How Did Fidel Castro Hold On to Cuba for So Long?


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Socialist regimes work best when it's a mostly agriculture economy and not so many highly educated people to question what's going on.  If you have the food covered, you're on on the home stretch.  When people start going hungry or learn enough to start asking questions, you need the authoritarian part to quell dissension.  It would have been easier for Castro if Cubans weren't so educated and came from education cultures of Europe.

 

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20 hours ago, MMarbs said:

If we're just just talking about being the de factor dictator of the soviet union ( like Lenin, Stalin, Kruschev, etc.), then no, Trotsky didn't get a taste for power. But if we're speaking in terms of being a key lieutenant in a totalitarian regime (he was one of Lenin's closes confidants), then yes, he did gain a taste for power.

And it's probably a good thing he didn't gain any further power. I know that there is a narrative, put forth by Trotskyists and other socialists, that if he had held the Soviet thrown, instead of Stalin, that things would have been so much better; I don't see much evidence in historical scholariship to support that conclusion. Likely, a Trotsky regime would have been as, or nearly as, brutal as Stalin's, and it would have gotten itself into more violent conflict with other countries as Trotsky was a firm believer in spreading the cause with as much force as the regime's resources had. Stalin, in contrast, was much more squeamish about that.

Squeamish or practical?  Stalin was planning on invading the rest of Europe after WWII ended and and knew no one would be able to stop him.  This was found in his private notes after the fall of the USSR.  He had the largest army and would have easily been able to do so.  But then Truman dropped the bomb, and Stalin realized it nullified his army.  It also kept Stalin from shooting down any of our planes during the Berlin Airlift.  I dont think there would have been much change regardless of who was in power. 

 

20 hours ago, Kierkegaard said:

A hundred percent with you, just making an observation, as I have mentioned before I come from an ex-Communist state, and I am a writer, and simply seeing what it did to the intellectual class who didn't flee my country turns my stomach, so I am completely against anything of the sort. It seems like one of those Marxist narratives, like when you talk to a Marxist and point out the atrocities committed by these regimes and their first reaction is "That is not Marxism". Which means two things: firstly, as Jordan Peterson put it, it is an incredibly egotistical response, by which the person pretty much claims that if they had a crack at it they could actually bring out peace and equality, and lack of poverty etc. And secondly, my own idea, my own revelation on the subject, that leftism lacks a real definition, that is constantly moving, and that as soon as something is put into practice it is no longer leftist or Marxist. Because it is a utopia. These people are people on the fringe of society, that wish they were in the center. And it is also why they are so attached to these terms, because it is a fantasy. "The world is unjust and terrible, but we are wonderful and smart, the world has to change, not us." First of all, who the hell do you think you are to change the world if you can't even change yourself. Maybe the world is as good as it can be at this moment. Maybe if you killed Hitler before he was in power someone else more qualified, more zelous would have came into that climate. Secondly, it is not like these things really ever worked. If only you could commit atrocities, a sacrifice, from which you could achieve the change you desire. But if you want it, and especially if the people don't, you are just going against the idea of freedom, which really is the most important thing there is.

I hope I didn't cause any offense...

Sent from my SM-G975F using Tapatalk
 

I would add a third thing, the idea of controlling an entire economy through a plan is very appealing to the intellectual.  Although it is impossible, since an economy is the sum of the billions of transactions per day, a large part of which are purely by happenstance (and that high producers always opt out whereas low producer opt in), it is an attractive idea.  "If only we had the right tools we could make it work, right?  We just did not have the right tools before (super computers and such).  But now ..."

I feel this is the trap many fall into as well.  

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2 hours ago, JohnnyO said:

Left wing writer interviewing another left winger. They both have a history of hating governments but somehow want to make Fidel a romantic world player.

He stayed in power because he was a lawyer. The 1st to leave were doctors, lawyers, businessmen. Leaving the island with less intelectuals/finaciers to fight the Revolution.

He controlled an island by dealing with foreign countries that bought into his anti-imperialist rhetoric. "I'll send you 10 million tons of sugar for your farm implements and caviar." To this day Cuba still owes Russia billions of dollars.

Then the missiles. Does he have them hidden in a cave with 50 year old detonators with guidance systems that have been obsolete since 'Nam?

Always wanting to be in the international spotlight. Is that why we love him?

Next sucker up: Chavez. "I'll teach you the fine art of espionage, send you a bunch of doctors (cause we certainly don't need them here) and you just send me a couple of tankers. What we don't need we'll sell to the local Caribbean markets."

Meanwhile, the population will suffer water and power outages for decades. They referred to that as the Electric Revolution. They even put that on the 10 CUP note.

Chavez out Maduro in. Dumb and Dumber.

Another Jedi-Mind Trick for Fidel. Just keep it pumping baby.

Then the ultimate sucker, China. "I'll give you all the cigars and rum you can handle (and a couple of gals along the way) just send me containers of your cheap electronics so I can sell them to the locals. We cant pay you right now but if you just give us 6 months we have a deal." Oh, you're still wondering why you cant get cigars?

Its a cook book recipe for the communist mind. Invite the devil into your hart and you will find those that buy into your long play, slow pay art.

There are many smaller versions. Spanish and South American investors that have bought hotels/businesses, over time are seized because the government didn't like how they were conducting business. "Piece of cake Satan, I've got this." John

Spot on - thank you.

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21 hours ago, Meklown said:

don't know where the original quote may have come from but for me, it was a teacher back in school in my early teens

Its a good quote, your version is a little different but same idea. I think Bismarck's went "only a fool learns from their own mistakes, I prefer to profit off the mistakes of others." 

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I think Batista would have been BETTER for Cuba in the long run. I know that he was a dictator(so was Castro) but the US govt had a real problem with that and got rid of him. Then they had the audacity to also oppose the Castro regime. I'm certainly no fan of communism. I guess the lesson is be careful what you wish for...

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20 hours ago, Baccy said:

I think Batista would have been good for Cuba in the long run.

The Batista regime was not a good one and highly corrupt. Even so, there has been some scholarly economic analysis done that shows the average Cuban was better off under the Batista regime than at any point during the Castro regime until at least the late 1990s and even then it was by virtue of imported technology largely funded by the USSR, a huge cigar boom, then Venezuela. Luck and charity brought the average Cuban into the standard of living the rest of the west had in 1963. As it is now, the current Cuban standard of living is probably where the west was around the 1970s.

Just goes to show that a horribly corrupt, hampered market economy is far better than a socialist economy.

 

On 8/14/2020 at 12:38 AM, BrightonCorgi said:

Socialist regimes work best when it's a mostly agriculture economy

I think the Ukrainians might disagree with that...

Also not sure what you mean by "working". I have used the term "functional" to describe a state where there's no imminent threat of revolt and the population is under control with no genocide. In this sense North Korea is "functional", although you could argue about whether there's "genocide" going on in their concentration camps. But all the current existing socialist states I would consider "functional" with the possible exception of Venezuela and as noted, possibly NK. 

I would argue the more basic an economy is the more precarious the situation becomes when the economy is socialized. One or two poor harvests can kill huge portions of the population, just as happened in Ukraine. 

In fact, it was a conceded point by Marx and, by experience, Lenin, that only a developed capitalist society could survive the move to socialism and not before. That was the justification for Lenin's New Economic Program. Go back to the market to build up to a point to transition to socialism. And also keep in mind socialism itself was a transitory system for the ultimate goal of some kind of anarcho-socialist utopia--at least in the theoretical evolution in the ideas of the first socialist theorists Proudhon, Bakunin and then Marx and Engels.

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1 hour ago, NSXCIGAR said:

The Batista regime was not a good one and highly corrupt. Even so, there has been some scholarly economic analysis done that shows the average Cuban was better off under the Batista regime than at any point during the Castro regime until at least the late 1990s and even then it was by virtue of imported technology largely funded by the USSR, a huge cigar boom, then Venezuela. Luck and charity brought the average Cuban into the standard of living the rest of the west had in 1963. As it is now, the current Cuban standard of living is probably where the west was around the 1970s.

Just goes to show that a horribly corrupt, hampered market economy is far better than a socialist economy.

I think Batista would have been "better" for Cuba in the long run. 

*corrected*

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1 hour ago, Baccy said:

I think Batista would have been "better" for Cuba in the long run. 

*corrected*

As implied, I doubt the Batista regime would have frozen Cuba in time for 50 years. The standard of living for the average Cuban in 1962 was fairly consistent with the rest of the west and there's no reason to think it wouldn't have kept up relatively speaking. Only a socialist regime could prevent any and all economic growth for half a century.

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7 hours ago, NSXCIGAR said:

 And also keep in mind socialism itself was a transitory system for the ultimate goal of some kind of anarcho-socialist utopia--at least in the theoretical evolution in the ideas of the first socialist theorists Proudhon, Bakunin and then Marx and Engels.

You cannot rush the 5th Epoc.  It's supposed to be a natural economic evolution.

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When Fidel got off the beach in 1956, he had 18 rebels with him. By the time he got to Havana he had an army that overthrew the government.

That wouldn't happen now. There's not the mood for it. There was in 1956 - 59. Only people with absolutely nothing to lose, and feel strongly enough about it, join a group like that. 

So obviously there were enough people not happy with the Batista regime to make a successful revolution in 56-59.

I don't think it's fair to say that the standard of living in Cuba was comparable to the west in the 1950s under Batista. I know there are lots of nice looking films of Havana from the 1920s - 1950s with the new cars, neon, white suits and fedoras, but you don't see many dark skinned people unless they're shining shoes or maybe serving coffee (and even that was very rare). And I know that the revolution has not ended racism in Cuba. A group shot of government members looks like a group photo of past Masters winners, just bigger. 

Look at pictures of the Cuban countryside or rural dwellings in the 1950s (which made up the vast majority of the Cuban population) and it's much worse than it is now. In every way. Education, opportunity, mortality (infant, maternal and everyone else), disease, poverty, hunger etc.

I know lots of Cubans hate the current system, I know a similar number who think it's much better than the alternative. I know Cubans who cannot understand how there are homeless people in my country while there are more empty houses than homeless. For a Cuban farm labourer or poor farmer, until the revolution, the notion of their children going to university was as realistic as them going to Mars. The revolution changed that. I know well that that has it's other issues, like what do to with an education in Cuba on $25-$75 a month when taxi drivers make more than that in day etc.

It might be easy to say that Cubans are too scared of government forces, the CDR, police, army etc. to try to start anything. Batista's forces were lining up bodies of rebels and undesirables in the streets and that revolution still happened. Probably partly because of that.

Change will come in Cuba when enough people want it badly enough. Like anywhere.

 

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23 minutes ago, Ryan said:

When Fidel got off the beach in 1956, he had 18 rebels with him. By the time he got to Havana he had an army that overthrew the government.

That wouldn't happen now. There's not the mood for it. There was in 1956 - 59. Only people with absolutely nothing to lose, and feel strongly enough about it, join a group like that. 

So obviously there were enough people not happy with the Batista regime to make a successful revolution in 56-59.

I don't think it's fair to say that the standard of living in Cuba was comparable to the west in the 1950s under Batista. I know there are lots of nice looking films of Havana from the 1920s - 1950s with the new cars, neon, white suits and fedoras, but you don't see many dark skinned people unless they're shining shoes or maybe serving coffee (and even that was very rare). And I know that the revolution has not ended racism in Cuba. A group shot of government members looks like a group photo of past Masters winners, just bigger. 

Look at pictures of the Cuban countryside or rural dwellings in the 1950s (which made up the vast majority of the Cuban population) and it's much worse than it is now. In every way. Education, opportunity, mortality (infant, maternal and everyone else), disease, poverty, hunger etc.

I know lots of Cubans hate the current system, I know a similar number who think it's much better than the alternative. I know Cubans who cannot understand how there are homeless people in my country while there are more empty houses than homeless. For a Cuban farm labourer or poor farmer, until the revolution, the notion of their children going to university was as realistic as them going to Mars. The revolution changed that. I know well that that has it's other issues, like what do to with an education in Cuba on $25-$75 a month when taxi drivers make more than that in day etc.

It might be easy to say that Cubans are too scared of government forces, the CDR, police, army etc. to try to start anything. Batista's forces were lining up bodies of rebels and undesirables in the streets and that revolution still happened. Probably partly because of that.

Change will come in Cuba when enough people want it badly enough. Like anywhere.

 

ryan, this strikes me as pretty much exactly the situation. 

it reminded me of travelling through Iran not that long after their revolution (which can never be forgiven, given that they tipped endless bottles of margaux down the drains). you'd talk to locals and many were fully supportive of Khomeini and many were just as fiercely opposed - always found it surprising that they were so vocal about it. but the one thing every single one of them agreed on, no matter what they thought of the revolution, was that they utterly detested the shah and were delighted to see him gone. not one didn't think that shooting him was a good idea, although many thought that would be too kind.

cuba has always struck me like that. the locals may support the castros or they may oppose them, but i've never met one who didn't think it was a wonderful thing that batista was gone. i've never met a cuban who wanted to return to anything like that. they may not enjoy the current mess but they'd prefer it to a return to batista or anything of that ilk. 

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Totally agree with Ryan's and Ken's views.

I will add that instead of using the cult of personality as other authoritarian leaders have, Castro used what I would call the 《Revolucion cult》, the Us vs Them notion.  It was the stepping stone of his policies. 

Combine that to what Rob described - a State/Corporation model - and your regime can thrive for decades.

Perhaps the revolution was a necessity.

How the aftermath of the revolution was handled by the international community may have helped the regime to build its credibility and stronghold for the long term, IMHO.

 

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1 hour ago, Ken Gargett said:

 

cuba has always struck me like that. the locals may support the castros or they may oppose them, but i've never met one who didn't think it was a wonderful thing that batista was gone. i've never met a cuban who wanted to return to anything like that. they may not enjoy the current mess but they'd prefer it to a return to batista or anything of that ilk. 

You can say the same thing of NK.  Many old timers still think fondly of Kim Il-sung, largely due to propaganda none the less.  Remember, the world only started when Kim Il-sung was born according to most in NK.  

I dont think anyone would argue what he did for NK was good, nor that the North Koreans have enough knowledge to actually make informed decisions.  

The youth have largely lost confidence in the Kim regime, but it is hard to revolt against a well armed oppressive regime, especially when you get hardly enough food to stand up in the  morning.  Whereas the solders are well fed, and it is a life or stave to deaf decision to disobey if you're in the army.  

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