Letter by Fidel to the 7th Cuban Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC) Congress
Dear Miguel Barnet and all UNEAC members:
I cannot join you for the debates. I am aware of the concerns of some members of the organization —particularly your concerns, Miguel— surrounding my hitherto habitual participation at the congresses organized by our writers and artists.
Nevertheless, I would like to make a modest contribution to the gathering and express a number of preoccupations that cross my mind, accustomed to asking complicated questions, though not always in the calm, unhurried spirit which I have, today, of necessity. I will be brief and to the point, limiting myself to very few observations.
Modern man is no less selfish than the Greek citizen of Plato's time. On the contrary, modern man is as assailed by a deluge of advertisements, images and influences as he has never been before.
"From each according their capacity, to each according to their work": this is a formula that cannot be neglected under socialism. Where might society come up with the resources needed to provide everyone with services that are essential to life, whether the individual is able to work or not, whether they produce economic goods or services or not?
An individual’s contribution to society, rather than uniform, cannot be but proportional to what he or she is capable of producing. A tax is an implacable instrument and can never, simply, follow this proportional logic. At times, the tax, in scope, can apply to the totality of what a person makes.
Direct taxation has destroyed Left-wing governments in Nordic and other European countries. Nothing is more unpopular. Collecting the surplus value of exported services, in addition to those which are offered freely at the international level by tens of thousands of fellow countrymen, is not only fair but far more justifiable than directly collecting an increasingly large portion of personal incomes, a kind of dagger aimed at the chest by governments asking for your money or your life.
Incentives, which not only take the form of hard currency that can be used to purchase things on the market but also numerous and highly efficient forms of motivation at the social, human and family levels, do not encourage the kinds of individualism and egoism that lead to the negation, behind the most varied disguises, of the society we seek to create.
I listened to the addresses delivered this morning, many of which were excellent both in form and content. I listened to all of them as I wrote and elaborated a final version of this message. Your words, Miguel, dealt a clean blow to the corrupt individuals who, seeking personal benefits, pocket a slice of that surplus. They must be stricken with the “fury of the slave’s hands lunged at the ignoble” tyrant. I take these words from one of Marti’s Simple Verses.
I wonder: can the methods used to manage a grocery store create the consciousness needed to build a better world?
It would be senseless to speak of revolutionary consciousness if the developed and globalized capitalism whose arrival was predicted nearly a hundred years ago did not exist.
Man’s consciousness does not determine the objective conditions. It is the other way around. Only after grasping this can we speak of revolution.
Beautiful words, needed to convey ideas, do not suffice; profound reflection is needed.
Two days ago, an article published by the foreign press listed thirty brilliant inventions that transformed the world: the compact disc, GPS and DVDs, the cellular phone, fax machine, Internet, microwave cooker, Facebook, digital camera, email and so on and so forth.
The figures in dollars that are being made —and have already been made— by translational corporations through the sale of each of these products have so many zeros that they are mind-boggling. What's worse: each of these is bound to be replaced by a more effective invention and, by now, no one can guarantee that what a couple discusses in private on a park bench can remain a secret.
Has the type of existence promised by imperialism any meaning at all?
Who controls people's lives? Can anyone even guarantee their mental and physical health, given the still undocumented effects of so many electronic waves, which neither the human body nor mind are yet designed to withstand?
A UNEAC congress cannot ignore these thorny issues. Many will say this is fatalism. My reply: no, fatalism is not placing these problems on the table. Fatalism would be to not even bother to trouble you with these words.
The planet's climate is changing as a result of man's irresponsible actions. The balance has been shattered. How to reestablish this balance is the great challenge ahead of us.
I have shared with you only some of the questions that cross my mind as I observe what takes place in the world.
I am very pleased to see the progress our people make in many different fields, progress that other societies, free from cruel blockades and spared deadly threats, have not been able to make, even with respect to the preservation of the environment.
This sparks the hatred of our enemies. I have read articles published in well-known capitalist newspapers that furiously attack us. They refer to our country as though we were destitute beings starting from scratch, not a people with the minimum levels of education that even the most developed countries have not reached, excellent health rates and a social security system that is perhaps too generous, as I thought when a delegate justifiably criticized those who grossly abuse certain social assets and called on us to struggle against habits which our society condemns.
Our enemies make serious mistakes and show incredible clumsiness in their attack on objective truth. Very recently, U.S. services providers, on orders from their government, deprived hundreds of thousands of Swedish citizens from access to Rebelión, an Internet site that publishes news about Cuba. They simply and arbitrarily denied them access. They are incapable of understanding that the interest in Rebelión is growing exponentially and the battle of ideas Cuba wages against the empire is ever more intense.
I apologize, dear friends, if I have carried on.
I keep a watchful eye on the empire and its sinister plans.
Observing our sincere, patriotic and internationalist efforts, the manual and intellectual labor of our every day, I would dare say: anything that strengthens the revolution ethically is good; everything that weakens it is bad.
A heartfelt embrace to you all.
Fidel Castro Ruz
April 1, 2008