The Deadly Poison of Political Discourses / Miriam Celaya
Posted on May 30, 2014
Socialism is like dancing a milonga* in the midst of a carnival parade
of rumba dancers
HAVANA, Cuba – Indians and Cowboys, heroes and villains, the good and
the bad… these are terms often used in movies, soap operas and
literature to classify polarizations of characters, placing them, by
virtue of that dual machination, in hostile camps where, invariably,
good triumphs over evil.
This same framework does not escape politics in its most simplistic
interpretation, especially manifesting itself through the yardstick of a
young and radical left, whose obstinacy is almost as astonishing as it
is scary, by appealing to the nostalgic past and "better" times of the
so called real socialism, when the Soviet era of influence extended over
the better part of the world and even invaded, though not quite
congealing, a reality so culturally different, in culture and in spirit,
as that of Cuba.
It seems surprising, after the resounding disappointment of Eastern
Europe's "Marxist-Leninist" experiment, the proven economic inefficiency
and widespread corruption of the model, in addition to the repression
applied against any manifestation of free thinking, to find, among
relatively young Cubans, who in addition consider themselves
libertarians, such expressions, full of admiration and longing for that
"beautiful and giant nation" as they refer to the defunct Soviet Union,
especially in a social environment that is increasingly more distant to
that monster's, so such a stance is an anachronism similar to dancing a
milonga* amid a rhumba carnival dance troupe.
Paradoxically, these diehard nationalists, whose common denominator is
the absolute rejection of anything that smacks of "Yankee imperialism",
are the staunch defenders of what was once the metropolis of Cuba for
thirty years, the USSR — that peculiar form that the Russian imperialism
took for a time — and they don't accept that a "bureaucratic elite"
which held power, and particularly Mikhail Gorbachev, brought about "the
betrayal of possibilities" of a socialist system that could not be
sustained after 70 years of tight control over the economy, natural
resources, political power and over society as a whole. They believe
that in a few months barely a handful of bureaucrats swept off the
socialist moral force and its achievements against millions of the
"aided," who later ratified at the polls the return to capitalism.
That's why our sleepless party animals are demanding another opportunity
for the standardization and consecration of poverty. This is indeed the
point: like postmodern Cathars, they demonize material wealth, as if
poverty itself constituted supreme virtue.
Noting this, but being aware of everyone's right to express their own
political and ideological credo, which is what freedom is about — and
also democracy, which these subjects distrust so, because it was born in
bourgeois societies, and it's fitting of them — we have to add that
these are groups (the principle of the "collective" is essential)
lobbying for the rights of workers, especially those of laborers, though
they might not be, based on the absolute rejection of "capitalism". They
are so many other messiahs, especially those who worship that other
ardent killer, Che Guevara, who, after executing so many Cubans,
promoting so much violence in different regions, received a taste of his
own medicine and made a disappearing act.
Their ideas and political strategies are, therefore, based on the old
outlawry-Twentieth Century principle of socialism's struggle (the
"good") against capitalism (the "bad"), where humankind — the workers,
the "masses" — will achieve their due prosperity once the former
triumphs over the latter. It doesn't matter that we are already moving
through the second decade of a new century, where knowledge,
technological revolution, information and communications are essential,
indispensable conditions for seeking global solutions for the present
and the future of humankind; where political borders are increasingly
blurring, and where the narrow concept of "capitalism" and "socialism",
"rights and lefts", are not enough to define the complexities of an era
that is giving birth — not without labor pains — to new relations and
principles of global coexistence, including political ones.
But the infantile left (which, fortunately, is not the whole so-called
"left") is so caught up in flashbacks and in the contemplation of their
virtuous navels that they have no clue.
Maybe that's why they use trite phrases (as that kitsch one with an aura
reminiscent of Guevara: "socialism cannot be built with the dull weapons
of capitalism") and, at the same time, they dusted off old and dull
slogans and historical figures that were the authors or founders of the
thought trends of which they are the self-proclaimed heirs, perhaps due
to a congenital disability to establish some new paradigm of thought,
better suited to the times. None of them has bothered to define what
those "dull weapons of capitalism" might be which have allowed its
continuation for over a millennium.
And it is not about denying true claims. I share, in principle, the
critical attitude of those leftist sectors before the issue of foreign
investments, be it at Mariel, in the field of tourism (hotels, golf
courses, marinas, etc.) in various industries, in the field of
agriculture or in other economic areas that this regime has
systematically destroyed for 55 years. But, for the sake of the presence
of the "transnationals" or because that "places us in the flux of
capital and the global capitalist economy" — by the way, the only global
economy is the capitalist economy, the "socialist" one is village
economy, of whores and sugar mills — for, after all, I am definitively
in favor of all that means prosperity, development and wealth, but
Cubans on the Island are excluded from partaking in it, because such
investments will only enrich the autocracy and its elite, and because
workers will not even have the right to enter into contracts directly
with those companies; on the contrary, they will be doubly dispossessed
by the Government-State-Party through its employment agencies and by an
abusive wage system.
At any rate, it is not seeking equality or in defense of socialism that
thousands of Cubans leave the country each year, nor are those who risk
their investments in a private enterprise inspired by Che or the USSR.
It is well-known that true freedom lays in the full exercise of the
capabilities of individuals, in their chances of success, not in the
hypnotic miasma of ideologies. Let's not blame capital for our own
failures, because in Cuba there has not been any deadlier poison than
that of the political discourse. The Cuban Nation was forged on the
desire for prosperity of her children, on the work and the talent of
millions of them, not on the primacy of one ideology over another: such
are the dull weapons that History has bequeathed to us.
Translator's note: A milonga is an Argentine dance… as (in)appropriate
in Cuba as another famous Argentine import.
Cubanet, 27 May 2014 | Miriam Celaya
Translated by Norma Whiting
Source: The Deadly Poison of Political Discourses / Miriam Celaya |
Translating Cuba -