Vices and virtues

Yesterday we were talking about the Financial Ike that is driving the empire mad. America can’t find a way of reconciling consumerism with unjust wars, defence spending and the massive investments in the arms industry, which kill peoples, rather than feeding them or otherwise satisfying their most basic needs.

Nothing better describes the staggering contradiction than the words of Senator Richard Shelby, the leading Republican on the US Senate’s Banking Committee, when he told BBC television that they did not know how much it was going to cost – probably between 500 billion and 1,000 billion dollars, which would affect taxpayers sooner or later, or be a debt collected from everyone or everyone’s children, (as reported by the British Reuters press agency).

No-one can doubt the destiny of the industrialized, capitalist world or the fate it promises to billions of people on the planet.

Strife is the only prospect of peoples now, to achieve a community that permits a life of social justice and decency – the antithesis of capitalism and the principles that underlie that repugnant, unjust system. In the fierce struggle to reach those goals, the worst enemy is the human being’s instinctive egoism. If capitalism means perpetual free rein to that natural impulse, socialism is the constant struggle to subdue it. While at other times in history, the alternative was to return to the past, that possibility now no longer exists. The battle is one to be waged basically by our glorious Party.

Every manifestation of privilege, corruption or misappropriation must be combated; for a true communist, there can be no excuse of any kind for such conduct. Any weakness of that sort is totally unacceptable. It never applied to the thousands of men and women who voluntarily departed to fulfil their internationalist duty and endowed the Cuban Revolution with glory and renown. Such were the principles of ethics and purity that inspired the thinking of José Martí and all those who preceded him.

It is now, amid the fresh wreckage left by the hurricanes, that we must show what we are capable of.

Stealing from factories, warehouses, service stations, hotels, restaurants and other establishments where money or goods are kept must be combated relentlessly by the Party militants.

And if any of the latter are themselves found guilty of such shabby acts, they must be sanctioned by the Party (as well as suffering the consequences under the law), albeit without extreme measures, but in a considered and effective way.

Capitalism is a victim of common crime, from which it defends itself with sophisticated technology, unemployment, marginalization, murder and even extreme violence, which are now useless against a drugs trade that costs hundreds and even thousands of lives every year in some Latin American countries.

The militants have no easy task in a world where the temptations of consumerism are everywhere, via all the radio, television and electronic media and the press, while the techniques for seducing the human being emanate from laboratories and research centres.

Consider what happens with what they are pleased to call advertising, which costs the consumer over a billion annually. The commercials are repeated over and over to the point of maddening practically everyone with their banality.

But stealing is far from being the only evil that threatens the fruits of our Revolution. There are also the known and tolerated privileges and contrived bureaucratic devices. Resources allocated to meet a temporary situation become permanent expense and consumption.

Everything conspires against the country’s material and monetary reserves, a situation that can result in shortages of goods and an excess of money in circulation. The same thing happens when the well-heeled buy up excessive quantities of the goods in the hard-currency retail outlets.

There are state agencies with a tendency to lavish privileges or give away much more in the competition for the available technical personnel and workforce.

Sometimes they become speculators, using genuinely capitalist methods, in their quest for revenues, to manage resources so as to gain a reputation for efficiency and secure the willing support of their staffs. These are bourgeois customs – not proletarian – and we all have a sacred duty to combat them in ourselves and in others.

Some countries do not hesitate to apply the death penalty to these crimes. I do not really believe that is necessary in our case. Nor featherbed the recidivists in our prisons either. It’s fine to get on in organization, but that doesn’t entitle you to write your own job description.

Throughout my life as a revolutionary, I have seen how these vices develop alongside the virtues. Weaknesses also appear among some citizens who become accustomed to receiving, and dedicate little time to reflection, reading the newspapers and finding out what’s happening.

In its quest for spies and traitors, the enemy understands human frailties only too well, but is ignorant of the other side of the coin: the enormous human capacity for self-sacrifice and heroism.

Parents want to endow their children with material wellbeing, but prefer to leave them the legacy of a decent life of good repute that will accompany them always.

On this island, the enemy has come up against a people able to resist its blockade and hostility for many long years. So it reinforces its measures against Cuba.

It tries to steal our skilled professionals and our workforce; it selects those to whom the thousands of visas are granted annually, while at the same time encouraging illegal departures; it maintains and tightens up the Cuban Adjustment Act, which grants special privileges for illegal immigration to the citizens of just one country in the world: Cuba. If the same facility were extended to the rest of Latin America, in no time Latin Americans would account for half the US population.

Even more cynical is its recruitment of mercenaries, who claim impunity and who it supplies with intelligence and materials and promotes internationally, while taking pleasure in testing the patience and equanimity of the Cuban government.

Our people will never be in ignorance of the truth.

Not only are we striving constantly against our mistakes, weaknesses and vices, but are also winning the battle of ideas to which we have committed ourselves.

If there is one thing the empire’s leaders can always be sure of, it is that neither natural hurricanes nor hurricanes of cynicism can reverse the Cuban Revolution.

Before that happens – as Martí said – the sea of the North will join the sea of the South and a snake will hatch from an eagle’s egg.

Fidel Castro Ruz
19 September 2008