Farewell, Fidel

So Fidel Castro has gone, if not yet physically then politically.

As you would expect, mouthpieces of the far left have trotted out to praise this dictator and his failed state that has endured nearly fifty years of dictatorship. Somehow the lack of democracy, human rights abuses and widespread poverty are always offset against the observation that Cuba supposedly has an excellent health and education system. We’re compelled to believe that this qualifies as a ‘success’ over half a century of autocracy.

Dependable as ever, George Galloway was invited to debate Castro’s legacy on Newsnight. With a predictability you could set Greenwich Mean Time to, he proclaimed Castro as a hero to all of Latin America, compared George Bush to Hitler and argued that the communist revolution in Cuba would have been a success were it not for that nasty, bullying USA and their trade embargo.

And there lies the almost beautiful contradiction inherent in the arguments set out by those sympathetic to the Castro regime. On the one hand they admire a state that refuses to bend with the winds of global capitalism, yet on the other they blame the United States for condemning Cuba to poverty by refusing to trade with it.

In other words, the communist revolution in Cuba would have been a great success if only they had been able to engage economically with the world’s most powerful capitalist nation.

Joseph Heller could not have come up with a more perfect piece of circular reasoning.


Centrist. Atlanticist. Dry liberal. Anti-totalitarian. Post-ideological pragmatist. Child of The Enlightenment. Toucan.

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9 comments on “Farewell, Fidel
  1. faceless says:

    There was no communist revolution in Cuba. It was socialist.

    Here’s his appearance on Channel 4 news, maybe this will help you understand politics a bit better.

  2. Citizen Sane says:

    Meaningless semantics.

    Cuba is a socialist republic where only the Communist Party is allowed to stand for election. Arguing whether the revolution was in the name of socialism or communism is irrelevant given that it is (by definition) a communist dictatorship.

    If I ever needed help to “understand politics a bit better” that blustering, Trotskyist equivocator is the last person I would turn to.

  3. ph says:

    However, when you take a look at how appalling the anti-Castro Cubans of Miami appear to be, one starts to wonder whether perhaps Castro is not that bad. O

  4. Citizen Sane says:

    Really? How so? How appalling are they?

  5. ph says:

    Yes, see channel4, hugely

  6. Turgenev says:

    I agree that it is mere semantics whether one defines events in Cuba as a Communist revolution or Socialist revolution; however I would add that Castro mere embraced Marxism/Leninism as a flag of convenience sometime after the over-throw of Batista’s ‘puppet’ regime, the catalyst for this ideological change being the US imposing sanctions on Cuba. Castro’s crime? The belief in right of Cuban self-determination, the Nationalisation of Cuban industries and an intolerance of Havana as a playground for the American rich & privileged.

    You are quite right to highlight the indefensible civil right abuses of the Castro regime, once more actions committed in the name of the people serve only to hurt those very same people. It is also true that many left-wing commentators tend to be somewhat myopic on the subject of Cuba; however one cannot overlook the role played by aggressive US foreign policy and its culpability in the escalation of events. Indeed if there was any contradiction and hypocrisy at play it was the US view that it was acceptable to have nuclear weapons stationed in Germany and Turkey while Soviet weapons within the borders of its ‘ally’ Cuba was deemed a legitimate reason to push the world to the brink on nuclear war.

  7. mAc Chaos says:

    “Castro’s crime? The belief in right of Cuban self-determination, the Nationalisation of Cuban industries and an intolerance of Havana as a playground for the American rich & privileged.”

    See, I thought his crime was killing all those people. What do I know, though.

  8. mAc Chaos says:

    Still alive, CS? You’ve pulled a “mAc”. 😛

  9. Citizen Sane says:

    Greetings Mac. Still here, still alive, just severely lacking the motivation to write anything!

    Mind you….

    Turgenev – you see, I don’t see a moral equivalence between the actions of the USA and the actions of the USSR on the basis that it is abundantly clear to anyone whose worldview isn’t completely askew that if we can reduce the main actors in the Cold War in terms as simple as “good” and “bad” (and I would argue that we can), then the USA would be the former and the USSR would be the latter.

    This is a simplistic piece of reasoning, for sure, but I would stand by it and build a case around it. Even the most casual analysis of the Soviet Union would lead one to the conclusion that this was a vile empire based upon a failed ideology and implemented with totalitarian disregard for individual freedoms and liberties. How anyone can go on about “aggressive” US foreign policy when it was the USSR that conducted the biggest land-grab in history during the march to Berlin, condemning millions of people to half a century of Soviet enslavement is beyond my comprehension.

    The existence of US nuclear weapons and military presence in Europe post-1945 was the only insurance policy against further Soviet expansion. I would therefore reject the accusations of hypocrisy on the basis that the USSR had no moral mandate: the intention to deploy its weapons in Cuba was an act of provocation, whereas US weapons in Western Europe were there to protect a continent.

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