Castro: Passing of a 20th Century Icon?
F idel Castro is dead. Long live the Revolution? There are reams of articles, features advertorials on the recent passing of the man, the myth the iconic revolutionary who managed to evade, survive and maintain his grip on his Communist doctrine when the two great Communist national entities USSR and China either ceased to exist or morphed into a hybrid. For all the rhetoric of the man, his beliefs, his method of rule, there is a sad truth. Many innocent lives were lost. Whether he is seen as a revolutionary or a despot, but was he both?

Few images define the age of the cold war and the epicentre of the battle between the two doctrines that hung over the world like a looming storm when the world was on the brink of armageddon when the epicentre was 40 miles off the coast of Florida. JFK stood his ground and Nikita Khrushchev pulled back from the brink of Mutually Assured Destruction caused by the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight we can wonder what the hell was going on in the minds of the worlds leaders. What is ironic is that in 1973 Castro is quoted saying that the USA would talk when they had a black president and there would be a Latin American Pope. Is the irony of ironies is what happened?  Given the state of race relations at the time was he really saying; there were two hopes, Bob Hope and No Hope! Did he dare to think the unthinkable? Not only did he think but did he act on his thoughts?

The questions are moot but have the dynamics of the geopolitical situation changed much? Do we have a chance of a new beginning with the prospect refocussing Britain in a Post Brexit world?  There is no doubt that despite the sanctions Castro’s Cuba served the healthcare needs and educated his people to a point where they have a surplus of doctors. Can we learn from some of the things achieved?

Our greatest advantage over repressive regimes is our ability to question without fear or reprisal; but are we living in a bubble of denial?  If Edward Snowden’s revelations have anything to go by we are being surveilled in an unprecedented manner. But given the threats that we face isn't it an inevitable cost of freedom? Is the paradox of freedom that there will be some that will abuse those very freedoms; therefore the infringement of freedoms to protect freedom is a partial loss of liberty? Is there no such thing as absolute freedom? Should we be allowed absolute freedom? Does anarchy follow? Is imperialism of a sorts a necessity, be it economic, religious, or digital and a fact of life?  Can we be trusted to use freedom wisely? 

To some, capitalism has failed.  Could the Autumn Statement be viewed as proof of how much of a failure it has become? Could the Trump phenomena not actually a phenomena but a reality the world over? Is the rise of the far right across the EU a result of the failure of capitalism in its current guise? 

Are the new priorities of a new age be security, healthcare, education and wellbeing? If people feel secure, does it foster stability? Does stability require a healthy populous? Does healthcare link to increased levels of education? Does more education improve overall wellbeing? The marketeer will recognise a correlation to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The theories have existed for generations; have we failed ourselves by not following these basic principles?

Castro came into power because of his hatred of western capitalist doctrine;  did he despise everything that we are? In an age when he and his ilk lived; is it because it was a result of questioning the status quo? If we fail to question do we increase the threat of the disintegration in community cohesion? 

Is to “Just About Manage” (JAM) in the worlds 5th largest economy a failure? The last 8 years have been difficult to say the least for the vast majority of people in the world; Are we fooling ourselves if we do not seek a solution that increase the access opportunity for a greater proportion of humanity the priority? Has protectionist doctrine failed to achieve greater prosperity? 

Can Castro’s Cuba teach us western decadent capitalist scum (as he might have described us) a thing or two about human nature? Is it the blitz mentality? When you don’t have anything, you make do and mend? In a time of unprecedented opportunity for prosperity; is it not good enough to settle? Should it not drive us to strive for more? Have we become too fat and lazy for our own good? 

Pushing the boundaries of expectation is how we excel. When does too much state interference become a hinderance to innovation and trade? Conversely, when do market forces need to be kept in check? Sailing the crest of a wave requires the skill and precision of a surgeons knife. If the credit crunch of 07-08 has taught us one thing, market regulation is imperative but Castro managed to succeed in some ways without capitalism. Should he be applauded for that? There are many things he will be remembered for both good and bad.  He certainly was one thing, like a handful of leaders he left an indelible mark on it which contributed to the shape and nature of the century.


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