Still an irredentist Communist himself, philosopher/clown Slavoj Å½iÅ¾ek nonetheless refuses to join the rest of the Left in worshiping Fidel.
We all remember the classic scene from cartoons: a cat walks over the precipice and magically goes on, floating in the airâ€”it falls down only when it looks down and becomes aware that it has no ground under its feet. In the same way, one can say that, in the last decades, Cuban â€œsocialismâ€ continued to live only because it didnâ€™t yet notice it was already dead. …
One gets tired of the conflicting stories of the economic failure and human rights abuses in Cuba, as well as of the twins of education and healthcare that are always trotted out by the friends of the revolution. One gets tired even of the really great story of how a small country can resist the biggest superpower (yes, with the help of the other superpower).
The saddest thing about todayâ€™s Cuba is a feature clearly rendered by the crime novels of Cubaâ€™s literary icon Leonardo Padura, which features detective Mario Conde and are set in todayâ€™s Havana. Paduraâ€™s atmosphere is the one not so much of poverty and oppression as of missed chances, of living in a part of the world to a large extent bypassed by the tremendous economic and social changes of the last decades.
All of the above mentioned stories do not change the sad fact that the Cuban revolution did not produce a social model relevant for the eventual Communist future. I visited Cuba a decade ago, and on that visit I found people who proudly showed me houses in decay as a proof of their fidelity to the revolutionary â€œEventâ€: â€œLook, everything is falling apart, we live in poverty, but we are ready to endure it rather than to betray the Revolution!â€ When renunciations themselves are experienced as proof of authenticity, we get what in psychoanalysis is called the logic of castration. The whole Cuban politico-ideological identity rests on the fidelity to castrationâ€”no wonder that the Leader is called Fidel Castro! …
So what about pro-Castro Western Leftists who despise what Cubans themselves call â€œgusanos/worms,â€ those Cubans who emigrated to find a better life? With all sympathy for the Cuban revolution, what right does a typical middle-class Western Leftist, like too many readers of In These Times, have to despise a Cuban who decided to leave Cuba not only because of political disenchantment but also because of poverty? In the same vein, I myself remember from the early 1990s dozens of Western Leftists who proudly threw in my face how, for them, that Yugoslavia (as imagined by Tito) still exists, and reproached me for betraying the unique chance of maintaining Yugoslavia.
To that charge, I answered: I am not yet ready to lead my life so that it will not disappoint the dreams of Western Leftists. Gilles Deleuze wrote somewhere: â€œSi vous etes pris dans le reve de lâ€™atre vous etez foutu!â€â€”If you are caught in the dream of the other youâ€™re ruined. Cuban people paid the price for being caught into the Western leftistsâ€™ dream.