Revolutionary Dictatorship

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    26 Kasım 2007
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    Revolutionary Dictatorship
    Revolution is an event that is made by a particular group, or by the support of lots of people, which in the end makes radical changes in the existing systems. The dictionary meaning of revolution is the action of changing a regime, an organization or an association completely because of any kind of deficiency or disadvantage it had, but this is not always enough to make things better. What should be gained at the end of a revolution is principally a better new system. Generally this is not true in practice, since most revolutions play big roles in the creation of dictatorships.
    There are many people who believe that the only way to take the support of people and come to power easier is revolution, since anyone not happy with the existing system would generally be likely to support the idea of making a revolution. When a particular group changes the system by making a revolution with the support of society, in the earliest days of the new system, the members of that particular group, the new presidents promise to give everyone equal rights and to provide many facilities not provided during the period of the overthrown government. But then generally, those new revolutionaries immediately forget about the promises and ideals they made and begin to enjoy the advantages of leadership and take all decisions alone and, as mentioned in `Republic`, “the insatiable desire for freedom and neglect of other things changes this constitution and puts it in need of a dictatorship” (Plato, Course Package, p233). In this way, the new system takes the place of the overthrown one, just in a different form, and it also turns into tyranny. As things become worse and as it become difficult to lead the country, many dictators generally find enemies against their countries and attract the people’s attention to that side in order to make them forget about the deficiencies of his system. As people do not think and worry about politics and what is happening in the dictatorship system they live in, they then completely accept the rules of the new leaders, and this helps the leader to be freer than the people in all fields of life, freer to speak, to decide regulations and even to punish and destroy people. Since such a revolutionaries’ dictatorship is a public based movement, no one wants to criticize the system he created, therefore, it becomes easy to come up with dictatorship after the revolution. In order to observe the formation of a dictatorship, which occurred after coming to power by revolution, this essay will try to demonstrate the change in Cuba and Cuban society, under the leadership of a revolutionary, Fidel Castro, and the period during which Cuba had a new system, new culture, and a new dictatorship. At this point it is necessary to talk about Castro’s early days and political influences that shaped his ideologies.
    By the time Castro had begun university, two important events had happened in Cuba. These were the independence movements against Spanish colonies in the end of the 19th century, and the overthrow of the Cuban dictator, Machado. Also, because of being the son of a landowner and having the chance to observe the lives of both poor and people from the bourgeois class, he realized the inequality between human beings. He was aware of the events that had happened before him and during his days, and felt the need to do something for them, which made him a revolutionary and a socialist. After beating Spain, the United States started to get control over, and re-colonize Cuba. This also disconcerted and worried Castro. As many important men did, he was influenced by some men in his early days, one of whom was José Martí, a person who reacted against US expansionism. The hero of Fidel Castro was José Martí. He saw a great similarity between himself and Martí, and followed his way in his fight and revolution. This is the way a revolutionary determines his way. He first chooses a hero in youth, then follows his way. But usually, there occur some events that change the way of the revolutionary as he becomes the leader with the support of people. And the new way is mostly in the same direction with the overthrown leader’s way, that of the dictator.
    As Castro formed his ideologies in his mind, he decided to play role in changing the existing system in Cuba, a system under the dictatorship of a leader, named Batista. Castro with more than a hundred men including Rául Castro (Fidel’s brother) attacked Santiagode Cuba Moncada Barracks and the Bayama Barracks. Then many more actions against Batista regime followed, even people from the armed forces supported the revolution. The reason why so many people supported that bloody revolution was not because everyone wanted a new socialist system, but because they were not happy with the existing dictator, Batista. During the last two years of the regime, 1957 and 1958, warfare increased. Havana University Revolutionary Directorate attacked President Batista’s palace, guerillas fought in the Sierra Mountains and other areas of central and eastern provinces, and finally Batista was overthrown in the early days of 1959. This was the time the revolution took control with the support of lots of people from different fields of society. Everyone was happy, since they had got rid of a dictator, but none of them were aware what was going to happen next. As in all dictatorships that were created after revolutions, all the Cuban people began to expect a new perfect system right after the revolution. Although they had not wanted a socialist system after the revolution, Castro, day by day changed the system in that way, and started to apply his own regulations. It should have been a very strong desire to get rid of Batista that so many people supported a piece of revolutionary men whom they knew nothing about, just because of the fear of the tyrant’s power. Power, here means to be freer than all other people living in the society in all fields of life, and the power had passed to new men by revolution. Castro was now much more powerful than everyone.
    In the early days of the new system, the aim in social change was creating new egalitarian values and equality. Before the revolution, there were rich and poor, but in the new system, everything was everyone’s, since the new system was named socialism. In socialism no one has the chance to benefit from one thing more than the others, and this limits people’s ability to work more and develop. In other words, no one is free to work for himself, since everything belongs to everyone and everyone’s work and effort serves for everyone. In such a utopian socialist system, everyone must have equal rights in all fields of life, in politics, and even in economics (there cannot be great differences between people’s incomes and life standards). In all socialist systems and in Cuba, the people close to the leader, his supporters (his family, friends) have more rights than the average person walking on the street, in other words they are more ‘equal’ and ‘right’. Also in a system where everyone is equal, no one should be disappointed with any of the things done in that system, but unfortunately in Cuba, there were lots of people not happy with the new socialist system. That is why thousands of Cuban refugees began to leave the island from Camarioca (a small fishing port) and escape to America on 10th of October in 1965, when the ports were opened to foreign boats in the US. Today, people who are not happy with Castro’s rules still continue to escape.

    Fidel Castro, in thirty years, tried about six kinds of economical policies, but none of them helped Cuba approach to better conditions. Some of these politics were the liquidation of capitalism, Soviet-centralized economy models, Guevarist model that had radical features and, since the 1980s, an economy not based on market mechanisms. None of these policies could have the chance to lead to a better economy, since the world, day-by-day approaches globalization. Because of choosing the socialist system, Cuba and liberal America had problems, the US applied economic embargoes, and this made Castro’s work difficult. As he chose the wrong system, that is based on nationalism in every sector, he abstracted his country from the common market and could not develop Cuba economically. Rather than being part of the developing world, Castro chose America as the enemy of Cuba, and made all Cubans become anti-American. This is the way a dictator makes his people forget about the deficiencies and mistakes in his system and concentrate on other subjects. This subject is usually chosen by finding an enemy against that country, because it is easier to gather people in an in-group, as many people are sensitive about their countries’ international status, in other words, many people are nationalist. Since the US had imposed an economic embargo on Cuba, it was the new enemy of all Cubans.
    The Cuban Revolution means different things to different people. To the Marxist historian, it was a revolt against economic monopoly and imperialism. To a certain kind of American liberal, the revolution was just recompense for US, sins of arrogance and intolerance. For a certain type of Cuban nationalist, the revolution was the culmination of centuries of struggle for Cuban freedom and independence. (Rabkin, pp33, 34)
    When looked from the Cuban revolutionaries’ point of view, revolution was inevitable, and was the only way to create equality between all people. So it was very easy for them to use the advantage of being seen as heroes, therefore they, especially Fidel Castro, had the chance to take control over the whole country and society, because every single person that was happy because of being saved from Batista’s regime had to believe in Castro. Whatever their purposes were, Castro and other revolutionaries were heroes for the Cuban people after the 1959 Cuban Revolution.
    Cuba is today an island that is geographically a perfect place, with magnificent beaches and cultural values, and it is interesting, cheap and attractive for tourists. There is also the other side of the coin. It also has a political and economic regime, and their reflection in all fields of Cuban people’s lives. Unfortunately, these are not as magnificent or attractive as its geography. Cuba has a system in which there is a socialist dictator, Fidel Castro, who has been the president of the country since 1959. And in this dictatorship, no one has social rights, with the exception of the people close to the dictator. Anyone against the system does not have the chance to criticize or comment on the deficiencies of the system.
    Those who want to start a political party or a political organization are breaking the law, and up to 1994 those who wanted to find new ways of supporting themselves could not do so partly because it was not allowed, but also because of difficulties in securing materials and the means of distribution, which were in the hands of the state. The ideology is also hegemonic in that all political ideas emanate from only one political party, and other political ideas must therefore be expressed clandestinely or not at all. (Rosendahl, p157).
    In a system in which not all the people have the chance to think whatever they want and speak about it, it is impossible to talk about democracy and equality. And in Fidel Castro’s Cuba, people do not have the chance to criticize the dictator, or to gather under a political organization other than the one in power. If people were given those rights, Cuba would have been considered as a country that provides equality and justice to its people, since the system Castro wanted to promote before the revolution, socialism, is based on equality of all people. But as people’s rights are restricted, and as the leader and other governors have more rights than others, the system can only be called ‘dictatorship’, rather than socialism or democracy. In a system like dictatorship, people whether they have complaints about the tyrant, regime or the things done or not, do not have the chance and right to speak anything about them. Only those for the regime and near the tyrant have the chance and power to speak. At this point Cuba’s regime and socialism separate from each other. Rather than socialism the Cuban regime approaches dictatorship, since it had the same leader with absolute power since 1959, and there is no equality and no justice between the people in politics. The economy of Cuba day by day becomes worse and the life standards of people decrease, since socialism cannot be applied as planned, therefore rather than having benefits for the Cuban people, the existence of the dictator makes things worse.
    When someone becomes a leader by revolution, in the beginning he says he is not a dictator; he tries to be just and behaves toward people equally. But as time passes, naturally there occur some problems, the people near the leader start to benefit from some rights more than the others and this causes a contradiction, since that is not equality the leader planned before. As people start to react against the leader, in order not to lose his position, and because of his belief that it is the correct system, the leader begins to apply his own regulations and even to use his power to punish people. As he has to use his power and limits everyone’s rights, he becomes a dictator. After a point, it becomes difficult for the dictator to abdicate his leadership, as no one wants to leave the top position, therefore he starts to find new ways to stay there. The most common way is to choose an enemy against the country. By this way it becomes easier to gather people under control and makes them stop thinking about the dictator. After that point, it is impossible for the dictator to leave his position, since he applies his regulations all over the country.
    Revolutionary dictatorship is the new version of the power that is created by revolution.

    Halebsky S, Kirk J M Cuba - Twenty-Five Years of Revolution, 1959-1984, Praeger Publishers 1985

    Balfour S Longman Singapore Publishers 1990

    Rosendahl M Inside The Revolution-Everyday Lie in Socialist Cuba, Cornell University Press 1997

    Azicri M Cuba-Politics, Economics and Society, Pinter Publishers 1988

    Plato Republic, Course Package (Bilkent University 2003 Spring English and Composition Lesson, editor John Clarkson)

    Rabkin R P Cuban Politics-The Revolutionary Experiment, Hoover Institution Press 1991

    Huberman L, Sweezy P M Socialism in Cuba, Monthly, Review Press 1969

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