Servile Talents / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 10 May 2016 — “There is really no spectacle more hateful than that of servile talents.” (José Martí, Complete Works, Volume 13, Page 158, Cuban National Press.) I wanted to start these lines with this thought of the Apóstol [Cubans refer to Martí in this way], as many of our intellectuals, some of them with famous names, have joined the flock of government sheep, without having any need to do so, taking an active part in its campaigns of disinformation and manipulation of the people, going so far as to commit acts of violence against those who think differently to them, and demonstrating an aggressiveness which is foreign to them and does not fit well with their personalities.

Intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals (and there are plenty of them too) of both sexes, united in a so-called “defence of national identity, independence and sovereignty”, repeat everything that the old “historical leaders” say, like well-trained parrots. Even including self-confessed Stalinists who, divorced from reality, still have nightmarish dreams of a communist world, firmly believing that their words reflect what most Cubans feel, and that they are historic, because only they have the illegal right to think, which other Cubans are not allowed to do.

Such servility, opportunism, and fanaticism is disgusting, most of all when it comes from supposedly educated people, who should serve as good examples of ethics and honour for the rest of us.

I am not going to name names, because I am afraid of being unjust and forgetting some of them, since most of them are well-known because they appear regularly in the official media, with their pig-headed articles, declarations and interviews, get books published without any trouble, and receive prizes, awards and government tributes in recognition of “carrying out their political duty”, as distinct from their intellectual or artistic merits, which I do not deny they possess.

Although they are now enjoying their “bit of Sunday”, as the adverts for a popular brand of beer used to say years ago, tomorrow they will be questioned and condemned for their cowardice and lack of civic-mindedness.

I am going to end with another one of the Apóstol’s thoughts: “All tyrants have one of these educated thinking people at their side, who can pen justifications, mitigations and pretences. Or many of them do, because hand-in hand with all this writing goes an appetite for luxury, and that brings an eagerness to sell themselves to anyone who can satisfy this desire. Many intelligent scumbags sell their tongues or their pens to get a house or a car or a bag of money for their loved-ones.” (José Martí, Complete Works, Volume 12, Page 276, Cuban National Press).

Translated by GH