being a society of scarcity, ours one of relative abundance], the VAST majority of our respective youths have, as you say, jumped on board the merry-go-round of hedonism, consumerism and alienation. The first two qualities are used by those directing our respective societies as a means of social control, while the latter quality is a reflection in each youth of the powerlessness to control his or her social, economic and political–not to mention natural–environment.

  • Individualism, hedonist consumerism and alienation permeate everything…. among Cuban youth…. HAHAHAHAHaahahaha… that’s hilarious! If our youth behaved 1/2 as well as Cubans… we’d be thrilled! I guess everything is relative….

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