By Esteban Diaz
A few weeks ago, I participated in a monthly workshop sponsored the last Thursday of each month by Temas (a magazine that addresses the social and political problems of Cuba and Latin America). That past session was on bureaucracy in Cuba.
The organizers of the workshop sat in front, charging themselves with leading the discussion, while the hopeful and patient public listened as four intellectuals delighted in defining bureaucracy and the consequences it has had for the island.
After an hour and a half of listening came the opportunity for opinions from the audience. Each person had about three minutes to express themselves.
Most of the participants would characterize themselves as intellectuals, but contrary to the first group, they offered more accurate definitions of bureaucracy and openly criticized social contradictions. While each person respected the time they were given for their opinion, they complained that the discussion period was too short to allow all those who wanted to speak.
Likewise, there were those who characterized the organizers as themselves being bureaucratic, given the way in which they carried out the activity.
That is precisely what I think Cuba needs, a revolutionary culture of intellectuality – one that involves the participation of people, respects ideas from all over the world and is willing take discussions about problems to all the country’s workers.
These seemingly revolutionary intellectuals that convened the discussion, which was cut short, have been molded within a bureaucratic culture. This is what caused them to commit errors, such as not allowing open debate with the public, not giving people equal time and sitting in front of the participants as if the panelists were the know-it-alls. They closed the workshop with few words and announced the end.
These types of activities are frequently organized, though the majority of the participants are intellectuals, and the events do not involve the most burdened masses. As is common of this rather elite social group, they characteristically begin by defending words, proceed to speculate about the problem, and leave concrete practice to the end.
If workers were consulted, they would probably not present so many theoretical approaches when providing solutions; and although they might end up being less accurate, I believe this would be more democratic.