By Fernando Buen Abad Domínguez
“The highest link that the human species can reach is to be revolutionary”
The Ethics of Rifles and the Ethics of Tenderness
An ethical watchword travels the world. Today, more than ever, Fidel’s statement shines in all its power, defining: “the duty of every revolutionary is to make revolution.” Such a slogan is in itself an ethical statement, of the first order, for the present times. Which revolutionaries for which revolution? Let us not operate this with “manuals.” The “universal” character of such a slogan, its humanist soul, exceeds Cuba even if it is its epicenter. That was Fidel’s will. In the Marxist-Leninist character of the Cuban Revolution one of the most important ethical currents of our time is gestated. The duty of every revolutionary is also to produce a revolution in ethics and for ethics. And the Revolution in Cuba is a guide.
In a world infested with humiliations against the working class, drowned in “informational” fallacies, crammed with vulgarity, sloppiness and banalities… the brilliance of the Cuban Revolution with its revolutionary ethical bet is revealed. In a world sunk in fears, individualism and egomania; saturated by petulance and mediocrities, PhDs in nothing and custom-made creationism, where advertisers and churches, pornographers and pedophiles feast… where everything is prostituted and the soul is commodified… capitalism reigns supreme and rots everything in its path. A world infested with so much treachery, so much softness, so much creeping, so much opportunism, so much reformism… Cuba calls us to work for a new, active, combative, rigorous Ethics of solidarity, or else we will be buried with more bourgeois ideological rubbish and with more capitalism. This is intolerable.
What phenomenal challenges the Cuban Revolution has had to face. Challenges that have not only delayed the conquest of the greatest possible happiness for its people but have subjected it to the most ferocious tests of economic, psychological, political and cultural resistance. The balance sheet of the Revolution, which interests us here, is still going through the criminal purgatory of the blockade, which is not only not over, but is intensifying. Even so, the Cuban Revolution educates us, as a compass and praxis that did not stop providing us with lessons and questions, lights and self-criticism, simply because it was never a purely theoretical or mental institution for idyllic or abstract celebrations, but because the Revolution became the nucleus of everyday things. In the head, in the belly and in the hearts. In practice. It is not seen by those who do not want to see it.
No time for dilettantes. There is no place for bibliographical bureaucracies or guru showbiz. We must declare the abolition of semantic slavery and the suppression of all fanaticism with esoteric manuals. The most aberrant case of “organized crime” on a world level is called capitalism. In its more than three centuries, it organized the destruction of the planet, the depredation of the human condition, poverty, misery and famine. It has humiliated human beings and threatens the future.
Anyone talks about Revolution referring to anything, but the problem is how much and how, that which is called Revolution, really changes paradigms or only makes them up. Therefore, sooner or later, if we are to take it seriously, the Cuban Revolution will challenge us. It will make us ask ourselves, and answer ourselves, where is our grain of sand, our proven contribution of solidarity, that which helps to modify the dominant paradigms to give rise to indefatigable emancipatory paradigms. As is the Revolution itself.
We must understand the Cuban Revolution as the extended conquest of a Fundamental Humanist Right. The right to Revolution. As the highest step in the practice that goes from the desirable to the possible and from there to the achievable. A Revolution that does not accept being reduced to an abstraction of those revolutionary processes that make it internationalist in its political-territorial tones and colors. Understanding superiority, its value, as a decisive factor in our recent history, makes us convinced that struggle has a higher value, in a common world where it is lived under the ordinariness of the bourgeois semi-spheres. The Cuban Revolution, by assuming socialism on a scientific basis and not on a utopian-illusionist one, is legitimized insofar as it changes the organization of the struggle, which is not a thing of the past, but a necessity to get out of capitalism, without distortions or confusions, because it is the expression of a superior phase of society that must disappear all enslaving subordination against human beings.
Cuba is a form of Ethics of a new kind both for the revolutionary ideas and revolutionary actions that unmask and fight capitalism. It has been the target of all sorts of distortions and persecutions in the field of theory, of amorphous and eclectic “scientific” centrism; in the ranks of reformism that eludes concrete obligations and tends to privilege any delay of “revolutionary practice,” without accepting that only Marxist theory can impart a revolutionary orientation to practice. As Fidel explained: “Revolution is a sense of the historical moment; it is changing everything that must be changed; it is full equality and freedom; it is being treated and treating others as human beings; it is emancipating ourselves and our own efforts; it is challenging powerful dominant forces within and outside the social and national sphere; is defending values that we believe in at the price of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness, altruism, solidarity and heroism; it is fighting with audacity, intelligence and realism; it is never lying or violating ethical principles; it is a deep conviction that there is no force in the world capable of crushing the force of truth and ideas. Revolution is unity, it is independence, it is fighting for our dreams of justice for Cuba and for the world, which is the basis of our patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism.” Fidel Castro
Our duty is to make the revolution. With the emergence of the Cuban Revolution, the world experienced a geopolitical, cultural and communicational transformation that shook the empire. It immediately set out to destroy everything that meant Revolution and immediately went out to buy “volunteers” for weapons and ideologies (false consciousness and deception) to organize them in a war that has not ceased for a single minute. War against Revolutionary Cuba in all fields of theory or practice, was felt as a “new” class hatred that collated forms of “thinking” and doing “politics”—in its most bourgeois sense—to annihilate the organized and conscious rebellion of its route. But they met with a people organized in a thousand ways (workers, students, common citizens and peasants) determined not to be oppressed anymore… the oppressing class could not continue to oppress. The direction was changed, the leadership changed. A revolution that gave birth to a new ethic has triumphed.
The Ethics of Truth
What ideological trinkets will be able to convince us to accept, longer, the macabre business of the war industries; what verbiage will be able to convince us to tolerate the spectacle of poverty that is transmuted into misery and famine; with what saliva will they want to anesthetize us while they deprive us of work, housing, health, education… while they insist that we applaud them like addicted seals? The world’s 2,153 million people have more wealth than 4.6 billion people (60 percent of the world’s population), according to a report published today by Oxfam on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This world must get out of capitalism, and all its disasters, immediately.
Cuba has found a way. Such an ethical birth originating in Cuba would have to remove, from daily life, the mental institutions, the customs and habits of slavery; the pre-concepts and definitions of life itself, inoculated by the ideology of the ruling class as central vectors of existence in each person, in his or her relationship with other human beings and with nature as a whole. This ethical birth of a new kind should fertilize the soil of the revolutionary mentality in order to make new ideas flourish and to replace just and collective labor as the greatest wealth over and above the accumulation of Capital. A formidable task to revolutionize heads and values against all mental webs, ideological mummies, and beliefs with deep roots such as resignation, irremediable plunder, and deprivation of everything to guarantee the good life of the masters. Cuba with its Revolution has built, step by step, a new social imaginary with supportive human beings willing to remake in their head, their heart and their belly, a way of relating in a fraternal way to produce what we all need and to distribute it for the good of all. Ethics to change the direction of all benefits.
Our duty is to make the revolution. An ethic that democratically organizes a society that struggles to live without social classes, oppressors and oppressed, where, in addition to modifying the mode of production, the relations of production have changed, this time already in the hands of people who are determined to be happy—with all the difficulty that this implies—and to make human beings happy against a global reality subjected to all kinds of unhappiness. This is the decision of a people that is moving in a different direction for human beings and for the planet, which to many seemed impossible, utopian, messianic or crazy… and to others seemed hopeful, desirable, possible and achievable; it demanded absolute clarity in what to do and how to do it.
The ethical challenge that Cuba brought with the Revolution demanded—and demands—great precision in the order of priorities and deadlines, in the depth and breadth of humanist transformations. It demanded and continues to demand a change, at the root, in the mentality and a disposition of solidarity that is unwavering. It demanded and still demands, instruments to move forward in science, in the arts, in theory and in practice. It is impossible to orient ourselves without a new Ethics, if we really want to get off the map of the past. An ethic of new demands for practice in the process that involves the creation of a society where the most important thing is the well-being of society itself and the ethical-political integrity “from words to deeds,” in order to achieve the objectives set by the leadership of the revolutionary program.
To understand this Ethics, it is necessary to know, first of all, that such a science, born of a Revolution, has a permanent object of action in the whole of human making. Such an object, which affects revolutionary morality, is affirmed in at least two great territories of historical and social human activity. It is no longer an immovable morality of extra-historical affirmations, as is the case with some, but is a form of human practice, a historical product that varies profoundly, and is perfected, under the force of a Socialist Revolution. The ethics of revolutionizing oneself, under the influence of the historical phenomenon of Marxist-Leninist revolution, which is also concerned with the conduct of human beings before the planet, while at the same time interweaving with psychology, sociology, political economy and anthropology… with every struggle that has a material basis and on which the superstructure with its indissoluble social character is built.
In Cuba an Ethics in transition and for transition has its origin in the primitive community, to overcome the division of society into classes, enriching itself with Marxist dialectics, in practice. Cuba is developing a Revolution not only to break with the modes of production, and with the relations of production of bourgeois morality with all its hypocrisy, individualistic morality, Cuba presents us with the challenge of laying the foundations for a truly human, universal Ethics, in which there is no exploitation of man by man for the definitive abolition of the society divided into classes. In the words of Che, an ethic for love.
Our duty is to make the revolution. Rigorous ethics that must be defended from reformists, conciliators, disguises, ideological ambushes and media-psychological wars, designed mainly to delay, abort, deform and kill anything that involves steps (even small ones) in the emancipatory direction. Ethics to overcome the old (not yet overcome) and to promote the new that is not yet born. In that transition (explained very narrowly) we have been immersed for many decades and that has cost us lives and incalculable resources but, clearly, in Cuba, ethical strength has allowed us to resist indescribable imperial torments, at all levels, from the collective to the most intimate. The enemies of the Revolution, in their genocidal deliriums, have taken for dead everything that sounds like a transformation and, thus, they take for dead the Cuban Ethical power, its achievements, its benefits and contributions… they have come to take history itself for dead. And they have been wrong, the Revolution has been stronger than all its obstacles.
The essence of the Cuban revolutionary ethic cannot be erased. It is alive in the permanent revolution that the Cuban people deploy in each of their rebellions and revolutions (big or small) of that permanent Cuban Revolution, which occurs in thousands of different spheres, more visible or less; from that stubborn and incessant struggle a new type of values and actions is born, marked by the working people, an Ethics for the creation of a culture and a communication of the common, of the communist, as a superior phase of human happiness. Its doctors are a clear example, as are the five heroes, the music, the arts and the culture of the Cuban people. It is not a simple “re-arrangement of philosophical terms,” it is essential to learn from the Cuban Revolution, from its fighting morality and its ethics, because degradation, demoralization and the ruin of the peoples is advancing all over the world. It is a life-or-death situation for the oppressed class which objectively represents the only viable future of Humanity. If ethics does not respond to the direction set by the bases, and if no changes take place, the human species will be more and more exposed to historical dangers, such as neo-Nazi fascism.
Ethics of the desirable, the possible and the achievable
Our duty is to make the revolution. In solidarity with the Cuban Revolution we must develop the productive forces, critical and decolonized education, and thought in socialist scientific training. The definition of the Revolution offers us essential aspects for the new Ethics where an objective, normative character is combined with rules or protocols of revolutionary intervention on, for example, the ownership of wealth and its distribution to all; and the factual character in the real acts, under tension between what was done and what should have been. Such tension in revolutionary conditions is dialectical, one involves the other, but in direct action, not illusory. We need revolutionary norms for revolutionary ethics; there is no correct practice without correct theory. The normative to be realized, but not under the design of abstract, general, idealistic norms but under the requirements of the revolutionary process that demands concrete facts to concrete solutions and, overcoming all restraints to social development.
If the Cuban Revolution has given us new humanist bastions, if its generosity has been such that it marks the present as well as the future, fighting for the best conditions for the good life of all, then it has put us at the table of history an exquisite ethical dish, rich in motives, rich in awareness of the end, rich in firm decision to carry out the ethical-revolutionary act; rich in the will to accompany the determination of the common end over others; rich in the predilection for the popular means historically proven in the realization of the common end, in its objective realization, assuming all the consequences, properly speaking, of a social nature. The desirable, the possible and the achievable.
This ethical structure forged by the Cuban Revolution forms a totality in the parts and becomes a reality in the whole as a moral meaning. Thus, for example, the legitimacy of a revolutionary motivation is determined in practice and in consensus where the agent can clearly recognize it as a collective work. Thus the choice of an ethical end, and the selection of a means, is not made in isolation because it loses moral meaning, even if the act is carried out. In any case it is indispensable to shape the revolutionary character of the end, to objectify revolutionary behavior, so that it guarantees a result that we can measure morally in a collective way by putting it in relation to a Marxist-Leninist norm associated with a system of norms of a revolutionary historical-social community such as it is in Cuba.
We need a concrete, historical and creative Humanism, not an abstract one… but an expression of the whole of social relations, even with their mother conflicts, as an ethical and spiritual perfection, which rescues the best emancipatory struggles against alienation and attacks on human freedom. This construction of real humanism is needed to transform the existing world, preserving only the best but not to reconcile antagonisms. A humanism that must be a fundamental condition in consciousness, as a necessity and possibility for the transformation of the world. A consciousness that must have a true and scientific interpretation of the world and a consensual critique of what exists
We celebrate the Cuban Revolution, at the heart of Patria Grande, because it is the daughter of history and at the same time a path for the human species. Never in history has a greater ethical challenge been achieved, a revolutionary work, of the humble, the oppressed, the exploited. For the first time in Latin American and Caribbean history, a lasting worker-peasant ethical horizon has been established in practice. It was done on revolutionary bases, on Marxist bases, on Leninist bases. This implies, Marxism from its creative essence, its dialectic essence, its ethical principles applied in a revolutionary way, applied, also, with a moral sense, in a concrete period under harassment and blockade. The triumph of the Cuban Revolution is also to continue fighting, without getting tired, against imperial hatred, repression and crime. Its victory is sedimenting a new kind of ethics that not only deals with the economy, industry, culture… it deals with the heart. This is a victory of the Revolution that lives from human truth, from frankness, from honesty, from purity, from its Marxist and Leninist principles in critical and self-critical dialectical action. It is not born from nothing. Our duty is to make revolution. To complete it permanently.
Featured image: Photo: Bill Hackwell