The Masochistic Left is “Pavonating” Itself / POLEMICA: The 2007 Intellectual Debate

Masochism is the “sexual perversion of someone who enjoys being humiliated or mistreated by someone else,” says the dictionary. Did the writers who now rightly denounce the official television revival of Luis Pavón, Serguera and Quesada actually enjoy it?

“Pick little fights, don’t try to be a hero,” the current director of the Cuban Academy of Language advised me one afternoon in 1997 in Mexico City. Are most of the protests against the resurrection of the deputy commanders perhaps following, with discipline, the morals of this picaresque warning?

Please, the impossible? — to finish with Sancho Panza. Except in one of the protesting jousts — by a talented storyteller — there appears not the slightest intention of judging the lion, nor the brother, by those who never publicly repented of perpetrating that National Congress for Education and Culture in April, 1971, after the disaster of the Ten Million Ton Harvest and the subsequent submission to the Moscow of scientific communism and socialist realism.

Critical thinking in 2007 by the same people who shut down the magazine Critical Thought and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Havana? Is it naiveté or fear on the part of some who today accuse the television — as totalitarian now as it was in the “black decade” — of complying with an order handed down from the Party. Is this similar to what happened then?

Will it be tacitly understood, implied? Let’s hope so … What is not clear or hinted at in the Aristotelian rhetoric of complaints against the media tribute to the supporters of Pavón is, simply, whether they have now lost the little faith they had in the Halls of Power. That’s what, apparently, eludes them.

What did Luis Pavón do before being named president of the National Council of Culture? Was he not perhaps the director of the magazine Olive Green, a cadre very near the absolute confidence of Raúl Castro? Who could appoint the former prosecutor Papito Serguera at the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television? And by the way…

Ah, memory. I suggest a campaign to collect “perfumed love letters.” As I have not lost my memory — nor want to lose it — I remember clearly Fidel Castro’s speech at the closing of the Stalinist Congress on Education and Culture. The same contempt for intellectuals that the vice presidents show at the beginning of 2007: the proof flared up on the small screen.

I agree in general with Duanel Díaz’s article. Perhaps what is worrisome is not the posture of critics that some masochistics now assume, but the message that brings such resurrections with it. Is there another turn of the screw that has been sweetened? Will there be changes in the staff running the government’s cultural policy? Are we witnessing the resumption of blatant repression against artists and writers they consider dissidents? Are we done with being in limbo?

In any case….

José Prats Sariol


Translated by Regina Anavy