Good Friday Morning, except to Congressional Democrats who seem intent on pushing through more spending even though inflation continues to go up. The BLS reported, “The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.9 percent in June on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.6 percent in May … This was the largest 1-month change since June 2008 when the index rose 1.0 percent. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 5.4 percent before seasonal adjustment; this was the largest 12-month increase since a 5.4-percent increase for the period ending August 2008.”
I’ve read several pieces and Twitter threads from progressives and liberals trying to play down this threat. But reality is pushing back. Axios reported on multiple CEOs across the business world warning about inflation impacts. And Politico sent out the following headline the morning the inflation report dropped: “New concern for Biden: Could Larry Summers be right about inflation? Summers now says he’s more concerned than he was when he first issued his warnings.”
For those counting at home, that means it was 23 days between Paul Krugman publishing his column “The Week Inflation Panic Died,” and that Politico report. If you listened to any of the Congressional testimony from Fed Chair Jerome Powell, inflation was a hot topic for Congress too (Democrats and Republicans). The inflation story continues and does not appear to be abating any time soon.
This week, we’re doing a dive into what is happening in Cuba, and why the far-left struggles to support the cry of Cubans to be free. Links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
Please subscribe, rate, and review my podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play — the reviews help listeners, and readers like you find me in the algorithms. Make sure to sign up for the Conservative Institute’s daily newsletter and become a subscriber at The Dispatch, where I’m a contributor.
Avenatti was created by a desperate American press – The Conservative Institute.
With violent crime a top issue, Democrats face “Defund the Police” reckoning – The Conservative Institute.
How Cuba reveals the old instincts of woke Marxism
What is happening in Cuba is the stuff of an active communist police state. The Cuban people, faced with a government with no COVID-19 vaccines, no plan for getting food, and relying on authoritarian tactics to stay in power, have erupted in some of the largest protests in decades. Some people have called them the most significant demonstrations on the island since 1994. These are unarmed people who have had internet and electricity taken away from them by a despotic regime, fighting for their lives.
Videos have emerged from the island showing government thugs beating men and women in the streets, taking them from their homes, and more. Yet, the demonstrations continue. It’s the stuff of extreme bravery because this is a people who never voted for this life and have had the boot of Marxist oppression placed on their necks for generations. Yet, they stand. In some cases carrying American flags along with Cuban flags, declaring they still desire to live in a free world, free like the America where their families and friends have fled.
One of the most poignant pleas came from the singer Pitbull (language warning), a Cuban-American. He talked about the need to stand with Cubans and achieve a free Cuba.
Support for the Cuban people is one of those things that should transcend politics — people are killed for desiring freedom — but it isn’t. And what I want to do is focus on today is why that is. Understanding the divisions around Cuba is one of those issues that reveals all these underlying divisions across the two-party system. Republicans, for their part, support Cubans. There’s disagreement on whether to send in the military, but the support is there. That’s not generally true on the other side.
Marxists, Communists, and Socialists (on Cuba) oh my.
Let’s start on the far-left, where actual honest-to-goodness Marxists, communists, and socialists reside. On Cuba, the Democratic Socialists Committee International tweeted the following: “DSA stands with the Cuban people and their Revolution in this moment of unrest. End the blockade.” It’s a clever bit of wording by the DSA, meant to trick the casual observer.
If you’re a casual observer of the situation, it looks like the DSA supports the Cuban people protesting. But in reality, it’s the opposite. Note the capitalization of the word “Revolution.” That’s a flag for the discerning reader to indicate the DSA’s support for THE revolution, the one started by Fidel Castro and his thugs. That Marxist “revolution” in Cuba is perpetual and ongoing. The DSA is flagging their support for the government, and its attempts to put to down “revolution,” not capitalized, because it’s not the true revolution.
Ending the sanctions and blockade is an implicit signal that communists want the United States to allow goods, money, and services to flow into the regime, not the Cuban people. But they weren’t alone.
The left-wing organization Black Lives Matter — and I mean the actual physical organization here, not the “movement” — used the same tropes in a longer statement (the whole thing is on Instagram):
“Black Lives Matter condemns the U.S. federal government’s inhumane treatment of Cubans, and urges it to immediately lift the economic embargo. This cruel and inhumane policy, instituted with the explicit intention of destabilizing the country and undermining Cubans’ right to choose their own government, is at the heart of Cuba’s current crisis. Since 1962, the United States has forced pain and suffering on the people of Cuba by cutting off food, medicine and supplies, costing the tiny island nation an estimated $130 billion.”
“The people of Cuba are being punished by the U.S. government because the country has maintained its commitment to sovereignty and self-determination. United States leaders have tried to crush this Revolution for decades.”
First, there is no restriction on sending humanitarian aid to Cuba. Second, note again, the same rhetorical trick, only here they’re much more explicit. The capitalization of the word “Revolution” indicates the installment of Fidel Castro. And they go further, saying that the “Revolution” is Cubans choosing their own government, which is utterly false. No Cuban voted for Castro; he took over by force. And he and his “Revolution” have held onto power since then through propaganda and coercion.
What US leadership has done since Kennedy is an attempt to free Cuba from this menace. US efforts have been unsuccessful on that front for various reasons (incompetence is high). The human rights abuses have all been done by the Cuban government. The embargo punishes the government.
And so we have two statements by far-left groups, both committed to Marxism to varying degrees. They outright support the government. To be fair, this is not all socialists. If you aren’t supporting the government, then you’re a socialist falling back on the trope of “this isn’t true communism/socialism/Marxism,” which is the official stance of the Socialist Party of Great Britain.
More mainstream socialists and Democrats on Cuba.
I start with those extremes to now walk back into a more mainstream form of Democratic Socialism. Remember, back throughout the Democratic Primaries, one of Bernie Sanders’s Achilles heels was his longstanding support of Castro and the communist government of Cuba. The documentary maker and left-wing nutjob Michael Moore made a whole film praising Cuba’s socialist healthcare system, which was utter propaganda by the government (Moore was a very useful idiot in this regard).
The current head of all Democratic Socialism in America is Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. She’s the undisputed Congressional leader of this group and the larger Democratic Socialist movement. She waited until late Thursday night to say anything (true of many of the far-left Democrats in Congress — silence was the preferred tactic). Her statement was better than the above, and it said what the Cuban government is doing is wrong. But then fell back on calling for the embargo to be lifted, like all the others.
In the end, the “Revolution” has to get access to money. She, being more intelligent than the rest, doesn’t say that. But the embargo is only about one thing: whether the Cuban government gets access to money or not. Because if they get that, they’ll renew efforts to crush any dissidents with their new cashflows. The notion that these are new violations of Cuban’s human rights is wrong; they’ve had their rights violated every day Castro and the regime he built have power.
And let’s be even more brutally clear on this point: Cubans are not protesting in the street about the embargo or COVID-19. They’re protesting about the desire to be free. Falling back to the empty embargo talk leftists have been obsessed with for generations ignores the open plea right in front of their faces: Cubans want to be free from the communist police state that runs their country. Fixing that solves the problem.
These leftist groups and politicians cannot and will not acknowledge the demands of Cubans — on video — in front of them. It’s all a complicated story of the United States. But the ones not listening to the Cuban people are the Democratic Socialists. They handwave that away and choose a narrative.
Biden’s statements, in contrast, have been better. Thursday, he said, “Communism is a failed system. A universally failed system. And I don’t see socialism as a very useful substitute… Cuba is a failed state and repressing their citizens… We’re considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate access [to the internet].” That’s something Republicans and Democrats like Biden support.
Not AOC and the Democratic Socialists.
Why is this the case? Ideology. The Cuba issue is all about ideology. Communism in Cuba has enthralled each successive generation, and they’ve been desperate to support it. Biden comes more from the JFK line of liberalism that views communism as a threat to America on a foreign policy basis (domestic politics can be different).
Traditional vs. Woke Marxists on issues of race.
The Cuban issue also drives a wedge into average woke politics, which tend to elevate “persons of color.” That system stops with Cubans. A little over a year ago, I wrote a piece, “Bernie Sanders and the Rise of Woke Marxism: He brought socialism to the forefront of our politics, but his vision is not the future of the movement.” I point out that the woke movement is trying to replace “class,” as understood in a Marxist construct, with race. If you’re within certain racial groups, being “woke” means you’ve reached a similar class consciousness that Marx would have wanted from the workers of the world.
For a traditional Marxist, economic class is everything. For the new woke “Marxists,” race is everything. I was reading through a recent interview the progressive writer Matt Taibbi had with Aldoph Reed, a black Marxist professor. The latter created a stir on the left recently. Taibbi summed it up this way:
Last May, the Democratic Socialists of America invited the longtime Yale, Northwestern, and University of Pennsylvania professor Adolph Reed to speak to the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
As the New York Times later pointed out, it seemed a natural fit. Reed is a Marxist who campaigned for Bernie Sanders and throughout his career advocated for Democrats to move leftward. He once said of Barack Obama that his brand represented “vacuous to repressive neoliberal politics.” The DSA should have been his home base.
The New York chapter didn’t see it that way. Reed was planning to argue that it was an error to focus on the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on black Americans. He believed the focus on race overshadowed class disparities, made multiracial organizing problematic, and undermined the effort to counter problems like wealth inequality.
This, some D.S.A. members said, was a provocation. A coalition within the D.S.A. The group’s “Afrosocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus” said allowing Reed to speak was “reactionary, class reductionist and at best, tone deaf.” In conjunction with D.S.A. leaders and Reed himself, the event was canceled, in an absurd episode the quick-witted Reed dismissed as a “tempest in a demitasse.”
Reed had some pretty fascinating takes on the issues of race, COVID-19, and how that plays into the anti-racist discourse around Robin DiAngelo’s books and writing (the bolded sections are the hosts asking questions):
Katie Halper: Can you speak to the question of whether or not DiAngelo’s thinking undermines class-based programs that would actually disproportionately benefit people of color, like Medicare-for-all?
Reed: Regarding the whole COVID disparity stuff that I’ve been writing about from the very beginning: if you start out demanding that we all understand that there’s some special disposition that people of color have to getting sick and then dying, that has to do with their being people of color, then that distracts you away from what eventually came out — that it turns out that the racial disparity breaks down to what kind of jobs you work, what are the conditions you work under, what kind of conditions do you live in, how dependent you are on public transportation and so forth and so on. So it’s back to the political economy.
The totality of post World War II racial liberalism has been articulated toward separating race as a discourse of injustice — separating not just from something called class, but from political economy, and shifting it to psychology. That is what it comes down to. Or worse, like what the Afro-pessimists have done now is take 19th-century race theory and the ideas of people like Madison Grant, and repackaged that as progressive black ideology. It’s crazy. I mean, they’re in bed with the worst of 19th-century racists.
Matt Taibbi: Almost like a crypto-eugenics type of concept in some cases.
Reed: Right… And I figured something else out too. This is actually a chapter of a book that I’m working on now, a book that my colleague and friend, Kenneth Warren and I are doing. But I’ve been puzzling with addressing the question of why so much anti-racist discourse now depends on analogy with slavery and Jim Crow. And that’s ultimately because… Well, to be honest, because the political as well as the intellectual concern of the people making these arguments is exactly the same as the political and intellectual concerns of the defeated Confederates who established and propagated lost-cause ideology, the myth of the Solid South, and put all those Confederate monuments up because they were committed to a racialist understanding of the world for the purpose of undermining any possibility of a political-economic challenge coming from the lower class, basically.
That’s the same reason that people making the race-reductionist arguments today can’t really move without drawing links between this moment and slavery and Jim Crow. Just as the 19th century former Confederates were committed to a white supremacist narrative, these people are also committed to a white supremacist/anti-white-supremacist narrative for the same reasons: to keep political economy off the table, and to advance their particular class program, just as the planter class was in the 19th century.
He raises a point I’ve often thought too (and written here): there are so many similarities between the woke movement and traditional racism, particularly from the eugenics era, which Taibbi raises. The progressive movement was steeped in this racialist understanding of the world, and that is continuing now under a different guise.
Bringing this back to Cuba, where we started, I bring up the racism factor because I believe it’s also in play with Cubans. I’ve had white progressive liberals tell me to my face that everyone they knew thought of Cubans as no different than any other white. If you look at Congress, Senators Marco Rubio (R), Ted Cruz (R), and Bob Menendez (D) all get treated the same, even though they all have Cuban heritage.
So it’s interesting to watch the woke crowd try to thread this needle. Ideologically, these leftists are not lined up with an oppressed minority. To handle that, they’re claiming to represent an oppressed minority to support the “Revolution,” and continue blasting the United States in the process. It’s quite the feat of mental gymnastics. You’ll even see some of them claim that the protests are a plot by the US government, which is the same claims from the Cuban government.
It’s ideology all the way down. And when it comes to Cuba, that can mean subverting everything you claim to believe in supporting government brutality against its citizens. The “Woke ideology” may have a new dictionary and thesaurus from old school Marxists, but what we’re learning is that the issues with it are the same. They have all the same blind spots and all the same support for totalitarian regimes.
Supporting the Cuban people and their push to freedom is an easy question. Forming the right policy can be tricky, but concluding that Cubans are wrongly under a despotic regime isn’t. This isn’t partisanship — so far, I’m on the same page as Marco Rubio and Joe Biden — it’s ideology. And the Woke Marxists are as intellectually and morally bankrupt as their forbears.
Links of the week
It’s Time to Admit It: The Left Has an Antisemitism Problem – Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO and National Director, Anti-Defamation League
WHO admits several “unintended errors” in their joint report with China on the origins of COVID19 and will now fix it to clarify that the first family cluster was not linked to the Wuhan seafood market. – The Washington Post
One by One, My Friends Were Sent to the Camps – Tahir Hamut Izgil, The Atlantic
The Biden Administration Says Cubans Are Not Welcome. Where’s the Outrage? – David Harsanyi, National Review
Biden is considering a new chair for the Federal Reserve – The American Prospect
Engagement’s Second-Order Catastrophes – Tanner Greer
Rise of the anti-“woke” Democrat – Axios
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Cuba Officially Promoted To ‘Not Real Communism’ – Babylon Bee
CNN Says Cuban Protests Likely Due To Climate Change – Babylon Bee
Thanks for reading!