TO: A Leftist
FROM: An Old-Fashioned Liberal
RE: If America Were Cuba
AS AN OPTIMIST, I BELIEVE IN THE POWER of reason to dispel falsehood. While I understand that Communist Cuba has been a darling of your camp since El Comandante’s ascent over forty years ago, perhaps a hypothetical set of circumstances will promote a more sober assessment of Fidel Castro’s regime.
Imagine an America where
- George W. Bush wields plenary power.
- the Republican Party is the only authorized political organization.
- the Constitution includes a provision that “None of the freedoms recognized for citizens may be exercised against the existence and ends of the Republican state, nor against the decision of the American people to build Republicanism.”
- criticism of George W. Bush or Trent Lott is a crime.
- all associations must receive the Republican regime’s approval to exist, and unauthorized assembly of more than three persons is a crime.
- advocacy of a non-Republican philosophy is punishable as “enemy propaganda.”
- an individual may be imprisoned for manifesting “a special proclivity to commit counter-Republican crime.”
- watchdog Committees for the Defense of the Republic exist in every city and record conduct in the slightest non-conformity to Republicanism.
- a network of informers apprises the Republican regime of any dissident behavior.
- state-sponsored mobs harass and beat individuals who advocate a multi-party America with civil liberties.
- a Code of the Child provides that “Society and the state work for the efficient protection of youth against all influences contrary to their Republican formation.”
- the desire to build a better, freer life in another country cannot be realized unless the Republican regime grants exit and is paid departure fees.
This is a totalitarian America devoid of pluralism and privacy, an America perpetuated by systematic terror that reduces Americans to chattel of the Republican regime.
If America were Cuba, this is what it would look like. Every circumstance mirrors a Cuban policy, for instance Article 62 of the Cuban Constitution, “disrespect,” “illicit association,” “dangerousness,” and “illegal exit.”
I doubt you would defend such an America where human rights are comprehensively repressed and people live in petrified misery. If you were fortunate to live outside this America, I believe you would be at the vanguard of its opposition.
Vis-à-vis Cuba, however, your camp has failed to occupy the vanguard of opposition; on the contrary, it has been at the vanguard of soft-pedaling and defending Castro’s despotism.
This is deplorable and bizarre—deplorable because political savagery is indefensible, bizarre because socialist advocates of democratization have suffered severely under Castro (for instance, Vladimiro Roca and Elizardo Sanchez).
I am almost certain you would not apologize for an autocratic Bush regime. Why do you persist in apologizing for Castro’s autocracy? (This is the same man, by the way, who endorsed Brezhnev’s brutal suppression of the Prague Spring.)
Samuel Farber of Brooklyn College wrote over two decades ago: “It is high time to acknowledge that Cuba is now a totalitarian and bureaucratic state in which one man, with the aid of a small group of associates, controls the economic, social, and political life in the country.” He more recently notes Castro’s “one-party state Leviathan” that “has not permitted any significant institutional change in the political realm, where it has maintained all its principal controls.” (See “Cuba Today & Prospects for Change,” New Politics, Summer 2000.)
Farber is a self-described “revolutionary democratic socialist.”If he has the integrity to speak the truth, why not you?