What comes first, the chicken or the egg?
Initially, it appeared that Castro and what people usually refer to as “Castrismo,” (i.e., the unique set of characteristics that constitute Castro’s thought and influence) had to be one and the same. “Castrismo”: the behavior and legacy of the human being with that name.1 Alas, form doesn’t always follow content! 2
Through long years of maladaptive behavior, Cubans learned that “Castrismo” -as ideological construction, and (its) human embodiment are not necessarily an identity. What many repudiated -and feared- over the years as indisputable sine qua non found in Castro the human*
“Castrismo” corresponds to a Cuban “manner” of expressing one’s political persuasion. It can easily be explained as habits transmitted through generations: speech acts, gestures, social rituals and other political strategies (coups d’etat reign as favorites).4
Could we fathom “Castrismo” as our national becoming?
Only then, so many puzzling questions about postulated divisions between Cubans “in the island” and “outside,” or “exile” and “non-exile,” or “exile” and “immigrant” are swiftly resolved. Also, the division cast between believers and non-believers is rendered obsolete. Now “Castrismo” and “anti-Castrismo” reflect only extremes of the same symptom here and elsewhere:
1. RRRRevolution! (the stressed alveolar tap recommended) is our Eleftheria i thanatos, the First Axiom: Homeland or Death! Castroist-alpha-male yells, the Cuban version of Teutonic jingoism founded by an illustrious list of phallocentric Cuban martyrs.5 2. ¿What’s the cardinal archetype of “Castrismo”? Cuban Machismo, the Caribbean version of homophobic phallocentrism, a “blind faith” to explain Cuban RRRevolutionary justice. Ergo: “Out of the Revolution, nothing.”6 In other words, Cuban “guapería” (toughness) becomes a necessary condition of Cuban machohonor, raison d’être of the nation. ¿Surrendering? It’s equivalent to “bending down”, worthy of “maricones” (faggots), the worst possible scenario for a Cuban macho-specimen. 3. Next, is our moral imperative: “the honorable death,” either as Martiean, “dying like the good ones, facing the sun” or branding a machete, in Maceo-like fashion, “gathering the dust of his blood-soaked ground, if he does not perish in the fight.” 4. Know-it-all, “ombligo del mundo”: Cubans believe they possess a magic infallibility.7 5. “Castrismo” means didactic posturing and preaching of platitudes, in order to prevent the end of the world. Is it possible to fight “we-are-the-chosen”-type of ethnocentric delusions if one is born in an island? 5. Mixed feelings of omnipotence: Cubans give barbarians a good reputation, which explains Castro’s obsession with baseball and boxing, sports where one literally has “to hit hard” to win.
This overabundance of qualities only causes more social delusion, which is known as (“meterse forro uno mismo”) comme d’habitude climate for Cubans’ surreal socio-political sphere bordering on magical-realist nightmare, a state described by Cuban writer René Ariza as “la sospecha” (the suspicion).
(To be continued in part 2).
1Jorge Mañach in his “Filosofía del Quijotismo” (Philosophy of Quixotism) explains the idea as deeply embedded in the Spanish tradition. Obviously, if Don Quixote is synonymous with the Spanish character, then Quixotism precedes Don Quixote. Mañach died in exile in Puerto Rico in 1961 as result of his criticism of the Revolution, though he was supportive of early-Castro. *Generally human behavior not deemed “human,” for fear it so deviates from the norm. In this vein, serial killers and some infamous historic figures are actually “not human.” See how Hannah Arendt deals with this issue in Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. 2Attributed to English parodist and caricaturist Max Beerbohm.3The condition begins in 1902, with Cuba’s Twentieth-Century Republic.4There are coups in 1933, 1952 (though General Batista referred to his putsch as a “internal RRRevolution”) and finally Castro in 1959. 5“Castrismo” is essentially homophobic (although there are many “maricones” castristas). 6 Famous speech delivered by Castro in 1961. 7Castro’s alleged infallibility is just a manifestation of a Cuban pervasive epistemic malaise. In that vein, Castro would automatically assume any critique of his regime as “enemy propaganda.”