By: Fernando Almeyda Rodríguez
For some time now the word Revolution has been calling my attention, as well as its scope in our society. Even when it is repeated over and over again, I do not really think it has the same meaning. That is why, I have come up with the idea that no one knows (or do not want to know) so far, the real meaning of this word.
Long live the revolution; thanks to the revolution; for the revolution; be faithful to the revolution … revolutionary, counterrevolutionary, revolutionary – after all, what do all of these words really mean? Apparently nothing in concrete. Throughout almost sixty years it has escalated in the imaginary of the nation and has become something similar to “Being”.
This idea of immense abstraction, remains behind the entities and every stories of the life of Cubans. This ontological figure results in many points similar to how classical philosophy understood this term; the primordial substance where all the daily spirits of the call and misunderstood cubanidad are justified and sustained; the identity principle behind “cultural identity”; the center of the logical, moral and epistemological sense.
Beyond all temporality, it is reflected as time itself. The historicity of the Revolution is in this sense a-historical. Events are validated in space-time through this “immutable substance.”
All these references that make the Revolution an immense abstraction maintain a fragmentary presence in the language. In fact, what turns “revolution” into a category-foundation is given rather in behavioral structures. But it is not a matter of mere habits or customs, but of rites.
There is a different ritualistic of common religion traditions, and Cubans know that. Despite the deterioration of public institutions, meetings, morning papers, murals, marches, lists, cards, guards and voluntary work have survived. Along with these activities are countless others whose significance for the purposes of administration or production goes beyond the irrelevant. This results in the sense that these actions transcend the material dimension. Its foundation is not economic, administrative, or exactly political … it is “revolutionary”.
Then, the word Revolution acquires a more spiritual connotation: it is no longer just about essence and foundation, but something “sacred” – there is something “religious” in these practices. From the speech to the real act, the important thing is that they take place. This formalism is a thought guided to a sacred ritual.
This idea can be confirmed through the wave of quasi-divine, esoteric and paranormal references that have been attributed to the historical leader of the Revolution after his death.
This observable reaction in the Cuban media fundamentally, has many backgrounds and other interpretations, but it works as an example of the ritual and mythological nature of our “revolutionary life”.
There is a feedback between the figures Rite and myth, one could not exist without the other. From the moment the material dimension of the myth is lost, it dissipate in everyday life; if a symbolic death occurs, the custom gradually mutates and dies. Both figures are behind almost any construction of the identity of a people. In this sense, it does not seem wrong to say that the revolution is the maximum founding myth of Cuba, which is curious because it is the last one.
It is not necessary to seek a far-fetched explanation for this curious fact; the answers are at a glance: the consolidation of the nation as meta-discourse and as identity is given by and through the Revolution. Now, this form of appropriation of the national is still flimsy from many points. To begin with, its strong expansive and all-encompassing tendency has ruined the immobility of myth and rite. This immobility is also a mere rituality, it is Marxistly speaking a negation of the dialectic and therefore it is ideology.
On a language level, the Revolution appears as a huge hand that wants to grab everything between its fingers; whatever he cannot catch he rejects; He excommunicates it from language with increasing aggression, with more blindness, with greater illness. We give ourselves sweetly to the dream of the possible, denying any questioning of what we feel as our particular identity. As a result, it has a Manichean view of the world: good-bad, right-wrong, just-unfair, logical-illogical, and so on; all are equivalent to “Being-revolution” or “not-Being-revolution”. In this sense, promoters and detractors are participants in the perpetuation of the myth.
There are many that see this phenomenon in a positive way. This mental and cultural guard, is a spell against all postmodern phenomenon, being the envy of not a few sufferers of “liquid modernity”. On the other hand, I wonder how positive psychological isolation from the world can be. We deny something that not only exists, but also expands; This state of comfort in which we live as a people, is only cultivable in the form of neurosis; a denial of the materiality of the world and its movement. Materiality that is manifest, every time a Cuban company ends up in suspension of payments, when our professionals ignore new technologies; every time an honorable professor exposes eloquent nineteenth-century theories as if they were current, or simply every time a Cuban takes a plane to leave his neurotic reality.
What we had once as a commendable resistance to the world, has become an aggressive neurosis, ever closer to psychosis. What is left of our Granma newsprint revolution, is a mentally ill state, where reality is what we want it to be. Those who do not think in the same way, are quietly forced to leave their mark (materially or spiritually), the rest are alienated in their own bubble, most appear to indulge in a sack of increasingly religious irrationalisms, less and less enlightened or virtuous. What illustration and virtue can be left to those incapable of looking at themselves as they are?
In somehow the Revolution, is more than a meta-story: it is the language of power. The exercise of authority is determined to prevent any thought, or rather, from expressing any thought outside the language of the revolution itself, outside of all voices of power. But we cannot imagine that this is the responsibility of a bunch of unpleasant and ignorant men; when it is everyone’s responsibility, since each one of us Cubans has a little complicity regarding this way of assuming (or denying) the objectivity of reality.
Our main issues, lies in the fact that there is a confusion between the notion of government, nation and culture: without a clear separation every time one thinks, there is a danger of criticizing our identity. It becomes almost impossible to criticize this power without attacking the nation and its own culture in some way; self-censorship is then much greater and easier to trigger.
On the other hand, affirming that “the Nation” ends up being equivalent to affirming “the Revolution”; the symbols of the nation are in turn the symbols of the Revolution. Talking about the Nation, therefore, is an exercise in affirming the “Being-revolution”, an ideological manifestation that grows every day in its neurotic connotation. This is a framework that is all-encompassing as well as narrow and exclusive. Criticism is as banished as those who exercise it precisely. Censorship is not so much given by a coercion mechanism as it is by guilt consciousness.
Our life goes over an immense gray area, where all those ideas that may in any way attack the founding myth end up. This is a space, where the borders of things are blurred until they are unrecognizable, and our consciences become irreconcilable with our material existence. The problems are summed up to a phrase: “the thing is bad” … the thing is too abstract, so you cannot solve concrete problems abstractly; As far as I know, not even philosophers have been very successful.
Therefore, the Revolution as a language, is just intended for abstraction and exaltation, not criticism; it becomes impossible that it can be thought outside its limits but at the same time it cannot be criticized without occupying a position opposed to the discourse of the nation and of cultural identity. Negative questions become ineffable. It is in itself a “newspeak” in the style of “1984”, where rites and myths are perpetuated in the midst of silence and boredom.
This is, then, what is going on, while we allude to “revolution”: no matter if it is positively or negatively, we end up cultivating a mythology, a beautifully ontological structure. A cluster of immortal and neurotic virtues; a dream, from which we do not want to wake up. This is an imprint long ago etched in our minds and hearts, and is therefore indelible.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, I think there are many reasons for which we can feel happy about, since the bonanzas to our Cubanness and identity have been relevant; in fact, it is their undeniable presence and roots that should pacify our consciences, while criticism could never destroy history, but it could flatten our future. In this sense, we can be optimistic because our pathology is not chronic, at least not yet. It is therefore necessary to dedicate ourselves to overcome it, and the first step begins by knowing and understanding the evil that afflicts us. I issue an invitation to think, to name, to explore, to know, because … “the truth will make you free” (John, 8:32) … free from ourselves.
Traducido por Miguel González