The Moment of Truth — January 2, 1999
Cuban Revolution, Bacardi Limon
Hi, I’m mejeffdorchen. Welcome to the Moment of Truth. The one moment in the broadcast week when the truth turns a spotlight on the face of capitalism and its toadying media and reveals the vile, putrescent corruption of their flesh.
Well, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. Forty years since the fascist dictatorship of Batista was shoved into the wings to make room on history’s center stage for the communist dictatorship of Castro. The story goes like this: Fulgencio Batista, puppet of US corporate and political interests, blah blah blah – after some discontinuous decades of selling off the country’s wealth to the highest foreign bidders, he and his merry band of military scum were executed or driven out of the country by Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and a populace clamoring for vengeance on their oppressors.
And forty years have gone by. To commemorate the event, the rightwing daughter of a former Batista military bigwig, whose family has lived in Miami since being run out of Havana on a rail, reminisced last month: "They ransacked our home. I didn’t understand their behavior. These were people who used to come to us for help."
Aw, who of us can’t sympathize with her bewilderment? How could the filthy peasants who used to crawl to the door of their oppressors’ mansions begging for a moldy crust of bread be so ungrateful as to support a battle for what they probably assumed was going to be a more equitable distribution of an oligarchy’s obscene wealth?
And who could fail to sympathize with the strategy of her and her good friends, noble allies like Richard Nixon and the CIA, in their attempts to undermine post-revolutionary Cuba’s economy and political stability with assassination attempts, embargo, agricultural sabotage, propaganda barrages, and unsuccessful invasions?
Never mind that those who suffer most from the resulting economic deprivations and paranoia of their dictator were the Cuban people themselves – serves them right for daring to hope for justice in the first place! And never mind that Castro’s regime introduced universal education and a health-care system that still rivals any in Latin America; with a little luck, the worldwide pressure exerted by capitalism – the pressure on governments to divert resources away from any and all programs that benefit their rank-and-file taxpaying citizens and redirect them into tax breaks for pillaging transnational corporations – with a little luck, this global market pressure to hand over all resources to the rich will eventually break down the defenses of this final bastion of totalitarian socialism and destroy even the measly gains in health and education the Castro regime deigns to bestow on its beleaguered subjects.
For all participants, this would seem to be a solemn occasion. The rightwing, anti-Castro exiles in Miami mourn their property and their bygone privileges as henchman for US companies; those who’ve lived under the Castro government are no doubt weary from four decades of dictatorship and the poverty wrought on them by the bad planning of their own government and the devastating, irrational vengeance of a neighboring superpower. Even Fidel himself can only be outwardly joyous; if not wistful regarding what might have become of his revolution had he not had the world’s wealthiest nation constantly trying to thwart him, he surely must have become reflective at the end of the day as he took stock of everything – his having outlived Nixon and had the sardonic pleasure of watching Reagan wither into senility. I believe he probably closed his eyes last night, having washed the filmy residue of a cigar down with a shot of fine Cuban rum, closed his eyes and whispered a silent prayer that he and his government would somehow survive the advent of a new Cuban upper class and the growing tourist throngs of foreign speculators just long enough for him to catch CNN coverage of Henry Kissinger dying of cardiac arrest or choking on a potsticker while speaking at some Asian economic summit.
Yes, for all concerned, the fortieth anniversary of the Cuban revolution must certainly be a time of solemn reflection. For all concerned, that is, except one participant. One great, omnipresent spirit that is ever joyful, never contemplative, let alone mournful. A spirit for whom no tragedy is without its silver lining. A spirit that surveys the desert and sees, not a parched wasteland, but green rolling hills dotted with blue ponds where happy, white-haired retirees in pastel polo shirts chase little white balls from sun to sun. A spirit that looks at the night sky and sees, not the cold abyss of space, but a venue for orbiting neon advertisements. A spirit that looks at a neighborhood of working-class minorities and sees, not an opportunity to strengthen an existing community, but the possibility of destroying the old community and replacing it with a richer, whiter one.
Yes, my friends, I speak of the impish, chuckling, lighthearted spirit of capitalism. Oh, Jeff Dorchen, you might say, what do you know about the spirit of capitalism? Don’t you wear garlic around your neck to ward off the spirit of capitalism? Aren’t you some kind of socialist or other breed of blockhead, one who’s blocked his head within a wall impervious to the wisdom of the free market? What do you know of the spirit of our lord? What do you know of the jolly, all-powerful spirit of capitalism?
Well. I’ll tell you. I went to a bar recently. And at this bar they were promoting a new beverage. And they were giving away free shots of this beverage in little plastic mouthwash cups. And they were giving away free glow-in-the-dark lapel pins. And they were giving away free key chains. And I drank a few of these free shots. And I snagged me a few free glow-in-the-dark lapel pins. And I pocketed me one of them free key chains. And later, in my small suite of stuccoed rooms, I heard the voice of the spirit of capitalism.
It spoke to me from the key chain.
The spirit of capitalism spoke to me from out of the key chain. It spoke to me about the Cuban revolution. The spirit of capitalism spoke through the key chain and spoke the last word on the Cuban revolution. On the fortieth anniversary of the Cuban revolution, the spirit of capitalism spoke to me from out of a lowly key chain, as the lord spake to Moses from out of the burning bush, and the spirit of our lord, capitalism, passed its final judgment on the Cuban revolution.
Prepare thine ears, brethren, for I have brought you the voice of the spirit, and now you shall hear its wise counsel:
Yes: "Try the revolutionary taste of Bacardi Limon."
This has been the Moment of Truth. I leave you with a toast: may all your revolutions be marketed with free knickknacks, and may their human triumphs and tragedies be distilled down to a quality beverage at an affordable price. Thank you.