This commentary by Luis Sexto needs little introduction. It gives a feel for the mood of the country as it faces up to difficult and disagreeable adjustments to a patchwork of the valid, the harmful and the obsolete.
Spectres and the present
By Luis Sexto
Juventud Rebelde, January 24, 2011
Translation: Marce Cameron
It seems to me that the greatest risk to Cuban society in its internal circumstances, influenced by those of the world, could be to entrench itself in fear, pessimism or perhaps resignation, all feelings that a psychologist would include among the "spectres of the soul". Some may be offended by this judgement because, they would say, how could we fear or be pessimistic or resign ourselves if we have confronted without trembling nor wavering the hostility, threats and subversive actions by successive US governments.
Of course, nobody would deny such evidence. But the courage [I refer to here], primordial and with everything this implies, and that I have already mentioned, is not about raising weapons, shooting, charging at the enemies of the nation. Physical courage lies outside of the apparent generalisation of fear or pessimism or resignation. For many it would even be a historic privilege to confront a wave of invading "marines". It would be very straightforward for them. Because they would know who they were aiming and shooting at.
Now then, I want to try to reflect in moral terms. And to continue this analysis we'd have to turn to psychology and accept the tendency to persist in habits, to not abandon the known for the unknown, other than when in an act of liberation we take a leap forward. The origins of fear, pessimism and resignation are multiple.
We need to accept that, in effect, a certain part of society fears the possibility that the conquests of the Revolution — which never, in its brief history, has advanced without separating itself from obstacles of internal and external opposition — may be lost.
We agree, what's more, that it is natural that those who have defended the socioeconomic order they installed, and have defended it with good intentions, will be assaulted by pessimism when faced with the fact that our reality is being updated with modifications whose scope or success cannot be foreseen.
But let's allow for the senses in which Cuban society — that aspires to socialism, which is justice and independence — presents a rough characteristic: its complexity. In it is plaited, interwoven, in sometimes absurd alliances, the reasonable with the irrational; the collective with the personal; the success with the error; the ethic with the moral hypocrisy, abidance with indiscipline. It has to be admitted, though it may hurt or perturb us, that Cuba's social organisation has been overloaded with bureaucratism. Thus, certain gazes cannot see what exists but only what they wish would exist. Therefore, our economy will have to be organised horizontally enough that the prevalence of incorrect acts above the law is avoided, and that the excess of will on the part of the administrators, above the view of the workers, is also avoided.
To preserve political independence and social justice we need, then, the indispensable mechanism of renovation, the basic dialectical method that would allow Cuba to become a place where such things abound. This, then, must be understood, and we must understand that a country whose image Raul [Castro in his speech to the National Assembly in December] silhouetted honourably and clearly as one foot over the edge of the precipice, cannot pass this test unharmed without measures that are at times drastic. Drastic measures that must preserve the equilibrium between the urgent and that which can be delayed, the necessary and the optional, that which is possible and that which would be inappropriate. Doubts may be understandable. But, being demanding, fear and pessimism are out of tune with our history. Or resignation, that feeling with which we leave everything to chance, to the wind that pushes leaves or papers around.
I have no illusions: some of my readers will write me off as a dreamer. And if this is true, that is, if I am a dreamer, is this not preferable to being labelled a pessimist, or resigned, or timid? I confess, nevertheless, that sometimes fear does keep me awake at night. Fear that everything of value in my country, its work and its history, could fall into the decadence of those that Ruben Dario called the new barbarians of Attila. These days, on learning of the attack, that became a killing, on a US senator, liberal and progressive, I ask myself if this is the country they propose [for us] so emphatically from the United States?
For now what counts is the present, and also the internal spectres, such as bureaucracy. But the bureaucratic mentality, dedicated to restricting with its all-seeing and misplaced eye, will only be nullified if the workers and socialist democracy raise themselves to the first rank of decision-making through a conscious and rational strategy, without fear, nor pessimism, and much less resignation to things being "always like this and they always will."