Monday, May 28, 2007

Blast From the Past

Read the Nation's 1957 denunciation of the Fulgencio Batista's "blood-drenched" Cuba. The most remarkable thing about this article, read fifty years later in 2007, is how like a junior, incompetent devil Batista looks in comparison to magnificent accomplishments of his successor, Fidel Castro. Perhaps the most interesting paragraph in this contemporaneous account is this wonderment in the pitch of revolutionary fervor in the midst of Cuban prosperity. The Nation implied that men wanted more than bread. They wanted freedom.

Could it be that Cubans cherish political liberties as well as full stomachs? Machado went down in a year of economic misery and despair when wages in the cane fields had dropped to ten cents a day. This is something new, a revolution at the very peak of prosperity. But all the universities are closed, human liberty and dignity mean nothing, all intellectual life is stultified by censorship and military coercion.

Today Cubans have neither bread nor freedom. But they do have comedy. They have Michael Moore to tell them how lucky they are.


Blogger Pangloss said...

That whole popular revolt thing didn't work out too well in Cuba either, did it? At least not after Che went to work with his Marxist murder inc. methods.

Compare and contrast to a great American hero, Sgt. Alvin York. That man found a way to reconcile his religious beliefs with his love of country. He was truly a great man and like all great men was persecuted for it, in his case by the IRS.

5/28/2007 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

What's always fascinated me is how the Left really loves it's royalty. Oh if you called it Royalty they would abhor it, but what else can the hereditary rule of the Castros, the Kims, the Khadaffis, and now the Chavez's be called?

Which to me speaks to the elitism of the Left, the desire to rule over the masses for their own good. The ugliness of Plato's Republic seems a nasty old nightmare of the West that never entirely dies. Sometimes it's relatively harmless, like the Shakers (who only hurt themselves). Of course the early Christians faces a heresy of celibacy for all Christians, naturally ruthlessly suppressed. The Mormons of Smith and Young, the 1968 Hippie Communes, and the long love affair with foreign kings/hereditary rules all speak to this idea of "start from Zero" ... the desire to re-engineer and tinker with society.

A dangerous and ugly fascination. Bad for the Cubans, of course. Dangerous for us. Woody Guthrie protested against "Roosevelt's War" right up until the moment that Hitler invaded the USSR. Partly because of the obedient party line, but also IMHO partly because Hitler was an attractive figure for many on the Left. The man who threw away inconvenient fetters on action and simply, acted.

As you've noted Wretchard, the Left has this fascination for the Man on the White Horse. As old as Stendahls Red and the Black.

5/28/2007 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Thought you all might be interested in this:

Why Read?:

More and more, we Americans like to watch (and not to do). In fact watching is our ultimate addiction. My students were the progeny of two hundred available cable channels and omnipresent Blockbuster outlets. They grew up with their noses pressed against the window of that second spectral world that spins parallel to our own, the World Wide Web. There they met life at second or third hand, peering eagerly, taking in the passing show, but staying remote, apparently untouched by it. So conditioned, they found it almost natural to come at the rest of life with a sense of aristocratic expectation: “What have you to show me that I haven’t yet seen?”….

The classroom atmosphere they most treasured was relaxed, laid-back, cool. The teacher should never get exercised about anything, on pain of being written off as a buffoon. Nor should she create an atmosphere of vital contention, where students lost their composure, spoke out, became passionate, expressed their deeper thoughts and fears, or did anything that might cause embarrassment. Embarrassment was the worst thing that could befall one; it must be avoided at whatever cost.

In Vienna, there was once a superb teacher of music, very old. He accepted a few students. There came to him once a young violinist whom all of Berlin was celebrating. Only fourteen, yet he played exquisitely. The young man arrived in Austria hoping to study with the master. At the audition, he played to perfection; everyone surrounding the old teacher attested to the fact. When it came time to make his decision. The old man didn’t hesitate. “I don’t want him,” he said. “But, master, why not?” asked a protégé. “He’s the most gifted young violinist we’ve ever heard.” “Maybe,” said the old man. “But he lacks something, and without this thing real development is not possible. What that young man lacks is inexperience.” It’s a precious possession, inexperience; my students have had it stolen from them.

Particularly this little bit:

Am I wrong to think that the kind of education on offer in the humanities now is in some measure an education for empire? The people who administer an empire need certain very precise capacities. They need to be adept technocrats. They need the kind of training that will allow them to take up an abstract and unfelt relation to the world and its peoples—a cool relation, as it were.

That resonates with this, from Spengler's Decline of the West:

All that remains in the post-history of a Culture is the struggle for mere power, for animal advantage per se. Unreason, biology, begins to dominate. Questions are no longer felt as questions and are not asked.

There is no need now, as there was for Baroque princes, to impose military-service liability on the subject -- one whips their souls with articles, telegrams, and pictures until they clamour for weapons and force their leaders into a conflict to which they willed to be forced. This is the end of democracy. If in the world of truth it is proof that decides all, in that of facts it is success.

But then:

Men are tired to disgust of money-economy. They hope for salvation from somewhere or other, for some real thing of honour and chivalry, of inward nobility, of unselfishness and duty. And now dawns the time when the form-filled powers of the blood, which the rationalism of the Megalopolis has suppressed, reawaken in the depths.

Caesarism consists of the unchained might of colossal facts. Caesarism grows on the soil of Democracy.

5/28/2007 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Fidel did one smart thing that other dictators have emulated ever since. Dump his dissidents and unwanted into the US. Gets rids of opposition and criminals and parasites in one fell swoop.

Nowadays, people expect that the people of Cuba will strongly support the successor to Fidel (likely his brother Raoul until a new generation of Communist leaders emerges for leadership).

The popular support for the Revolutionary Party is real. They want reforms, yes, but see their future more with being a China with economic liberalisation than being a Republican capitalist state run by exiles who cut and ran and have been gone for 40 years.

Only the Cuban exiles maintain that the populace is just waiting for them to return, to set up a crony capitalist democracy. Just like the Iraqi exiles that so badly suckered the neocons.

5/28/2007 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Towering Barbarian said...

"The popular support for the Revolutionary Party is real."

And the love of slave of master in the South was also real - Up until the moment of the Emancipation Proclamation! ^_^

The real question is this: Will Raul be wise enough to end the way that Gorbachav did and step down or will he end the way the ruler of Romania did and die at the hands of his "popular support"? o_O

Time alone will tell.

5/28/2007 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Cedarford -- if you think people want a hereditary rule, one that is not even Fidel in terms of ability or legitimacy or charisma, please lay off the Nigerian e-mails.

Cubans probably don't want the Miami Exiles, but neither would they want Fidelismo without Fidel. Heck I doubt they want Fidel absent his efficient secret police and military. Cubans know they are poor, know they have to whore themselves out to foreigners (a huge issue naturally) to make ends meet, know that Fidel is a bad king and his brother Raul likely to be even worse.

What is very likely is a succession struggle. Will Chavez annex Cuba? Will someone in the Army or Security forces crown themselves king? Fidel's legitimacy such as it is hardly seems to extent to Raul. And why shouldn't some abitious younger leader decide HE instead of tired old Raul be king?

Such is the life of hereditary kingship. Lil Kim seems to be the beneficiary of only of an argument among his father's followers of who should be boss.

Fidel is a mortal man, we will find out soon enough. It's likely to be bloody.

5/28/2007 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Awakening: The Real 'Surge' In Iraq
At WRKO’s Pundit Review Radio, Michael Yon spoke on The Awakening from Hit, Iraq.

Led by Sheikh Abd al-Sattar from Ramadi, The Awakening is the national anti-al-Qaeda grassroots movement that sprang from the Anbar Salvation Council. Its significance for Iraq and Iraqis going forward is difficult to overstate. In the interview, Yon observed:

A new day is dawning and it looks like a real chance for some kind of success here in Iraq and I can tell you my spirits are substantially lifted just over the period of the last couple of months. I see 2007 is going to be a serious year for progress.

In Diyala province, now essentially al-Qaeda in Iraq’s corporate headquarters having lost the initiative in Anbar, local tribal leaders have publicly announced the existence of the Diyala Salvation Council.
- Steve

5/29/2007 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Tribes of Iraq: America’s New Allies

5/29/2007 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

It seems only fair that someone from the New York Times serve a long prison term for the evil they did to Cuba and to America.

It should be possible to legally hold journalist liable for their malfeasances without restraining the freedom of the press.

It's not like this is a close call or difficult to ajudicate.

It should be a requirement for the media to report if foreign governments and revolutionaries are anathema to American principles in each story they send into circulation. And if they fail to do so certain penalties should be proscribed including fines, jail time and even capital punishment if their stories can be shown to have caused the death of anyone and especially of an American. What's the problem with writing such a law. The average man would love it.

What did they know and when did they know it?

Just think how much it would improve Michael More's film.

This would be an excellent presidential campaign issue. "Will you hold the press accountable if you are elected?"

5/29/2007 01:22:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Still Looking for a Laugh
Mel Brooks talk about everything from his musical of 'Young Frankenstein' to David Hasselhoff to smoking in the movies.
It Was 40 Years Ago Today

We asked readers for their then-and-now portraits from the Summer of Love and today—and they sent them. Far out

5/29/2007 01:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They have Michael Moore to tell them how lucky they are" and how backward we are.

Does Counter-Establishment™ Moore have a long list of pols, paperpushers, physicians and pharms he respects well enough to design, build and manage a universal healthcare system for our country? Hasn’t the professional provocateur and rich raconteur noticed that the US is slightly larger, somewhat more heterogeneous, a tiny bit more dynamic, rather more litigious and occasionally more demanding for medical options, alternatives and excellence than an island-prison under a dictator’s thumb (and, no, that wouldn’t be Bush’s Gitmo)?

Evidently, Moore has never been sick in civilized England, either, because its government-run socialized medical system of rationed and inferior care pretty much sUKs.

Total collectivization for controlling people by dictating recourse in their lives and well-intended collectivizing to centralize services and apportion fairness via policy and bureaucracy both trip down the same path of lessening or lost liberties, atrophying self-responsibility and deteriorating social-economic health. That Progressive propagandist Moore and the Dems would make our country sick just to gain and hold power is bad enough, but many of them are engaged in scratching that embarrassing leftist itch right out in the open, as if we can't see what a tacky and futile exercise that always is, given the last century of bloody utopian totalitarianism and the fact there are OTC remedies readily available on the (regulated) free market-- like Preparation H and donut pillows.

5/29/2007 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Maybe Michael should hie himself out to the sugarcane fields for some real solidarity. Drop a couple hundred pounds, sharpen up his social consciousness, and hey, make two dollars a day! An opportunity unavailable stateside, where machines do the harvest, and the peons all moved into the middle class generations ago.

5/29/2007 07:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame he didn’t work that into his revisionist serial drama schedule: "Havana—Will Travel".

5/29/2007 08:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Perhaps the most interesting paragraph in this contemporaneous account is this wonderment in the pitch of revolutionary fervor in the midst of Cuban prosperity."

Though the US be very prosperous and eminently less class-bound than pre and post (cooperative old money and apparatchiks as the new elites) revolutionary Cuba, a blast from the past threatens to blow up our future: Socializm for Amerika! link

Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined a broad economic vision Tuesday, saying it's time to replace an "on your own" society with one based on shared responsibility [ed.- collectivistic crutches and chains] and prosperity [ed.-anemic nanny statism at best].

The Democratic senator said what the Bush administration touts as an "ownership society" really is an "on your own" society that has widened the gap between rich and poor [ed.- not really, and our “poor” are almost rich by world standards].

"I prefer a 'we're all in it together' society [ed.- I and my administration minions get to dictate to everybody what’s what]," she said. "I believe our government can once again work for all Americans [ed.- my constituencies who vote]. It can promote the great American tradition of opportunity for all and special privileges for none [ed.- except me and mine, losers]."

That means pairing growth with fairness [ed.- oh-oh, the F word], she said, to ensure that the middle-class succeeds in the global economy [ed.- Progressives must invoke “global” every other breath to be way cool, super smart and visionary], not just corporate CEOs [ed.-unless they give me lots of questionable stock options and speaking fees to my bleh husband-in-political-and-shakedown-bed with me-- of course, not really in bed with me, worried feminist friends]…

5/29/2007 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Cool_Hand_Coon said...

You been sitt'in too long


5/29/2007 12:09:00 PM  
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This reliable information clears up a lot of things for you!

5/29/2007 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger ricpic said...

Will black Cubans side with their communist masters rather than return to a prosperous but nakedly (as opposed to the present covertly) white dominated Cuba? As usual, at bottom it's a racial question.

5/29/2007 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Ok, race might be a salient comment, but don't forget that Batista was mulatto.

Perhaps we can all hope fervently that Cuba finds a way to colorblind self-government.

5/29/2007 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Emphasis said...

Those interested in the economic and social situation in Pre-Castro Cuba might find the following information, and the contrast with Mexico and other countries interesting.

1. Cuba’s national income in 1956 had reached levels which gave the Cuban people "one of the highest standard of living in Latin America" as stated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Investment in Cuba (Washington D.C.; Government Printing Office, 1959), p. 184.
2. Compare the following as presented in the Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1960.
(a) Cuba had 1 telephone per each 28 inhabitants in 1958 while Mexico had 1 for every 75.
(b) Cuba had 1 automobile per each 27.3 inhabitants; Mexico had 1 per each 52.4.
(c) Cuba had 1 radio per each 5 inhabitants; Mexico had 1 per each 11.0.
(d) Cuba had 1 television set per each 18 inhabitants; Mexico had 1 per each 70.
1. As stated in the Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1960.
(a) In 1958 Cuba had the lowest mortality rate per thousand in
Latin America 5.8, while Mexico's was 11.6.
(b) In 1958 Cuba had also the lowest infant mortality rate in
Latin America 37.6 per thousand, Mexico was number 10 with 80.0.
2. As stated in the United Nations Statistical Yearbook, 1958.
(a) In 1958 Cuba had one doctor per each 980 inhabitants while Mexico had 1 per each 2.200.
(b) Cuba was third in Latin America in the number of dentists per inhabitants. Mexico was not among the first six.
As stated in the Annuaire International D'EduCation UNESCO, 1958.
(a) Cuba was number 1 in Latin America in total public money used
for education; Mexico was number 7.
(b) Cuba had one university student per each 273 inhabitants, Canada had 1 per each 210 and Mexico 1 per each 334. The United States had 1 per each 61.

EDUCATION (Continued)
(c) In Cuba 45.0% of the student body were women while in the U.S 32.8% of the student body were women In Mexico only 27.9% were women.
(d) Cuba had the third lowest rate of illiteracy in Latin America United Nations Statistical Yearbook, 1959.
1. According to International Labor Organization in Geneva, Cuba ranked fifth among all the nations in the world as concerns labor's share in the national income. ILO Yearbook of Labor Statistics, 1960. Published in Geneva.
2. The Cuban Confederation of Workers had attained a much higher numerical degree of organization in proportion to population than the labor movement in the U.S. Ernest Schwartz, “Some Observations on Labor Organization in the Caribbean" in THE CARIBBEAN: ITS ECONOMY (Gainesville, Florida; University of Florida Press, 1954), p. 1670 In 1954 Ernest Schwartz was the Executive Secretary of the Committee on Latin American Affairs of the CIO.
3. Cuban manual and non-manual workers had by laws the right to a one month paid vacation for each eleven months worked during the natural year. "Labor Conditions in Communist Cuba," (University of Miami Press; 1963), p. 93-94.
4. Cuba's agricultural worker's real wage was higher than was his counter- part's in France, Belgium, West Germany or Denmark. International Labor Organization.s Yearbook of Labor Statistics, 1960
5. Cuban unions were so strong economically, that in some cases owned valuable properties. For example the Restaurant Workers Union partly owned the Havana Hilton.
6. By law Cubans were entitled to nine days sick leave per year (Decree #798 of 1938 as amended in 1950).

5/29/2007 10:42:00 PM  

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