By Harold Cardenas* (lajovencuba.com)
HAVANA TIMES — Discrediting doesn’t work as a method in political debates. Appealing to insults instead of settling differences on the battlefield of thought is a dangerous shortcut that can debase whoever practices this behavior.
This practice is common in the Cuban public sphere where there are more suspicions than trust, more fear than knowledge and more accusations than collective construction.
The intention to polarize public debate in Cuba, maybe seeking to get rid of ambiguous positions, is causing collateral damage. This is what happens when experts in suspicions and dissidence, which are also necessary, confuse themselves with being the avant-garde and use institutions for their own purposes.
Journalism is the battleground where you can see this struggle the best. There are many digital media platforms about Cuba and they present new scenarios, even some which are born in other parts of the world or are financed by foreign resources. When journalism is practiced off of the back of foreign funds or with the proceeds from advertising, there are questions which we need to ask with maturity, without naivety or schizophrenia.
As a collaborator of one of these platforms, I always wondered whether those leveling accusations knew something that I didn’t, or whether it was a habit to find subversion on every corner.
However, someone is being irresponsible, whether that’s for creating unsubstantial doubts or having information which proves these suspicions to be true and not sharing it with the general public, allowing many young people to be used by one side and pressured by the other. Let them lay everything out straight to clear up whether there is or isn’t deception up their sleeve. Because accusing everyone and everything as a sport is to incite gratuitous hate.
At this rate, we are running the risk of the word “subversion” becoming the “witch” cry of our times and we will end up burning innocent people at the stake. These young people deserve a better explanation than the promise of possible subversion, however pressuring them without giving any explanations is an easy road to go down. It’s hard to understand that on par with these pressures, our officials are strengthening ties with representatives from the same countries who are being accused of subverting the social order here in Cuba. Everything seems to be clear on this level; it’s just on our level that there are doubts. Discrediting and adjectives are the methods used to spark suspicions.
We could ask a lot of people from these media platforms and projects valid questions. However, it is disastrous to not recognize the differences between them, create false profiles on the internet for personal attacks involving institutions in online arguments and quarrels, creating an uninformed and blind group that sees this as a task rather than as a political practice. Taking this route, the route of blood hungry witch-burners and polarization, can get out of hand very easily.
Ideas, whether they are correct or incorrect, aren’t killed or attacked; if you disagree with them then they need to be beaten with better ideas. Institutionalizing discrediting as a means, or allowing individuals to use Cuban institutions for their own personal agenda, is dangerous. In the same way responding to attacks using the same language, igniting hate on the contrary or trying to avoid taking a standpoint when it matters, feeds these suspicions.
Today, the Right is becoming so obstinate in the world, that we breathe a sigh of relief when a social democrat becomes prime minister or a French banker is president, they have moved the bar. In order to not remain behind, we do the same here in Cuba, putting the Left in such an extreme position that it is hard to meet the parameter. Let’s begin then with leaving the many behind whom, according to what Fidel himself said in his “Words to Intellectuals” speech, would have a place within the Revolution, and once again are marginalized. Constructing more enemies and resentment, because it seems like we don’t have enough as it is.
This is how we at La Joven Cuba have seen them move the bar for us. While we continue to publish the same or maybe less daring content than before, because we have become more dangerous in the minds of those judging, the bar keeps moving, to the point that a fanatic can present him/herself as the “revolutionary” model and the person who remains in their place can find themselves in the “center” overnight, even though this isn’t their place or their political standing.
I can only speak about us [at our blog], who have been trying to accompany national institutions and political organizations for years, watching the struggle between those who support and those who sabotage within these institutions and organizations.
The ironic thing is that while more doors are being closed here in Cuba, more windows are opening abroad, and we refuse to use them. The dogmatists’ strategy is to put you on the top of the cliff, hoping that you slip and fall to the Right, so they can say that you were suicidal from the very beginning. Sometimes this hides human misery which is much worse than dogma, dressing up personal arguments as ideology, or looking for the limelight at the expense of others.
The best disinfectant against suspicions and disagreements is to lay everything out straight. The media and projects taking clear political positions and the State making its reasons for such mistrust public, giving us information so that we know whether discrediting is a group method or comes from above, to know whether there is any real substance to these accusations or not.
Maybe, we will be able to differentiate what’s dangerous from what is merely schizophrenia in this way. Because it will be difficult to build a socialist democracy while some people take to other people’s throats, while discussions fall into insults and discrediting each other, while everyone tries to give moral lessons according to their own personal convictions.
For now, the only sure thing we have here in Cuba are the cyclical processes of political contraction and detente. When the needle returns to its normal position, we will once again begin to recognize the mistakes we made, corroborating who really was the enemy back then and who wasn’t. If only suspicions don’t end up breaking our unity, creating too much collateral damage and opening up wounds that we won’t be able to close afterwards. If only.