Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Top ten reasons Castro should be hated

The Times has produced a handy list of the top 10 reasons Castro should not be a hero of the left. Let's see the lickspittle felchers of Cuba, George Galloway and Ken Livingstone defend these, or Matt Robson, or Willie Jackson.

  1. Sending homosexuals to forced labour camps.
  2. Executing people attempting to leave Cuba (as recently as 2003).
  3. Urging the USSR to launch a nuclear first strike against the USA.
  4. Holding 316 known political prisoners in 2006.
  5. Banning independent trade unions.
  6. Single candidates for all seats in the National Assembly.
  7. Computer and internet access is severely restricted.
  8. In 2003, 22 libraries raided with 14 librarians arrested with jail terms of up to 26 years, for having banned literature.
  9. Opposed even modest economic reforms, including the opening up by Gorbachev.
  10. Cuba's imperialist adventures in Africa, including supporting the Mengistu regime that was behind the 1980s Ethiopian famines that Bob Geldof relaunched his career off of.
So how about it? How about the New Zealand supporters of this dictator repenting for their support for this scumbag?

So how many more reasons do you need to vote out Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London?

Meanwhile, Daniel Finkelstein in the Times has an excellent article asking why the left worships dictators, including the Deputy Leader of the British Labour Party - Harriet Harman. Oh and no excuse that Thatcher supported Pinochet. Two wrongs do not make a right.


Anonymous said...

And in any case, there is no moral equivalence between Castro and Pinochet. Lefties love to claim that THEIR terrorist dictator removed someone MORE EVIL, and that the end justifies the means. This in spite of the fact that THEIR regime ALWAYS ended up doing MUCH MORE harm than the one it replaced, taking their people to the BOTTOM of the rung of the ladder of humanity.

Pinochet, on the other hand, oversaw real improvements in the state of his country, (which is still ahead of those other Marxist-sapped banana republics on that continent), and stood down in favour of democratic elections eventually.

OK, so he overthrew a democratically elected Marxist government. On the track record of Marxist regimes, is there no justification for doing so?

And take a look at some FAIR analyses of the proportion of his population Castro killed, compared with Pinochet. Plus, most of the killing under Pinochet was fighting between armed combatants. Most of Castro's victims have been tied to stakes and blindfolded at the time.

Thatcher was merely a rare exception among leaders in the Western world who had the guts to say this sort of thing.

maps said...

Oh dear! I see I've been made straw man of the day.

I'm not sure I want to experience the full delights of the passionate visceral argumentation you promise in your profile, old chap, but I should point out that, for me and for most people I personally know on the left, there's a difference between supporting Fidel Castro and supporting the Cuban revolution.

In fact, many of us would go so far as to say that supporting the revolution would involve taking a critical look at a lot of what Castro has done.

But taking a critical look means dropping the rhetoric and doing some good old-fashioned empirical research into the history of the revolution and the present state of affairs in Cuba. I don't know whether our friends at The Times have bothered themselves too much in that direction. If they did, they might have to qualify some of the claims in their top ten - the days of labour camps for gays and other manifestations of official discrimination are lone gone, for instance (though of course discrimination should never have existed in the first place).

Here's a short article I wrote several years ago for the Trotskyist paper Class Struggle.
It now looks a bit crude and schematic, but I suppose I'll present in my defence, should I ever be called before the McCarthy/Perigo Commission of Inquiry into Un-Libertarian Activities:

Cuba Goes Offline

Cuba’s government recently passed a law which limits internet access to those, such as officially recognised businesses and government offices, with special telephone accounts payable in US dollars. The law is an attempt to stop ordinary Cubans surfing the web. Amnesty International has attacked Castro’s anti-internet law, calling it "Yet another attempt to cut off Cubans' access to alternative views and a space for discussing them."

But Amnesty International’s complaints about Castro's refusal of net access to Cubans are not matched by condemnations of the United States-organised trade embargo and military harassment which force Cuba to operate as a siege state. It's actually the US government and the Cuban capitalist class in exile who bear ultimate responsibility for Castro's repression. The US has been waging economic and occasionally military war on Cuba for over forty years.

The US siege of Cuba has involved the use of stations like Radio Marti (named, outrageously, after a Cuban anti-imperialist fighter) to broadcast a lot of false and inflammatory information designed to create panic in the country and ultimately to facilitate a second US invasion. George Bush the younger has stepped up the anti-Cuba campaign. Recently Otto Reich, Bush’s right-hand man on Latin American affairs, planted threats against the Cuba and its ally Venezuelan in a series of right-wing US publications including the Wall Street Journal and the Miami Herald.

Hate for Bush’s plans for South America should not imply love for the way Castro runs Cuba. Castro is a Stalinist bureaucrat who is strangling Cuba’s revolution. Cuba’s socialised property and planned economy make it a post-capitalist state, and allow its people to enjoy health and education systems which are an inspiration to millions of workers around the world. But Castro only overturned capitalism from above because he wanted his rule to be bankrolled by the Soviet Union’s bureaucracy, which in turn owed its position to its hijacking of the original workers’ revolution of 1917. Castro was never and will never be interested in workers' democracy and the rule of the soviets (workers' councils). Since the fall of the Soviet Union Castro has been moving to follow the ‘Chinese road’ and restore capitalism. Cuba now has the US greenback as an unofficial currency, and foreign investment is being welcomed.

Like all Stalinists Castro uses the strength of the workers he controls to cut deals with the bosses, deals which see the workers cooperating with capital. Castro wants to see strong ‘national capitalisms’ throughout South America, as a counterweight to US imperialism. Hence Castro's closeness to Brazil’s President Lula, Argentina’s President Kirchner, and Ecuador’s President Guitterez. Castro favours a strategic alliance between South American national capitalism and the European Union, and sees the multilateral imperialism of institutions like the United Nations as the alternative to US unilateral imperialism. Hence Cuba's record of support for the genocidal sanctions against Iraq.

In revolutionary situations Castro always plays a counter-revolutionary role. When the ‘Argentinazo’ smashed the de la Rua government at the end of 2001 and revolution seemed on the cards, Castro made a speech endorsing the Peronist (social democratic) President Saa and telling protesters to get off the streets. Luckily Castro was ignored, and another three governments fell. Undaunted, Castro flew into Buenos Aires to attend the inauguration of the Peronist Kirchner. On the same day the CWG’s comrades in the Democracia Obrero (Workers Democracy) group were attacked by Kirchner’s armed cops, who were trying to recapture the occupied factory of Brukman. While Castro and Chavez lauded Kirchner and sipped cocktails, Kirchner’s cops clubbed revolutionary workers. The best of the South American left now recognises that defending and spreading Cuba's revolution means overthrowing Castro.

But no true critic of Castro should fail to condemn the US war on Cuba. Cuba's right to repress Radio Marti and similar internet operations must also be acknowledged. To use a comparison: corruption amongst trade union bureaucrats should be criticised when it occurs, but the criticism has to come from within the labour movement and the left, not from the bosses, or from a point of view uncritical of the bosses.
Activists who run open-access left-wing ‘indymedia’ websites have discussed subverting Castro’s ban on internet access by setting up a Cuban indymedia-in-exile. According to the Cuban government’s own estimates, 40,000 Cubans already illegally access the net. But how could a Cuba indymedia avoid being co-opted by the Cuba-bashers on the right? Amnesty International’s criticism of Cuba has been seized upon by right-wingers eager to discredit the Cuban revolution and the new revolutionary movements sweeping other Latin American countries today.

There are a number of campaigns centred in the US against the siege of Cuba by the US. If indymedia activists in the US and round the world got involved in these campaigns, then they'd be in a good position to constructively criticise the Cuban Communist Party's policies. The Party has tens of thousands of sincere rank and file activist members, and a pro-revolution but anti-Stalinist message could find an echo amongst them.

All the best,

maps said...

Actually, I've just looked over that long-ago post you linked to, Mr Scott, and I'm amazed that you can have construed it as some sort of bout of Fidel-worship. Like some Calvinist hedgerow preacher, you demand that I 'repent' of my sin of 'support' for Castro, preumably by flagellating myself or reading Ayn Rand. Well, here's my 'support' in all its brazen wickedness:

'Castro was able to put a lid on the revolutionary process, and protect his own authority from the ravages that workers' democracy would have brought, because of the relative weakness of the organisations of the Cuban working class, and the Stalinism of the country's Communist Party.'

In other words, I say that Castro was a Stalinist who stopped the Cuban revolution from taking a democratic direction. Sinful stuff indeed...

All the best

Libertyscott said...

Maps, fair point it is NOT Fidel worship so I will remove the link.

However let's be clear. Cuba is a prison state, it doesn't let its citizens leave. The US does. Cuba allows virtually no freedom of speech or political plurality. The US does. Cuba egged the USSR to launch a nuclear attack on the US, the US tried to overthrow the Castro regime (one of those is a little more brutal than the other).

If Cuba allowed free speech and competitive elections the US embargo would be gone. Cuba operates as a siege state not because of sanctions, but because of Stalinism.

I take your criticism of the Cuban regime, but it is another debate as to whether we would agree on the answer :)