Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.”     H. L. Mencken

September 8, 2010

Fidel Castro’s Incredible Revelations

by TomStrong

Fidel holding a book

In an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, some incredible quotes came from the aging Cuban dictator:

(Reuters) – Fidel Castro said Cuba’s economic model no longer works, a U.S.-based journalist reported on Wednesday following interviews with the former president last week.

Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer for the Atlantic Monthly magazine, wrote in a blog that he asked Castro, 84, if Cuba’s model — Soviet-style communism — was still worth exporting to other countries and he replied, “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.”

The comment appeared to reflect Castro’s agreement, which he also expressed in a column for Cuban media in April, with his younger brother President Raul Castro, who has initiated modest reforms to stimulate Cuba’s troubled economy.

Goldberg said Julia Sweig, a Cuba expert at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in Washington who accompanied him to Havana, believed Castro’s words reflected an acknowledgment that “the state has too big a role in the economic life of the country.”

I sent my esteemed colleague Larry Bernard, who contributes to Global Crisis Garden, a link to the story and he promptly said “Holy shit.” Indeed. If even Fidel Castro is putting a gravestone on the Marxist-Leninist style of government, that really is progress.

The interview also produced a line from Fidel Castro critical of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his endless anti-Semitism:

Does this release him from the “Axis of Evil”? Cuban Leader Fidel Castro attacks Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his anti-Semitism in an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg. Quotes include, “I don’t think anyone has been slandered more than the Jews,” and “The Jews have lived an existence that is much harder than ours. There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust.”

Fidel Castro is going to have to act along with his words. He came into the international political world as a Vladimir Lenin. If he really wants to, he can leave a Mikhail Gorbachev. This would require stepping from power and leading a transition not toward continued Castro hereditary rule but towards a Jeffersonian Chile-style system of political freedom, market economies and a welfare state all checking and balancing one another. Chilean leaders only serve one term, despite their personal popularity.

It would also require either a break with or a push toward Hugo Chavez, Castro’s buddy, to change his destructive policies and populist rhetoric. Chavez has allied himself with nightmare regimes in the Middle East and exercised his own anti-Semitism. Nationalization of industries has led to rationing and shortages (while Chavez continues to appear delightfully plump in public appearances, counter to his trim days in the military). Meanwhile, Chavez has forced initiatives to give him unlimited power and has refused to groom a successor. To make matters worse, violence in Venezuela is worse than in Iraq, and without Iraq’s room for economic and political optimism.

If Castro really has had an awakening moment in which he has realized dictatorships simply don’t work, it’s going to be meaningless if the same failed formula continues to be tried elsewhere.

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19 Comments

  1. So many things wrong here.

    1) He didn’t come into the world as a Stalin. He came into the world first a legitimate revolutionary, then very swiftly and thereafter (for Cuba) a perpetual USSR/KGB welfare recipient until that nation’s collapse.

    2) Your association of Castro and “anti-Semitism” is, and I’m sorry Michael, asinine. If you knew anything about Fidel Castro and his stated thought connections concerning the power elite, you would know that if anything he drew conclusions on world power in reference to the global power elite, not Jews as a race.

    Chavez himself drew on what Castro had to say and in his own earlier days of Venezuelan power would openly talk (and yes I’m going to scare the libertypapers crowd) New World Order. Neither men saw the power elite as a Jewish Conspiracy, rather they saw the global power elite as closely to what is is.

    If anything the Cuban regime will draw closer and closer to Venezuela, as does Columbia.

    3) If violence is worse in Venezuela than Iraq, then by purely empirical measure, you could say that the Mexican/US border region is right now the most violent region on the planet, literally.

    To sum up, Castro was in objective, personal terms, a very brave man. But in political history, he is little more than a superpower welfare recipient (to be blunt). He will draw his straws with Venezuela and tell his brother to do the same.

    Comment by Procopius — September 8, 2010 @ 3:48 pm
  2. Re-read the article, Procopius. I didn’t connect Castro with anti-Semitism at all. I connected Chavez with it. To Chavez’s credit, he’s meeting with Jewish leaders now. I guess he’s following Fidel’s lead.

    As for your third statement, I would actually agree. The situation in Mexico, by all accounts, is a full-scale war and the implication should be gathered that American prohibitory drug policy is an integral cause.

    In fact, our farm subsidies should also be looked at when assessing Mexico. The United States has been for some time arguing for liberalization from Mexico while coordinating its own array of sneaking policies.

    Comment by Michael O. Powell — September 8, 2010 @ 4:04 pm
  3. Your Chavez=anti-Semite is wrong as well. At least as far as I’m concerned.

    As for your misunderstanding that I said Castro = “first legitimate revolutionary”…. I guess I was unclear in my language?

    I said:

    “…He came into the world first a legitimate revolutionary,…”

    Comment by Procopius — September 8, 2010 @ 4:07 pm
  4. maybe I should have said “first AS a legitimate revolutionary”

    Comment by Procopius — September 8, 2010 @ 4:08 pm
  5. Oh, I deleted that when I realized it was a moment of personal dyslexia.

    Comment by Michael O. Powell — September 8, 2010 @ 4:08 pm
  6. I just shared a link to this blog with the community at bleditor.com. Thanks.

    Comment by FlutterDrew — September 8, 2010 @ 5:11 pm
  7. Thank you.

    Comment by Michael O. Powell — September 8, 2010 @ 5:32 pm
  8. Maybe our policy makers should actually listen to what Castro has to say.

    Wow, I wouldn’t have ever imagined that I would ever write something like that; the world sure is changing.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — September 9, 2010 @ 10:37 am
  9. Indeed it is, Stephen. Conservative Mexican President Calderon also said he’s willing to consider marijuana legalization. The world is changing its axis.

    Comment by Michael O. Powell — September 9, 2010 @ 11:07 am
  10. Michael,

    You write:

    “Fidel Castro is going to have to act along with his words.”

    Well, no … and as a matter of fact that’s the entire point.

    When he was formally The Man, too much was always at stake for him to risk rocking the boat he’d launched.

    His own head was on the line if the revolutionists he’d empowered turned against him; and assuming he believed himself to have been acting rightly and even necessarily for the most part, the things he had accomplished were on the line, too.

    Now that he’s putatively retired — obviously still involved but no longer “in charge” — he’s free to … well, revise and extend his remarks. His legacy/reputation is secure. No matter what happens next, he’ll always be the guy who overthrew Batista, established socialism in Cuba, held it together for 50 years, and passed the baton on his own terms.

    Now, he can change directions — and someone else (Raul, whoever) gets to deal with the fallout. If things go to shit, hey, he was just some guy talking. If, on the other hand, the people respond to what he’s saying and Cuba ends up substantially more free, he gets a big piece of the credit for that too.

    Comment by Thomas L. Knapp — September 9, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
  11. I generally agree with what you just said. That parallels in many ways the position of Gorbachev during the 1980s.

    Comment by Michael O. Powell — September 9, 2010 @ 4:37 pm
  12. heh, “held it together” for the vast majority of those 50 years with USSR $$$, let that not be forgotten. And that’s not to say then that that United States is an Angel of All That Is Right by comparison, but don’t pretend that Castro held that country together by his good graces alone.

    Ousting Batista, that was his finest, and real, achievement.

    Comment by Procopius — September 9, 2010 @ 6:26 pm
  13. Procopius,

    Yes, he held it together with USSR $$$. Your point? Name a Caribbean or Latin American strongman who DIDN’T hold it together with either USSR or US $$$. Castro outlasted them all — Somoza, Ortega, Pinochet, the Duvaliers, Torijosa, Noriega, et al.

    Not to mention all three Kennedy brothers, Nixon and Reagan.

    I don’t have to like the sonofabitch to admit that he racked up some bragging rights for endurance.

    Comment by Thomas L. Knapp — September 9, 2010 @ 6:42 pm
  14. I guess an answer to your question would be Chavez? That sounds really strange saying that, because I never really thought about it before.

    Comment by Procopius — September 10, 2010 @ 1:09 pm
  15. Procopius,

    “Chavez” may be the right answer.

    Then again, maybe not. He’s been propped up by Cuba, post-Soviet Russia and especially China (through both trade and direct aid in the tens of billions) … a pretty good post-Soviet reconstruction of the same Soviet model that propped up Castro.

    Once again, I’m not an admirer of Castro, but think of it this way:

    It took a little over three years for the US to defeat Dai Nippon and the Third Reich simultaneously. The ringleaders of both regimes killed themselves or got their necks stretched (excepting Hirohito, who was re-defined to a non-political status).

    Little Fidel’s been sitting 90 miles off the US coast, flipping Washington the bird regularly, for 50 years. He will likely die of old age, and it’s starting to look like the regime he founded may be re-defined on his terms and his say-so, rather than on the basis of external pressure or internal collapse. That’s no small thing.

    Comment by Thomas L. Knapp — September 10, 2010 @ 1:24 pm
  16. Well first I’ll respond to your observation on Castro’s longevity in the face of U.S. opposition to him:

    I don’t think the US policymakers ever truly cared about Cuba beyond the Bay of Pigs days. They spent and wasted a lot of time and money afterward keeping embargoes in place over the decades, making new ones, making new policies regarding Cuba etc. But they stopped wanting to outright kill him after the seminal BoP assault. This was probably first a truce with USSR on the Castro situation, and then later it after the USSR days, it was more like “meh…”

    As to Chavez’s USSR support: maybe in his very early days? It’s nothing like the continued throughout-his-rule bankrolling Castro got. As for China, that is trade. It’s not the same as “hi, we’re going to bankroll you just so you can sit and thumb your nose off the Florida coast you whole life.” Yeah… Chavez’s country actually has stuff other people want, which is a luxury Castro did not have.

    All in all, regardless of either man’s situations, their speeches throughout their lives were actually awesome. They have been packed full of what *seems* to be initial gut philosophy, and -that- is why I find both Castro and Chavez speeches to be so valuable on their own merit. They lack a careful think-tank scripting that lends a really unique aspect compared to Western nation leadership speeches.

    Comment by Procopius — September 10, 2010 @ 1:39 pm
  17. I didn’t want to sound like I habitually denigrate Castro, even though that’s exactly how I sounded. I just can’t let an assertion that Castro was somehow a super-human one man band, manning the fort against a superpower all on his own etc etc. Yay communism on-my-own and all that. I think the USSR assistance should never be overlooked.

    Comment by Procopius — September 10, 2010 @ 1:42 pm
  18. Then again I could be incredibly naive. The simple fact of the matter might be that the long term US hostility toward Cuba influenced an upstart Chavez, who in turn pointed his interest toward China to enter long term trade negotiations. And China is simply letting their own influence very slowly simmer until they themselves gain true USSR-like military power projection capability to use Venezuela in a similar fashion that the USSR used Cuba.

    The only problem with this that I see, is that it would likely enter a very similar Superpower Impasse like what we saw with the USSR/Cuba. A script is eventually written that makes Venezuela “Perpetual Enemy To Us” but in real life, it’s all a planned military and diplomatic standoff.

    (*while to the US public, it’s supposed to be all serious and we better pay some money to help it out*)

    But unlike the USSR/Cuba situation, Venezuela actually has something to give other nations, and not only that, Venezuela owns a major oil corporation that operates in the US. This is a much more convoluted situation to be sure.

    At any rate, all that makes it real hard to determine “Who Writes Their Great Speeches?” Is it simply some Chinese guy or some globalist, or is much of it the man himself? To me, it seems on the surface that it is the man himself, which is why I like the speeches so much.

    Comment by Procopius — September 10, 2010 @ 2:11 pm
  19. Hugo Chavez is an entertaining showman all of his own making.

    Comment by Michael O. Powell — September 11, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

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