Advertisements

Havana: The Last Communist City

24_2-mtFor City JournalMichael J. Totten writes:

Neill Blomkamp’s 2013 science-fiction film Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, takes place in Los Angeles, circa 2154. The wealthy have moved into an orbiting luxury satellite—the Elysium of the title—while the wretched majority of humans remain in squalor on Earth. The film works passably as an allegory for its director’s native South Africa, where racial apartheid was enforced for nearly 50 years, but it’s a rather cartoonish vision of the American future. Some critics panned the film for pushing a socialist message. Elysium’s dystopian world, however, is a near-perfect metaphor for an actually existing socialist nation just 90 miles from Florida.51fbVfV6CSL._SL110_

[Michael J. Totten‘s book The Road to Fatima Gate: The Beirut Spring, the Rise of Hezbollah, and the Iranian War Against Israel is available from Amazon.com]

I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba—not because I’m nostalgic for a botched utopian fantasy but because I wanted to experience Communism firsthand. When I finally got my chance several months ago, I was startled to discover how much the Cuban reality lines up with Blomkamp’s dystopia. In Cuba, as in Elysium, a small group of economic and political elites live in a rarefied world high above the impoverished masses. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto, would be appalled by the misery endured by Cuba’s ordinary citizens and shocked by the relatively luxurious lifestyles of those who keep the poor down by force.

Marxists have ruled Cuba for more than a half-century now…The revolutionaries promised liberal democracy, but Castro secured absolute power and flattened the country with a Marxist-Leninist battering ram.

Many tourists return home convinced that the Cuban model succeeds where the Soviet model failed. But that’s because they never left Cuba’s Elysium.

I had to lie to get into the country. Customs and immigration officials at Havana’s tiny, dreary José Martí International Airport would have evicted me had they known I was a journalist. But not even a total-surveillance police state can keep track of everything and everyone all the time, so I slipped through. It felt like a victory.

The objectives were total equality and the abolition of money; the methods were total surveillance and political prisons. The state slogan, then and now, is “socialism or death.”

Havana, the capital, is clean and safe, but there’s nothing to buy. It feels less natural and organic than any city I’ve ever visited. Initially, I found Havana pleasant, partly because I wasn’t supposed to be there and partly because I felt as though I had journeyed backward in time. But the city wasn’t pleasant for long, and it certainly isn’t pleasant for the people living there. It hasn’t been so for decades. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

SHIELD LAW: Is DOJ licensing or unleashing the press?

Gary Pruitt, president and chief executive officer of the Associated Press, speaks at the National Press Club in Washington on June 19. (Photo: Charles Dharapak, AP)

(Photo: Charles Dharapak, AP)

Glenn Reynolds writes: Last week, stung by reactions to phone-snooping on reporters (and, in at least one case, a reporter’s parents), the Justice Department issued new guidelines for dealing with the media when investigating leaks. Many people are cheering these guidelines, but I’m not sure they’re good enough. Read the rest of this entry »