Thursday, June 28, 2007

And The Third In My Series Of Deep Posts on a Humid Day

This one has to do with Cuba. George Bush is anticipating the death of Fidel Castro and the events that might come about after that:

President Bush openly anticipated the death of ailing Cuban President Fidel Castro today, picturing it as an opportunity to bring freedom to the Caribbean island after nearly a half century of iron-fisted rule by the fiery Communist leader.

"One day, the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away," Bush said during a question-and-answer session at the U.S. Naval War College here. As the audience laughed and began to applaud, Bush seemed to realize that cheering the death of another head of state, even an enemy, might appear unseemly and quickly quieted the crowd. "No, no, no," he told them.

But he then imagined what it would be like once Castro is gone and forecast a debate over how aggressively the United States should try to open up the totalitarian system in Havana. "The question is, what will be the approach of the U.S. government?" he said. "My attitude is that we need to use the opportunity to call the world together to promote democracy as the alternative to the form of government they have been living with."

Wouldn't it be the horned guy who will come for Fidel in Bush's worldview? Never mind. What I wanted to write about is the question what Cuba would look like in the future if Bush's wishes are realized.

Many good things might happen, true. But if Cuba becomes a country of unbridled capitalism, what will it lose? Somehow the comparisons are always with Cuba as it actually is and some libertarian paradise of a society. A more realistic comparison might be between Cuba and other countries nearby. And then you might start to notice that there are things the Cubans might lose, too. Such as good education and fairly accessible health care. They might end up with a country which looks a lot like that Cuba from the 1950s, with few very rich people and loads of poor people without much hope for improvement. Perhaps that is a better country than the present Cuba. I'm not an expert enough to tell.

But it's never useful to compare some real-world society only to a phantom utopia, without telling us how that utopia might actually be achieved.