My Motives and Qualifications
This document ("My Motives
and Qualifications") may exceed objective
truth tolerance limits of some readers.
I have several motives for publishing iammyownreporter.com.
motives in brief: (1) to shoot down the illegal
Cuban travel law through its own loophole meant for embedded reporters
by being my own reporter for my own publication; (2) to join the web revolution
against the empire's media dictatorship of official stories; (3) to breach
the barricade of lies surrounding Cuba and other news fronts with a smart missile of truth;
and (4) (actually, my own main purpose) to rebut the claims of language challenged
scientists virtually lost in outer and sub-organic space that their arithmetic
has supplanted philosophy, by proving that precise English, wielded by
a practiced sharpshooter, is still a far more deadly analytical weapon
For one thing, this website is a passing shot hit past authorities who think
they can block the right of human beings who happen to be Americans to go
to Cuba and associate with Cubans just by faking up an intimidating law that
threatens to cover the court with more words than most people think they can
cope with. In fact, every existing human has an existential right, preceding
the authority of any state, to go peacefully about the world trying to find
out what's up. And, probably because at least Thomas Jefferson understood
that such a right lies outside the reasonable concern of any rationally contrived
state, the First and Ninth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution outlaw the
making of any law that abridges it. Self serving businessmen in Congress whose
prototypes hijacked the country as soon as Jefferson got out of their way
have indeed made such a law supposedly barring travel to Cuba.
But their half-cunning legal scribes had to leave
a loophole for the press, which they didn't
intend uncooperative reporters to use, but it's there - an automatic "license"
printed on thin air which permits "regular employees" of a "newsgathering
organization" to "gather news" in "enemy" countries.
They had no more authority to provide the loophole than they had to make the
law. Any presumption of an authority to define or license the press obviously
constitutes an abridgment of the freedom of the press - a freedom which every
human has the "unalienable" right to exercise and which no government
has the authority to grant or withdraw or control or mess with in any way.
The presumption of any such authority was specifically forbidden to the U.S.
government in writing by its founders.
So, even under the pretentiously tangled
terms of their offensive illegal law, as my own reporter assigned to Cuba
by myself as the editor of my own "newsgathering organization,"
I'm just as "licensed" as their quisling press and thus protected
from their pesky harassment (see Any American Can Go To Cuba).
Having a website gives me a voice, however small, that establishment editors
can't choke off or edit. The best defense the bigshots have against a free
press is to own it. But, while business friends and co-conspirators of the
aforementioned hijackers of the country, their descendants and hirelings have
always owned and kept a useful rein on most U.S. mass media, they were caught
off guard by the emergence of the internet, which, at least until they own
it too, constitutes an alternative mass media they don't control - and thus,
potentially, the vehicle for a new kind of citizens' rebellion that the world
sorely needs. So, as an independent journalist, my second motive is just to
try the internet out as a way around the establishment gatekeepers and, whether
I reach many people or not, to encourage other frustrated truth speakers to use
it in the same way. The title of my web pub, "I Am My Own Reporter,"
clarifies my point. In fact, lots of other people have already thought of
this, and you already have a choice of alternative, independent news reporters
on the web, some of whom (not all, not even most, but some of whom) are bound
to be more honest and more qualified than the main-stream press.
Obviously, one good use for the internet is to deal with subjects the embedded
media have misrepresented and covered up, especially realities outside U.S.
borders that don't fit their version of contemporary history. An obvious example
is Cuba, and to counter the regular line on Cuba with some objective truth
about the place just by writing what I've seen and learned in my travels there
and elsewhere is my third motive.
That's a pretty quixotic motive, of course. Telling any
truth that contradicts any entrenched official story and that most people
don't care about anyway, hoping it makes a difference, is a lot like hoping
to emulate the famous little bird who metaphorically pecked away the mountain.
And, actually, that's about how I see it, since, as a realist,
my philosophical bottom line is, after all, that what is is. And though
of course it's just as true that what could be could be and I really
think it was possible to make a promising start toward a rational world in
1918 (i.e. what should be could have been), I also think that the subsequent
explosion of population growth and deeper entrenchment of capitalism, plus
too many businessmen and half-smart lawyers in high places and a generally
irrational human resistance (to rationality, in fact) had made the possible
too improbable to be worth the struggle by the time I first gave it up in
1970. And now, several decades even later, with the already ruined ecosystem
still being relentlessly eaten away by the quickening cancer of a dozen or
two dozen X too many still multiplying people and their even more cancerous
encampment, with the once slowly crumbling mountain of right-wing denial now
growing faster than it's being pecked away, with the WTO and a few important
presidents effectively running the world over the heads of ordinary humanity's
near irrelevant United Nations, and with all hope for a logical revolution
disintegrating into endless war and growing poverty, it's hard to see the
point of trying (probably vainly, after all) to teach a few independent intellectuals
how Cuba fits into the world-sized mess. But even if "it does no good"
or "it's too late," as people keep telling me who (either consciously
or subconsciously) must agree with me that the world has as good as already
ended (see World's End and Hitting the Walls), as long as our terminally ill eco-system lingers and I'm
still alive, making sense and telling the truth remain my own top priorities
- my preferred way of undoubtedly wasting my time.
So the objective defense of Cuba as an only somewhat flawed model
of what could have been is worth articulating for personal intellectual
and emotional reasons as well as "just in case it makes a difference."
It angers me that Americans are so brain-locked about communism that they just
accept any lie about Cuba the Miami "exiles" can dream up (a near limitless
category of baloney). And it also angers me that the lame American "left",
having lost their nerve after the 1990 Nicaraguan elections and the fall of
the Eastern Bloc, have turned their politically correct backs on the one place
in the world where the goals that should be theirs are closest to being achieved.
Insidious lies shouldn't go unchallenged and, in a world
way off course, suffering as much from horrible inequality and government
by and for the rich as from ecological catastrophe, an important social model
like Cuba shouldn't be ignored or covered up. What "shouldn't be"
is, of course, and I know I'm mainly shouting alone in the dark now,
but at least people looking on the web for reality-based answers to their
questions about Cuba can find them here, and people who ask me or any of my
readers questions that can't be well answered in a conversational sound bite
can be directed here, too.
My fourth motive for posting this website (iammyownreporter.com) may seem esoteric, but, since it is, to me, my most important motive and since it is critically important to your proper understanding of this entire website, I'll explain it to you, anyway. Having a website adds a significant
dimension to a lifelong pastime (project, communication experiment, expository
habit, artistic pursuit) of mine which interests me so much that, for awhile, I had a second website (nottalkradio.com)
just to fulfill the purpose explained in the next bright red paragraph:
(a phrase I may later change to Verbal math)
and purpose is to apply a strategically enhancing external pressure to myself,
as I pursue my never-ending effort to clarify and verify (to myself and collaterally
to any interested others) the credibility and often the validity of my own
objective view of reality by describing reality coherently, a procedure I claim I'm elevating to the level of a philosophical science, which I call Conceptual Math, in front of a theoretical
and theoretically critical audience. GO together, they
(including we and our brains) couldn't and wouldn't BE together. There'd
be nothing but maybe disconnected space dust to talk about and nobody to talk
about it. Luckily or unluckily, things do go together, but you still
can't talk or even think very effectively about them, and you certainly can't
precisely define or explain them, without a serious command of a language
just as potentially coherent as the physical world.
I call my practice of this exquisitely effective philosophical science (i.e. Conceptual Math) a pastime because, once the blip-like nature
of life is truly understood and suicide rejected or postponed,
is mainly a matter of passing time, whether by doing things temporarily important
only inside one's own skull or by contributing a bit to the general quality
of the brief human ordeal.
Some people pass their time by constantly joking. Some repeatedly
fall in love. Some never stop eating. My chief website engineer, Marvin, since
he's both an artist and a mechanical genius, very cheerfully passes a lot
of his time perfecting his computer and digital techniques and fixing his
friends' and neighbors' broken contraptions. Fidel Castro, since he had the
rare courage, charisma, and intelligence it took to do it, has successfully
passed over half a century replacing a fascist puppet regime with a civilized
socialist state (to the bitterly vindictive chagrin of the former puppet-masters).
Joking bores me. I'm too old to chase girls. I need to stop
eating so much. My mechanical aptitude, though pretty good as an aptitude,
is a bit flabby from lack of exercise, and I'm short on courage and charisma,
so I let Marvin adjust my website and fix my car and leave revolutionary leadership
to people like Fidel. But I may be as good as good gets with language and
the other special skills needed for my main pastime, which is really
the main motivator if not apparently the main thrust of this website.
I'm talking about something maybe only intellectually exciting
to people like me, and it'll take a few paragraphs to explain it, but if I
can make it clear here (you've already started reading this, after all) and
thereby clarify the kind and level of objectivity my pastime (project,
experiment, habit, artistic pursuit) requires, maybe I can make the reality
of Cuba clear here, too.
STOP here a moment, though,
for a brief journalism lesson: I just used the word objectivity,
and you need to understand that objectivity, which is almost
always respectable, and neutrality, which is often contemptible,
are NOT the same thing. Truth is seldom neutral
and neutrality is seldom honest, and, trying to be honest, I am seldom neutral
about anything and it would be unobjective to pretend to be. So if you don't
like me not being diplomatically neutral, that's your problem; you're disqualified
as a useful part of the realistically critical audience I'm theorizing. As
a journalist and expository writer, I try to be objective, not neutral, and
it is objective clarity I'm talking about here.
Making things objectively clear to myself and hopefully
(if it happens, so be it) to others is the essence of what I'm trying to do.
My conscientiousness and therefore the probability of my success are enhanced
by the pressure of a modest public exposure (easily achieved on a website),
and, as a communication experiment, my pastime obviously demands theses that
need clarifying to that public, such as that Cuban communism works.
It also demands a rare command of the English language,
a bent for what I call conceptual math (a conscientious bonding of math and
the substantive reality it represents to avoid getting lost in the esoterica
of numbers), an offensive level of honesty, an inhuman suppression of denial,
and an exceptional willingness to see what's in front of my face.
What I'm doing - what I've been doing all my life
- with greater and greater success I think - is trying to find out and
clarify to myself what really IS and what really IS NOT by (a) sharpening
my vision with research and experience, (b) looking right at whatever concerns
me, Cuba for instance, and (c) coherently articulating what I think I see.
Since the last step, (c) coherent articulation, is both the least likely
to be understood and properly appreciated and an example of the things
I think I see that others (including a lot of language-challenged philosophers
and mathematicians) don't see, and since it's also the most importantly experimental
part of this website's point (trying to pin down reality by describing it),
I'm going to try to pin down a bit of reality here by more carefully
pinning down that point.
COHERENCE (actually the best synonym for LOGIC)
is the essence of logic and realism. If the physical elements of our world
didn't coherently (logically)
We think first in images, then in words, and then
in math; and (understandably,
given the precise coherence of math) some of those who've learned to think very well in math , most notably Stephen Hawking, have declared mere verbal philosophizing
obsolete and math the ONLY key to truth. I disagree. Those who don't
understand the importance of math don't understand much, but mathematicians
who don't understand the greater importance of words and images may understand
In fact, numbers are only the iconic symbols of verbal and visualized concepts. Without math or language, we can think very effectively
and even precisely and definitively in images alone. I think animals do that
in a simple way. I think inventors and mechanics do that in a highly sophisticated
way. And I think mathematicians don't do it enough. But, as vehicles of thought,
neither pure images nor math, which is too image-free and too detached from
normal perception, can be philosophical. So, very luckily for the few brooding
thinkers perhaps unluckily compelled to coherently (logically) philosophize
about the world they live in, the English language works well because (exactly
like the world they live in) it goes together coherently and is image rich.
Too many people, including mathematicians and some
English teachers, don't realize that English is an almost mathematically syntactical
language and that a good English sentence is coherent in the same
sense as a math formula or an accurately conceived exploded image of a motor,
or that its coherence literally proves its credibility if not its validity.
Its mechanically tight syntactical structure (correctly wielded) may
make the language only nearly as precise as math, but being multi-dimensional
and most importantly image evoking makes it a more complexly and therefore
more effectively coherent instrument with which to describe and clarify reality. And that's exactly the same thing and ALL
that mathematics ever does, folks - if it ever does that.
Mathematicians contrive formulas to describe reality,
hoping that the apparent resemblance between the formula and reality proves they really have figured reality
out, and I'm doing the same thing with language and doing it better. Oh, but
you say mathematicians then turn around and apply their formulas to other
parts of reality and they keep fitting. Well, not always, but, when they do, great! I'm a fan. But they're not
constructing any new universes, like Philip Jose Farmer's lords; they're only
trying and sometimes failing to describe the one that's here - same thing I'm doing.
however, thinking mainly in moving images think up contraptions and turn around
and actually make the contraptions, and the contraptions often work, and
mechanics who study those contraptions take their mainly image based understanding of one contraption
to other contraptions they've never seen and prove over and over that their
understanding fits all contraptions by fixing them.
Fidel Castro imagined
a socialist Cuba in language and turned around and made his verbal concept
What I'm doing is figuring things out, in a mathematical enough way,
but conceptualizing math by adding up images as well as numbers, and presenting
my conceptual math formulas in words to make them more perfectly coherent.
In fact, I'm proving with every sentence I'm contriving here that, while its
mechanically tight syntactical structure (correctly wielded) may make
the language only nearly as precise as math (often just as precise on this website), being multi-dimensional and most
importantly image evoking makes it more complexly and therefore more effectively
Language, unlike math, is
packed with images, and I'm convinced that (with its treacherous ambiguity
tightly controlled) its image evoking dimension combined with its syntactical
logic and its philosophical capacity to explain any helpful math it incorporates
makes precise English a more potent analytical instrument than math.
Clear thinkers have justifiable faith in numbers,
but not even mathematicians can think clearly of the moving parts of
interrelated processes in numbers. Spontaneously clear comprehension
of how things probably, should, or definitely go together requires the images
that art, photography, and words provide.
Machine manuals show exploded images, not equations
strung across the page, because, while a mechanic certainly knows about
the numbers that also describe a machine and its function, to actually understand
the machine, he has to think in number-free moving images and visualized spatial
relationships. He probably has to look up the numbers to refer to them, and
he may only have faith in their critical relationship to the more meaningful
images in his head or in front of his eyes. But even if he's a math whiz who
knows why his skill is inseparable from numbers, a good mechanic's math is
more meaningfully conceptual. And so is the math of a mystery writer
setting up a complex plot equation that actually mirrors and teaches us about
our social world. And so is the math of a political tourist like me who figures
out how a contemporary state equates or fails.
Apparently, conceptual math,
being verbally guided and even carried, works better than pure math, because it is instantly coherent and therefore more user friendly to fast and sophisticated human brains too impatient to translate slow and clumsy numbers. I think it indicative that, while the world's currently
most famous mathematician is only beginning to suspect (according to himself;
he may be b.s.ing) that gods aren't needed and that the universe is both infinite
and eternal, I and all my verbally and mechanically talented friends knew
these things absolutely when we were kids and haven't worried much about them
since. Apparently, setting outer space and sub-atomic reality aside,
on the earthbound and eye-bound level of reality that matters the most
(and which is the same reality and just as real as the merely magnified version
some scientists bury their heads in), images, besides being more relevant,
are in fact more immediately self evident than symbols, and if some
are mirages, well, there are plenty of maththematical mirages, too. And words,
though they like numbers are symbols, are more effective symbols because they
are closer to the brain's eye, and also, though most people including mathematicians
may only subconsciously realize it, the acrobatic versatility of syntactical
combinations of plump and feisty words is much friendlier and much more constructively
provocative and useful to impatiently agile human brains than are the rigid,
bloodless, one-dimensional formulas of mere arithmetic. Though sentences are
secretly rigid, too, to the talented native speaker and reader who swims in
words like an otter, they go together the way physical reality goes together
and, exactly like the reality they describe (and like images and like math),
they prove they make sense by going together. Also, apparently,
coherent sentences are essential to guide human comprehension of any
complex conglomeration of images and/or numbers. Otherwise, why would machine
manuals include explanations, and why would smug mathematicians trying to
justify themselves bother to write books?
Of course there are way too many people who can't
read these sentences, but good human brains work better, faster, and
on more levels at once with image-based words than with numbers, and while
(a) the syntactical coherence (the mechanical and near mathematical perfection) of a carefully articulated, perfectly constructed explanatory or descriptive English sentence PROVES its own INTERNAL credibility,
(b) its equally coherent sensory link (when there is one) to the brain image
banks of experienced and realistic readers (including the writer) also PROVES
its probable and often its certain EXTERNAL validity.
Conceptual Math Summary
Language (the English language, anyway) is the highest form of math! Coherent analysis and subsequent understanding by rational real-world-dwelling humans, including about subjects that language-challenged scientists believe are stuck in their esoteric incoherent realm, REALLY depend not on arithmetic but on language + sensory experience - on things like definition, syntax, grammar, paragraph structure, organized presentation PLUS, of course, honest observation.
In fact, the integers of math are only iconic symbols for verbal and visual concepts, which can't be well or easily understood without translation back into words or images - a difficult feat for language challenged mathematicians. But, in fact, meticulously coherent articulation PLUS obvious correlation with real-world experience can provide those who can read, write, speak, listen and think logically with equations that add up to (i.e. EQUAL) definite credibility and sometimes perfectly obvious validity. I'm talking about a thinking procedure, which, for communication purposes,if not more exact, is a more sensible and therefore a better (i.e. more effective) process than math, which I call conceptual math.
Adroit exercise of that principle is an important
part of what I want to do with the measure of life I've decided to endure,
and I can actually do it more effectively if I think of myself as having realistically
critical readers among the readers that a website at least theoretically provides.
qualifications in brief: besides being unafflicted
by religion, patriotism or blind faith in free enterprise, democracy,
or the word freedom, I'm a retired journalism and English professor;
a semi-retired environmental and political activist and organizer; a
philosopher, writer, and traveller (speaking adequate Spanish) with
experience in 16 Latin American countries, including a series of 80's
and 90's summers in Nicaragua as a brigadista and correspondent for
the San Diego Review, two years residence in Chiapas,
and seven extensive visits to Cuba in '89, '00, '01, '02, '04, '05 and
'07 totaling about eight months and covering most of the island.
Comparing my qualifications to
the qualifications of your other sources: Both like and unlike
those of anyone else who sets himself up as a webmaster, my qualifications
go further back and run deeper than what it says in the little red box above.
They have to if, even with all my experience, I'm going to tell you different
things about Cuba, maybe the opposite of what you've heard from the newspapers,
the president, the "exiles," or whatever speaker you've heard at the library.
I've been there, of course, and probably most of your
sources haven't, or they haven't been there for 45 years, or they always
visit the same family and friends who always feed them the same line, or they
were in Havana once for a few days talking only to hustlers who spoke English.
So it's important that I've talked to a lot more Cubans and other Latin Americans
in a lot more of Cuba and a lot more other places, and my account makes unusually
good sense. It's internally coherent and therefore
credible in a world where nothing can be real that isn't coherent, and it
coherently connects to what you know about the world if you know anything.
But, still, to see what others apparently didn't think to
look for and say things nobody's supposed to say, with so much confidence
in my own vision, I have to be more profoundly qualified - and I am.
My most important qualification, though, is actually
a negative one that has more to do with your other sources of information
about Cuba than with me. Although my fairly good Spanish and my expertise
on objective research and writing, which I taught for 25 years, are essential,
and I have so much relevant experience it needs detailing and subdividing,
which I'll get to in a minute, my most important qualification is something
I DON'T have: the bagful of superstitions, prejudices, and obsessions that
so profoundly warp the American outlook on reality that most Americans are
congenitally unable to see any foreign country objectively, let alone a communist
restraint is really a good thing in writing, this document so far is
so good that the warning notice on top must seem overstated. But restraint
is less virtuous than foolish when it spares grossly counter productive
sacred cows from slaughter, so my skittish readers are warned again that
some truly offensive ideological beasts are about to be axed.
Most Americans, unfortunately
including most of those who think they're trying hard to be fair, are incapable
of objectively reporting on Cuba, not so much because they lack experience
or knowledge (which some have and others could have if they'd ever bother
to learn Spanish and get past Havana) but because of some very definite and
definitely crippling afflictions nobody needs but which they always seem
to have and always take to Cuba with them.
I'm not just talking about the deliberate propagandists:
(1) the Miami "exiles," (2)
the misinformation specialists in the State Department, and (3)
the willingly embedded flacks of America's clearly invested mainstream media.
Most anti-Cuba propaganda comes from those sources, but not because they
can't be objective (though they probably can't be). They want to smear
Cuba; or they're paid to smear Cuba; or smearing Cuba is a convention of
their trade that they do without thinking, earning them cheap, no-risk approval,
like throwing stones at someone already being stoned. From too much bitterness
for too long, the "exiles" may actually think the word truth,
in reference to Cuba, means any ugly thing they can think of to say, but
they're also willing to lie to achieve their inherited goal. Their island-born
dons (lots of the "exiles" have never seen revolutionary Cuba or
have spent less time there than I have) want to go back with the U.S. Army,
kill all the communists, and restore the inequality that bigshots enjoy in all the still successfully fortified capitalist world
And they share that goal with their ironically
racist but convenient allies, the simultaneously stupid and cunning anti-communist
American businessmen (including most politicians and most media chiefs),
to whom good means good for them and their friends in the economic
upper class, bad means any "liberal" s.o.b. who tries
to queer the fix, objectivity is a lot of useless esoteric
hooey, truth is what you tell the suckers it is, and the Miami
fantasies about Cuba are fine because they're ready to hand and do the trick.
But while that gang are the principal conscious and
semi-conscious broadcasters of anti-Cuba b.s., it helps their cause a lot
that most Americans are perfect b.s. receivers. Most sincerely well-meaning
Americans, including or maybe especially liberals, are too willingly trapped
inside politically correct intellectual limits. They are:(1) too illogically religious
and religiously illogical, (2) too born-again patriotic, (3) too uncritically pious
about democracy and "free" enterprise, (4) too shy of even the
word communism to see through all the anti-Cuba blather or
to look objectively at Cuba, and (5) too rigidly and naively provincial to pay any attention to coherently rational argument and learn from it.
As everyone well knows, there are many completely
irrational convictions in circulation among humans - whole systems of them
- the products of social propaganda going back for decades, or for generations,
or for thousands of years, so commonly and widely held, so deeply and historically
embedded, that entire populations are virtually, maybe genetically unable
to confront themselves logically about them. One would hope that individuals
original enough to dare to visit Cuba would not be among the afflicted, but
steady, never ending propaganda is depressingly effective.
Religion is the most obvious example of excess baggage that most people carry, and Americans are as hopelessly religious
as Muslims. They pour their god (like catsup or sugar) on all public events,
speeches, and ceremonies; throughout their legal and political documents
and procedures; and even all over their entertainment, literature and news
chronicles. On any given day, you can hear pundits on Air America
one minute bragging that they always stick to the facts and the next minute
declaring, without a trace of self suspicion, that they know what Jesus would
say about the Republicans.
Americans literally believe (it isn't figurative
- they believe it) that their god is as real as AT&T and is really their
god. They're as sure as Muslims or Jews or the pre-conquest Aztecs that their
god made them of special clay, that they are good in a supernatural
sense and that lesser peoples who get in their way or who strike back at
them are evil in a supernatural sense. It's embarrassing to
say this, but I'm not being satirical. This is literal fact and you know
Mystical people can't be trusted to see anything
clearly - neither Cuba nor America nor anything else, because they are on
the one hand robotically obligated to chant a brain deadening catechism for
which there is no evidence at all as if it were clearly true and on the other
hand in automatic denial of what's in front of their faces if it's not in
their scripture. Republicans and Democrats differ only as splinter groups
over their god's relative racism or sexism, sternness or niceness. As coreligionists,
they usually look sideways at each other to move their lips in unison.
So when the pope went to Cuba, it wasn't just the
mainstream U.S. media shouting rooftop prayers that that doddering anachronism
would save Cuba's lost soul from its atheist leaders who have accomplished
more social good than religion ever has or ever will. Most supposedly intellectual
American liberals whose voices were heard at the time apparently also thought
that an increase in "free" churchgoing would be better for Cuba
than having possibly the world's best health care delivery system and a participatory
democracy so efficient that hurricane response is routinely near perfect.
In fact, Cuba has more churches than it needs (less than 1 would suffice),
but it panics childishly religious Americans that the president is an honest
atheist and so are most of the people, and the possibility that Cuba's relatively
more stable peace and security could partly result from the Cubans
being realistically educated while THEY (the Americans) are as mystically
brainwashed as the ancient Egyptians appears impossible for Americans to
Patriotism. Making double use of the same religious mind cast,
virtually all Americans are as rigidly proud of and committed to their second
actually worse religion, patriotism, as a flock of black-uniformed
movie Germans. And if my saying that shocks you, your shock dramatically
proves my point. Your shock is certainly irrational -just as irrational,
in fact, as patriotism. I'm not talking about anyone's quite respectable
sentimental attachment to his home, the place (not country)
where he really knows his way around, has real friends, and feels comfortable
- a definition of home that may coincidentally fit Monaco. I'm talking
about something not at all rational or respectable: patriotism - the counter-rational
deification of a state - the first subterfuge of insider scoundrels conning
the rest of "the people" into participating in their own fleecing
and flag saluting youth into dying for the rich without questioning why.
Patriotism doesn't make sense. Period. In a contract, it
would be a clause you shouldn't sign your name to. The state posited by Jefferson
as subject to abolishment when it doesn't work was meant to be a practical
mechanism, not a beloved master. Yet Americans are so inertly and unreflectingly
patriotic that even the ACLU can't grasp that the flag salute itself is an
abuse of logic and human rights; and the most famously "free" speakers
in the land, even while deploring Washington's daily and clearly systemic
acts of international gluttony and barbarism and the near daily reports of
ordinary Americans living in the streets or in their cars and of old Americans
facing economic ruin if they get sick, ARE STILL DUTIFULLY CERTAIN
that the (by definition) "great" American system works (or used
to work or will work if you let it work or if "the people" take
charge - or something like that) and is the best of all possible systems
just because it's god-blessed American, while they continually lie to themselves
that one specific administration after another and one specific social atrocity
after another is an aberration. As long as Americans as a tribal congregation
are congenitally incapable of acknowledging even the possibility of what
is widely regarded as certain south of the Rio Bravo - that Cuba doesn't
just occupy an underdog's moral high ground but is, with all its errors and
blemishes, a better conceived, better led, better state than America, which
is basically fascist, then almost no American is capable of seeing Cuba objectively.
Anti-communism probably rises to the religious level only in America (and among the rich in America's sycophantic client states).
Obviously (and the word obviously has never been more accurately
used), the rich object to communism because it is the antithesis of the win-or-lose
system through which the same few thousand rich stay rich, keep running
the first world, and keep sucking the blood out of the third world billions,
sharing less than half that blood with their own few hundred million
Because the rich 1/10 of 1% who own America don't want
the boat rocked, all their lives and before their lives, for 150 years at
least, all Americans and several generations of their ancestors have been
taught and taught and relentlessly taught, until it seems virtually a genetic
conviction, that communism is evil - just evil - not why or even what it
is - just that it's evil. Other countries have respected communist and socialist
parties, but even to those few slightly deprogrammed American travelers shaken
enough by what they've seen in the third world to admit that communist rebels
are obviously more benign than their capitalist foes, it's still taboo for
Americans to even THINK communism is OK or could succeed. It's too
(devilishly?) ideal, they cluck, as if being ideal were a well known flaw.
Only primitives are supposed to have taboos. But western society is full
of them, and in still-primitive America it's certainly taboo to think (even
when it's proven) that communism can work. Most - actually almost all Americans
- including reporters, professors, priests, even supposedly leftist intellectuals,
feel forbidden (by a kind of automatic life-long drip system of slow
but relentless brain irrigation as well as occasional brain-drenching) to
go to Cuba and see communism working there. Just IF, by chance, it
works there, it is in fact taboo to see that.
This virtually genetic taboo is so rigid that even otherwise
rational and courageous American advocates of social reform in America, when
the social reform they advocate is clearly at least socialist, must drum
up some politically correct cover name for it, like "single-payer plan,"
and when defending obviously admirable practices in Cuba are afflicted with
a tic-like compulsion to keep interrupting their own arguments with assurances
(maybe, subconsciously, to the secret police) that, of course, neither they
nor those they stoop to condone are (really) socialists or communists. Cubans
call their system socialism (a transitional phase), not communism, because,
while some sectors have crossed the finish line, they have not yet achieved
full-scale communism. But one politically pious American film-maker strenuously
pretends that Cubans overcame their early 90's depression not through the
dedication and organizational skill of the Communist Party (God forbid) but
by a miracle wrought when "the people" one day just decided to help each
Even Americans with pretensions of economic expertise
consistently and maybe totally unconsciously measure communism with a capitalist
yardstick. Apparently drawing a blank on the point of communism, they owlishly
hoot that the healthy happy educated well-housed well-fed well-dressed never-desperate
Cubans just don't know how to make a profit or have the wit to elect a business
savvy president (and wind up as poor Latin Americans again - they don't add
- it doesn't seem to occur to them).
Just the words Freedom and Democracy constitute a pair of American glasses so deeply rose tinted that they are opaque. Ronald Reagan actually once declared that Americans are "free"
to freeze to death, and most Americans believe that Cubans are FORCED to endure a system that works for
them. Americans constantly pass around and swallow the words "freedom"
and democracy, or the virtually one-word incantation freedomanddemocracy
as if it were some kind of solid gold dope. Blissfully groggy
about such totalitarian concerns as definition and context, they "freely"
commute between their jobs and their TV sets, "freely" consume the product
with the red and white label, "freely" donate their taxes to the arms sellers
and the inside bidders, "freely" follow instructions about who and what to
vote for, and then "freely" and uncritically allow the democratically
elected big shots who "freely" mislead them to hang these two words
like colored banners and balloons all over their own barbaric foreign policies
and to curse their designated enemies by withholding bestowal of the magic
stickers upon them.
Hey! All existential individual freedom which is compatible with civilization and does not need to be surrendered so that a civilized state can effectively function should be untouchable. But
there's freedom and there's "freedom" and there's also free-dumb, and it's dumb to be hypnotized by the mere word. Freedoms, after all, conflict! The mere word freedom
has almost NO meaning without squinting hard at it and certainly no moral
or ethical value out of context (sugar free, freely illogical, free speech,
press freedom, freedom to associate, freedom to assemble, freedom to throw
garbage all over the world, free choice, free love, free fire, free fall,
"Buy one get one free!", freedom from U.S. imposed democracy, free to get
rich at the expense of your fellow man, freedom to cheat or steal or break
a contract including even the social contract, etc. - come on!). Americans
and Guatemalans are "free" to do a few things Cubans aren't free to
do. Cubans are free from a whole lot of shit fucking up life everywhere
else including America and it's nothing to fret about that "you" aren't "free"
to get rich in Cuba. In American foreign policy jargon, freedom
often means freedom from equality. Oh yes it does! And to protect the freedom
of rich Americans to free other countries of their riches, they claim they're
protecting my freedom by denying my freedom to go to Cuba and find out there's
another way to do things. In fact, all borders and bureaucracies, including
America's and Cuba's, meant to protect somebody's or something's "freedom"
from somebody or something else's freedom, disrupt everyone's freedom to
come and go and think or act outside this or that box. The word freedom
does not represent a single always noble concept and it is
not smart to put it on a banner and wave it as if it did.
Democracy is something else. The two words shouldn't
be glued together as freedomanddemocracy. Sorry about that,
but while freedom is a valid concept and even a fundamental human need within an appropriate context,
democracy is not necessary. It doesn't apparently even work in the
existing scheme of things, and it may be unworkable, because it is NECESSARILY
always a contest of propaganda in which the slickest, most pervasive,
costliest propaganda almost always wins, which is why the poor almost everywhere
except Cuba, including the U.S., regularly vote for the rich who screw them
over. That should be obvious if you just scratch your head before you think. But Americans can go to Cuba and love hell out of it and STILL turn
around and dutifully condemn it because, instead of perpetual democratic
chaos tinkered, untinkered and retinkered by actually rich but supposedly
representative pickpockets, the Cubans have a well organized thoughtfully
Provincial naivete.The most irritating Yankee handicap is their chesty provincialism.
They don't analyze. They just know. "What finally gets you," an observant
poet once wrote" is their unbewilderment." If an American newspaper describes
a Latin American politician who used to champion the poor but is now ready
to do business our way as "reformed," you cannot count on American readers
to pull their hair and scream. With decades of opportunity for American liberals
to grasp it and write about it, outside this website, I've only once seen
an explanation in U.S. print (in a doctoral dissertation) of why Cuba very
deliberately and thoughtfully chose to have only one political party, when
Americans are religiously sure it takes exactly two. Since it takes the signatures
of 5% of the voters to qualify a proposition for the California ballot and
a near impossible rigamarole to amend the U.S. Constitution, you wouldn't
expect Americans to swallow the theatrical outrage of the so-called "exiles"
when a petition signed by only 1/6 of 1% of Cuban voters to subvert their
socialist system didn't qualify for the ballot there, but Americans, who
rarely understand their own system, routinely assume that the Cuban constitution
isn't as important as theirs and that the totally educated Cubans, not being
Americans, don't know what they are doing.
So at a time when secret police are disappearing Americans
with Arab names into secret jails and torture chambers without charges, Americans
are easily conned into deploring Cuba's lack of "freedom" when Cuban subversives
who were certainly recruited, trained, supplied, paid, and directed
by agents of a self declared foreign enemy (clear treason as defined in Article
III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution) are duly arrested, charged, tried,
convicted in court, and jailed for treason under Article 62 of the Cuban
Constitution. There's been no credible evidence for decades (if there ever
was) of any Cubans being disappeared or tortured by their government, but,
since America is nominally "free" and democratic (according to itself) and
Cuba has been declared NOT "free" or democratic (by America), Americans are
apparently undismayed and undismayable by Washington's and Miami's hypocritical
outrage when the rest of the world approves a Cuban or, more recently, a Venezuelan seat on the UN Human Rights
A clear view of Cuba requires a realistic world view like mine
- unconfused by vested economic interest or by religious blindness, patriotic
blindness, or blind prejudice against important and respectable concepts
(communism for instance) that are mindlessly yet stubbornly demonized by
the schools, the politicians, the media, and seemingly the air everyone breaths
in America. Brain-bound from birth to shun a realistic world view, almost
no Americans are free to see Cuba as it is.
So, though all my experience, which I swear I'll
get to in a minute, is important, my most important qualification as an
objective reporter on Cuba is that I'm NOT carrying the bagful of superstitions,
prejudices, and obsessions described in the last 15 or 16 paragraphs.
I'm not religious, patriotic, offended by communism, or confused by sacred
It takes someone psychologically free to go against
the flow - free to shrug off the comfortable approval of either society or
faction in favor of integrity and credibility that probably won't be acknowledged
by others; someone who - not being easily or willingly blinded, deafened,
intimidated or confused by all he's been told to see in Cuba - is
free to see what he actually sees. And, in a world with its mouth full of
"freedom," I seem to be one of the few people free to see and think
about and write about unspun reality. My saying that may offend some readers,
but I can't make my point without making it.
TO BE CONTINUED SOON
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