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Stephen Wilkinson slobbers all over Young Mr Castro

I am only a very occasional Guardian reader, of things like classical CD reviews and cricket stories, but thanks to Mick Hartley, of whose blog I am a regular reader, I found my way to this classic of the grovelling courtier genre, perpetrated by a ridiculous creep named Stephen Wilkinson.

Wilkinson’s piece concerns the content of a two and half hour speech recently given by Fidel Castro’s younger brother. Although, Raul Castro is young only in the Young Mr Grace sense. Which is what I think we should now call this junior monster: Young Mr Castro. If a full-on comedy TV show about the Castro brothers happens, let it be called: Are You Being Shafted? But I digress.

The only people who will be unreservedly admiring of this piece by Stephen Wilkinson will be the geriatric despots on whose behalf and in pursuit of whose money it was presumably written, although if they realise how little anyone else will be impressed by it, other than for its comic appeal, even they may grumble. What Stephen Wilkinson feels about having written such a thing, one can only imagine. The one honourable excuse for it that I can think of is that Wilkinson is a spook, keeping an eye on Cuba on behalf of the civilised world, and sucking up to its current rulers by recycling their interminable speeches and futile policy spasms into English. Alas, Occam’s Razor says it’s for the money. Mick Hartley draws our attention to commenters, here and here, who note that Wilkinson has an academic fiefdom to keep fed and watered, which is falling on hard times. He needs cash and cannot afford to be choosy. Come to think of it, he probably is a spook, part time, also for the money.

Meanwhile, few Guardian readers will warm to paragraphs like this, with its talk of “large landowners”:

Among the economic changes he mentioned, two stand out – new laws being drafted to permit the sale of houses and cars and another to allow the transfer of more state land to farmers who are successful. The first will be a huge fillip for the internal market and the latter will create the conditions for large landowners to emerge for the first time since 1959. When taken with the new proposals to allow people to employ workers, it does not take a vivid imagination to see how substantial the economic transformation could be. In Cuba, 90% of the workforce is currently employed by the state – the target is to reduce that to 65% in five years.

Those of us who favour freedom and oppose despotism will be pleased about this further clear admission of utter ideological defeat. But we won’t be that happy about such proclamations either.

What took these stupid old brutes so long to get with it about how economic life actually works? And are these brutes, who took so long to see sense, likely to preside over reforms like this with any success? It seems most improbable. And following the recent experiences of Russia, we will surely now fear an outburst of kleptocracy rather than of anything seriously resembling a free market. State assets, we must surely fear, will now be looted by the old Bolshevik nomenklatura, and the idea of a free market economy will then be as much discredited in Cuban eyes, as welcomed. The best thing about the next version of Cuba is that it may at least become somewhat easier to escape from, although not even that may be so, because leaving includes finding somewhere else to go. Might that soon become harder?

Many commenters at the Guardian focus particular derision on this particularly over-the-top claim from Wilkinson:

What we are witnessing here then is possibly something unique in history: a nation in a process of massive change and adaption.

What sort of ridiculous state of mind to you have to be in to write nonsense as totally and completely nonsensical as that?

In order to be sporting to the Guardian, Mick Hartley also links to another Guardian piece about Young Mr Castro’s speech, entitled Cuba’s theatre of the absurd, in which Carlos Eire writes that the present situation in Cuba is: absurd. Reform? Been there, seen that fail. According to this profile of him, Carlos Eire has written a book which just might be worth a look:

His memoir of the Cuban Revolution, Waiting for Snow in Havana (Free Press, 2003), won the National Book Award in nonfiction for 2003, but is banned in Cuba, where he is considered an enemy of the state.

Good for him. Although I personally fear that his complaints about Cuba are that it has betrayed socialism, failed to do enough of it, etc., instead of him pointing out that the problem is Cuba having done socialism.

Besides which, as Hartley surely realises, it is not much of a defence of something that presumably still wants to be thought of as a serious newspaper that only half of its recent commentary on some stupid speech by a stupid old Bolshevik was grovelling bilge, as opposed to all of it.

As for Cuba itself, there is, I would say, now some hope at least, not because of these “reforms”, but because of who is proposing them, and the weakness and abject bewilderment and self-contradiction they reveal. Cuba is now presided over by men so old that they are palpably losing all grip. That’s new. And cause for at least some optimism.

8 comments to Stephen Wilkinson slobbers all over Young Mr Castro

  • Was it an Adopt a Dictator Day wherever this guy lives?

  • I think there’s an extra quote mark mistakenly placed at the end of the link url to the grovel – at least it didn’t work for me until I removed a quote mark from the end.

    Now I’ve found it, it is pretty revolting:

    “he is putting into place a system of delegated authority that requires a different kind of followership”

    “A different kind of followership” indeed! I’ve heard religious people talk about “discipleship” in a similar tone, only less oleaginous.

    Yet it also quaint – one is surprised that there are still people putting out this sort of stuff. Oh well, quaint goes nicely with an hereditary succession.

  • ” “A different kind of followership” indeed! ”

    In the old days, Marxists used to excuse the power and privileges of their elites by claiming they were a temporary, regrettable but unavoidable necessity, which would disappear when the forces of counter-revolution had been routed. Now, at least here in LatAm, they do not even bother with such pretence. The new rhetoric refers to “strong leadership” and implies that the “strong leaders” deserve all the privileges they get (apples have been scientifically proven, comrades, to be necessary to the constitution of a pig). A recent published interview with an Argentinian “leftist intellectual” I blogged about went so far as to say that the lower classes, or plebs (now referred to as “historically marginalised sectors”) need nothing more than “to be recognised, to feel that they are appreciated and loved”, and also to have “regular contact with their leaders”. It’s pretty much beyond parody (which makes blogging about this stuff quite hard work, and depressing at times).

  • And as I should have added in the original, what Are You Being Shafted? WON’T feature is a gay man wandering around saying: I’m free.

  • “A different kind of followership” indeed! I’ve heard religious people talk about “discipleship” in a similar tone, only less oleaginous.


    I was reminded of Bertolt Brecht’s line about dissolving the people and electing another. I suppose it would fit since Brecht was a Marxist too.

  • Chuck6134

    Only in the freer states off the West is this love affair/fascination with the State so incomprehensibly earnest among the chattering classes. At least in statist nations the reasons why are ‘reasonable’, its smart to butter up the bosses, but here?

    To be among that group, I think one also has to have a very weak grasp of history too.

  • Paul Marks

    It is often said that people like Glenn Beck (and ME) are too intolerant – that we unjustly conflate totalitarian Marxists with demcracy loving, civil liberties respecting, socialists, as if the two (supposedly utterly opposed) groups were the same thing.

    There have indeed always been socialists who have hated and utterly opposed totalitarian tyranny – the first (and last) postwar Social Democrat Prime Minister of Bavaria (who wrote the Bavarian Constitution) springs to mind.

    As do anti Communist socialist intellecutals such as Sydney Hook.

    However, there have always been too many “democratic” socialists like Stephen Wilkinson – who rather than hate bloodsoaked criminals like R. Castro (who has been at his brother’s side engaged in every crime, for the best part of 60 years) slobber all over them.

    What would a genuine “democratic and civil liberties respecting” Guardian newspaper be like?

    Well it would denounce (not once in a while – but as a general practice) G. B. Shaw, H.G. Wells and the other Fabian socialists for a start.

    Partly for their utter contempt for ordinary people – for their attempt to smuggle in socialism by the back door (hardly “democratic”) with their doctrine that whilst elections might continue to exist all the parties should be controlled in such a way that elections did not really matter all that much (that is not just the policy of Harold Laski with his reactionary policies should not be allowed doctrine – it is also the principle of Nancy Pelosi, that a Republican party victory should be tolerated only if the Republican party removes all people who wish to roll-back-social-progress).

    But it is a lot more than this. The Fabians – Shaw, Wells and the rest, were quite happy with the calculated murder of millions (indeed tens of millions) of human beings. They said so – in their writings (go look it up) and sometimes were even filmed saying it.

    Those who support the murder of millions are people who should be opposed.

    But the Guardian (most of the time) treats these monsters as wonderful, nice people who are hero figures. As does the rest of left culture (the BBC and so on).

    It is not ignorance (they know what these evil people stood for) it is wickedness – they, basically, stand for the same totalitarianism.

    And it is not just Britain – the Marxists, the open totalitarians, would be shunned and DENOUNCED by a genuine “democrat left”.

    But look at those who have taken over the Democratic party (at least at the national level and in some States) treat open supporters of Castro, Mao and the rest.

    They treat them as FRIENDS.

    The eveidence is overwhelming and the associations go back decades.

    A true “anti totalitarian” left would have nothing to do with Barack Obama and his comrades – in fact it would denounce them, and drive them away.

    Instead (both to the British and American left) Obama and co are perfectly acceptable – indeed their only complaint is that he is not leftist enough (in his deeds if not in his beliefs).

    Why is the corrupt leftist E. Holder Attorney General?

    True he lets Comrades off the hook (such as the Black Panthers – no voter intimidation charges) and seeks to prosecute “reactionaries”.

    But why not, say, Bill Ayers for AG?

    Do not laugh.

    Bill Ayers is a respected figure on the left (including the Guardian).

    The Weather Underground was a Vietnam War protest movement – they did not murder people.

    Of course they did murder people – and not just back then, the last “job” (that I know of) was holding up a truck in 1981 (was Barack Obama really “eight years old” in 1981?) and murdering the guard – so they could steal (sorry “redistribute” – to themselves) some money, during which the Weather Underground operatives shot dead a security guard.

    But let us ignore all that.

    Bill Ayers is a wonderful man – and a patriot.

    After all he said “guilty as a Hell, free as a bird, you have got to love America”.

    See – he said “love America” so he must be patriot.

    A perfect man to write the main texts for American teacher training.

    Which is exactly what he was given a job doing.

    I am sure that Mr Stephen Wilkinson thinks that “Social Justice Education” is a fine work .