US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Havana, Cuba, today to preside over the raising of the American flag at the US embassy there. The affair is going to be large on symbolism and short on substance, but that is the way diplomacy is played. Real action takes place out of the spotlight. However, symbols are also important. The restoration of US-Cuban ties will demonstrate the utility of American soft power. This journal believes that the impact of the American economy and of American culture will plain swamp the red fascist dictatorship that has misruled Cuba for more than half a century.
Dictatorships require a large degree of isolation to be truly functional. The people must be policed so that they conform to the official line, and that is much easier when there is no outside influence. It is for that reason that shortwave radio broadcasts are still jammed by some nations. It is for that reason that contacts with foreigners are monitored and usually discouraged. It is for that reason that the freedom to travel is curtailed in a dictatorship.
Since the 1960s, the United States has played into Castro’s hands in this regard, eliminating all significant contract with Cuba. The argument that relations gave legitimacy to the dictatorship is complete nonsense. Acknowledging who misgoverns a nation does not make a moral judgment. It is merely an acknowledgment of fact. Recognition of a regime is no more an endorsement than recognizing that the sun rises in the east is an endorsement of the rotation of the Earth. It merely is so.
Dictatorships are, at their core, organized crime writ large. The “made-guys” run the show, and they take what they want from the general population. By cutting off trade, one denies the people access to goods and services, but because the mobsters always get paid, they rarely go without. The Kim regime in North Korea consumes cognac in substantial quantities while the people of North Korea go hungry. Cuba has been the same. Party members rarely suffer privations along with the people for whom they allegedly speak.
Because the flow of ideas, money and people is now expanding, it is difficult to see how the Castro regime can survive without radical change. The Soviets tried perestroika in the 1980s and discovered that reform was a tsunami of change they couldn’t manage. They lost their empire as their system imploded. The Chinese simply abandoned every Marxist principle set down in Das Kapital to retain power, much as Bakunin predicted of Marxists in the 1800s. The Cuban communists are in much the same situation now. They are going to have to accommodate American wealth and culture in ways they have never had to before.
That raises another facet of dictatorship; they are inherently brittle structures. They do not bend with the wind very will. Integrating a single new factor into their structure affects many other parts of the structure, and those need to be balanced out as well. The coming flood of Americanism is likely to overwhelm the regime’s ability to adapt. The government will either have to shoot its own people or turn a blind eye to everything it cannot control — and it will be able to control very little.
Cuba has not been entirely cut off from the world in the last five plus decades, but it has been cut off from the single largest source of money, culture and social development. The American Empire is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Cuba is about to discover just how difficult it is to resist the gravitational pull such a mass exerts.
One does not expect the Cuban government to collapse, but one would be very surprised to see in 2025 a regime that resembles the one currently screwing up Cuba. The liberation of Cuba has finally started.