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Cuba and the Twisted Logic of Totalitarian Repression

represión totalitaria, El American

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The “normality” of totalitarian power, Solzhenitsyn explains in Gulag Archipelago, begins when it has internally broken its subjects and disarticulated the true normality of human relations, to the point of finding no resistance among its victims. Solzhenitsyn says that:

“(…) it would seem enough to send notices to all the rabbits marked for arrest, and they would show up obediently at the designated hour and minute at the iron gates of State Security with a bundle in their hands—ready to occupy a piece of floor in the cell for which they were intended (…) For several decades political arrests were distinguished in our country precisely by the fact that people were arrested who were guilty of nothing and were therefore unprepared to put up any resistance whatsoever. There was a general feeling of being destined for destruction, a sense of having nowhere to escape from the GPU-NKVD (which, incidentally, given our internal passportsystem, was quite accurate). And almost no one tried to run away and only in rare cases did people commit suicide. And that was exactly what was required. A submissive sheep is a find for a wolf.”.

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn.

Several generations may be born and die under this totalitarian “normality” of terror, propaganda, censorship and disinformation. And they will be obedient. But a totalitarian power such as the one that for six decades has exploited, impoverished, deceived and divided Cuba will not be satisfied with that. Marxism is not a mere ideological construction, but a peculiar religion whose dogmas include denying its nature as a dogmatic faith and claiming to be the ultimate, absolute and unquestionable “science” of “history” against all evidence.

Marxism is also an inconsistent religion that elevates envy to the category of supreme moral axiom to justify the worship of death and destruction that are its raison d’être. That is why a Marxist totalitarianism cannot be satisfied with this “normality” of terror and propaganda in which people live in cynicism and despair. It demands complicity from each and every one. It is not enough to obey. They must actively participate, point out, denounce, persecute and repudiate the targeted victim, or suffer the consequences.

A totalitarianism begins to fall when the mask of its false popularity falls. And it finishes falling when its henchmen get tired of sustaining it through unspeakable crimes in exchange for crumbs. That is why Marxism needs to make all those under its power complicit in its crimes. The first thing that confirms the permanent fear is the willingness to pretend not to see or know in order not to commit oneself. In this regard, Solzhenitsyn recalls with bitterness his own fear when as a captain in the Soviet army a prisoner of the Special Section implored him for protection:

“¡Señor capitán! ¡Señor capitán!, en un ruso perfecto estaba pidiéndome protección un soldado que marchaba a pie, con pantalones alemanes, desnudo de cintura para arriba, con la cara, el pecho, los hombros y la espalda ensangrentados, mientras un sargento de la Sección Especial montado a caballo, lo acosaba con el látigo y le echaba el animal encima. Fustigaba sus carnes desnudas a latigazos y no permitía que se diera la vuelta ni que pidiera auxilio, le iba empujando a golpes, marcando en su piel nuevas cicatrices (…) Cualquier persona que tuviera autoridad, cualquier oficial de cualquier ejército del mundo, tenía la obligación de detener aquella tortura arbitraria. Cualquier oficial, de cualquier ejército, sí. Pero, ¿también del nuestro? (…) me acobardé d

“Mr. Captain! Mr. Captain!” A prisoner on foot in German britches was crying out to me in pure Russian. He was naked from the waist up, and his face, chest, shoulders, and back were all bloody, while a sergeant osobist, a Security man, seated on a
horse, drove him forward with a whip, pushing him with his horse. He kept lashing that naked back up and down with the whip, without letting him turn around, without letting him ask for help. He drove him along, beating and beating him, raising new crimson welts on his skin. (…) Any officer, possessing any authority, in any army on earth ought to have stopped that senseless torture. In any army on earth, yes, but in ours? (…) So I was afraid to defend the Vlasov man against the osobist. I said nothing and I did nothing. I passed him by as if I could not hear him … so that I myself would not be infected by that universally recognized plague. (…) So the osobist continued to lash the defenseless man brutally and drive him along like a beast.”.

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn.

For ordinary people in a totalitarian “normality” that is complicity enough. For the henchmen themselves. For those sergeants “of the Special Section” it is not enough. Nor is it enough for the propagandists and useful fools of totalitarian power in the free world. Totalitarianism needs them to fear more than anything else the fall of totalitarian power for fear of having to answer for the crimes committed in its name, or under its protection. And it is not limited to the henchman’s own dirty work, but explains the “granting” them, among the crumbs with which he pays them, protection for their corruption and perversions.

Lavrenty Beria was the perfect henchman, not so much because of his efficiency and cruelty, but because his personal crimes were intolerable and unforgivable and he knew it. It applies also to propagandists and useful fools. They live in the free world and have nothing to fear. They do not suffer the misery of those impoverished and subjugated by the dictatorships they adore. They are well paid by philo-totalitarian networks. And they do not even suffer the “comfortable” terror of the nomenclatures that by any mistake or accident can pass from privileged to victims.

Among the propagandists there is the fear of the veto, of losing privileges in spaces colonized by Marxism and free of competition, and of the moral assassination that those who wake up and oppose will suffer. It was little for Moscow yesterday. It is little for Beijing, Pyongyang and Havana today. They prefer to assure them by facilitating and covering for them corruptness and unconfessable perversions. That is why the perfect propagandist of Soviet power was Walter Duranty and the perfect propagandist of Castroism was Gabriel García Márquez.

But when totalitarian “normality” is broken, as has happened in Cuba, the tyrants fear the betrayal of their henchmen and in order to reimpose their “normality” through terror –to executioners and victims– they insist on making them more unforgivable than ever. And to make as many ordinary people as possible (including teenagers and even children) into forced henchmen. It is the twisted “logic” of Marxist repression in the face of an unexpected and spontaneous massive cry for freedom like the one in Cuba.

Guillermo Rodríguez is a professor of Political Economy in the extension area of the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences at Universidad Monteávila, in Caracas. A researcher at the Juan de Mariana Center and author of several books // Guillermo es profesor de Economía Política en el área de extensión de la Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Administrativas de la Universidad Monteávila, en Caracas, investigador en el Centro Juan de Mariana y autor de varios libros

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