Thursday, 25 February 2010

Hero of the left

Harriet Harman reckons Fidel Castro is a 'hero of the left'. She is a person of the left; he is her hero. Yesterday we were given a reminder of what a self-indulgent piece of moral blindness this is:
A Cuban political prisoner died yesterday after an 85-day hunger strike over alleged beatings and degrading jail conditions....
...Orlando Zapata Tamayo, 42...a former plumber and member of the Alternative Republican Movement National Civic Resistance Committee, was one of 75 activists arrested during the "black spring" of 2003. He was sentenced to three years for contempt, public disorder and "disobedience" but that was increased to 36 years after he was convicted of acts of defiance in prison.
He stopped eating solid foods on December 3 to protest against what he said were repeated beatings by guards and other abuses at Kilo 7 prison in the eastern province of Camagüey. His back was "tattooed with blows" from beatings, according to his mother.
Two weeks ago she reported he was "skin and bones, his stomach is just a hole" and that bedsores covered his legs. He was so gaunt nurses were unable to get intravenous lines for fluids into his arms and used veins on his neck instead. 

18 comments:

Gadjo Dilo said...

Serious beatings occur in prisons in both communist and capitalist countries; I guess the point here is that they're make spuriously "legal" by Cuba's anti-civil-liberty laws - a deplorable aspect of communism. From my (limited) experience working for Amnesty International the incidence of this sort of activity does seem to be higher under communist regimes, but I do hope America shuts Guantánamo down soon and so will be able to speak with better conscience about Cuba.

worm said...

the kind of people who think Castro or Che are 'cool' are the kind of people who think drinking coffee is 'cool'

Brit said...

Gadjo - yeah, just that sort of activity and the Gulags and the mass starvations...

One of my in-laws is a confirmed commie. Life's too short to get into arguments about it - though I did once unwisely once ask her to name an instance where Communism had actually worked. Her answer was Cuba. Of course, that's why all those Yanks keep drowning trying to get into that Paradise - the music is so cool. They do cling to Castro.

Gaw said...

Gadjo: You jest, surely? Communism's violence is on a different scale.

Worm: But drinking coffee is cool.

Brit: There's a very entertaining and incisive book by Anthony Daniels (aka Theodore Dalrymple) called the Wilder Shores of Communism. It deals with the leftover communist states but is as revealing about the attractions they hold for some Westerners as it is about the countries themselves.

I think you're lucky in knowing a confirmed commie. Surely there is some fun to be had?

Brit said...

There is some fun to be had in the 'wry smile and catching each other's eye while she's talking' sort of way. But she's a commie in her mid-50s and if you're still a commie in your mid-50s there is obviously no way in which reality can penetrate. And all arguments are entirely pointless - as useful as discussing Shakespeare with a dog.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Brit - yeah, and them. I'm no advocate for Communism, for fuck's sake I live in former communist country and I know something of which I speak. If it interests you, come over here and chat to my wife's family about it.

Gaw, which statement of mine did you think was in jest? I was talking about communist regimes extant at the time I was working for Amnesty International, which was after Uncle Joe Stalin, the gulag... Indeed, I myself often use that exact Communism's Violence Was on a Different Scale argument to calm down people claiming religion to be the worst curse on the world :-)

ghostofelberry said...

My landlady in Manchester (mid-50s) had a Che Guevara bag. She'd occasionally talk about money-grabbing capitalist scumbags, after some land developer was trying to build some flats on a public park in the area. But she was a bit too level-headed and practical to get too carried away, politically.

i suspect many folk fall into Sartre's reasoning - they don't like capitalism and plastic junk and McDonalds so they think they should be Communists. However, it's often the case that the apparent remedy to an evil will be every bit as bad as that which it purports to cure - or worse.

When i saw my landlady's Che bag i considered getting a Himmler bag but there were none to be had in the local hippy shops, disappointingly.

ghostofelberry said...

Sorry, i mean she was in her mid-50s, not that i was there in the mid-50s (i was dead by then)

No Good Boyo said...

Harriet Harman is a Monday Club mole briefed to undermine social-democracy and feminism. She'll be made Thane of Man when the Tories win the election.

Gaw said...

Gadjo: Capitalist countries would be all the others I suppose? Not sure it's a very meaningful category. Anyway there was surely enough vast nastiness about under communism post-Stalin to obviate a close comparison with western democracies (which are perhaps a better comparator?).

Elb: The commies won the popular culture war because the commies pinched all the good items of facial hair leaving the other side with one toothbrush moustache and a lot of weedy spectacles.

NGB: Given her noble Anglo-Irish provenance she may already be Thane of Man.

Brit said...

Talking of Cool Commies, I note that a new Trotsky biog suggests that Stalin might have been the softer option.

Gaw said...

Top man, Service. If you like laughing at commies (and Trots do tend to be funniest) you'll enjoy this. Read and wonder:

http://www.workersliberty.org/blogs/paulhampton/2009/11/12/review-roberts-services-biography-trotsky

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gaw, no I wouldn't at all say that "Capitalist Countries" is the only other category: in AI we also covered theocracies, military dictatorships... and any gorgeous combination thereof.

Why would western democracies be a better comparator? Wouldn't poorer countries would be better comparator, as it is this situation which more often tends to lead to communism and other competingly bad systems?

Yes indeed, there was still plenty of nastiness, but it wasn't so confined to communist regimes that it obviated the need to look at other types of nastiness.

Gaw said...

Gadjo: I suspect this is one of those bloggy arguments where we agree with each other once we've defined all our terms. So let's cut to the chase. I agree.

ghostofelberry said...

It all comes down to facial hair, this is why the CIA tried to make Castro's beard fall out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_40kJlo9P4g

Real history, brothers.

Vern said...

I recall an early Salvador Dali painting called 'The History of Communism in the Quantity of Hair on the Face' or something like that. As I recall it progressed from Marx to Engels to Lenin to Stalin, tracing the decline. Dali was something of a prophet- the next leader would indeed be bald on top as well as on the face.

Thinking about it now, that painting must have annoyed the hell out of Andre Breton and co.

I have known quite a few commies, several of whom are still in their 30s. One was an Italian Trotskyite, but he was an idiot whose main interest was banging whores. The other was doing a doctorate in something or other. He was actually very funny and intelligent, until he got onto Marx. Then he turned into an idiot. It was very disappointing.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gaw, you surely have more experience of the courses that these arguments take, and that's wise and gentlemanly of you. I was hoping we wouldn't fall out as I would very much miss visiting your blog.

Gaw said...

Gadjo: I would hope we've had enough online intercourse now (ahem) not to even imagine we might fall out over (spit!) politics.