Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Socialism does not offend me and it should not offend anyone accept the greedy trolls of capitalism' right

The Chumps of Trump vs. The Three stooges of socialism!

By SJ Otto
So now that I have been to Cuba, I realize how full of crap, right-wing pundits are. It is still hard for me to understand how such writers can put out such fiction—and they want us to take them seriously.  I found these articles, which are typical of all the right-wing proclamations that socialism is against all human decency. It is as criminal as selling heroin, or having sex with children, if we can believe such articles. Here is an example of an article by DAVID HARSANYI, of Reason, who wrote “Sorry If You're Offended, but Socialism Leads to Misery and Destitution”
He wrote:\

“After all, socialism is the leading man-made cause of death and misery in human existence. Whether implemented by a mob or a single strongman, collectivism is a poverty generator, an attack on human dignity and a destroyer of individual rights.
It's true that not all socialism ends in the tyranny of Leninism or Stalinism or Maoism or Castroism or Ba'athism or Chavezism or the Khmer Rouge—only most of it does.”

He reports this as if it is a fact—an indisputable fact. One rule of propaganda says that if a statement is made over and over and over again, people will believe it. Most people can’t afford to just go to Cuba. Many people who can won’t bother to. So this man and others like him can keep making these statements. His motivation is simple—money. Conservative pundits make a lot of money. The people behind their publications have lots of money. To a wealthy conservative there is nothing—absolutely nothing—more important than having a lot of money. With that money comes political power. That is the backbone of capitalism. People who make a lot of money love capitalism and hate socialism. Many people who live in the US and don’t have much money, simply believe in capitalism because that is all they really know. Most people will not question the system they live under if their basic needs are met. So most people will never know that the article below and others like it are an outright lie.

“And no, New York primary winner Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn't intend to set up gulags in Alaska. Most so-called democratic socialists—the qualifier affixed to denote that they live in a democratic system and have no choice but to ask for votes—aren't consciously or explicitly endorsing violence or tyranny. But when they adopt the term "socialism" and the ideas associated with it, they deserve to be treated with the kind of contempt and derision that all those adopting authoritarian philosophies deserve.”

So this guy want to destroy the word socialism and convince people as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to find a less “offensive word.” That is to say: a word that would appease Harsanyi.
After that he blathers on about Norway and other European versions of Democratic Socialism, which he describes as “generous welfare-state programs propped up by underlying vibrant capitalism and natural resources.” But he keeps going back to the third world countries that have tried Marxist socialism. These are countries he considers total failures. Then, among the countries he considers “dictators” he includes Nicaragua and Venezuela:

“It should also be noted that today's socialists get their yucks by pretending collectivist policies only lead to innocuous outcomes like local libraries. But for many years they were also praising the dictators of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the nation's most successful socialist, isn't merely impressed with the goings-on in Denmark. Not very long ago, he lauded Hugo Chavez's Venezuela as an embodiment of the "American dream," even more so than the United States."

Socialists like to blame every inequity, the actions of every greedy criminal, every downturn and every social ill on the injustice of capitalism. But none of them admit that capitalism has been the most effective way to eliminate poverty in history.”
Eliminate poverty? Seriously? Capitalism is the main cause of poverty. Since the Sandinistas came to power in 1979, they used elections to take power. They followed those bourgeois democracy tactics until they were voted from power and they won elections when they came back into power. Chavez also came to power through bourgeois democracy. He followed all the democratic rules. He never broke any of those rules. He and Daniel Ortega were never dictators at all. Only in Harsanyi’s imagination (affected by his obsession with anti-socialism) are those two leaders “dictators.” This is similar to Ronald Reagan and his pointy headed followers who refuse to believe that a democratically elected politician can be a socialist. But they are all delusional.
We see similar argument from Mark J. Perry, of AEI, “Why socialism always fails:”

“Slightly more than 20 years, I wrote the article “Why Socialism Failed” and it appeared in 1995 in The Freeman, the flagship publication of the Foundation for Economic Education. I think it was the first essay or op-ed I wrote for a general audience following graduation in 1993 from George Mason University with a Ph.D. in economics. Note that the title of the article (“failed”) implied the past tense, as if I perhaps assumed the failures of socialism were so apparent and obvious (I called it the Big Lie of the 20th century) that it would be forever considered only as a discredited system of the past, and never as a viable option going forward into the future! Of course, at the time many parts of the world were moving away from collectivism and central planning and towards free market capitalism – the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, and China was opening up its economy and re-established the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 1990, etc.
Here’s are some excerpts of my 1995 essay “Why Socialism Failed”:

1. Socialism is the Big Lie of the twentieth century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.
In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may show early signs of success. But any accomplishments quickly fade as the fundamental deficiencies of central planning emerge. It is the initial illusion of success that gives government intervention its pernicious, seductive appeal. In the long run, socialism has always proven to be a formula for tyranny and misery.”

Of course there would be little reason to challenge this idea, especially if a person has never been to Cuba or a so called “socialist country.” But I have only been to one, Cuba.
From GORDON ADAMS, Foreign Policy, “The Liberal Fallacy of the Cuba Deal”:

President Barack Obama correctly announced (recalling Einstein’s dictum about insanity): “I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.” Non-recognition has not changed Cuba’s government; the embargo has only limited the island’s economic growth potential. So it’s time for a change in policy.
The goal of that new policy, according to the White House, is to “renew our leadership in the Americas, end our outdated approach on Cuba, and promote more effective change that supports the Cuban people and our national security interests.” It’s the “promote more effective change” part that plants a flag in the liberal exceptionalist camp. The justification for this policy is, in part, still rooted in the notion that the United States can effect the change it wants in another country, this one close to our shores.

The motive here is to change Cuba in a more humane way. That is not to actually accept a Marxist-Leninist system in the hemisphere. That would go against everything the US stands for. The US is a country that has always opposed any kind of socialism or Marxism. That is the antithesis of the US. This country has fought a cold war because it can never accept the idea that a political system can negate rich people with money running our lives. It is like a person who suddenly realizes that the parasites he/she has learned to live with—are not really needed. Suddenly they realize that they can actually live without parasites. A working person can live without parasites in their body—and the discovery is uplifting. But it is a death sentence to the capitalist parasites when we suddenly realize we don’t need them.
That is why a writer as myself can’t co-exist with the journalists who are determined to defend the system and defend it at all costs. Most of the successful journalist in the US are either conservative, or they are liberal and pro-capitalist. Yes they can be liberal. But they still oppose any form of Marxism. I remember when I was in Nicaragua. People there told me, as a journalist, I have traveled to places where most US mainstream journalist don’t go. I was told they stay in the motels in the capital and talk to political officials, mostly anti-Sandinistas, and don’t wander very far into the country. As a person who considered himself a real journalist at the time, it was disappointing. I now realized how phony most US journalists were.
It is real hard to look at news in the US and realize how slanted it can be. From the outside it looks so honest and free. It seems inconceivable that these fine journalists would lie to us. But the evidence has built up over the years. Some of what we see as factual news is just propaganda. It lacks truth and the conclusions of the journalists fit with their opinion over these facts:
1. Most people never write or give out official opinions. They would never miss freedom of speech, because they never use it.
2. Conservative writers make good money and the more money they make, the more they love our capitalist system. As with free speech, a lot of people never make enough money to care what kind of economic system they live under.
3. I appreciate political parties and I can see the value they have. There are good ones and bad ones. However, in this country the two parties of our system have been manipulated to wage a class war against poor people. President Donald Trump took away poor people’s health care and shifted the tax system to raise the taxes of the poorer classes—and so did Ronald Reagan.
I have been to Cuba and seen how it works. I can also say I have been to Nicaragua and I can say it is not very Marxist and not as much socialist as Cuba is. Cuba’s socialist system does work and the people there are not miserable. It is hard to convince a lot of people of this fact—that directly contradicts what the conservative writers are telling people.

Cuban travelogue—Cuba’s system examined—“freedom of speech, racism and homosexual rights”—Part 4

By SJ Otto

As I continue on with my trip to Cuba—we met with leaders of an Association of Writers and Artists. Fidel Castro founded this organization in 1961. This artists and writers’ organization have taken on the task of fighting against racism. Most of the discussion was lead by Rolando sol Rensol Medina and Pedro de la Hoz. The attitude the leadership took was that all countries have racism and Cuba is no different.
“Racism is a global issue,” one of the speakers said.
As the leaders of this group explained it, racism has to be fought against and the job is never really done.
There are a lot of black persons in Cuba and racism there is not just a black and white issue, since there are people of different shades of black. In the US, traditionally, the classification for a black person is that they are black if they have any black blood in them. In some cases there have been black civil rights workers, in the US, who looked white, but had black blood in there ancestry. Things are a little different in Cuba. In any country there are problems that are specific only to that one place.
We were told that many Cubans have ancestors who came to the Island as slaves.
One way to fight racism is through education. They don’t just teach history from a European point of view. They teach history from the point of indigenous people and minorities also.
One of the speakers pointed out how subtle racism can be.
“A Big black guy works as a guard—a young blond girl works as a waitress,” the speaker said. He added that they try to make people more aware of these kinds of stereo types.
Towards the end of our session with this Association, the leaders talked about culture.
The Association supports freedom of expression for visual artist and writers. We were told that criticism is not only tolerated it is encouraged.
“You can’t really have art without criticism,” one of the leaders said.
Another problem the leaders brought up is that the blockade prevents cultural exchanges with the US. Cuba and US culture exchanges have been disrupted of many years.
This last item is one more example of the damage that blockade has had. Both US and Cuban artists have not been able to exchange ideas and infuences. That has hurt both cultures.
The protection of homosexuals was discussed with Andy Aquino Agüero, Specialist of the Department of Teaching and Research in the National Center of Sexual Education. He told me that discrimination against homosexuals was banned right after the revolutionary war, but government officials had a hard time enforcing that ban for many years, because of the attitude in Latin America call machismo, or “much a man/ manliness.” That cultural attitude has caused problems for women, since men have felt encouraged to marry one woman and then keep a mistress as well. The children of these mistresses have had problems, in many Latin American countries, being treated as full-fledged citizens. They have no inheritance rights for example.
Today in Cuba it was obvious to all of us that homosexuals are clearly protected. We saw the rainbow flag that is popular with the LGBT community in shops and various other places.
Aquino also discussed other aspects of Cuba’s sex education programs. In many ways it is not different from things done in the US. Along with opposing discrimination for homosexuals, the government also protects trans-sexuals. While it is legal for trans people to get sex changes, such procedures are expensive and at times, drugs and medical supplies are limited, once again, by the US blockade of the island.
The government works to stop domestic violence.
“If you love someone, you don’t hurt them,” Aquino said.
His department emphasized that sexuality is a human right. Other rights that are protected are the right to abortion and maternal leave from work, for women who become pregnant.
At one point we met with members of the National Assembly. One of the Carvanistas asked an assembly person their views on freedom of speech for journalists. We were told that they look at journalist more as communicators than the more western view of journalists. They also said that their focus is not so much as freedom of the press, as other countries do. They looked more at the reporter’s responsibility to the needs of the working people.

Here we see the contrast between examples of modern pop art and old traditional art, at the University of la Habana.

To be continued=>

Donald Trump Continues To Show He’s Racist

The president’s tweet targeting congresswomen of color is just the latest in a long list of examples.

By Lydia O’Connor and Daniel Marans
All four are American, and only Omar was born outside the U.S.

Trump then doubled down on his remarks the next day, telling reporters at an event at the White House that he believes the congresswomen “hate our country.”

Throughout Trump’s campaign and beyond, HuffPost has kept a running list of examples of Trump’s racism, dating back to the 1970s. He’s added much fodder to the list since he’s been in the White House. Here are just a few examples:

He said immigrants from Africa and Haiti come from “shithole countries” 

In a meeting with lawmakers in the Oval Office in January 2018, Trump argued against restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti and African nations, describing them as “shithole countries,” sources told The Washington Post and NBC News.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” the president reportedly asked. “We should have more people from places like Norway.”

The following day, Trump claimed on Twitter that he hadn’t used those specific words, but Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) ― who was in the room at the time ― swiftly contradicted him, saying that the president had in fact “said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.”
Officials told NBC News that in fall 2017, a Korean-American intelligence analyst was briefing Trump on a situation in Pakistan when the president asked her: “Where are you from?”
When she told him she was from New York, Trump was reportedly “unsatisfied and asked again.”
For the rest click here.
ASSOCIATED PRESSTrump, at an event outside of the White House on July 15, said he has no regrets about telling progressive Democratic congresswomen to “go back” to the countries they came from. Of the four he had in mind, only one was born outside the U.S. and she came to the country as a child.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Cuban travelogue—Cuba’s system examined—“Coop farm, Rock and Roll music, The cult of personality”—Part 3

By SJ Otto
This is a continuation of the articles I have been working on since my return to the US.
As it was explained to me, at the top of the Cuban socialist structure, the government owns the large corporate companies. Some of these government companies combine with foreign investment, so technically the foreign parts of these corporations are privately owned. There are farm coops. We visited one of those while I was in Cuba. Coops were found to work better than government owned farms. So the government decided to go with the coops. At the bottom, there are some smaller businesses and some farms that are privately owned.
So we went to a cooperative farm in the province of Cienfuegos. The farm grew Corn, fruit and coconuts. They also had cattle and other farm animals including chickens and other foul. We were allowed to do about 30 minutes of farm work. Some of the group did some planting of coconut trees, some worked with milking cows, I was with some caravanistas who planted corn. For us to do that work was almost a joke. Most of us never worked on a farm before. I have worked for an outfit that planted trees in people’s yards. That was probably as close to what we were doing as actual farm work. When I worked for the tree planting outfit, I had gone through heat exhaustion so I have never been able to work out in the hot sun since. But they made it extra easy for us, so we could all do the work. I’m sure it was all just symbolic work. Many of us are old farts could never handle real farm work. I suppose the young people could have done the work.
We were told that the government tells the cooperative how much they want the coop to plant. The leaders of the coop have a lot of autonomy to decide what they want to plant.
The coop presented us with noon day meal. We had roasted pig, all kinds of fruit that was grown locally. We each got a piece of coconut that had plenty of coconut milk in it that we could drink. It was an overwhelming good feast.

Rock music
As we traveled through Havana, we came across the park that had a statue of John Lennon and right next to it was a place called El Submarino Amarillo (The yellow submarine). We didn’t get around to going to this place. It advertises itself as a restaurant. I was told they focus on rock music, what they all called “oldies.” An ad for the place said they focus on rock music from the 60s and 70s.
I did some research and from Wikipedia, I was able to see that Fidel Castro banned rock music in 1961, for being a corrupt North American influence that didn’t belong in the new communist Cuba; a position that ironically was in contradiction with the own liberal vision of Karl Marx with respect to the arts and culture; not to mention that the international rock groups had embraced in general a leftist ideology by then.”
There are those who claim that revolution without rock music just “aint a good thing.”
Not to worry. That ban was never really enforced and today there is no ban on rock music at all. People can listen to oldies rock music at that restaurant and they can listen to any rock music they want. There are local groups of rock musicians. I was not able to make such connections. If I ever return I will focus on that. There have been smart ass conservative pundits who laughed when the Cuban government honored the band Santana, which was originally headed by Carlos Santana. Some obnoxious right-wing pundit joked that that group was banned from the Cuban public. Of course he was full of shit. Santana’s music was available to the Cuban public. And Santana was a Hispanic group with roots in Mexico and with styles from Cuba.

Last, but not least- The Cult of personality
While Cuba is a Marxist-Leninist country, they have focused a lot on the Cuban heroes of the revolution. Besides Fidel Castro, they have made heroes of Ernesto "Ché" Guevara and José Martí. Their pictures and statues appeared throughout our trip. Some of the people I was with on the caravan said they saw some posters with Lenin on them. I didn’t notice them. But there were lots of statues and posters of Fidel, Ché and Marti. Marti is a national hero he was to some extent pre-Marxist-Leninist. Fidel just died a few years ago and he was a genuine cult of personality. There are plenty of reasons why this society has made a hero of Ché. He took a direct part in the revolutionary struggle to bring Cuba’s government to power. He had a long history of taking part in battles in Africa and South America. After his death he became a symbol of revolution through-out Latin America, Europe and the US. He was a very dynamic personality and it is not surprising that Cuba would make a hero of him.
From my own political point of view, I do not favor “the cult of personality.” In the case of Cuba it does not seem like a vary big problem. One interesting note is that Fidel said that he did not want buildings and institutions to be named after him after he died. So he himself was not entirely happy with a cult of personality.
In many ways it can be dismissed in Cuba. The only reason for bringing it up is in revolutionary tradition in other parts of the world, and maybe here, eventually—There will also be a later discussions of my observations of Cuba with those who have criticism on both the left and right.
There is more to come folks!

To be continued=>

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Cuban travelogue—Cuba’s system examined—“Life under M-L socialism”—Part 2

By SJ Otto
One of my main interests of going to Cuba was to see the operations of an actual Marxist-Leninist socialist country. There are other socialist countries, such as Venezuela and there are a few other communist countries, China, Vietnam and Laos.[1] The last three are run by communist parties. But they seem more interested in integrating their economies with the world capitalist economy.  Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea claims to be socialist, but has declared Karl Marx and V.I. Lenin obsolete. They have removed their statues of Marx and Lenin.
Cuba has remained a country that supports revolution and has not denounced socialism. The country openly endorses Marxist-Leninism as the country’s guiding philosophy. That is the main reason I wanted to go there.
Right-wing commentators have argued that history shows us that socialism doesn’t work. My two weeks in Cuba convinced me that such a statement is blatantly false. Since 1959 socialism has worked in Cuba and I saw that first hand.
Another statement I’ve heard is that people who live under socialism are miserable. Again I had two weeks to test that theory out and I found it totally wrong. The people I saw and met did not seem to me to be miserable. I saw many people doing all the things I expect people to do in a country, they go to work in the morning, some sit outside their homes after work and I saw people enjoying themselves at their favorite bars in the evening.
I will have further discussions on the merits of socialism later in this piece.
I took notes from several of the meetings I went to. I also went out on my own to see what the people of Cuba were like. I did have some trouble not knowing Spanish very well. But I did the best I could. I will be writing on the experiences I had.
From the right, people will argue that I paid no attention to all the political prisoners in Cuba, or that I ignored people’s lack of human rights. Every capitalist-western style journalist who has covered news on the island has focused, or even obsessed with such issues. There are plenty of articles on that issue and the same old “lack of political rights” that always come from a western journalist. I did not come here for those issues. I came here for my own agenda and not for the political purposes of defending corporate ideology, culture and politics.
Cuba is a one party state. There are no opposition parties. There is only one major newspaper here. There are no opposition papers. Everyone here and in the US knows this. There are other issues, such as the fact that poor Cubans can go to a doctor when they are sick and poor people in the US usually can’t. Also, how many western journalists report on the political prisoners in Saudi Arabia or Turkey, when Trump has an official visit to those countries? So now that we have established these facts, I will focus on the structures of socialism, which is what I wanted to learn about in the first place.

While in Cuba, in the capital Havana (La Habana in their language) we stayed at the Martin Luther King Center. I took the time out to go to a park right in front of the center. The MLK Center is in a common working class neighborhood. It is not in a tourist area. I was glad of that since I wanted to see what the common people live like. Here are some things I saw.
I saw a woman in the park with a cell phone. She had pink hair. It seems that people here have the same rights to different hair cuts and styles as we have here in the US. That debunks another image I got from all the anti-communist propaganda= everyone is suppose to dress and look alike. I saw a few people with cell phones. At least some people own them. I had read were almost none of the people here had cell phones. I was also informed that there is an internet café where ANYONE can buy time on a computer and access the internet. There is also a Wi-Fi park where people can access the internet. A few people own their own computers. I was surprised that the government does not seem worried about its people accessing the internet and viewing foreign opinions.
The first night we were in town, I walked the streets and neighborhoods with some of my fellow caravanistas. We saw little stores and homes. Most of the people there live in small homes. They have electricity. They have appliances, such as refrigerators. Some folks have TVs. While we walked around and while we sat in the park, we saw no police. No one looked like they feared they were being spied on. There weren’t cops everywhere or soldiers. This looked nothing like the horror stories I have read about the people who live under communism. We walked past a house, were a young man had locked a fence to protect his 1950s style car. Those cars were everywhere. There were also some foreign made cars. I was told they were Russian. I’m not that knowledgeable about cars. So I had to take people’s word for what they were.

A lot of people sat outside their homes as we walked by. Others went to near by taverns.
On the last night I was there I ventured into a tavern just a few blocks away. It was a regular working class bar, with a few patrons hanging out. This place had no air-conditioning. I found a lot of businesses with air conditioning but this place did not.
While I was in the local tavern, I was able to talk just a little to some local people. I asked the waitress if she was a communist and she said no. The owner of the place spoke some English and he said “your government and mine don’t along.” I said yes, but I don’t represent my government and we seemed to get along just fine. All the people in that bar made fun of our President Donald Trump and they all complained about the blockade.
When the waitress told me she was not a communist, I figured I must be getting some honest opinions from these folks.
A little more than 10 years ago I visited El Salvador and Nicaragua. Those countries were extremely poor. I had figured that Cuba might be like that. I was wrong. In El Salvador and Nicaragua there was no air-conditioning after we left the air port. Most of the people there had no electricity. Bars had only rum and beer. Most stores had only two types of any product, be it camera film, soap or anything else.
In Cuba I did not find those kinds of conditions. There was electricity and air conditioning. There were bars with whisky and other types of liquor. I was told that people here in Cuba are poor. They have a hard time stretching their money for food. The blockade, which our group is trying to get rid of, causes a lot of hardship on the people. It causes a lack of medicines and other necessities of life. Ironically, the people hardest hit by the blockade are the common people.
The first place we went on our tour was some of the communities that were hit by a tornado back in January. Tornados are rare here so it was a difficult time for the people here and the damage was extensive. The government had restored the electricity in five days (compared with nearly one year in Puerto Rico). Within a few months the government had rebuild the homes and furnished the people of Villa de la Guanabaco with various appliances they needed. All of us caravanistas were surprised that these homes could be replaced so quickly. And in the US the government would never replace people’s appliances like that.
One more observation was the advertising that I saw when I first came to the air port. There is very little advertising in Cuba. There were a few advertizing posters, but nothing like the US where it is everywhere and inescapable. Buses had no ads on them. There were political posters and slogans on walls, but few ads. And there is NO ADVERTISING on TV. I studied marketing in while at Wichita State University, while getting my journalism degree. The whole idea is to convince people to want and buy things they really don’t need. It annoys the crap out of me and I find it one of the most repulsive things about US capitalism.
Political messages like this were more common that ads.

The point of this part of my report is to establish that I found a kind of normality to life for the average person living in Cuba. It is a poor country, but not destitute. It is hurt by the US economic blockade. We went to a lot of meetings where we met both officials of the government and leaders of non-government organizations. I have more to report on and that includes a look at the various methods of socialism here, government owned enterprises, coops and a few private businesses and farms.

<= We saw this beer advertized everywhere. Ironically the beer was hard to find. Local people told me the tourist drink it all.

To be contined=>

[1] Communism refers to the final stage of Historical materialism, also known as the “materialist conception of history” according To Marx. Communist countries are supposedly practicing Marxist-Leninist socialism. Communism comes when the need for a government is gone and society evolves in which all peoples fulfill what ever their society needs.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Cuban travelogue—Cuba’s system examined—“meet the President”—Part 1

By SJ Otto
These last two weeks I spent on a caravan with Pastors for Peace (IFCO). The caravans extend solidarity to the Cuban people and provide an opportunity to learn about Cuba through direct experience. The overwhelming issue that is taken up by IFCO is to stop the US blockade of Cuba. That blockade has done some serious damage to the Cuban economy. There are shortages of medicines and other needed basic materials. The caravans bring some materials, such as medical aid, to counter the devastating effects of the blockade.
While I was in Cuba, I could not find a single Cuban who favored the blockade. I also found no Cubans who liked President Donald Trump—that included both people connected to our organizations and government institutions and a few Cubans who I met in informal settings while I was away from our groups.
Everyone had their own interest in going to Cuba. I wanted to see how the socialist government is organized, how it works—or does it work? It does work. The idea that socialism historically never works is total bull shit. Since 1959, Cuba has had what I consider a non-capitalist, socialist system. Not only that, I saw no evidence that the economic and political system was in ANY DANGER of collapse. I later plan to write an analysis of Cuba’s socialist economy.
There was a little over 30 people on this caravan. We spent two days in Mexico City, mostly for orientation. Some of our time was spent touring a left-wing cooperative adventure, called Los Panchos. This included a few small gated communities in Mexico City. They were completely self sufficient. I plan to write about these communities later. I wanted to focus first on Cuba. That was the main point of our trip.
When we got to Cuba, we were treated like VIPs. People who were a part of the government especially treated us well. The government there seemed to really like our efforts. Our first night in Cuba, we arrived at the Airport, which was considerably small for an international airport. It was somewhat simple and yet fully functional. We went to a place called the Martin Luther King Center. When we got their, that first night we were in for a real surprise—the president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel wanted to meet with us. We couldn’t take in our cell phones or a notepad. So any quotes I recorded might not be that accurate. Here is what he had to tell us:

President Miguel Díaz-Canel:

While many US news pundits I’ve heard in the US were disappointed to hear that Cuba has no plans to open up their system (that means open up to free markets),[1] I was glad to hear the president say they are determined to keep their socialist system.
“We made mistakes,” he said. “But many of our past programs worked.”
He also made it clear that his country supports the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and its legitimate President Nicolás Maduro.
“We can help other country’s revolutions,” he said. “But we can not impose our system on another country.”
It was no surprise that Díaz-Canel slammed the treatment that Maduro is getting from the US.
He said the US has worked to undermine revolution and the development of socialism.
“The US uses fake news,” he said.
He added that the US government said that Cuba sent 20,000 troops to Venezuela.
“They were doctors not soldiers,” said Díaz-Canel.
He also said that Venezuela was determined to resist US attempts to sabotage them.
Díaz-Canel said he met Maduro at the UN, while the former leader Fidel Castro was alive. He made it clear that he was in support of the Bolivarian Revolutions. There is a similar socialist leader in Bolivia today, Evo Morales.

I plan several other articles looking at various aspects of Cuban socialism and other institutions, along with culture issues—to be continued=>

Granma, Cuba’s main newspaper, took a picture of the caravan after we listened to president Díaz-Canel speak.

Here Gail Walker, a caravan organizer, talks with President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

[1] See NPR- “Cuba’s New President.”

For this year’s 4th of July celebration—

By SJ Otto

This year I was out of town, in Cuba, for the US holiday; The Fourth of July. I usually run some kind of story to find some kind of relevance to the US holiday. Since I was gone this year, I am posting the link to last year’s Fourth celebration. I probably had little to add to this year’s celebration, so click on this for last year’s article:

Thoughts and feelings over the US Fourth of July celebration- 2018


Friday, July 05, 2019

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Going to Cuba—most blog activity suspended until after July 5

By SJ Otto
I am leaving for Cuba this Saturday. I will be travelling with Pastors for Peace. For that reason my blogs will probably not be in use for the next two weeks. I do not know what the situation for WIFY or computer use is while I will be in Cuba. I will be there for two weeks.
I will have plenty to post when I return. But as to what I will post while I am there, I have no idea.
As a socialist, on this site a democratic socialist, this will be the chance of a lifetime. I will get to see, first hand, what it is like in a real Marxist-Leninist socialist country. There are very few of these left. Vietnam, Laos and China come to mind as Marxist-Leninist. They all have mixed economies. They are not actual full-scale Marxist-Leninist countries. Cuba may not be a fully socialist Marxist-Leninist country, but they are just about the only country that is dedicated to creating such a system.[1]
We do have socialist nations, such as Venezuela, who are busy standing up to US-imperialism. But they are not following the pure Marxist-Leninist ideology. In Nicaragua, where I have actually been, they once had a Marxist revolution. Today a member of the Sandinista Party, Daniel Ortega, holds power, as an elected leader. Today the Sandinistas follow a Democratic Socialist ideology. Despite all of that, our Idiot President Donald Trump has sanctioned the country as if it has the same government as Cuba does.
I may have problems coming back from Cuba, such as losing my souvenirs. That is because the Idiot Trump has turned back the clock to the cold war days to the past and has forbidden US citizens from travelling to Cuba.
This is my chance to see how a truly Marxist-Leninist country actually works. It may be my last time to see that. We never know how long such a revolution will last. While Cuba is not democratic socialist, they are worth defending against US imperialism—a system that does not discriminate against any socialism nation. The US opposes ALL forms of socialism—thanks to the Idiot Trump, democracy does not matter to him and his ilk.
I am looking forward to this trip. I will return about July 5. Soon after that, I will be posting my experience on Otto’s War Room (毛派), The Idiot Factor: Corruption Folly, Counter-culture Journals (文革) and possibly my personal blog, Artsy Fartsy (អាភៀន).

[1] For example, see by Mage, Wohlforth and Robertson, 17 August 1960,    https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/document/icl-spartacists/cuba/cuba-mt.html

Fox and conservatives keep a constant barrage of attacks on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

By SJ Otto
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets constant attention from conservatives at Fox (Faux) News. The station and its many conservative supporters have kept up a steady barrage of accusations and insults. I knew conservatives would be on the attack when a democratic socialist, from Democratic Socialists of America, got elected. Not only does she not embrace Fox’s ultra-conservative views, she dares to support socialism. AOC, as they call her, is like the fly in the conservative ointment. Fox, the Republican Party and conservative pundits have had to watch their perfect conservative government/society/culture that they have owned now for the last 30 years contaminated by progressive ideas. Some of their sacred tenants, such as unconditional support for Israel, have been challenged. Up until Bernie Sanders ran for president, the voters have had the choice between far-far-far right-wing Republicans and timid centrist Democrats. There hasn’t been a liberal politician elected president since Lyndon Johnson. Democrats since then have run from the labels “left-wing” or “liberal.”
Now they have an actual democratic socialist in office and they are working overtime to try and discredit her. They have also gone after fellow Democratic newcomer Ilhan Omar with the same lines of attack.
One of their main tactics is to attack what she says with indignation. Their latest attack is on her claim that the U.S. government “is running concentration camps on our southern border.”[1] Fox commentators claimed the comparisons is “obscene, shockingly ignorant, and an insult to the memory of the 6 million Jews and millions of others murdered by the Nazis.”
The one thing this pundit forgot is that her statement is true. Treatment of people, being put in cages, children taken from their parents and children dying from lack of adequate health care is consider concentration camp treatment. Only people on the far right would be so outraged by such a comparison. And AOC is not the only person to accuse President Donald Trump of being Hitleresque. A lot of people, including myself, have made that comparison.
For the most part AOC has not allowed these people to rattle her. She has refused to apologise to these conservatives for her comments.[2] She was right not to do that. To do otherwise would fall into their traps of trying to make her look insensitive and allowing them to seem right in their attacks.
The next form of attack is the constant attempts to make AOC look uneducated and unintelligent. That latest attack comes from Rush Limbaugh:[3]

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., may be addicted to attention over her latest controversial comments, or she's "stupid," said conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
"I think she’s just having fun watching people blow up," he said Wednesday on his radio show. "If she does believe it, then she’s so stupid that there’s nothing to do about it."

Quite often conservatives have had authors and various pundits claim they know more about a subject than she does, just because they have written a book on a subject that disagrees with her opinion. For example AOC said of President Ronald Reagan’s legacy, printed in an outfit called Townhall:

“he "pitted" whites against browns and blacks.
"And one perfect example – a perfect example – of how special interests and the powerful have pitted white working class Americans against brown and black working Americans in order to just screw over all working class Americans is Reaganism in the '80s when you started talking about 'welfare queens,'" Ocasio-Cortez said during an interview at the conference. "So you think about this image, 'welfare queens,' and what he [Reagan] was really trying to talk about was – he was painting this photo, he's like painting this really resentful vision of essentially black women who were doing nothing that were sucks on our country, right? And it's the whole tragedy of these comments type thinking where it's like because these one specific group of people that you were already kind of subconsciously prime to resent, you give them a different reason, that's not explicit racism, but still rooted in racist caricature, it gives people a logical, a "logical" reason to say, 'Oh, yeah, no. Toss out the whole safety net.”

Then we are supposed to believe this guy is automatically right because he has written all these books on Reagan.

“To counter that New York Times best selling author Craig Shirley has written numerous books on President Ronald Reagan and his presidency. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Reagan Ranch and is considered one of the best Reagan historians out there. Shirley decided to challenge Ocasio-Cortez on her statements about the Gipper by providing facts about Reagan and his presidency:”

This is a real common tactic they use against her. They act as if Reagan is a hero and that only someone uneducated or just plain unknowledgeable about the “facts” would dare say such things. Reagan is supposed to be a working class hero and that is supposed to be a fact. In fact all of AOC’s attacks on Reagan were quite accurate. He did make fools of America’s working class, especially those who supported him—while he lowered the buying power of America’s working people. He did scapegoat poor people and convinced a lot of working class Americans to blame other working poor Americans for problems conservatives actually created.
AOC has weathered these attacks rather well. Many novice politicians would have thrown in the towel by now, of simply collapsed from their various attacks. She is quite intelligent and has handled her new job with a great deal of professionalism.
It is unfortunate that Fox News and conservative pundits have such a large and powerful media conglomeration. News/opinion outlets as mine are quite small and I have only a few readers. They seem to command millions of ditto heads that hang on their every word.
Still AOC is doing well and outlets as mine will continue to challenge Fox and other conglomerates.