HAVANA TIMES — Watching a film whose plot unfolds in Nazi Germany, I noticed how similar all autocracies are, how they are all grounded in a (distorted) sense of the good and, in order to establish themselves, manipulate the common substance of human dreams (the aspirations for justice and equality), setting in motion the most basic of egotistical drives (the self-preservation instinct, physical needs, the longing for comfort, vanity, and other proclivities).
I also noticed how we all share the impulse to correct others but dislike being corrected and how, while things are going well for us, it is very easy to assume that the underprivileged are guilty of their own misfortunes.
I must admit I continue to be surprised by how some Cubans are able to see the inhumanity inherent to fascism with absolute clarity, while at the same time defending Fidelismo (which is what actually developed in Cuba under the false name of “socialism”) with sincere devotion.
They refuse to accept the fact that they are defending a system whose aim was never the freedom of Cubans but the control of their will, the annulment of the individual rather than their empowerment. I know many will not agree with me, but even the first, altruistic gestures, unfurled with a great song and dance, contained high doses of hysteria, manipulation and extortion. They were performances of goodness, staged by a revolution that would demand unquestioning servility in return.
Ignorance, lack of objectivity and judgment, a blinkered mindset, skepticism and even the fear of what’s different, all of them engendered by a one-idea system, isolation, the absence of other references, political stigmatization and its tangible consequences, are the remnants of a phenomenon we witnessed here and actively participated in for more than half a century. Like actors under a massive spell, we have slowly awakened each one of us at our own, individual pace.
Despite the decadence that surrounds us, the anxiety of our daily struggle for survival, the lack of proportion between wages and prices, television programs that always shy away from the tough reality Cubans face and the evident failure of this long experiment (to which some have already devoted their entire lives), I can understand how, out of shame or sheer obtuseness, there are still those who adhere to what they defended for many years.
What I find incoherent and ultimately frightening is that people who dissent from the position of a Left that claims to be truly committed to the common good and to democracy, a Left that has turned the demands of some marginalized minorities into a personal cause, should react with verbal violence and use insulting language to respond to anyone who, faced with a given aspect of reality (political and not) thinks differently than they do.
That is when I start to question what concept of humanity these activists have, and whether they translate their defense of some minorities into the right to discriminate against other minorities (and even majorities). That is when I see the shadow of the authoritarianism that has been hammered into us, its counterpart, and I wonder what would become of Cuba if, by a twist of fate, they ever had access to power.
It would basically amount to replacing one tyrant with another. I’ve seen it in articles and comments published in Havana Times: remarks that resemble vomit more than arguments, and it is terrifying that so many years of political fanaticism, intolerance and injustice could become the cause of more disguised injustice.
It has been said that one only gets to know someone well when one fights against them, for it is only in the midst of conflict, fueled by the longing to be understood or to prevail, of conciliating or subjugating, the true nature of people is revealed.
Just as respecting other people’s rights is a means to ensure peace and those rights include the ability to express differing opinions, the respect with which such differences are expressed and considered reveals the intentions of those who debate them. It determines the possibilities of arriving at a consensus and guarantees that new proposals serve to establish a truly plural society.
Respect is the main premise we need in order not to reproduce a version of the Fidelismo that has torn Cuba apart and from which we are now only beginning to recover.