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The truth is always revolutionary: Art, freedom of expression and dialogue within Socialism

Dra.-Anayansi-Castellón-dialoga-580x330For several days the Cuban Revolution has lived a new chapter in its long history of attacks to destroy it. Accustomed to tensions and lies against her, she now faces an attempt to manipulate the critical spirit of a country and show it as the point of the spear.

In the midst of a scenario nuanced by the insufficiencies of the internal economy, the inhuman pressures of the US blockade and the pause imposed by COVID-19, a discourse that incorporates, along with the claims of a group of honest artists and creators , takes force. attractive symbols and fallacies aimed at distorting the reality of the island.

Is there freedom of expression within Socialism? What role do art and the artist have? For the Doctor in Philosophical Sciences, Anayansi Castellón Jiménez, dedicated for years to studies on the ideology of the Cuban Revolution and Head of the Department of Philosophy at the Central University “Marta Abreu” of Las Villas, answering these questions involves analyzing the current scenario from the solid corpus of Marxist theory.

- How to read the events of the last weeks?

- A general analysis of the current scenario must start from a fundamental idea: this is an essentially political issue. Many times I notice how some people understand it only as an individual matter, given by very particular circumstances, and believe that everything will end if a group of supposed “demands” are fulfilled. I believe that this is not the case and the examination should be done in more depth.

We are talking about political positions. That is an important element. Therefore, it is a matter of class struggle and of the survival of the project of the Cuban Revolution, which is a socialist project. There is a first element to take into account.

The second question lies in the particularities of our country. We must ask ourselves what is Cuba, what does the Revolution represent and how has it been permanently subjected to a siege by the forces of imperialism.

The third issue has to do with the construction of a socialist society that is not perfect, but has proven to be better than the capitalist world, because it guarantees better justice quotas. In this sense, it is a society in permanent formation, with a group of errors – economic solutions, corruption, bureaucracy or conduction of processes – in which we revolutionaries must work permanently.

- You often hear the term “freedom of expression”. What precepts shape it and, above all, what to do with that freedom?

- Freedom will always be restricted, as its limits are determined by the class in power. The idea of ​​total freedom, like that of democracy, is a great fallacy. You always have quotas of it and limits to enjoy it. Now, socialist freedom is more freedom for a greater number of people, but that implies a responsibility with respect to the rest of the citizens and the fulfillment of social norms.

In a small sector of Cuba, a tendency is sometimes noticed, typical of the globalized world, linked to a certain petty-bourgeois spirit. It is seen above all in a group of people who are not in a position to digest or find behind these doctrines their true essence. Because the ideology that capitalism sells us, the notion of its better democracy, its multiparty system and also its freedom of expression, are fallacies.

It is pure ideology, in the Marxist sense of seeing it as false consciousness. It is about “truths” of a social class that they try to construct as the truth of many people.

That is why sometimes one sees claims that are inconsistent or that do not have a direct anchor in our reality. Not because we don’t have freedom of expression, but because our forms of freedom are different; not because we don’t have democracy, but because our democracy is different. That spirit also floats on the platform on which a group of “demands” are raised.

- There is also a lot of talk about Words to intellectuals …

- There are elements decontextualized and not read in their entirety. The best known phrase of that speech is “within the Revolution everything; against the Revolution nothing ”. There Fidel analyzes how the artist is even freer than in Capitalism, because his art is no longer an object for the market. It also establishes the limits of freedom of expression and creation in Socialism, and says that the only border is precisely the life of the Revolution.

During that speech, Fidel speaks of three types of artists or intellectuals. The revolutionary, convinced that the Revolution and Socialism are the roads. He also mentions the one who does not support the ideas of the Revolution, but who is honest and is not bought by anyone or responds to foreign interests.

Finally, it refers to those who are not revolutionaries, and also are not honest. And right there comes the “within the Revolution everything; against the Revolution nothing ”. So, from the discourse, it follows that the Revolution has the duty to include and respect both revolutionary and honest creators. That continues to be the limit of freedom in Cuba today, the survival of the Revolution. And it is precisely that element one of those that is in controversy these days.

- What is the role of art and the creator in Socialism?

- Art is a form of social consciousness. In that sense, it also means reflecting reality through other codes, and it has a strong component of criticism, but also of spirituality. In Capitalism art is produced in a more individual way. In Socialism, on the other hand, as artistic production becomes massive and culture reaches a greater number of people, it acquires a more social character, a greater responsibility.

Art also draws essentially from universal culture. Marx easily clarifies it when he says that history is nothing more than the passing of one generation that rises above the other, and receives from the previous one all the cultural heritage of humanity. Therefore, an art or artist that does not know its cultural past is inconsequential, and is incapable of appropriating it, firstly to respect it, and then to legitimize its new cultural positions.

However, this analysis goes further. It is not possible to create a political platform in Cuba if you do not respect the Cuban flag, which is part of our culture. But also, you cannot invent a model that tries to find in the United States – our historical enemy – a political and economic foothold. If you do that, you are saying that the Cuban is incapable of thinking for himself.

Founding fathers of Cuban nationality, such as José Agustín Caballero, Félix Varela or José de la Luz y Caballero, taught us that we can solve problems on our own. Cuba has enough capacity to articulate a project for an original society and that of no one else, but that is impossible looking north. Then you realize that those who defend an agenda of interference are unaware of the entire history of Cuban thought, all of its cultural heritage.

Anayansi Castellón: “Dialogue is given to Socialism, because it is more democratic as there is greater social justice.” Photo: Yunier Sifonte / Cubadebate.

- Where are the borders between art and vulgarity? Who legitimizes an artist?

- Vulgarity and marginality can never be art, as can offenses either. Cuba has excellent samples of leaders, especially from the labor sector, who were not great intellectuals or possessed a deep theoretical mastery of things, but were educated people, trained in the civic spirit necessary to interact with the world.

It is precisely there that the limit with vulgarity appears, in that domain of culture. A person who disrespects those around him, who shouts expletives or uses obscenities, is not an artist.

An artist is legitimized by his quality work, consistent with his ideas and his time. Nobody else. To the intellectuals of the Republic, key in the movement of ideas that led to the search for a new society, who legitimized them but their own creation?

- Where should the dialogue with those intellectuals who do not compromise their work with the enemies of Cuba lead?

- We must use it to draw lessons about the present and take advantage of the critical vision of young people and honest intellectuals to strengthen the country. As we ourselves have many things well done and of which we are proud, there are also elements to improve. In that we must work, especially to avoid that their permanence creates more difficulties, resentments or fuels the lack of unity. That is another essential matter.

As is the case with the idea of ​​thinking for ourselves, the theme of unity cuts across the thought of the Cuban Revolution, from 1868 to today. This unit also includes dialogue with young people who have just concerns, and together face those who pretend manipulation and have unscrupulous handling in matters of culture or other social aspects.

Along with this, we could remember Antonio Gramsci when he spoke of the construction of hegemony, that ability to build consensus from power. It is an idea to strengthen even more. We cannot be afraid to speak of our problems to solve them in function of Socialism. As Gramsci himself said in one of his newspapers, the truth is always revolutionary.

Another indispensable theorist for current times is Che Guevara, because if anyone advocated timely criticism within the Revolution, it was him. And Socialism is given dialogue, because it is more democratic as there is greater social justice. That is the summary, to put those who want to improve Cuba to talk. To the revolutionaries and those who do not share some of our ideas, but be honest. Just like Fidel said.

- In the recent debate between various creators and authorities of culture in the country, Alpidio Alonso said that “Cuba must be a parliament within a trench.” Is that one of the keys?

- It’s part of the key. We have always been a trench and in it we must ensure the greatest good: the independence of Cuba. We began to be a country on January 1, 1959. We acquired shape on the map of the economic, political and cultural life of the world on that date. But that has cost us a permanent struggle.

Socialism does not eliminate the class struggle at once. It is a present phenomenon. We must know that it is a just system and in constant danger, both from the forces within and from without. And the way of success is to fight against our imperfections and against the external enemy that always haunts us.

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