Cuba and Europe
Posted by Jerry on June 4, 2007
Two very interesting articles have appeared in the Arts & Letters Daily: one is an inside look into daily life in the communist island of Cuba and the search for the reasons Westerners tend to romanticize life there; the second is an article about the slow but certain demise of Europe as a cultural and economic power and the reasons for this.
The article on Cuba is a very interesting; indeed, I was getting very indecisive about selecting an excerpt from the article–there is so much that is important and worthy of quoting. Nonetheless, here’s a passage I thought captures a large part of the article’s message:
There are plenty of visitors to Cuba from rich countries (including a disproportionate number from Britain) who believe they have encountered a true alternative to capitalist democracy. Why? Perhaps it is a way of keeping alive the idea of some ideal society, without having to experience the disadvantages oneself. It may also be a facet of a general dislike of the US, or a way of expressing unease with capitalist excesses. But it is also, in all probability, related to a nostalgia for the political certainties and the handsome design of the 1950s and before: the cars, the bars and the glamour. It is not for nothing that Cuba sells itself with the music of the pre-revolutionary period. If North Korea had charm and salsa and innuendo and beaches, perhaps a lot of politically naive people would be advocating its merits too.
The article on the demise of European power on the global stage is also very compelling. Here’s an excerpt:
In the economic field, Europe is celebrating a growth rate of 2.5% annually; in the U.S. a similar pace is regarded as a crisis. Meanwhile unemployment remains brutally high and productivity stagnant. Mr. Laqueur notes that Europeans sometimes embrace their economic sluggishness as part of their “soft power” appeal: all those 35-hour weeks, long vacations and generous social benefits. But the long-term cost of their welfare states–and their confiscatory tax rates–may eventually make such luxuries unaffordable.
I don’t think I need to explicitly state the obvious common theme between the current conditions in Cuba and Europe. I only wonder when will people begin acknowledging the moral and productive superiority of the capitalist system and firmly reject all other immoral, impotent systems.