Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Dystopian Havana That Visitors Never See

Now and then, we Americans hear about the wonderful world that is Cuba, a crony capitalist banana republic freed by the collectivist idealism of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, et al.  There may have been some truth to that prior to 1990 but things changed dramatically when the Soviet Union crumbled and the generous annual supplement to keep communism alive in Cuba and the Americas ended. In the generation since, life for Cubans outside of the elite class has worsened dramatically. And tourists who visit this Marxist-Leninist republic and describe it the the rest of the world cannot leave their "bubble" to witness the poverty around them.

Michael Totten, a contributing editor at City Journal, managed to visit Cuba and get outside the tourist bubble. His report on life in a country that at one time was a thriving middle class society will add some reality to the concept of collectivist ideology.

Totten begins with this:

Neill Blomkamp’s 2013 science-fiction film Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, takes place in Los Angeles, circa 2154. The wealthy have moved into an orbiting luxury satellite—the Elysium of the title—while the wretched majority of humans remain in squalor on Earth. The film works passably as an allegory for its director’s native South Africa, where racial apartheid was enforced for nearly 50 years, but it’s a rather cartoonish vision of the American future. Some critics panned the film for pushing a socialist message. Elysium’s dystopian world, however, is a near-perfect metaphor for an actually existing socialist nation just 90 miles from Florida.
I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba—not because I’m nostalgic for a botched utopian fantasy but because I wanted to experience Communism firsthand. When I finally got my chance several months ago, I was startled to discover how much the Cuban reality lines up with Blomkamp’s dystopia. In Cuba, as in Elysium, a small group of economic and political elites live in a rarefied world high above the impoverished masses. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto, would be appalled by the misery endured by Cuba’s ordinary citizens and shocked by the relatively luxurious lifestyles of those who keep the poor down by force.

Here is your link for the full article.

For those readers who enjoy outstanding writing and a conservative perspective on the American experience, I recommend City Journal as a voice of reason in a world of media too often consumed by delusion. The print version is a graphic delight as well - looks good on the coffee table - but much of the content is available free on line. 

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