A great op-Ed by Nick Kristoff at the NYT explaining how, though lacking in first rate medical technology, the infant mortality rates are actually lower in Cuba. We could take away many good practices from the Socialist, island nation so close to our shores.
As I have put forth in my previous posts, a socialist government is the best political system to be realized today in the interests of the 99%. But if we are going to move towards having the power taken back from the rich and given to its rightful owners, the workers, we must avoid making the mistakes made by Communist countries today and in the past.
One of the most dangerous actions taken by the radical leftist governments of the past is that they tried to realize unrealistic goals too soon. E.g., China had its “Great Leap Forward,” the Soviets under Stalin always put forth these “5 Year Plans” that hurt the Russian people at the hands of Stalin’s vain attempts at greatness, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia killed over a million of their countrymen partially due to economic reforms. And these often just occurred to catch up with capitalist countries in the areas of industry, science, military, and infrastructurevtoo fast. Foolish.
The are two reasons why this is true, namely:
- Revolutionaries have no idea how to run a country. This often leads to unspeakable hardships and suffering for the reasons mentioned above in the pursuit of grand ideals.
- The three countries outlined above, i.e., Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and the Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia, were ruled under brutal dictators, or very small groups of leaders, who ran authoritarian governments. They involved purges, gulags, and mass murders of so-called “enemies of the people.” And these things are still taking place in North Korea under the rule of the Kim family and their latest criminal, thug leader, Kim Jong Un.
But in terms of the socialist experiment in Cuba, we could learn a lot of positive things from them. The U.S. capitalist media would have you believe that the Castros are no different than Stalin or Un, but what they don’t report are the great strides towards equality taking place in the small island country. E.g., they have redistributed land to the peasants through land reform. Once the Cuban peasants were slaves to rich plantation owners, but as a result of the revolution, the land owned by the corporations and plantation owners has now been divided amongst the people who work the land. And that is just one example of the successful reforms. They have also gotten away from just being a sugar-dominated economy and even become a powerhouse in the research and development of new medicines that are often purchased, yes, by the U.S. government.
Yet this has succeeded by not having some grand goal of building a developing country into a society where they are immediately just as technologically advanced as the U.S. These are examples of how ideas and policies could be learned from a socialist society to be translated instilled in a more equal America.
So in conclusion, the brutality of Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge is due to harsh authoritarian governments, not an attempted realization of a fully socialist society. These dictatorships had vain rulers trying to advance mostly Third-World countries into global players too fast. Yet we can look to somewhere like Cuba for positive ideas to enact here in the U.S. in pursuit of a more egalitarian society.
Read this article from the AP and I’ll show you how out-of-touch Congressmen and Women are wanting to stir-up a revolution in Cuba, even if that is possible from a non-domestic action.
But what about the culture of social justice there?
A good article in The Guardian about the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro’s, new powers to rule by decree without having to consult the national assembly. This new system was approved by the assembly in an effort to install a Cuba-like form of a socialist economy to combat corruption, retail mark-ups, and exploitation by foreign companies.
But critics claim that Maduro’s policies, which are the legacy of Hugo Chavez, will not stop the inflation problem, the corruption problem, and will hinder investments in the Latin American nation.
There has been, lets say, a “shady” relationship between the U.S. and Latin American leaders in the past, some resulting in crimes that may be classified as nearly unspeakable (“Operation Camelot” and Pinochet’s support in Chile; the United Fruit Company in Guatemala; the “Bay of Pigs” and the Cuban Missile Crisis in Cuba; support of the Nicaraguan Contras; the Colombian right-wing with their crimes against leftist rebels [FARC, mainly]). But since 2000, I would estimate, Latin America has begun holding its own in terms of resisting unbridled U.S. interference. A good example is illuminated here in this NYT op-ed on the genocide trial of the former Guatemalan dictator (who Reagan said was getting a “bad wrap”) Efraín Ríos Montt. Hopefully this trial will be successful, with due limitations, and will become an inspiration for other nations who have protected war criminals amongst their citizens.
The Post reports that North Korea announced on state t.v. that the government will begin new nuclear tests in reaction to new U.N. sanctions sponsored by the United States. And in return, the U.S. and China plan for even tougher sanctions if the tests are undertaken.
This report has reinforced my view that much of the time sanctions imposed upon “rogue” nations, i.e., any country that does not bow to the alter of the U.S. and the U.N., does not usually work. Now I do recognize that sanctions against Iraq stopped their WMD production, but it did not give to a peoples’ revolution to overthrow the dictator. And look at Cuba, North Korea, and Iran. Sanctions there have had no affect on the leaders’ ambitions but have only harmed the peoples of those nations.
Please comment if you have any relevant opinions or if you disagree with me. This idea is new to me and I may be wrong.
In most revolutions many new regimes intimidate, if not completely takeover, the nation’s media outlets. They fear outside influence by foreign governments and Thermidorian periods which may result in counter-revolutions.
Now, counter to many accusations, I am a true democrat. The possibility of a government controlled press absolutely frightens and sickens me as a citizen of these United States. Yet, I can understand the position of revolutionary government in monitoring and censoring the media. A good example would be that of Cuba following Castro’s overthrow of Batista. With the overthrow of a government with a backer as large and as powerful as the United States looming so large just 90 miles north, flooding your airways with propaganda and launching military attacks in efforts to overthrow the new government, seems to me a justifiable position from which to launch a media takeover.
But what happens is that media control in these new regimes lasts far too long. In my opinion, and it may be called an unqualified one, should last two decades, at the longest, as determined by necessity. After that time period the people should be able to express their views, and especially their criticisms, regarding their new government. But we have seen how long this media control can outlive its usefulness in societies around the world and throughout history, such as in China, Russia, Cuba, and North Korea.
So as related to this expression of the writer’s opinion, is a good article in The Guardian regarding Google’s attempt to bring uncensored internet and mobile phones to the people of North Korea.
A good piece in the Christian Science Monitor (also with good links) on how Cuba is opening it’s borders to it’s own people. This is seen as a great accomplishment for political reformers, but will this result in a Cuban brain-drain?
A good article from a good reporter (Sarah Grainger at the BBC) addresses some of these unsettled democratic-socialist policies of the regime and the current state of it’s opposition.