Lame Thinking or Ideological Lobotomy / Miriam Celaya

Ghost Ship. Image taken from a website on the internet.

Evidently, the dispute between left and right in political affairs is becoming too narrow to make any progress in resolving global conflicts today. More than narrow, it is absolutely simplistic. If the statement is applicable to worldwide levels, we are millions of years behind, judging by a contradiction that borders on the absurd: the inability of the so-called left to propose or participate in the politics of a totalitarian government that has declared itself a “leftist”, i.e., that defines itself from the overall direction of the nation by a single “communist” party.

And here we are. Any manifestation of thought which does not conform to the leftist persuasion is immediately disowned, ignored, silenced or even imprisoned, though it may not be exactly a “rightist” ideology. But, if the left doesn’t unconditionally subject itself to the will of the elite, then it doesn’t have a voice either.

It must be noted that one single thought does not exist inside the opposition, and that there are many variables within the Island’s left as well, from groups that are wholly subjected to the official thinking, mere parrots of government directives, to the more advanced sectors, suggesting bold proposals, not only in terms of economic reforms, but also with regard to the inclusive social and political transformations that should accompany changes in Cuba.

Between the two ends of the same rope — and we are talking about just the left and only about the left — there isn’t a very wide range of intermediate voices. The latter belong to those who want change, but not too many; they advocate journalism with an opinion, but still “socialist” and “revolutionary” journalism — let’s remember again that fascist dictate “Within the revolution, everything …” parting the seas of cultural and intellectual Cuban life since 1961, gagging all freedom of thought — that constantly appeal to “what Fidel said” or “what President Raúl stated” as legitimizing and sufficient sources that replace, all by themselves, the need for arguments. These are the ones who do not believe the need for any opening; a few cracks are enough, preferably protected by mesh to prevent any evils that always accompany freedom from slipping through.

But there are no nuances for the lords of power. People are either from the left or from the right, and this principle transcends all social life in the country. After this macro-classification, the rest is a breeze. Thus, those on the left supposedly have as their common denominator their adherence to the verses of Das Kapital, the Bible written by Karl Marx, the practice of hate towards imperialism, and the recognition of the undisputed guide of the Communist Party to rule the country, while dissidents, the opposition in general, and independent journalism in all its variables are part of an alleged block “of the right”, the betraying mercenaries working for the U.S. government so they get juicy funding from the US Treasury Department, not to mention advice from the CIA, though no one can figure out how it’s possible that, with such credentials, these individuals are not all in prison.

Seen from such a common view, it would seem that Cuban political thought is marked by ideological lobotomy: either you are on the left — and fully assume the roles dictated — or you are of the right, with all the consequences that entails. If you won’t define yourself in this primitive way, you simply “AREN’T”.

That’s why my friend, a foreign political scientist with whom I correspond fairly often, has told me that when he visits Cuba and meets with representatives of the official academics, he gets the impression of facing “lame thought.” So, while the world seeks new political solutions to meet the challenges of modern times; while globalization moves on, leaving behind old concepts of finding regional remedies against universal ills, and the technology of information and communication lend human thought and development an urgent pace, the Cuban political scene weakens at the same pace as the system and the whole country.

If we continue at this pace, we are eternally doomed to be a miniscule hamlet lost in the whirlwind of changes revolving around us, but not touching us. More than a wreck, Cuba threatens to become the ghost ship of postmodernism: without port, destination, leadership or crew.

Translated by Norma Whiting

May 7 2012