Thursday, December 1, 2016

Castro – The last great revolutionary

The twentieth century has been a big turning point in modern human history. Three factors moulded it – First, the continued colonialism since the 18th century, which was itself influenced by mercantilism (accumulation of gold and silver by nations); Second, the miraculous success of industrial revolution in some countries and Third, the social disparities that arose as a result of the two – socialism and its extreme form, communism.

The results of complete success of industrial revolution were evident in some countries. Nations were divided into two groups – modern-industrialized and backward. Those countries which surged ahead went on to develop massive and dangerous military capabilities, and its result manifested in the form of World War I (1914-1919). The result of this devastating war was the ultra-nationalism of some countries, and finally the military expansion by Hitler culminated in the beginning of World War II (1939-1945).

When Germany and Japan were comprehensively defeated, America emerged as the undisputed and insuperable victor. America made relentless efforts to avoid the occurrence of a Third World War, for which it was proposed to constitute an international framework to institutionally help various nations and the focus remained on development and not on militarization. This resulted in the formation of institutions like IMF and the World Bank (WB) in 1945, and for once it was felt that humanity would indeed reach an era of persistent development and peace.

But a consensus on fundamental key issues was never reached – these issues being – which was better, Capitalism or Socialism, Mercantilism or Humanitarianism of the Welfare State, and whether it is right to interfere with sovereign states or not. These three key issues defined the entire twentieth century (from 1945 till the end). And ever since 1950 it was quite clear that the ideological conflict between communism of the Soviet Union and the “unrestrained” capitalism of the US could any time transform into a devastating nuclear battle of the Third World War.

Countries like India, Yugoslavia and Egypt kept themselves away from this tangle and formed a non-aligned group of the Third World countries and categorically conveyed to the first world (US and West) and second world (the Communist bloc) that they would remain out of this conflict. But the conflict between Capitalism (US) and Communism (USSR) flared up so much that the blazing flame of Cold War engulfed the whole world in different ways right from 1950 to 1991. The Cold War – no bullets fired but a nuclear war would loom large, meet at a forum but be prepared for backstabbing – a war of that kind!

Amidst all this a leader emerged in politics right in the backyard of the US who, despite all dangers and assassination attempts, would continue to challenge the mighty US for the next five decades. The message was straight and clear – do not interfere in the affairs of others, do not depict the omnipotence of market-mechanism as Godlike, and do not allow the international institutionalization of the robbing the deprived classes. It was a scary dream which would haunt the US year after year at all international forums that the all-powerful could also commit blunders and that they must be shown a mirror.

Five primary elements of Fidel Castro’s politics and personality defined him. Let us see the magical charisma of this personality.

First – Not losing any opportunity of reminding the US of its blunders despite the constant grave dangers to his own life (the CIA had official sanction to eliminate him!), and boldly raising his assertive voice for hours on end at the UN as well as at all other international fora. This provided a moral support to the poor nations that in a bi-polar world (until 1991), and thereafter in a uni-polar world a lot could be achieved provided one had the courage to speak the truth. Although, most other countries did nothing more than genuflecting their financial knees before global agencies, but still, symbolically Castro continued to shine like the proverbial Pole-Star.

Second – Castro repeatedly cautioned the world that the dangers of global financial systems had converted the entire system into a gambler’s den. In the blazing storm of liberalization and globalization post-1980, these dangers had spread across the world, and Castro's foresight was visible after the 2007 collapse of the US housing sector which prompted a global recession. He had also predicted that the current form of consumerism would finish off all resources. Isn't this not what's precisely happening presently?

Third – Fidel Castro had cautioned that the capitalism that we have embraced, would take social inequality to such a dangerous level – and the 2015 report of Oxfam made it clear when it highlighted the fact that the wealth of top 62 people today is equal to that of half of the global population! This equation (62 = 350,00,00,000) apparently seems to be the most dreadful aspect of the lopsided global economy! And why even recall Castro – remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi “This world has everything for the requirements of all of us, but it does not have anything for the greed of any one of us”.

Fourth – Quite different from the alleged communists of many nations, Castro’s Cuba tried to help and support local revolutionaries of various countries who revolted against the colonial powers. And this was not secret but bold and open, which Cuba had openly declared. So the designs of the power and wealth-hungry colonial powers (mostly European) came in an open and honest manner, and the results were usually pleasant – in Congo, Mozambique and particularly in Angola, where the racist South African army got such a humiliating beating that finally the white regime had to abandon apartheid in 1993! But Castro’s fighters never tried to reap the fruits – they always returned to Cuba after accomplishing their mission. Such honesty in words and deeds is rarely seen in the world.

Fifth and the last was Castro’s never surrendering to mercantilism despite almost the entire world bowing before it! It is now that one realizes that he could envision the power of unlimited greed to plunge humanity into a deep morass.

Despite all the criticism, it would not be wrong to salute Castro for his honesty and his steadfastness towards the goal. This great and last revolutionary of the twentieth century could never be bent, and who gave a firm voice to millions of oppressed communities against mercantilism.

Here is my editorial on the topic published in a Hindi newspaper. Enjoy!,