HAVANA TIMES — Now that Cuba has decided to definitively (though surreptitiously) change its social model and the structure and foundations of its economy, and the novel figure of the national entrepreneur, stemming from current hierarchies and the corporate parameters to be established by these, will soon begin to flourish on the island, it would be convenient to reflect on the nature of these soon-to-be nouveaux riches, whose precursors we’ve seen in the Soviet Union’s metamorphosis into the Russian Federation, as well as in East Europe, Vietnam and, more recently and paradigmatically, in that millennia-old giant, China.
The new entrepreneurs that emerge in post-communist societies are characterized by a series of common features. These entrepreneurs:
-Are more fond of merciless competition than those educated in market economies, though they may be less prepared to actually take on such competition.
-Are unbelieving types who have renounced all ideologies, religions or philosophies that proclaim modes of conduct based on moral principles.
-Are atheists and agnostics who suspect even their own indoctrination.
The feel that, since they have paid for their food, they must eat until they are about to burst. At one point in their lives, entrepreneurs trained in market societies may experience a longing for something spiritual in their lives. They may go as far as rethinking what they have done at different points, in those moments of reflection that characterize the life of a human being.
The new entrepreneurs, educated under the obliged slogans of social equality, on the contrary, tend to reflect upon and review their actions in the opposite direction, reproach themselves for futile expenditures of energy and conclude that it is time to use them for their own benefit, that they ought not waste another minute considering the old, deceitful slogans or sterile utopias.
These businesspeople consider the everyday hypocrisy of the traditional rich, deployed to balance out their guilt, a simple waste of time.
They do not ask for permission or forgiveness, nor do they show gratitude. They simply pay.
For this new class, boasting of one’s wealth is a healthy sign of good taste.
They do not understand philanthropy or the patronage of the arts. They detest art but spend large sums of money on paintings and sculptures that can be resold at a higher price.
They are direct, sincere, uncomplicated, rough and devoid of any depth. They make obscenely rich the manufacturers of all distinctive items of bad taste that characterizes the nouveux riche.
Their clothes show an astonishing lack of taste and, running traffic lights in their urban yachts, made and painted exclusively for them, they are simply incapable of understanding why anyone would consider a gray Rolls Royce a sign of distinction.
All the while, they shamelessly let others know that their powerful parents shielded them as much as possible from those slogans that put to sleep and bound an entire nation for over half a century, changing their rhetoric (but never their habits) as they become used to uncorking expensive champagne bottles. Most swing back the bottle, while some use cups, mixing the champagne with some ice cubes.