Why Bother For Less?

By Martin Guevara

Left.  Illustration Wikipedia.org
The Left.  Illustration Wikipedia.org

HAVANA TIMES — The Left has a fundamental advantage and drawback: it is the ideal mechanism to manage a series of moral and ethical values, concepts of solidarity, fraternity, equality and social justice which can be applied and expressed by individuals and the masses alike. These give those who claim to possess such sensibilities an aura of moral superiority, when contrasted with those who declare an inclination towards the pursuit of financial benefits and material wealth, to the detriment of the spiritual and the longing for social justice.

This also places the Left in a contradictory position with respect to the age-old pursuit of power, as the very instant that the Left takes power it assumes a position to the extreme right of its own proposals, of the foundational causes and tenets behind its emergence.

The sensibility that has been termed “left-wing” throughout history (or since the French Revolution, to be more precise) and which has had different, more or less structured ideological foundations, appears to be incompatible with the aspiration to be part of the high spheres of power.

At the exact moment when a left-wing militant becomes the “Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces” and must administer the sale of mines, tanks, bombs and machine-guns, at the very moment they take command of law and order forces such as the police, from the moment they are forced to repress a demonstration or, quite simply, a protest in an underprivileged neighborhood, at the precise instant in which this representative of the oppressed must take over a prison and all of the country’s repressive forces, they position themselves as far to the right of their original project as can be imagined.

The chlorophyll and red cells needed to photosynthesize and oxygenate the political projects of the Left, the guarantee of democracy and the empowerment of the masses, can only be found in the auditing and checking of power by taxpayers.

The foundational utopia that sustains left-wing principles is incompatible with the high spheres of power, no matter what disguise this power puts on and, as though the contradiction inherent to the situation weren’t sufficiently clear and obvious, the past and current centuries have made a point of vomiting upon us the grim results of each and every one of the experiments conducted in this sense, with varying degrees of good or bad intentions, leaving behind deception and pain in all cases.

No places have had as negative a reaction to discourses of solidarity, of altruism, as the countries where the inaptly-called “communist” experiment took place. In this connection, Cuba appears to be turning into a paradigm, a proverbial example.

For the first time in the history of pseudo-communist dictatorships, the same leaders who took power (those who led the revolution, that is), not their children or followers but the very people who subverted the established order and even physically liquidated the representatives of that system through executions, imprisonment, exile, ostracism and dementia, are the same people who, without the slightest sense of embarrassment, without even the basic show of decorum that good manners demand, without acknowledging any mistakes, invoking excuses or asking for forgiveness over the pain they caused others, are now proposing a return to capitalism, only that, now, it is to be led by them, the former dictators of the proletariat, the former Marxist-Leninists, or by their friends or relatives.

They do this as though the past fifty years hadn’t taken place, as though we hadn’t seen thousands of deaths and millions of people humiliated, denied the possibility of returning to the country of their birth, as though a country with a system of values in tatters, split families and, most importantly, a sterile wasteland of Utopia, humiliated and abused time and time again, hadn’t been left behind.

But, why should one care about any of this, when Raul Castro and Barack Obama are embracing one another? Mayte cannot come down from the tree she hung herself from, Raul won’t come back from his cirrhosis and delirium tremens for having been excluded from all social spaces and Jorge (and everyone else on his raft) can’t be dredged up from the bottom of the sea – though, if we demand that they share power, that they repent for the damage they caused, that they leave and never come back (as part of a retirement offered by their victims, out of the kindness of their hearts, in order to take the higher ground), then, perhaps they will resurface and blossom, these women and children bloated by salt-water, swollen with memories and grief, with frustration and horror, perhaps they will return to keep us from forgetting.

They may come back to remind us that dreaming may prove expensive, dangerous and difficult, but that it is the only way to keep the present fertile and to once again water and treasure the aspirations the lie in the soul of eternal dreamers.

Why would they bother to come back for less?

7 thoughts on “Why Bother For Less?

  • I have only visited for a short while, I defer to your more in depth experience on these matters. I find insight on your obersations around Raul’s family members having control of security and military. I understand that they also control the state companies that comprise the majority of the economy.

    When Fidel ran the place and was inculcating the Soviet model, the direction of intent was fairly clear. Other than retention of state control, the direction is now not as clear. Other than the descredited Soviet model that even North Korea is moving away from is not the model.

  • Back in October 2011, Raul announced (through the so-called workers union) that by April 2012, 500,000 workers of the total of 5,200,000 would no longer be employed by the state but would have to enter the (non-existent) private sector. There was panic and by February of 2012 he had to rescind the decision. But over the next year many people to purchase licences for one or other of the list of 187 occupations recognised and listed by the state. They included hairdressers but also such bizarre occupations as pushing a wheelbarrow. Hairdressers initially charged 10 pesos – that is what I as one possessing little hair still pay. But with the adoption by school kids of the coconut and gorilla cuts – even a few mullets, the prices have risen to 12 or even 15 pesos. On the other hand many took out licences to sell DVD’s and CD’s. Initially they charged 30 pesos, but as the number of vendors increased, competition forced the price down to 25 pesos and then 20, reaching rock bottom at 15. The law of supply and demand caused some to forego their licences (at 200 pesos) and the prices are now 20 and 25 pesos. However, insufficient being sold caused some to rent out the DVD’s at 5 pesos for 24 hours.
    It is now two years since the regime announced that it was going to consolidate the two currencies into one and cease the Cuban Convertible. However, upon reflection and especially for the state enterprises that have an exchange rate of 1 peso = 25, the regime is realising that converting pesos at 25 = $1 US will lead to inflation. So, there is now a delay in uniting the two currencies – for how long being very uncertain.
    Raul Castro is not concerned about survival – that is assured by his son-in-law General Luis Alberto Redriguez Lopez-Callejas controlling GAESA the military holding company which controls over 80% of Cuba’s economy. Security in Cuba which is very significant with the state police and CDR is controlled by Raul’s son Alejandro Espin Castro.Raul has no need to fear.
    Another interesting move was when two years ago Raul announced that Cubans now owned the homes they live in and could buy and sell both homes and cars – the total number of which is thought to be about 60,000. Enthusiastic Cubans put up notices on heir homes saying:
    “Se vende esta casa”.
    There was a problem, although many wanted to sell – in order to obtain sufficient money to emigrate – none had the financial resources to buy.
    Similarly with cars – the prices are astronomic compared with those in the free world. $235,000 for a 4 year old Peugeot. Apparently in the first year the state agents controlling sales sold 51 cars.
    As one who lives most of each year in Cuba, I would advise against any optimism that life is going to get better for the citizens or that Raul will introduce any change that in any way reduces his total control and power.
    What comes next? More of the same!

  • Raul was a communist before Fidel, that is certain. But while Fidel stayed and stays with an unworkable ideology, Raul is introducing cracks in the old system. No question his preference is state socialism, but there is something he wants even more. Survival.

    I just returned from Havana 2 weeks ago. For the first time, I see changes. Not capitalism, not freedom like in the US. But changes like barbers no longer are controlled by a state corporation. Products are priced in dual currency. Less signage of the now tired 1950’s revolution.

    Raul has a brutal past and is not as popular as his older brother, but he is on to something. At 88 and 83, it is time to prepare for what comes next. A return to 1950’s Cuba is not in the cards. Some form of socialism with a market is what is emerging.

  • But Raul Castro Ruz has failed to make the everyday economy work. He is a hard-bitten dedicated communist. I don’t agree with Martin Guevera that they (the Castros) are proposing a return to capitalism. I think that ‘they’ are cleverly manipulating the media and certain international figures into believing that change is taking place in Cuba. I do agree that Raul has a bucketful of street smarts – he created Gaesa which controls over 80% of Cuba’s economy.

  • The Holocaust in Nazi Germany was geared to make profits for German capitalists. Neither does the mass killing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki prove the moral superiority of capitalism. The destruction of Libya and Iraq show a propensity of US capitalism towards mass murder. Certainly, Stalinism was also guilty of mass murder but only by purging and murdering most of the original Bolsheviks. Power does not corrupt–powerlessness corrupts. US and Britain control the world market….weak and powerlessness nations are forced to play ball. Revolutions made in weak nations are inevitably distorted.

  • So Guevara thinks that an ideology, loosely called the Left and which is responsible for the murder of tens of millions of people is “the ideal mechanism to manage a series of moral and ethical values, concepts of solidarity, fraternity, equality and social justice”. He couldn’t get more ironic if he tried.

    “The foundational utopia that sustains left-wing principles…” is the root cause of these genocides, holocausts and killing fields perpetrated by Marxists over the past century. When a revolutionary ideologue believes ” “Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine” (…to quote somebody or other), then the resort to brutal methods of repression and extermination is not an aberration or deviation from Leftist principles, it is the essence of Leftism exercising power.

    If one believes in Utopian paradise on earth, then one will see anybody who opposes you as an enemy of paradise. Who but an evil monster would oppose a perfect utopia? Therefore, it is not only permissible to kill these enemies of Utopia, but necessary. Thus the very delusion of Utopia becomes the cause for murdering all opposition to Leftism. The act of liquidating these enemies of the people will create the Utopia. The road to Utopia has always led to mass murder.

  • It is a practical matter. State socialism exhausts itself time after time. As much as the haters can’t stand free market societies, they actually work. They work so well that a measure of socialism can be supported from their success.

    Raul is a smart manager, more gifted than his visionary older brother when comes to making the everyday economy work. The changes he makes are support that level of socialist that can be maintained in practical terms.

    Man does not live off a speech. Food, Shelter, advancement need a source.

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