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Res Ipsa Loquitur

| 87 Comments

Chris Bertram on Cuba and Castro (entire post):

I haven't looked yet, but I've no doubt that there'll be lots of posts in the blogosphere saying "good riddance" to Fidel Castro (especially from "left" US bloggers like Brad DeLong who never miss the chance to distance themselves). And, of course, Castro ran a dictatorship that has, since 1959, committed its fair share of crimes, repressions, denials of democratic rights etc. Still, I'm reminded of A.J.P. Taylor writing somewhere or other (reference please, dear readers?) that what the capitalists and their lackeys really really hated about Soviet Russia was not its tyrannical nature but the fact that there was a whole chunk of the earth’s surface where they were no longer able to operate. Ditto Cuba, for a much smaller chunk. So let’s hear it for universal literacy and decent standards of health care. Let’s hear it for the Cubans who help defeat the South Africans and their allies in Angola and thereby prepared the end of apartheid. Let’s hear it for the middle-aged Cuban construction workers who held off the US forces for a while on Grenada. Let’s hear it for Elian Gonzalez. Let’s hear it for 49 years of defiance in the face of the US blockade. Hasta la victoria siempre!

You know that whole thing about the values of the Left having eroded into simple anti-Western Imperialism? There may be something to that, you know...

...and that's a Left I'm happy never to have been a part of, and never to be a part of. If the price of universal literacy is prison camps for writers, count me out. If the price of "decent standards of health care" is lavish living for the Party cadres and grinding poverty for everyone else, count me out. If the price of resisting apartheid is brutalizing and murdering your own citizenry - in essence creating a contest between two brutally repressive governments - count me out.

How, exactly, does Bertram keep any claim to moral authority after writing this?

Welcome visitors from The Leiter Report; please note my reply here.

87 Comments

Bertram wrote this only to be an asshole, not to make any kind of point. The left doesn't make history any more, they just heckle it.

The cracks about literacy and universal health care are nothing but stereotypical leftist mooning. His cheering for Cuban military adventures in Angola reach true heights of brute insensitivity - I congratulate him, he almost becomes disgusting enough to take seriously. The Cuban troops in Angola had little use for literacy of health care - they had no medical supplies, and many of them had no shoes. They killed in droves and died in droves, and greatly enhanced the suffering of the world - how very Che Guevara!

When Cuba is free, I would look forward to Bertram meeting the people who have been imprisoned there for 50 years, often with nothing but surplus sugar or tomato paste to eat outside of the black market, and nothing to practice their literacy on but government media written by creeps like Bertram. But that will never happen, because once Cubans are no longer the chattel of a heroic leftist strongman, his indifference for them will turn to open hatred and contempt.

Abbie Hoffman once praised Castro: "Standing there like a mighty penis!" While his sycophants flap weakly in the wind.

Cuba libre.

As Bill Whittle once noted, if Cuba is so great, why is it that all the boats are heading in this direction? Bertram is just a windbag, wallowing in his own faux guilt for being part of a successful society, whose very success denies his egalitarian theories, which he expiates only by said wallowing. Which, of course, is a way of saying that he has to prove he's better than others that are objectively his equals, by stating that he's inferior to people who are objectively his inferiors. What rubbish.

that what the capitalists and their lackeys really really hated about Soviet Russia

The European "capitalists" (oligarchs) needed the Soviet Russia to justify their policies. It is easy to understand, therefore, their hate towards Ronald Reagan.

Adios Fidel

Somebody send this clown a copy of Animal Farm.

How, exactly, does Bertram keep any claim to moral authority after writing this?

Moral authority? How ... bourgeois.

If the price of universal literacy...

But, is there universal literacy. As far as I've been able to determine, literacy stats are compiled by the UN from data supplied by the individual countries. There is no such thing as an universal literacy testing agency.

Infant mortality statistics suffer from similar problems, there are no universal standards and deaths are counted differently from country to country.

If the price of universal literacy is prison camps for writers, count me out.

It is amazing that any writer, anywhere in the world, wouldn't wholeheartedly agree with that sentence.

John Derbyshire is a nutjob, but he could not have been more right when he wrote this: "Wherever there is a jackboot stepping on a human face, there will be a well-heeled Western liberal there to assure us that the face enjoys free health care and a high degree of literacy."

You're assuming that morality is a term that actually means something to the Left. The collapse of communism has made that system's crimes incontrovertible public knowledge. People like Bertram consistently supported for and apologized for it then - and still do. They'll take Islamists as an acceptable second substitute.

A normal person would learn from the opening of communism's archives, and question their actions. Some did. But if you hate America the way Nazis hate Jews, you can always just take the same tack and just throw it all down the memory hole. The hate is all that matters, repeat the hate.

Bertram could hardly have made that little programming instruction plainer. Elegant piece of code, really, from an engineering point of view - a whole world-view fits neatly into it.

From Why Idiotarianism? Why Now?

"What's the attraction in these supposedly incompatible visions? I think it's simple...

They're united by a desire to shoot the same messenger.

Staring at their shattered idols, they all blame the same set of demons for the destruction of their gods: capitalism, modernity, the bourgeois mentality. And what do you get when you cross all 3? Symbolically, you get Jews... and you get America.

If they could but kill their god's destroyers, perhaps their gods could live again and fulfill the glorious prophecies foretold. The prophecies they were cheated out of. As I said in an April 19, 2002 exchange with MuslimPundit:

"A culture that sees nothing new in the world beyond the idols of its doctrine can only lash out in rage when those idols are cracked. For those idols carry their very identity, and the loss of identity leads inexorably to violence. This characteristic is not unique to Islam, and can just as easily be seen on any "progressive" university campus.

Which brings up an interesting point. Until now, conservatives have seen the (one way) sympathy and winking between the university's radical left and Islamist jihadists as ideological in nature: a pinch of Marxism, 2 tablespoons of reflexive anti-colonialism, a quart of victimization politics as a sop to the failure of their doctrines to create anything but brutal slums and pest-holes.

Maybe we were wrong. Maybe the real bond is not ideological, but cultural in nature. Facing their cracked idols, lashing out at the common messenger of their failure, these two movements agree only to borrow what they can from each other in order to wound the common object of their hate. America is surely the most prominent messenger. Israel, with no oil but a per capita purchasing power twice that of Saudi Arabia, is another."

Who believes in statistics peddled by a Dictatorship?

Um, folks. A little mercy, please. First Mughniyeh, now Fidel.

It's been a tough week...

Its a real blast reading what a bunch of uneducated dolts who clearly know nothing of the history of Cuba (or their own country) have to say about about the comments of someone who actually thinks for living. And while you guys like to point out and overemphasize the blinders you think "liberals" have concerning Cuba and communism (if you can even call the USSR at any point a communist country except nominally)you might want to check your own blinders. While at least the Cubans gave a shit about apartheid, what was the US doing? While the Cubans and western countries realized that health care is a human right, what has the US done? Is it really hate if one is honest about their own short comings or the short comings of their country? Than to love is to lie.

Also, for the English scholar who suggested Bertram read Animal Farm, a quick note on Orwell's biography: the man was a communist. And if you read the book all the way to the end, I just know you can, you get to see that the pigs are capitalists and that its a critique of Stalinism and capitalism. Why don't you suggest he also read 1984 and explain why Big Brother is a good idea and is why we should elect McCain: War = Peace!

Some not-left-wing opinions on Cuban health and social development:

"Cuba has done a great job on education and health and it does not embarrass me to admit it." World Bank President James Wolfensohn

"Cuba’s achievements in social development are impressive given the size of its gross domestic product per capita. As the human development index of the United Nations makes clear year after year, Cuba should be the envy of many other nations, ostensibly far richer. [Cuba] demonstrates how much nations can do with the resources they have if they focus on the right priorities – health, education, and literacy." Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations

"The health system in Cuba guarantees accessibility to the entire population, is free of charge, and covers the spectrum from vaccinations to sophisticated interventions. The results are impressive: Cuba’s health figures are on a par with developed countries that have 20 times the budget. The country is experiencing a difficult period because of the collapse and loss of support from the Soviet Union; over 30 years’ trade embargo by the United States; and the gradual change from a centrally planned economy towards more of a free market system. Shortages are experienced in every sector, and maintaining health care services at the current level is too expensive. Doctors and nurses continue to work towards the goal of health for all Cubans, even though their salaries are minimal. Signs of negligence or corruption, often seen in other socialist countries where incentives for output are lacking, are unknown. Topics such as family planning and AIDS deserve immediate attention." Hans Veeken, Letter from Cuba in the British Medical Journal

While the Cubans and western countries realized that health care is a human right, what has the US done?

If the greatest shortcoming of the US is it's, so far, unwillingness to force healthy young people to pay for the health care of aging boomers, well, we're doing pretty well.

Doctors and nurses continue to work towards the goal of health for all Cubans, even though their salaries are minimal.

Funny how communism/socialism always seem to turn into 'force someone else to sacrifice for my benefit'. It's almost like it's an inherent design flaw or something.

I wonder what our 'life long thinker' would make of a plan to raise literacy in the United States by forcing tenured college professors to teach the illiterate for free. Err, sorry, I phrased that wrong. That should read: Encourage noble Professors of great learning and wisdom to humbly sacrifice for the literacy of all Americans.

ah treefrog, your so enjoyably ignorant!

The only people in America that need health care are not the aging boomers. Nice try though. There are a lot of people with serious ailments who simply can't afford health care. But hey, what the hell, let 'em die, not your concern. I forgot the moral superiority of the right wing.

Minimal salaries are not a design flaw. The people who accept what you ignorantly call communism realize that there are more important things in life than the unlimited accumulation in wealth: like caring for others. In which case it is less of a sacrifice and more of a gift. Unlike some doctors in rich capitalist countries which provide almost no public health care (is there really only one left?), doctors who buy into universal health care also buy into the idea that becoming a doctor is about helping the sick and needy. Where are your jackboots, now?

I did not say "life long thinker," perhaps my last post was to long to be digested in one bite by some, but rather suggested that this man is paid to think. What are you paid to do? Anyways, if you knew anything about academia (which your anti-intellectual as well as unintelligent comments suggest you do not), you would know that academics as part of their job are expected to devote their time to charity or other sorts of community work for the benefit of the public at large.

When Cuba is finally free and democratic, it will be interesting to see if Chris Bertram, Michael Moore, et al. can go down there without having to hire bodyguards.

Glen Wishard, you gave me the best laugh I've had in a while - The left doesn't make history anymore, they just heckle it. So true it hurts.

I did not say "life long thinker," perhaps my last post was to long to be digested in one bite by some, but rather suggested that this man is paid to think. What are you paid to do?

I'm an engineer. I'm also paid to think. The primary difference being that my output has to actually work. And do something constructive.

You're going to have to work a lot harder to convince me that someone who couldn't handle the math to get a real degree is my intellectual superior. The lack of coherent spelling, grammar and punctuation isn't helping.

Unlike some doctors in rich capitalist countries which provide almost no public health care (is there really only one left?), doctors who buy into universal health care also buy into the idea that becoming a doctor is about helping the sick and needy. Where are your jackboots, now?

For someone who likes to criticize capitalism, you don't know anything about it. Here's a fun fact, capitalism allows people to set the prices for their goods and services as high or as low as they like. If the doctors wanted to work for slave conditions, nothing is stopping them.

But of course, that's the clear implication of your statement above, the need to force those greedy doctors into properly sacrificing for the good of all.

Back in my college days, I had an economics professor who lived very simply. He owned no car, a one room studio apartment, no TV, very little furniture. He only taught one semester a year (to packed out classrooms, transfers into his classes were always highly sought after). The rest of the year he spent backpacking. He'd already backpacked across most of North and South America and was working on Europe. He planned to next do Africa and then start on Asia. His dream was to backpack across every square kilometer of the planet, or as close to it as he could get in his lifetime.

He was the most pro-capitalism professor on the campus. Capitalism as he always pointed out, allows one to use one's time to optimize for ANY output one desires. Most people choose to balance money/entertainment and/or family. He chose to optimize backpacking/family.

Communism as he pointed out, would never allow for his lifestyle. Could not allow it. What he wanted did not provide for as much utility to society as chaining him to his classroom did. Therefore communism must use the only means at it's disposal, a gun, to force him to contribute to 'the good of society'.

Capitalism allows one to chase after your own dreams, communism forces you to be an extra in someone else's version of utopia.

Slave masters are always quick to point out all the benefits to being a slave. Color me unimpressed.

Oh, so you think the primary difference is "my output has to actually work." Never mind the fact that some one who specializes in political philosophy has to actually study politics for a living and might be better suited to discuss politics. Also, there is a different kind of thinking involved in mathematics than in philosophy: one is rule based the other is critical and develops over time with experience.

Also, what makes you think he can't handle math? You know there's a whole field of philosophy that studies math and could put your math to shame. Besides, your logically weak arguments aren't convincing me that you know how to apply mathematics to anything other than lines and planes.

Slave conditions and slave wages, huh? Looks like someone's ignorant about how universal health care works. Doctors still get paid well, just not as well as they do in an economy that allows for limitless wealth.

Strictly speaking I do not hate all forms of capitalism. I just think that it needs to have some serious limitations. Besides, the real worry with the medical field is insurance: both the health insurance companies and the issues of medical malpractice insurance. Those are the real culprits behind driving up medical care. And its also an answer to your question why don't doctor's just set their prices lower. Welcome to reality: rent, staff, supplies, malpractice insurance, living wage, college loans. Nice try, though.

Touching story about your college prof. But what it illustrates is actually two different types of world views: the capitalist world view is individualistic, each person pursuing their own goals and their own life styles unimpeded by government control. The communist system as you portray it is the forcing of others to play a part in some utopia. Fine, whatever.

But what I am saying and what I think the thrust of Professor Bertram's point was is there is another way to structure society so that we are less individualistic and more oriented to the greater good of the community. Yes, we have to make sacrifices but in the overall scheme of things we all benefit.

So the real difference, without insult or misrepresentation, is this: Do we think that each individual should choose their own way of life regardless of the needs of the community or do we think that the survival of the community must come first and so individuals must sacrifice some in order to benefit all. Or is the answer somewhere in between. I'm inclined to say its somewhere in between, but not far away from the latter.

So you can think about this division as two legitimate options and engage in dialogue with others, or you can continue to blast the Rush Limbaugh and ignore the inherent contradictions of the three-headed right wing beast: Christianity without charity, perpetual war for perpetual peace, tax cuts for the wealthy.

It's funny how the folks who think that "the survival of the community must come first and so individuals must sacrifice some in order to benefit all"either wind up living in palaces or in front of firing squads called together by their former comrades.

I'll take liberalism and the rights of humanity any day...

A.L.

Dan, have you bothered to consider that the intersection of universal healthcare and universal slave labor might not be quite as wholesome as you might like? We feed our cattle quite well in this country, it would be a stretch to dub that a moral triumph when you consider that impetus behind it.

to AL:

its funny how conjecture passes for facts or even a sound argument.

Dan, that's not conjecture, that's history.

A.L.

Oh, don't worry, I already assumed they were the same concept for you. By the way, if you want a working model of my sacrifice some for all proposition, look at animals that have communities and then think about evolution. Do you really think human beings could have evolved or even survived without communities as such? Or do you deny evolution all together? How's that for history?

Dan - I'm a communitarian; Wolin, Euben and Schaar were political theorists who I personally studied with who were deeply invested in the issues of community in human society. They understood, however that the Enlightenment - by allowing people to freely associate in communities and changing the balance of power from the 'subject/serf' to the 'citizen' substantially changed and improved the human condition.

The problem with the implementations of modern intentional communities at the micro and macro scale are pretty well documented. So there's an interesting discussion to have about community, and liberty, and human rights in freedom from as well as freedom to.

But when you hold Castro or Trotsky or Stalin or Mao up as examples of what you're striving for, you've pretty much lost me as well as most people who aren't in academe or living in RCP squats.

A.L.

Oh - and if you're looking for a radical interpretation that supports my positions, I'd look hard at Habermas; 'Communicative Action' and 'Legitimation Crisis' are both good (if chewy and difficult) places to start.

A.L.

Certainly mankind could have. However, the basic size of the "community" that mankind evolved with was, at most, a very small band; much smaller than a city, much less a nation-state. Additionally, these communities emphatically did not cooperate with each other, and to be blunt, most of them were exterminated to the last member, absorbed into other communities, or just plain died off. Prehistory isn't a peaceful utopia!

Why are engineers skeptical about political science? Simple - they're trained to a much more rigorous degree. In part, this is because engineering is a fairly exact science, with problems having answers which are obviously correct or incorrect. In real-world applications, bad engineering means that things don't work or fall over, possibly killing people. Thus your average engineer has survived a culling much more savage, in its way, than anything your average poli sci student has to go through. Bad engineers are deadly, and thus the profession as a whole is careful to keep the numbers low.

Of course, bad political science is deadly too; just ask the Ukrainians. But since it doesn't tend to fall over as quickly, and there are usually multiple causes of a collapse, the "engineer" in question usually isn't called to account. Despite this, though, there are a quantity of political scientists who believe things which are, well, complete bullshit - like believing you can make a building out of lace and margarine.

Never mind the fact that some one who specializes in political philosophy has to actually study politics for a living and might be better suited to discuss politics.

I can spin my chair and see about a thousand different concrete things the Science and Engineering wings of academia have done for the human race. I'm having trouble coming up with anything political philosophy majors have come up with that's proved even marginally useful, perhaps you'd like to give me a lengthy list of the world changing innovations pol-sci types have gifted us all with?

You know there's a whole field of philosophy that studies math and could put your math to shame.

Apparently I don't know anything about math, here I thought there was only ONE math for example...

So the real difference, without insult or misrepresentation, is this: Do we think that each individual should choose their own way of life regardless of the needs of the community or do we think that the survival of the community must come first and so individuals must sacrifice some in order to benefit all.

The 'needs of the community' being conveniently decided by you and your other enlightened fellow travelers? With any who do not agree with you being told to shut up because we're 'ignorant'? And those who don't agree to 'sacrifice' for the good of the community will just have to be compelled, won't they?

Sigh, what ever happened to tyrants having to demonstrate competence first? At least if they could prove they could conquer a good chunk of the planet we could assume they could at least get their pants on without help. The standards among dictatorial scum is definitely falling.

Why are engineers skeptical about political science?

All true Avatar, but what gets my goat about this...gentleman, is his use of his 'credentials' as a bludgeon to attempt to silence all dissent.

You just don't see people who actually know what they're talking about doing that. If you are confident in your knowledge and certain in your beliefs, debate is your friend not your enemy. A good scientist always says, 'Your idea is wrong, and here's why...'. Not 'Me smart, you stupid, shut up'.

Actually, good engineers and scientists will happily bore anybody in range to tears about their favorite topics. Our credentials are more a legal thing to allow a show of 'due dilligence' than any innate display of worth. I'll take a good idea equally from a high school dropout as from a MIT doctorate.

Granted the doctorate would have an easier time getting in the door and wouldn't have people going over his work with quite as fine a comb, but in the end the idea is the important thing, not the source.

What we're dealing with here is more Genghis Khan in academic robes.

[While the Cubans and western countries realized that health care is a human right, what has the US done?]

Healthcare is a right?
Freedom is not?

If this is the result of being "educated", I'm proud to be an "uneducated dolt".

The Cuban healthcare system is so good that Castro imported his surgeon from Spain. I guess Castro has a few more rights to healthcare than the average schmoe.

As a Public Health epidemiologist, I am especially thankful for El Jefe--without his work on lowering Cuban caloric intake to starvation levels, public health researchers could not have concluded that diminished caloric intake helps reduce heart disease. All the while El Jefe and the oligarchs cultivated their taste for luxury goods and serrano ham (Castro's favorite).

Fidel committed one generation of Cuban youth to further revolutionary fervor in Africa in return for subsidized Soviet Oil and Soviet purchase of Cuban sugar; when the USSR collapsed, he permitted another generation of cuban youth to become prostitutes for foreign visitors in exchange for hard currency.

As to the comments about the rigor of political philosophy versus the rigor of engineering; the day a political philosopher designs and builds a bridge I can safely cross, I will recognize their contributions to society. Plumbers, IMO, are more important to society than political philosophers: Plumber's pipes, at least hold water--not so political philosopher's ideas.

"While the Cubans and western countries realized that health care is a human right, what has the US done?"

Medicare, medicaid, universal emergency room access, social security benefits for the disabled, prescription drug benefit, community healthcare centers.

The US federal government spends of 20 billion outside of medicaid/medicare on the uninsured every year.

For the record, the GDP OF CUBA is 44 billion.

What's doubly stupid about all of this, is that we have no way of knowing that they really achieved these things.

Universal literacy? According to whom? its kind of hard to get good data on a dictatorship, you know?

As a history major it is hard to resist the urge to throw things at the screen, people are so naive about these sorts of things. For instance, what is the story here?

"Castro has stepped down?"

No:

"The Cuban government claims Castro has stepped down."

You should treat anything they say as though it came from a tabloid. As in "this is alleged reality. Who knows what the truth is."

But the media has never demonstrated the appropriate skepticism when it comes to dictators. Not Saddam Hussein (didn't you know he was reelected with 99.9% of the vote!), not Chairman Mao (let a hundred flowers bloom... so i can find them and cut them and turn them into mulch), not stalin, not any of them.

The statistics of communist regimes aren't worth the low-grade paper they're printed on. Why would anyone believe that Cuba actually has "universal literacy" or high health standards? None of the other communist regimes do or did.

Everyone seems to accept that the quality of Cuban healthcare is a great achievement, based of course on statistics and assertions provided by the Cuban government.

I remember hearing similar claims about the Soviet Union.

God knows, I'm feeding a troll, but ...

"While the Cubans and western countries realized that health care is a human right, what has the US done?"

Medicare: $~400 billion a year (and growing 7.5-7.8% per year, which is 2-3x the rate of inflation)

Medicaid: $~120 billion a year (historic growth rates anywhere from 3-13% per year)

I'd say we've done rather a lot. Given our large population and wealth, we're probably leading the world in this area.

I would also point out that as some wag has said, immigration is the sincerest form of flattery.

Snippets from Dan...

"...if you can even call the USSR at any point a communist country except nominally"

LOL, the old "communism isn't a failure because its never been properly tried" rears its ugly head.

Funny how everywhere it has been tried on any scale it has always descended into some form of horror show. Maybe that's because it is in fact fundamentally flawed, in terms of its view of economics and underlying human nature?

"While at least the Cubans gave a shit about apartheid, what was the US doing?"

As someone else pointed out, Castro was being Brezhnev's bought and paid for bitch -- and to the extent it wasn't about just the USSR's teat (with goodies for Cuba extracted form their own people), it wasn't about equality vs. aprtheid, but rather helping some fellow Marxist thugs into power.

"While the Cubans and western countries realized that health care is a human right, what has the US done?"

Uh, create many (most?) of the big medical advances docs around the world use? How many powerful medicines have come out of Cuban pharma?

Somebody send this clown a copy of Animal Farm.

But, not having been raised in literate Cuba, what would he do with it?

What good is being literate if what you read (or allowed to read) is totally controlled by someone else?

The idea behind literacy is to allow people to explore other worlds and other ideas. To open their minds to other experiences. To learn from the mistakes of others and the successes of others.

If you're taught how to read but prevented from learning about these other experiences, what good is the tool of literacy? It's worthless.

It would be like teaching a person to play the piano but allowing them to only play the same song over and over again.

Instead of a tool of liberation; it's a tool of oppression.

I'll pass Commandante.

#23 from Dan at 7:44 pm on Feb 20, 2008

"look at animals that have communities and then think about evolution. Do you really think human beings could have evolved or even survived without communities as such?"

No, I just don't really believe you have a solid claim on community. You, simply, use it as an argument in favor of power to your political faction. Basically objectifying and derealising it in ways... Marxists tend to project onto capitalism. You'd probably destroy communities if you had power... because you don't know where the line between politics.. privacy... community... or freedom is. Like the guy whose quote was the topic of this thread.

" (if you can even call the USSR at any point a communist country except nominally)"

This is a common sentiment of the leftys, the idea is good but "they" screwed it up....... If only the right people (me) were in charge it would have worked...

Hate to regress to name calling, but Dan is a douche and exemplifies everything that is wrong in our universities.

SO SICK of the sycophantic journalistic fellatio on Castro. I've been to Cuba, along with a group of holier-than-thou American students all indoctrinated to believe it was somehow a well-fed, well-educated utopia.

1) When I went, a friend asked me to carry humanitarian supplies for a Jewish-Cuban charity. What did they ask for? VITAMIN PILLS, and especially PRE-NATAL VITAMINS. Because, you know, they are so well-fed there.

What good is "universal" health care if there's no medicine?

2) When I was there, we went to the beach one day -- only to be turned away by armed police officers. Venezuelan businessmen, you see, were being entertained by the state. Cubans didn't have access to their own beach. "Oil-for-beaches," joked my Cuban friend.

3) The "Havana Libre" hotel -- the old Hilton -- is COMPLETELY off-limits to Cubans, as are most tourist resorts. Armed guards keep the tourists separate.

4) There was a coffee shortage while I was there. A coffee shortage. IN CUBA. (That's like a corn shortage in Iowa.) There was also a shortage of flour, oil, and rice while I was there. Oh, there was plenty of coffee in the tourist shops (along with Coca-Cola, aspirin, vitamins, Dr. Scholl's, and anything else a normal American general store might carry, despite the "embargo"). But of course, again, Cubans can't go into those stores without being arrested.

5) The only way a Cuban, therefore, can get into these places, is to whore themselves out to German sex tourists.

6) What good is universal literacy if there are no books except what the State decides are OK?

Basically, Cuba is a complete SHITHOLE. I went expecting utopia, and I was absolutely appalled. I asked my host family what they thought of Americans who come to Cuba -- free to come and go (you know, freedom of movement) -- and go on about how wonderful Cuba is. They said it is just "one of those things" that has no real explanation; just an absurdity of our times.

Fidel Castro is a monster who has destroyed what used to be the most prosperous country in Latin America. His political capital comes far more from the bootlickers in the Western media than from his own people, and as far as I'm concerned, they are fully implicit in all of his crimes.

A few final questions: who killed more dissidents, Castro or Pinochet? Who voluntarily stepped down after an election (rather than on his death bed)? Which country, Chile or Cuba, is now pretty much the only "first-world" developed country in Latin America?

-- An ex-leftist

What good is universal literacy if most of the written works known to mankind are off limits? A normal human would say maybe they aren't so hot for literacy if they are so busy banning stuff.

Dan Your a slushy field academian who thinks he has all the answers. You praise universal literacy but ignore government censorship. You praise universal health care but ignore the lack of medicine. You don't mention the government price controls on food, the MAXIMUM salary cubans earn is 15$ a month. let's not mention the fact that you can't live off of that amount even in cuba, so everyone has to resort to crime to make extra money (wait that's capitalism!) there aren't enough houses every family lives packed in single rooms in rotting buildings, and there are brutal crackdowns of dissenters.
Than you want to talk about the good points, well that's fine but what good are these things without the freedom to choose your own goals? Or avoid persecution? I suspect your one of those who thinks that the embargo is to blame for cubans problems. Yet wouldn't that corrupt the communist dream? why do they need massive influxes of food and medicine, are you admitting their system doesn't work on it's own?
Just try to think before you follow.

Healthcare as a right in Cuba?

In Cuba, if you call Castro a fascist or challenge the government, you lose your healthcare (among other "rights).

Some "right".

Hell, in the US if you call Bush a fascist, you get your own cable show on MSNBC.

Once Cuba is free, I can't wait to see what the real health statistics were under Castro's police state.

I visited those Cuban clinics a few years ago. They had no medicine, and almost everyone was being treated with the laying on of toaster-size magnets, as if magnets can cure anything.

As far as literacy, Cuba had the highest literacy rate in Latin America even before Castro took over, and before Castro, Cubans actually had books to read.

To quote the very liberal Beverly McLachlin, Cheif Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada "Access to a waiting list is not access to healthcare." When the Canada Health Act is finally put into the ground, I hope they put that on the headstone. In one of the richest per capita countries in the world, where the governemts (fed and prov) cooperate to provide universal healthcare, people routinely suffer excrutiatingly long waits for what in the US would be considered routine surgeries. Also, many advanced techniques are not even availible, and it is much easier to get an MRI for your dog than for your mother. I lived that system and I hated it - in true socialist/communist fashion, all citizens are now equal (except those that can go to the US for treatment) in that they are all now peasants, supplicants at the feet of the almightly state, begging their ruler for a new hip before they can becomes complete morphine addicts. All this despite the fact that healthcare is increasingly becoming the 9,00kg gorilla in the budget of every government - crowding out all other priorities from education to defence. Please believe me, my American friends - you really do not want this. I have been to some of the worst hospitals in NYC, and they resemble the best hospitals in Canada - except in NYC the waiting time in the ER is a bit shorter.

I believe the polling data collected when people vote with their feet - - especially at dire risk to life and limb.

The lack of people attempting to immigrate TO Cuba, and the vicious State suppression of all efforts to emmigrate FROM Cuba, is all you need to know.

North Korea + Palm Trees = Castro's Cuba

Hey, Jeffrey Dahmer could cook. That makes him better than the McDo culture of America.

/Dan

What I find incredible about Bertram's post is that it looks like Bertram read Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language" and decided he was going to write something that Orwell would have included as an example of the awful political language that essay was criticizing.

What a perfectly vile individual.

Preach it brother Peter.

I haven't been to Cuba, but did live 'next door' in Jamaica in 1980 when the Cubans invaded under the pretext of being invited to build a high school. You know, real humanitarian work. That just happened to require a battalion strength unit of thugs with AK-47's. Charitable guy that Castro.

Anyway, they spent a few weeks shooting preachers and politicians that dared speak out against them, and occassionally missed and got the target's family instead. After murdering a couple hundred people and generally bullying a disarmed populace, the Jamaicans bravely stood up to the thuggery and voted the PM and his party out of office. At which point the Jamaican military told the Cubans it was time to get out.

And when I got to the USA, I've had to endure an endless stream of liberals telling me how great Castro is, and how wonderful Cuba is, and how tragic it was that the CIA overthrough Manley in Jamaica because Jamaica would be a Cuban like paradice by now otherwise. I don't know anything about the CIA. From best as I can understand having actually been there, Manley's bid at dictatorship was overthrown by a bunch of prayer meetings and Jamaicans walking to a polling place dispite Cubans pointing guns in thier direction.

All I can say is don't try this whole Castro isn't so bad argument on me in person. You never know whether I might already be having a bad day.

Peter up above is 100% correct. His experience reads exactly like mine. The problem with American (and international) leftists who visit Cuba is they come and go with their own made-up narrative fully intact. Maybe if some of them could speak Spanish (and Cuban Spanish) fluently like I do they could actually get beyond their narrative, but perhaps that's asking too much. Cuba to the left is like pornography- an image for them to masturbate to and fantasize about. It's deeply pathetic. And many Cubans will keep that narrative going (by force). It's hard to break through that wall in a country where until recently neighbors would turn in their neighbors for simply criticizing Castro. There was a good pop song about that - "Siempre hay un ojo que te ve" (There's always an eye that sees you) or another song- called "El Carnicero" (The Butcher) about woman having sex with the butcher to get meat for their families. 'What does the butcher have?' is the ironic line from the song.

Universal literacy? How about my old roommate who crossed the sea on a inner tube. It was his third attempt- the first time was aborted due to rough seas, the second led to three months in a tiny jail cell shared with if I remember correctly three other guys. The third he almost died but made it. He worked as a nurse in Cuba and spelled hermano ermano. So much for that wonderful literacy. Worse are the people who go to Cuba and say oh their eyes shine so brightly, they're so attractive! Yes, from malnutrition.

I returned here, told people about it, and was promptly labelled a conservative Republican. 9 years later I vote for conservative Republicans- the people who don't as a rule approach the world through a narrative, have a lens to view everything, who actually believe in freedom, who don't fantasize about the state (meaning people like them) controlling everything. 1 year after I returned from Cuba I bought an apartment on fumes. I realized that I had the greatest opportunity in the freest country in the world unlike my friends in Cuba. They inspired me to stop being a silly navel-gazing leftist.

Another thing I would recommend is unlearning all of the b.s. you have been taught and "believe" about Batista. Who built all of the hospitals, schools, and roads in Cuba? Why do you think the upper-class was keen on him being out of power? Maybe because they didn't like a black guy running Cuba and didn't like his quasi Peronist- type alignment with the 320+ trade unions that existed in Cuba then. How much media was there? Did you know that there were more radio stations per capita than the UK? That the live birth rate was higher than France (albeit France in recovery, but...)? Be sure to look at UNESCO stats for how high health and literacy rates were in free-Cuba before Castro- you will be very surprised. If you know anything about Cubans and have spent any time with them you will realize that Communism is completely foreign. They love nice clothes, nice cars, etc.

But that won't counter the narrative. Why? Because it's always about you and your trip with the U.S. (which you also don't understand). Pathetic, spoiled, and self-indulgent children.

What I never understand about people who tout communism as the way people should live is: How are they going to change human nature?

Given the chance, people want property. We are selfish by nature. Not necessarily in a bad way, but we want OUR spouses and OUR children and OUR homes and OUR property. The kibbutzim in Israel were the closest to successful communist societies that ever existed, and y'know, they're not very communist/socialist any more. Turns out that people wanted their own property. And their own kids in their own homes. Go figure.

Communism is a failed experiment. Regulated capitalism is the way to go. Not over-regulated, not under-regulated--unbridled capitalism is as bad as communism. There's a nice balance. I feel like we're pretty close to that balance in the U.S.

As for Cuba, hey, let's go with the Berlin Wall test. Take away all the blocks on Cubans escaping Cuba, and see how many stay put.

All of you leave Dan alone. He has tenure, so he can say what he damned well pleases, no matter how idiotic.

There, Dan's honor is upheld by a woman. He can come out of hiding now.

Dan, I'm dying to know more about this:

"Anyways, if you knew anything about academia (which your anti-intellectual as well as unintelligent comments suggest you do not), you would know that academics as part of their job are expected to devote their time to charity or other sorts of community work for the benefit of the public at large."

I know lots of academics, and the charity they do they choose to do. Some do none. Care to enlighten us?

A.L.

"While at least the Cubans gave a shit about apartheid, what was the US doing?"

Liberating half of Europe from regimes that made South Africa's look like Disneyland. Tell me, what did Cuba do to end Russian imperialism?

Meryl:
How are they going to change human nature? Given the chance, people want property. We are selfish by nature

As you know I'm sure, their response is that we just simply (ahem) need to eliminate private property.

No private property, no selfishness.

In this view, it's not human nature that is wrong; it's the environment that causes the problems.

As Rousseau pointed out, man is naturally good but is corrupted by a corrupt world. Fix his corrupt world, i.e., eliminate property, and man's natural goodness will emerge.

For them, men are indeed, pace Madison, angels.

While at least the Cubans gave a shit about apartheid,

You tell 'em Danno. It's about time the Cubans address the terrible treatment of black Cubans:

Cuba Begins to Answer Its Race Question

oh, wait......

Brian Leiter offers an endorsement of Dr Bertram's remarks and a diagnosis of those who react negatively ("the reactions from the undereducated and suitably indoctrinated has been predictable"). Since I am one of those appalled, Brian may make an exception to his first predicate (I am not undereducated). But I do think that the praise of universal literary and the Cuban health care system was a bit much. Would anyone think of praising Hitler to the autobahn or the WV beetle?

I visited Cuba in the spring of 1980, just before the Mariela boatlift. The blind could then have been deceived, just as many were about the Soviet Union, but the picture was not one of a healthy prosperous society. Most importantly, it was not a free society. I should have thought the last point was too obvious to mention.

If there are any Castro-defenders still reading this thread, I would like them to explain why it was necessary for Castro to eliminate freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and all non-Communist political parties in order to achieve the claimed gains in health care and literacy. What does one have to do with the other?

Suppose George W. Bush put all media under the control of the Republican Party, banned all other parties, and instituted evangelical Christianity as the nation's official religion -- while at the same time instituting universal health care and universal literacy. Would the Castro defenders praise Bush in that case? I certainly hope not, but by their own standards they would have to.

A few brief points in response to silly Castro apologists…

  • Castro killed many times as many people as Pinochet and still kills them to this day. Pinochet paved the way for real democracy after governing for a few years.
  • Castro should get minimal literacy credit as Cuba had one of Latin America’s highest literacy rates BEFORE 1959.
  • Castro should get NEGATIVE economic management credit as he turned one of Latin America’s wealthiest nations into one of it’s poorest.
  • If you’ve ever spoken to some of the writers, actors, poets, doctors who’ve actually been imprisoned in Cuba, you might not find it so amusing to excuse Castro’s crimes.
  • During the Cuban missile crisis, Castro was furious that the Soviet Union decided to step back from the brink rather than starting a war that would have killed at least tens of millions of people including most Cubans.
  • Castro sets up concentration camps for homosexuals and people with AIDS.
  • The internal Cuban secret police is the largest in the world on a per capita basis, larger that the Stasi and has infiltrated every neighborhood, club, group etc.

Tim: Your an excellent example of illiteracy in America. I never defended Cuba nor would I ever defend Cuba. I made the point that those countries who move towards universal health care realize health care as a human right. Are you going to say Canada and most of western Europe are brutal regimes too? Of course Cuba is a shitty place to live, I never said otherwise.

AL: I said academics are expected to make some charitable or community contribution. Some don't. Well, some do. The point I was addressing was whether academics would come off their high horse and help teach poor children to read for free. Some do, some don't.

Anyways, my fun is over. I'm afraid the general stupidity on this blog has gone stale as each of you mimics the same tired line and story. Its cute that you try to confront an opponent by avoiding the issues and looking for the cheapest shot to take, really. It reminds me why this country is divided. Have fun. Also, I'm not tenured, but this since this is America I can say what i want.

Dan,

First, Orwell was certainly a man of the left but he was not a communist in the sense that he supported totalitarian regimes. In fact, his most important works were critiques of systems like Castro's, communism. By the way, in Animal Farm the pigs were COMMUNISTS, the farmers were capitalists. Snowball and Napolean were Stalin and Trotsky (or vice versa, I forget).

Second, your idea of all of us giving up our rights for the greater good sounds like typical crap from a wanna-be-dictator. If communism is such a good deal, how come Americans (and Jamaicans and Mexicans, etc) aren't rafting to Cuba to join the party? How come the S Koreans aren't trying to sneak into N Korea? Why were the machine guns on the Berlin wall pointed into East Germany?

Really, you can do better than that.

Truth.

Dan, it's "you're". If you're teaching somewhere, God help the kids...

A.L.

And Dan, thanks for serving as a bad example. You publicly misunderstand community theory, evolution, and grammar - and withdraw in righteous indignation because we're too stupid to be worth playing with.

It's a wonderful thing, blindness. But you're likely to stub your toe.

A.L.

Oh, and Dan -

Here's what you wrote:

"Anyways, if you knew anything about academia (which your anti-intellectual as well as unintelligent comments suggest you do not), you would know that academics as part of their job are expected to devote their time to charity or other sorts of community work for the benefit of the public at large."

And here's what you said about it:

"I said academics are expected to make some charitable or community contribution. Some don't. Well, some do. The point I was addressing was whether academics would come off their high horse and help teach poor children to read for free. Some do, some don't."

Dan - liar or ...??

A.L.

"I made the point that those countries who move towards universal health care realize health care as a human right."

This sort of statement always annoys because it doesn't actually mean what it appears to mean.

What meant by the statement 'health care is a human right'? Or for that matter, what is meant by Saul Alinsky's statement that 'the right to work trumps the right to private property'?

I propose a simple test for human rights. Human rights are those things that a man would possess were he the only person on the Earth. They are those things that he possesses by his existance alone, such as: freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom of travel, and security in his person and possessions.

But what are we to make of a 'right to work'? Surely, man is free to labor or rest and enjoy the profits of his labor? But what then can we make of Saul Alinsky's statement that the 'right to work trumps the right to private property'? Clearly he doesn't mean by the 'right to work' the right to own private property. Well, what does he mean? By the 'right to work', people actually mean 'the right to get paid'. This is not a right. It is an entitlement. If I enter into an agreement, and perform the agreed work I'm entitled to be paid. Or perhaps I am entitled by virtue of civic station to enjoy a largess from the labors of others like some medieval nobleman collecting tribute. Living alone, one has a right to enjoy ones own labors. But living together, does one have a right to enjoy anyone elses labors? Of course not. This is what is actually meant by a 'right to work'. It is the power to take away someone elses private property. It is the power to make demands on someone else. The entitlement to be paid is in fact and in practice, an entitlement to enslave others and force them to work for you.

And the same applies to the notion of a 'right to health care'. Such a right does not exist in isolation. It is not inherent in man's existence. It is not a human right or a natural right. Rather a 'right to health care' is an entitlement to demand of someone else that they labor on your behalf. It might perhaps be a civic right, bestowed by a collective on its individual members. But let's not forget that civic rights can include all the rights bestowed on an aristocrat, and we'd hardly call droit du signor a 'human right'. Civic rights aren't necessarily rights at all, in fact frequently violate them, and typically they are entitlements masquerading under a more pleasing name.

The whole "Communism would work if done properly always amuses me....

We have at least one clear description of the failure of Communism under optimal conditions. I refer, of course, to the Book of Acts, 4:32 - 5:11, Ananias and Sephira. NewLiving translation.

1. There is no doubt that they are practicing communism:"All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had...There was no poverty among them, because people who owned land or houses sold them, and brought the money to the apostles to give to others in need." From each according to his means, to each according to his need --- Marx would have been proud to call them brother.

2. They had as close to an incorruptible body of rulers as possible, who were proving their uprightness with miracles every day.

3. And they had pretty close to the ultimate Auditor; when Ananais and Sephira try to cheat the system, Peter knows about it instantly, and the punishment is swift and sure: the cheaters are struck dead on the spot.

And yet there were still cheaters, the apostles couldn't hold it together for very long, and none of the other churches outside Jerusalem seem to have even tried it. If the 12 Apostles backed up by God couldn't make communism work, how in the h*ll would any lesser mortals have a shot??

So let’s hear it for universal literacy and decent standards of health care.

I'm a little unclear how you have decent standards of health care and the only HIV epidemic in the Western world at the same time.

Dan: I thought you understood academe, but this gives me pause: "Also, I'm not tenured, but this since this is America I can say what i want."

If you aren't tenured, you might want to be careful about saying what you want. Tenure committees can be very innovative in finding things you have said that you may now regret. You really have to wait until you get tenure to say foolish things.

Actually rarango, These days, at least in the Humanities and Social Sciences, one gets tenure by saying foolish things like those Dan has graced us with. Talking sense is the surest way to get denied tenure in those fields. After all, we postmodernists all know that logic, argumentation, and evidence are tools of capitalist/patriarchal/whatever oppression. And "Truth" is only what some power structure has brainwashed us to believe.

Sorry, Dan, but after reading your post (#25), you are a caricature, or maybe a case history, suitable for inclusion in Goldbergs' "Liberal Fascism." The idea that I, or anyone else, need to subvert my indiviual desires for the "betterment of the community," as apparently determined by faceless apparatchiks like yourself, is reprehensible. Individual freedom is responsible for creating the wealthiest, freest society the world has ever know. And you morons are determined to flush that down the toilet, and for what? Universal health care? What an idiot. BTW, health care is NOT a right. Neither is housing. Get used to it.

As the various comments here show, there is no agreed-upon basis to say whether things like universal health care and illiteracy outrank liberty and equality on the scale of human goods. I have noticed, however, that those people who gush with admiration for Castro never actually lived in Cuba, and even Michael Moore and Kofi-Annan chose not to stay there after visiting. On the other side, tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of Cubans, most of them dirt poor, decided to take shit jobs in the U.S. rather than live in Cuba, despite the excellent health care they received there. People can talk about Cuba (or anything else) any way they like; talk doesn't cost anything. When it comes to the much more difficult choice of living there or elsewhere, hundreds of people leave Cuba (despite the danger of drowning or being gunned down) for each one that moves there. Lenin once said that we should see how people "vote with their feet"; count up the votes, and Castro loses.
Of course, some things do improve. In the days of Batista, Cubans felt they'd been degraded when they had to take jobs as bellboys or work as prostitutes. Now, after a half-century of Castro, bell boys and prostitutes in Cuba feel they've received a promotion to the middle class. Viva Fidel!

My first take (comment #1) after reading what Bertram wrote was that it was just a sort of tasteless joke - sarcastically playing the stereotype of a PC commissar. "Doing a Ward Churchill", as we say down at the Feed Store.

The subsequent display of academic spleen from the learned Dan, et al., makes me wonder. If Bertram was kidding, he should be more careful. Never make jokes about the End of the World in front of a Branch Davidian.

But it's free ...

h/t to A Secondhand Conjecture

(Pictures worth far more than 1000 words. Warning -- some of them are rather graphic.)

We have places in America where everyone is guarenteed free medical care, food, shelter clothes and even tv that are superior to Cuba's meager offerings, but we call them prisons

"I visited Cuba in the spring of 1980, just before the Mariela boatlift. The blind could then have been deceived, just as many were about the Soviet Union, but the picture was not one of a healthy prosperous society. Most importantly, it was not a free society. I should have thought the last point was too obvious to mention"
-Christopher Morris

HA, ha, ha. How I miss this place. I wonder what Cuba would've looked like in 1980 (or today) had the island been allowed to develop independently--minus 40 years of state-sponsored terror and economic strangulation at the hands of the global hegemon?

"...the reactions from the undereducated and suitably indoctrinated has been predictable"
-Brian Leiter

Indeed.

And minus 40 years of influence by the wannabe-hegemon, too? Hard to say. What would you look like if you'd had completely different parents? Would you even be you?

You're quite welcome to continue missing this place, you know.

You mean as opposed to how Costa Rica looks under the influence of the hegemon? Or how Chile looks under the influence of the hegemon? Or how Grenada looks under the influence of the hegemon?

Which one of those would you pick as a baseline, Coldtype?

A.L.

"And minus 40 years of influence by the wannabe-hegemon, too?"
-NM

Fascinating. You don't consider supporting an invasion (Bay of Pigs), thousands of acts of terror and sabotage, and a crushing 40 year embargo to be influencing? Most Cubans would likely disagree.

"What would you look like if you'd had completely different parents? Would you even be you?"
-NM

Great questions Nortimus. The correct US/Cuba analogy would then be instead of the supportive and loving parents I was blessed with, I found myself being raised by sadists. I would likely not be "me", and whatever my potential may have been I'm sure I would never realize it.

"You mean as opposed to how Costa Rica looks under the influence of the hegemon? Or how Chile looks under the influence of the hegemon? Or how Grenada looks under the influence of the hegemon?"
-A.L

Exactly A.L. As opposed to nations whose governments the US overthrew in defiance of the will of their populations in order to improve the investment climate for Wall Street and the United Fruit Company amoung others.

It's revealing that you are so impressed with the Death Squad "democracies" of South and Central America as well as virtual US possessions like Grenada A.L. Why should anyone be impressed by countries in which the overwhelming majority of their populations live below the poverty line because the tiny elite who run them (with US assistance) serve the interests of global capital to the exclusion of all else?

Nortius, please forgive my mistake with your nom de plume.

Coldtype, I'm not "impressed" by them - but it's interesting to compare Cuba pre-Revolution with it's Latin peers (as right-wing tool Brad DeLong does), and then Cuba today both wit hthe same set of peers - and with other countries where there has been heavy-handed US intervention.

Somehow, it appears that - based on this lateral sample - the level of US intervention isn't the key indication of life in a country sucking.

And it appears that the 'success' in Cuba in health and education are also a matter of the huge social capital the revolution inherited.

So the legacy of grinding poverty, brutal internal repression, and luxurious living by the cadres seem to be the main outcomes of your glorious revolution.

Oh - and he did spit in the US's eye for half a century. Now, what are a few brutal murders and camps for writers and starved children balanced against that, I ask?

A.L.

"Somehow, it appears that - based on this lateral sample - the level of US intervention isn't the key indication of life in a country sucking"
-A.L

That's a stunning statment A.L given the blood-soaked track record of past regimes installed throughout Central/South America and the West Indies by Washington. The subsequent neo-liberal policies inacted by these tyrannical regimes were imposed upon their populations only after the physical liquidation of the Left and the itimidation of the rest of the citizenry via state-backed repression and terror. The "Chicago-School" economic package preferred by the Washington Consensus had, in every instance, been rejected by the public in these countries who consistently voted against candidates who supported such policies. State-supported developmentalism as was emerging in Costa Rica, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina in the 1950's and early 60's enjoyed broad public support to the growing alarm and frustration of Washington and Wall Street. Only by undemocratic means would the Washington Consensus have its way in these regions for it was well understood that the public would not willingly support what was essentially feudalism with western corporations on the throne.

"And it appears that the 'success' in Cuba in health and education are also a matter of the huge social capital the revolution inherited"
-A.L

That same social capital existed throughout the region A.L--before our tyrants arrived--but was never realized by the vast majority of the people in these places. We had a lot to do with that.

Coldtype, didja click through and look at DeLong's post? because contrary to your notion that it was all chocolate fountains and marshmallow trees before the eeevil Yanquis showed up - not quite so.

Yes our history in Latin America is blood-soaked; hell, our history in North America is blood-soaked (hint: one of the books I consider a great American Novel is 'Blood Meridian'). Then again, the history of Europe in Latin America is blood-soaked. the history of Latin America in Latin America is blood-soaked. And we can repeat that, continent by continent around the globe with the blessed exception of Antarctica.

Here's another one for you: real history drips blood. We're a species that fights. In the last century we've managed to start getting that in check, and I consider it a good thing. We're not nearly done yet, and I worry that it will get worse before it gets better, but the possibility that things can get better remains. And that's my moral position.

But when you make high-schoolish moral claims like yours, it suggest that you don't have a very firm grounding to be making strong claims at all.

A.L.

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