This is too deliciously ironic to not comment on. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg recently took a trip down to Havana to spend some time with the former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and during his conversations drew an interesting admission from the Maximum Leader:
But during the generally lighthearted conversation (we had just spent three hours talking about Iran and the Middle East), I asked him if he believed the Cuban model was still something worth exporting.
“The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore,” he said.
This struck me as the mother of all Emily Litella moments. Did the leader of the Revolution just say, in essence, “Never mind”?
I asked Julia to interpret this stunning statement for me. She said, “He wasn’t rejecting the ideas of the Revolution. I took it to be an acknowledgment that under ‘the Cuban model’ the state has much too big a role in the economic life of the country.”
Julia pointed out that one effect of such a sentiment might be to create space for his brother, Raul, who is now president, to enact the necessary reforms in the face of what will surely be push-back from orthodox communists within the Party and the bureaucracy. Raul Castro is already loosening the state’s hold on the economy. He recently announced, in fact, that small businesses can now operate and that foreign investors could now buy Cuban real estate.
In other words, Castro has finally realized that total state control of a nation’s economy is incredibly destructive and caustic to the moral fabric of a society. You’re just a little late to the party, Fidel, but come on in anyway, there’s still some lukewarm Pizza Rolls and flat Faygo if you want.
The irony here is that now, along with Europe, Cuba is moving in the exact opposite of the United States. Those in power say they like the free market – providing the free market is tightly controlled and taxed, and providing individuals are mandated into buying health insurance and cutting out salt. The real irony of Castro’s admission is that it will fall on many deaf ears both home and abroad, and the owners of said ears will continue to agitate for greater governmental involvement in all areas of commerce and daily life, since we don’t know any better for ourselves, obviously.
I wonder what Sean Penn has to say about all this.