Cuba and its Extremists

Fernando Ravsberg

For a world where we are socially equal, humanly different and totally free. - Rosa Luxemburg
For a world where we are socially equal, humanly different and totally free. – Rosa Luxemburg

HAVANA TIMES — In politics, there are many kinds of extremists, but the most despicable are those who go looking to earn merit, applying the orders that come from above with the utmost rigor. It doesn’t matter what the cost is at the expense of the population as long as they are able to climb the ladder to a better position.

This kind of extremist is a chameleon who can shift from one political extreme to another without too much effort. It isn’t strange to see them defending Soviet socialism one day, to only condemn it and raise McDonald flags a few years later.

The honest extremist is a fundamentalist; he/she has few ideas of their own and needs absolute truths to feel safe. When they find them, they grab hold of them as if they were a lifeline which keeps them afloat in a sea of different ideas, where their afraid of sinking.

Wikipedia defines fundamentalism as the ideological movement which promotes the literal interpretation of its founding texts (beyond its contextual interpretation), or rather the uncompromising and strict application of an established doctrine or practice.

The saddest thing about the Cuban case is that some of these fundamentalists don’t even adhere to the “sacred texts” written by Marx and Lenin, but rather recur to the “interpretations” which some Stalinist theorists made in their guidebooks.

This type of extremism is the most dangerous because they believe they own the truth and they convert everyone else who thinks differently to them into enemies which they have to crush. Whoever questions their dogma with different ideas has to be silenced, by hook or by crook.

My politics is based on tolerance, dialogue and consensus... and that's it! Here I'm the one that gives the orders.
My politics is based on tolerance, dialogue and consensus… and that’s it! Here, I’m the one that gives the orders!

Every political and religious movement has had legendary fundamentalists such as McCarthy, Robespierre or Torquemada. However, in Socialist Cuba, the most interesting and educational thing would be to analyze the Left and the consequences of its actions.

Wasn’t it the Popular Socialist Party’s extremism that expelled Mella and labeled Guiteras a social-fascist? It was this same extremism that tried to overthrow the young bearded man, after the Revolution triumphed, who had come from the mountains and who didn’t apply Marxism according to the instruction manual.

Only a young barely 30 year old man, naive and politically uneducated, would dream of ripping the dogma to shreds, of creating a movement instead of a political party, defeat the army instead of joining it, build a guerrilla force when what he needed to do was create a social uprising and, finally, snatch the flag of socialism from the “real” communists.

In Cuba, the “micro-faction” was beaten, however, in other parts of Latin America, it was “successful”. It’s worth remembering that left-wing extremists murdered Maurice Bishop in Granada and handed this country over to the US Marines on a silver platter.

This is a trait of extremists; they waste so many bullets shooting those who share the same trench that they run out of ammunition when the real enemy comes. Some of them lose their perspective while others just change sides.

This reminds me of El Salvador’s guerrilla leader Joaquin Villalobos, who ordered the murder of the poet Roque Dalton because of his political differences. Ironically, he is now a counter-insurgency advisor to governments who fight against armed Leftist groups.

Extremists demand “unanimity”, that is to say that we all think like them unless we want to be excommunicated and burnt at the stake, sometimes in a metaphorical sense by burning books but they don’t rule out getting rid of different ideas with bullets either.

Roque Dalton: My veins don't end in me, but instead in the unanimous blood of those who strugggle for life, love, things, nature and bread, the poetry of everyone.
Roque Dalton: My veins don’t end in me, but instead in the unanimous blood of those who struggle for life, love, things, nature and bread, the poetry of everyone.

Paradoxically, these extremists are the worst enemies social cohesion can have. Crimes against Leftist revolutionaries reveal the fanaticism that blinds them to such an extent that they’re unable to differentiate between enemies and friends who think differently.

Guerrilla unity in El Salvador didn’t come about thanks to “unanimity” which was pursued via Roque Dalton’s murder, but because it respected the political differences of the five organizations that came together to form the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.

If Commander Leonel Gonzalez is President of El Salvador today, it’s because the FLMN was able to shake off its dogmas and adapt to the country’s reality. Just like the Tupamaro leader Pepe Mujica did, after risking his life for several decades in Uruguay’s armed struggle.

Tactics and strategies vary, but the fixed principle should be that politics are meant to benefit the people, so they can be happy and self-fulfilled. Believing that ideologies shouldn’t evolve is to reject dialectics itself.

Preventing the flow of the river of ideas and spashing about in stagnant water is a right every one of us has but forcing others to drink this water is insane. Let God protect Cuba from its internal enemies as its known how to protect itself against its external enemies all by itself.

The US invasion of Grenada.
The murder of Maurice Bishop in Grenada, a leader close to Cuba, by a group of left-wing extremists was the perfect excuse for a US invasion.

4 thoughts on “Cuba and its Extremists

  • You have to remember not to oust one dictator to only replace him with another otherwise history will only repeat itself! Castro must relinquish power in Cuba if Cuba and it’s people are ever to move forward. Do I believe that this will ever take place peacefully? We have more of a chance of meeting up with the man in the moon than this ever taking place. I would dearly love to arrive at a peaceful conclusion to the reign of the Castro Dynasty but quite honestly I cannot see this ever taking place. For Cuba and it’s people to move forward the people need to look at how the people of Ireland worked to remove the British from what now is the Republic .

  • Were the so-called “micro-faction” the extremists or were the real extremists the Fidelists? There is no evidence of any actual plot among the micro-faction to oust Castro. They consisted of former PSP members, such as Animal Escalante, who disagreed with Castro’s belligerence toward the USSR and his support of violent guerrilla movements in South America. These old school Communists were useful to Fidel at the beginning as he built up the strength of the new Cuban communist party. But once they served their purpose, Fidel swept them aside and crushed them, as he did to all rivals for power.

    Who are the extremists in Cuba today? Is there a micro-faction of hard-core Stalinists opposing Raul Castro and his economic reforms? Or is Raul the leader of the extremist faction which seeks regime survival at all costs but stubbornly refuses to consider any political reforms at all?

  • I don’t think self-interested bureaucrats need absolute truths to cling on to feel safe. I think they feel they need clear lines of authority so they can be guided in their actions and judgments. This limits their vision but it also makes their personal trajectories more powerful. I don’t think the goal is to defeat such folks as they’re actually needed. They just need to be contained and for that to happen there must be a shared vision of a broader reality.

  • I think it is inevitable that organizations in struggle will inspire great loyalty amongst their followers. And sometimes the followers will obey orders to commit crimes. The problem should not be seen as a character flaw among the followers. The flaw is in the political culture of the organization, a failure to value internal democracy and a failure to see the strength that grows out of political diversity and vigorous debate.

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