Necessities / Claudia Cadelo

If you don't eat all the potatoes I'll take you to the Internet. Image: Lázaro Saavedra

Since that time on one of the campuses of the University of Havana when I raised my hand to express a doubt about the Marxist categories of necessity versus chance, the concept surrounds me. I have come to the conclusion that human needs are complex enough that the specialists must abrogate the right to “suppress” some of them in our lives.

We have Elaine, Cuban blogger, who assumes her grandfather doesn’t need the Internet. Sadly, she’s not alone. The other day someone assured me that for a Cuban farmer the Internet is not a priority. What is the priority? Undoubtedly in the Middle Ages electricity was not one, and for Cro-Magnon man what we now call “staple products” were in short supply. Why do we insist on establishing boundaries to human welfare? I wonder why it’s a problem to assume access to the Internet as a 21st Century human right. Whether the farmer is connected so he can study the market for new fertilizers for the earth, or so he can chat on a boy-meets-girl site is immaterial; what matters is his right to access the World Wide Web and what it represents for his personal life. Any “supposition” about what a farmer should do on Google, or in the furrow, is called control over the free actions of another, personal choice and individual freedom.

Of course reducing world poverty is an imperative, but I honestly don’t see the connection between that and the right of Cubans to have private accounts for Internet access. Social inequality in the world does not justify Raul Castro getting to decide that I can’t open my Facebook whenever I want. Isn’t it obvious? Or am I going crazy?

26 April 2011