Cuba and the World: A Psychoanalysis

Alejo Brignole Photo: Cuban Internationalist Medical Brigades

In a world dominated by American dialectical hegemony, the Cuban Revolution was denounced and its achievements ignored precisely because of its disruptive character in an unequal and oppressive system. The current pandemic scenario, which now necessitates a return to humanist and solidarity-based principles, has demonstrated the permanence of values that the island has never abandoned.

The irruption of the Cuban Revolution in the world political scene since 1959 had very profound repercussions and exercised a powerful influence not only in Latin America, but in practically all countries of the world. This enormous capacity of influence can be analyzed from several disciplines and very different perspectives, including psychoanalysis, since through a revolutionary Cuba we have been able to establish some interesting parallels and extrapolations for the understanding of all the phenomenology that surrounded the successful Cuban experiment

If we use the family as a metonym for the world, and consider that the concert of nations is, after all, a family forced to live together, we will see why Cuba’s role has been and continues to be undeniable.

We will surely agree that the world (or the international community as a whole) is configured in the form of a dysfunctional family, since it acts as a parental society that is mutually phagocentric; with abuses against each other and where the most powerful members mistreat their weakest components. Where true dialogue does not exist, or is elaborated with premises designed to maintain its pathological dynamics.

If we look from a psychosocial perspective at any dysfunctional family – those with alcoholic members, gamblers, abusers or sexual predators – we will see that the patterns that prevail in their coexistence are very similar to the models imposed in world geopolitics. The toxic behaviours that are registered in many families and contaminate all their members, are perfectly analogous to those of international coexistence, generating phenomena such as those described by the German psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (1900-1980) in his 1962 book, The Chains of Illusion. Fromm speaks of a “psychopathy of the whole”, when certain toxic patterns become generalized, becoming valid and legitimate, thus generating a collective illness that no one, or almost no one notices, precisely because it is generalized. For Fromm, who lived in the middle of the Cold War, this was a symptom of the decadence of civilization, because despite the nuclear destruction implicit in it, a hatred inspired by a malignant and suicidal narcissism prevailed among the superpowers.

However, in his writings, Fromm pointed out that disruptive elements always emerge as a warning or a departure from that psychopathy of the whole, generating a break in the prevailing system. Thus, in a family with a problem of alcoholism, abuse, violence, etc., when a member assumes a hygienic distance from these problems, they are attacked, criticized and discredited by the prevailing system and the members involved, precisely because this disruptive statement highlights the psychopathy of the whole.

Fromm speaks of a “psychopathy of the whole”, when certain toxic patterns become generalized, becoming valid and legitimate, thus generating a collective illness that nobody, or almost nobody notices, precisely because it is generalized.

The uncomfortable position of the dissident who resists dehumanization and who points out the illness of the whole was undoubtedly exercised by Cuba in the geopolitics of the 20th century. The Revolution, nourished by Fidel Castro’s ideas, expressed in countless international forums, books and articles, in some way assumed the role of pointing out the psychopathy of today’s civilization. He raised his voice in the face of the programmed horrors, denounced its false democratic slogans and its commitment to irrational and destructive militarism. This ideological and moral rupture with a world sickened by corporate interests and imperialist pretensions of a few powerful countries, was reinforced in Cuban discourse by a factual demonstration that other models of society and politics are possible. Like a family member rebelling against abuse, Cuba invited change and generated events that exposed non-compliance with the formal premises that the core countries established after the second post-war period. Evidently, the price that Cuba and its Revolution had to pay was the complicit silence of many governments, mockery and attempts at isolation, since – just as in a sick family – the Cuban truths undermined the entire scaffolding that supported the psychopathy of the whole, which is still on the rise today.

By promoting a society free of illiteracy, without structural hunger indexes, with full universal and free healthcare, what Cuba made evident was the criminal and unviable substratum of the values that rule the world. One need only read the history of the last 60 years to see that the world system never stopped working for Cuba’s disrepute in order to put the liberator in the place of the oppressor. Humanist Cuba was stigmatized as a tyranny, thus demonstrating the Frommian theses on the psychopathy of the world community.

Western European democracies, diplomatically under the tutelage of Washington, were genuine promoters of dictatorships around the world and initiators of wars that were unnecessary in order to satisfy their strategic demands. It was these bipolar democracies, lacking a concrete humanist sense, that accused the Cuban revolutionary process of being contrary to all humanism when -the facts and achievements confirm it- it was a historic milestone for conceiving a new way of understanding politics and from there aspiring to a collaborative social construction.

The absence of a bourgeois republican contract in Cuba -centre of world criticism- was undoubtedly due to two very clear factors: first, the fact that the process initiated by Fidel Castro was a revolution, and revolutions almost never admit democratic mechanisms when there are external agents that sabotage their progress. The French Revolution of 1789 did not fully triumph until the Third Republic of 1870, precisely because it was there that the power of the aristocracy stopped threatening the institutions that had emerged from the Revolution.

Likewise, America’s fierce harassment of Cuba must be addressed to understand why its Revolution has not been able to take the next step towards other forms of government. Fidel was not a dictator, but an indispensable revolutionary lightning rod in the face of systematic American devastation. And if the Cuban Revolution could not – or did not want to – ascribe to a classic bourgeois government of Western democracy, it was because that model – more than any other – constituted a problem for Cuban survival as a sovereign entity, freed from neocolonial exploitation and subjection.

Castro always knew that the deep revolutionary process was still pending in most of Latin America and to make it happen he had to disregard the exogenous schemes that the central countries considered valid or useful. Equipped with this partial and ignorant view of the Latin American phenomena, the central nations branded as unfit the one who knew how to emancipate his people and remedy the alienation of an entire society reduced by an odious hegemony. We have no doubt that today the great international family is more dysfunctional than ever: more elitist, more xenophobic, more militaristic, more concentrated in wealth, and that is why the Cuban Revolution is still standing, showing that another world is possible. emergency contingent of Cuban doctors and nurses arrive at Italy’s Malpensa airport after travelling from Cuba to help Italy battle the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), near Milan, Italy, March 22, 2020. REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

Translation by Internationalist 360º