Sunday, December 6, 2009

/el doctor/ fidel castro: american politician

Every revolution needs a language, right?

Pietro in The Nation on the Cuban Revolution:

Who knew that better than he, the man who had subjugated the entire country, brought it to its knees with his "revolutionary violence"? Because where others--and I myself at the time--naïvely saw a voluntary acceptance, an "election," he saw with absolute clarity that all of it had been adamantly opposed, that it would never survive the test of a real election or stand up to any airing out, any public discussion of his practices and methods. That's what happened with Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms, to which, with perfect clairvoyance, el doctor Fidel Castro was fiercely opposed from the beginning.

For Castro and Gorbachev were historical epochs apart from each other. Gorbachev had inherited his power, didn't know how it had been gained, saw himself as a "good leader," someone who hadn't needed to have people killed, who'd never gotten his hands dirty or built socialism by force and against the popular will. Standing atop a pyramid of infinite power, Gorbachev behaved like an heir who knows nothing of his grandparents' effort and sacrifice to amass the fortune that he, wanting to be a good person and not an "exploiter," is eager to squander, distribute among the poor.

Fidel Castro's situation was very different: he was the one who'd brought socialism to Cuba. The superhuman effort it had taken to put the entire country onto that footing was fresh in his memory (though, let's concede once more, he did it for reasons of the Confrontation and not in pursuit of the mere chimera of a better life for all). He harbored no doubt that given a choice, the public, the entire nation, would choose to get rid of him, and fast.

Much more here


  1. I read most of the article and I couldn't find a mention of something that might be crucial to the analysis. The fact that Cuba had approached the US first, not the Soviet Union, in terms of normalizing relations (as in two countries dealing in bilateral terms according to international law, which is shit in itself) for me throws out the window the whole shit about about Castro and his govt not wanting to improve the lives of the majority, but more importantly to oppose the US. I think the revolution declared itself socialist in 61 and before that Castro had already approached the US. I'll check on that to then put in a more comprehensive way the argument

  2. Pretty sure you are right Ian.....This whole piece seems misinformed. I don't have this impression of Gorbachev either but that is besides the point.
    My experience within Cuba as well is that people (at least those willing to talk to a Gringo about politics) think that Castro has done a pretty good job and that they are better off than they would have been without him.
    As for the attempt to approach the US before going to the Soviet Union as a backup and later declaring the revolution "socialist" this is well documented.