Meditations on Castroness

Fidel Castro is dead.

Well, not yet; but any week now. Just take a look at him hobbling around, arms shaking, that far-away look in his eyes. Castro doesn’t have long on this earth. You can’t help but imagining him eating a bowl of jello, falling asleep to Jeopardy and drifting from this life.

There are people on this planet, especially in this country, that will celebrate his death. They say Castro has repressed people, and murdered political dissidents, and made the lives of all Cubans a living hell. Meanwhile Cuba has the most amount of doctors of any Latin American country per capita. Many in the Latin American Left will certainly being mourning his death. Castro has done more good for Cuba in the last fifty years than the democratic leaders of Haiti, Columbia, Bolivia, and countless other Latin American countries.

Take in mind, this is not an endorsement of Castro, just a meditation on Castroness.

As an American I am supposed to hate Castro because he is a communist.

I don’t hate Castro. I don’t love him either.

Castro, like most iconic leaders, is more about an idea than a person.

The power to move millions of people to your cause rests in your ability to sell your cause. Not just that, though, your cause must seem valid, its ideas and beliefs have to have appeal. It’s the rare confluence of a great revolution of thought combined with the strength and vision of a born leader that spark revolutions and movements. Over time, however, all great movements come to an end, even our little experiment here will one day, but they always start with firey ideas from young, charasmatic leaders that seem destined to change the world.

Because of this, Castro has long been dead, or at least irrelevant. Once your youth leaves; your power slowly fades, you get more desperate, use more propaganda; you’re no longer feared, you’re falling down steps.

 

As Castro’s health and vitality slowly decreased over the years so has the strength of his ideas. The power of his ideology. Not to mention, the utopia that never happened in Havana. Castro’s revolution succeeded because he promoted the idea that Cubans could run Cuba better than Washington’s right hand man, Batista. He was eloquent and promised a more equal, dignified society.

From Wikipedia:

Castro first attracted attention in Cuban political life through nationalist critiques of Batista and the United States political and corporate influence in Cuba. He gained an ardent, but limited, following and also drew the attention of the authorities

Fidel Castro was only in his young twenties then.

Revolutions are a young man’s game.

When he was victorious and they swept into power, Castro was only 33. Two years older than me. All I’ve done with my life is written a dozen, short stories, a few measly articles, and tired away at various meaningless jobs.

Except Castro never knew when to let go. When he made the decision to never hand over reigns to a new generation of leaders the revolution grew old with him, it atrophied under a dictator, wilted away next to his vitality. Anyway, what kind of radical has to be in bed by 10? Who wants to follow a 80 year old man through a revolution? In this sense Castro always reminded me a bit like Dick Clark. That guy you saw regularly on television, always at the same event, always looking the same, trying to seem relevant.

“Oh look, there’s Castro again with his finger in the air, cursing the United States, in front of a futbol stadium of cheering Cubans. Turn the channel, maybe Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is on.”

In that way, Castro always felt like an actor who refused to retire his coveted role. Whether or not you’re a hopeless socialist romantic like me, who wouldn’t prefer this Castro?

There was a man able to strike fear in the hearts of Americans.

There was a man who was daring to shake up the world.

There was a man willing to die for his beliefs. And kill.

This guy’s just trying not to poop his pants.

 

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