The Audacity of U.S. Arrogance

A Fantasy Speech on Cuba: A Speech Obama Should Give on Cuba

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon.

Today the United States is changing its relationship with Cuba and the rest of the world, and we are beginning a project to lift the veil on the reality of our brutal and audacious imperial arrogance that has brought so much misery and suffering to Cuba, the hemisphere, and the world.

We have come to recognize that it is not Cuba that is stuck in the past, quite the contrary, Cuba is living and working toward a better and livable future; it is U.S. power that is stuck in the past, a past and present of arming, funding, and supporting the worst human rights violators in the hemisphere and the world, and a continuing belief in the fantasy that the capitalist market will solve our most pressing problems and achieve ends of human well-being.

Decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our objective of destroying the inspired and inspiring Cuban experiment in people-first economics and politics, health care for all, agricultural sustainability, free education, and international solidarity in support of liberation struggles, literacy, and health care. In contrast with these Cuban commitments, U.S. power has pursued international aggression, exploitation, and destruction, propagandizing the world to accept a health, mind and environment destroying profits-first system of militarized global capital.

With a new critical awareness and understanding of how the system of global capital is destroying the human present for all too many and possibly the human future for all through climate chaos and catastrophe, economically related hunger, poverty, and disease, and U.S. supported global militarization and violence, we are opening up relations with Cuba in the hope of promoting not just a regional, but a global move toward substantive economic and political democracy in order to not only save the human future, but to make the human future more free, just, and democratic. [Applause]

With criticism borne of solidarity and a desire to advance beyond, we can and must learn from the Cuban example as to the following: what it means to live up to the historical burdens and challenges of our time; what it means to live as beings not only made by history but as beings who are also makers of history; what it means to challenge the conventional wisdom and the dominant assumptions and work to realize far reaching social transformations; what it means to link the development of social individuals with structural and institutional transformations; what it means to nurture a radical consciousness in the context of nourishing alternative social formations; what it means to actively involve individuals in social transformation and actively involve society in individual transformations; what it means to carry out societal reproduction in order to satisfy human needs rather than to satisfy the structural imperatives of capital; what it means to have an individual and collective awareness of the need for qualitative structural transformations; what it means to be reciprocally responsible to self and society; and what it means for people to individually and collectively rise above forces of domination, exploitation, and subjugation in pursuit of a progressively constructed positive alternative. [Applause]

The longstanding U.S. policy of hostility towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners. The most recent UN General Assembly vote on the illegal U.S. blockade was 188 against the blockade, and 2 for the blockade (U.S. and Israel).1 This isolation has awakened us to the immorality and irrationality of our assumed right to impose brutalizing and destructive values and material realities on Cuba, the Western Hemisphere, and the world, consequent with the interests of U.S. economic, military and political power under the regime of global capital. We have come to understand that the U.S. is exceptional in its refusal to abide by international norms and laws.

We will now hope and work to use the full range of intellectual and material tools and resources available to the United States to support, stand in solidarity with, and learn from (as part of a larger global project) the Cuban revolutionary experiment. Let us leave behind and transcend the legacy of colonization and the impertinence of imperial arrogance, and explore and nurture the possibilities of an ecologically rational and peaceful people-first alternative organization of global society. [Applause]

And let us be honest at this point. The support for and work to realize alternatives are moral and rational because the survival of the human species, along with many other species, is now at stake. Solidarity and sanity drives the decision, but so does self-interest, for the threats we face are all too real for all of us.

We must now recognize and admit that it is the relentlessly rapacious, exploitative, and destructive system of global capitalism that thwarts the freedom and prosperity of the many. It is capitalism that promotes so much international violence and hostility. It is capitalism that crushes the human heart, spirit, and mind. It is capitalism that assaults human dignity. It is capitalism that stifles our human capacities for care, compassion, solidarity, and love. It is capitalism that promotes global tyranny and repression. It is capitalism that exploits, abuses, and destroys global workers and environments. It is capitalism that is militarizing the world and thus threatening annihilation.

The United States has worked relentlessly to roll-back the socialist struggle in Cuba, and struggles elsewhere toward meaningful forms of economic and political democracy, but it is the rapacious and ruinous beast of capital that must be rolled-back and overcome in the interest of human dignity, freedom, flourishing, well-being and survival. It is capitalism that has contained, constrained, and consumed human possibilities for freedom, justice, and democracy. Capitalism is the challenge and burden of our historical time. Its noxious crises and pernicious strains of foreboding severity present challenges that must be urgently addressed and overcome.

In short, capital not only must be challenged but negated. But negation is not enough fellow citizens. Accompanying the negation must be the positive side of this monumental struggle. In other words, the struggle to negate capital must be carried on side by side with the progressive and critical development of a human friendly and ecologically sustainable alternative grounded in meaningful forms of economic, political, and social democracy that nurture and nourish the full-range of our intellectual, imaginative, and productive potentialities. It is not paradise we are calling for, but a tapping into and nurturing of the human capacities for support, solidarity, creativity, and love.

The Worst of Intentions

Sadly and inexcusably, U.S. policy toward Cuba admittedly has been rooted in the worst of intentions, i.e. punishment of the Cuban people and annihilation of the Cuban socialist revolution, but, while making life difficult and troubled for Cubans, U.S. power has failed to destroy the Cuban revolution. We can now see, given our awakening to the urgent need for alternatives to global capital, that the policy has been fundamentally irrational and immoral, not to mention criminal.

For years, U.S. propaganda organs have called Cuba a threat to the United States. But let us be clear and sensible, the tiny island has never been a military threat to the U.S., a point always understood by the rest of the world. Cuba has been an ideological threat, i.e. the revolution provided the threat of an alternative, the threat of a good example, the threat of independence from U.S. domination and control, the threat of liberation from servitude, the threat of a classless society designed to serve the interests of the many rather than the few. Cuba posed a threat to the acquisitive prerogatives of capital. And U.S. power has, up to now, met challenge with viciousness and brutality. But the audacity of imperial arrogance must end! [Applause]

The Cuban revolution offered the oppressed and exploited people of the world the possibility of liberation from imperial domination while the United States arrogantly offered more repression, violence, exploitation and subjugation. The freedom we offered was the audacious freedom of U.S. power to rob, exploit, and dominate people and their resources, along with our assumed freedom to torture, degrade, and kill those who challenged our freedom. The Cuban model offered a different kind of freedom, the freedom to create conditions of life in and through which people might work collectively to realize a fuller and deeper human potential. Within capital’s illogical logic, the thwarting of the Cuban example made sense, but from a perspective of human morality and rationality, dignity and freedom, democracy and justice, it has been unconscionable and is now unsupportable.

So, let us step back and honestly assess. [A long pause]

Courageous Resistance

We must applaud and take inspiration from the Cuban people’s courageous resistance to the global superpower’s assaults, and hail their longstanding resilience in the face of so much U.S. malevolence.2 Let us work diligently and courageously to learn from and assist the Cuban project that has attempted, in the midst of many internal contradictions and much U.S. ideological and physical terrorism, repression, and warfare, to expand and enrich participatory forms of democracy, citizen engagement, popular education, and sustainable living. We do so, not only out of a new moral obligation to humanity and nature, but out of necessity. Another world is possible, but another world is also necessary if we are to survive into the future. [Applause]

We cannot keep doing the same thing under a regime of hyper-militarized capital that exploits, abuses, and destroys global workers, peasants, and environments, and expect a result different from the growing misery and suffering of the many and the growing profits and power of the few. We must admit that the logic of capital, irrational and insane from a human perspective, must be replaced with a moral logic of human well-being and ecological rationality.

We must finally admit that under the system of capital, exploiting, abusing, and destroying global workers, peasants and environments is seen as a measure of success and not failure, as it is the inexorable consequence of the systemic imperative to expand and accumulate at all costs, and the structural determination to expand markets and power in order to maximize profitability.

This relentlessly rapacious system of global capital does not serve the interests of the people of the United States, the interests of the Cuban people, or the people of the world. It is pushing all of us toward collapse and cataclysm as it has already pushed so many into poverty, distress, despair, and oblivion.

Apologies

In short, we must support revolution in its elemental radical sense: we must work to radically transform the fundamental institutions and ideological presuppositions of society. We know now from hard-learned experience and a new critical understanding that it is better to encourage, support, participate in and contribute to revolutionary transformations than to continue policies that have rendered us a failed state, imposed endless misery, despair, and suffering on vast populations of people at home and around the world, and that now threaten to wreck, if not eliminate, the human future as a consequence of global climate chaos and catastrophe and the increasing militarization of the planet. We can no longer allow punishing and ruinous U.S. policies to add to the burdens and challenges of Cuban citizens, our own citizens, and citizens of the rest of the world. [Applause]

It is in this new spirit of international solidarity, support, and critical global democracy that we offer our deepest apologies to the Cuban people for the more than fifty years of U.S. terrorism against, repression of, and assaults on the Cuban revolution; and it is in this spirit of solidarity and support that we now offer a promise to pay massive reparations, with an initial payment of $2 trillion to the Cuban people to support and advance the revolutionary struggle (an admittedly small token given the human suffering and deaths we have imposed and supported, and the stifling of and assaults on the Cuban people-first project we have carried forth for more than fifty years). 

Additionally, we are calling for the immediate closure of not only the Guantanamo torture chambers but also the U.S. military base that has occupied Cuban territory against the will of the Cuban people for well over one hundred years. In short, we are returning to Cuba what belongs to the Cubans; in doing so we again offer an apology for the audacity of our longstanding imperial arrogance. Furthermore, I am calling for the immediate arrest and prosecution of those known to have carried out subversion and terrorist attacks against Cuba. Moreover, further investigations are underway to ensure that all those who planned, ordered and perpetrated torture at Guantanamo, up to and including the highest representatives in the U.S. government, will be prosecuted.

Throughout the years we have always worked to advance the interests of elite U.S. economic, political, and military power. What we have called “democracy promotion” was in reality the arrogant promotion of the interests of U.S. economic, military, and political power.3 Today we join the rest of the world in solidarity and support in the urgent and historically momentous struggle for transformation toward participatory forms of global economic, social, and political democracy in the hope that it is not too late to save the human future.

Some will argue that it will take a miracle to overcome global capital, and from here looking out it seems to be the case. But, again, let us learn from and take inspiration from the Cuban people, the Cuban struggle. The Cubans have shown that historical miracles are possible as they have: overthrown a U.S. backed dictatorship (and please recall the story of Fidel, early in the battle against Batista’s forces, announcing “we will win the revolution” to his twelve comrades, left with only seven rifles, and facing a Cuban army of tens of thousands backed by the global superpower); lived through the U.S. blockade, U.S. sabotage, and U.S. diplomatic disruptions for more than fifty years; survived more than fifty years of U.S. direct and sponsored terrorism and subversion along with a long list of assassination attempts on Cuban leaders; fought off a military invasion at the Bay of Pigs; sustained the revolution in the face of the collapse of their major trading partner, the Soviet Union, a collapse that overnight crippled the Cuban economy and led to the “Special Period” of hardship and turmoil for the Cuban people, etc.

So, let us believe in miracles, and let us harness this revolutionary spirit of resilience and persistence in struggle so that we can collectively work to achieve the supposed miracle of overthrowing global capital and replacing it with a human and environmentally friendly system of economic and political popular democracy.

Wrong Side of History

To the 1% who will disagree with these pronouncements let us say “you are on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of global revolution, and the wrong side of miracles.” [Standing ovation] When we talk of miracles we are not talking about otherworldliness (except in the sense that building another and better world is necessary), and we are not referring to idle or utopian speculations about what should be, but we are talking about sensible, constructible, and workable visions and projects emerging from current realities into a better future.

Let us, however, not be naïve. The forces of capital will not stand idly by. The propertied class will not surrender their privileges and wealth without a battle. But when capital mobilizes money we will mobilize people (let them stack their riches against the richness of our rebellion; their paper against our flesh and blood; let them eat their money, while we feast on bread and honey); when capital mobilizes threats we will mobilize resistance; when they denounce the revolution let us announce that no longer will we work for blood and greed, we will work instead to meet our needs, we will work together hand in hand, and they can join us if they can, or they can starve all alone in their suites and mansions; when capital mobilizes its romance with finance we will mobilize our romance with revolution; when they mobilize their class allies, the 1%, we will mobilize the working class and our allies, the 99%. We will gladly meet them in the streets, mano a mano.

They will attempt to organize violence, but we will demonstrate that a real participatory revolution is carried out by the vast majority of the people, and we the people, an informed, involved, energized, and agitated force, have no interest in carrying out violence against ourselves. In essence, our revolution will most likely be successful because it will be least likely to be violent. This process will require much learning and much teaching, much development of our individual and collective will, knowledge, and ability to carry on ideological and institutional battles and transformations in order to go beyond and transform the world.

So, let it again be said, as steps in the long process of transformation, we are reestablishing relations with Cuba so we can learn from the Cuban people what it means to carry out an experiment in people first economics and politics. We are not blind to internal problems, struggles, and contradictions in Cuba, and we will not romanticize the revolution. Therefore, we are critically asking: “What can we learn from the Cubans about revolutionary struggles?”  “What can we learn about ‘strong democracy’”? We are now committed to asking the Cubans to help us develop a non-profit universal health care system with an emphasis on creating the most healthful conditions of life and work, and agricultural production that is both human friendly, ecologically rational and environmentally sustainable.  We will also ask advice and guidance from Cuba so we can develop urban and rural organic gardening programs on a national scale, a project that will also include every public school in the U.S.4   [Applause]

Following upon that, we will ask Cuba to assist us in developing a meaningful and empowering public education system that operates on an ethic of care in classrooms, schools, neighborhoods, communities, and the entire country inspired by Cuba’s model. Young people will be recognized as our most treasured citizens because they represent the future. We will demonstrate that we care about the future because we care about the young. This will mean an end to current moves to corporatize, militarize, and privatize public education in the U.S. And, following the Cuban example we will have our elementary school students (as well as all of our citizens) study and learn from the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Consequent with that, I am calling for the United States to follow the global example, and finally sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We will also ask Cuba to provide guidance on what it means to develop a commitment to and reality of international solidarity as we now work to put an end to our commitments to international aggression, exploitation, and domination.  We can no longer pursue the interests of the few through violence, abuse, and oppression, but must work cooperatively to serve the interests and well-being of all. Morality and rationality, as well as a livable future, demand as much.

Because Cuba has been deemed (by The World Wildlife Fund) the one country in the world that is carrying on a sustainable mode of existence and because sustaining the human future is now under serious threat, we will also ask Cubans to help guide us into a viable and supportable future.5 We must be willing to learn and grow as a consequence of our new critical consciousness. Living into a sustainable future again will mean abolishing capitalism and replacing it with an economic, political, and social system rooted in cooperation, affection, solidarity, conviviality, trust, empathy, eco-rationality, and egalitarianism, what some call socialism. [Applause]

We also will be asking the Cubans for guidance in bio-tech medical research so we can start developing medicines to help those who need help the most based in a research program guided by human needs and environmental friendliness, rather than corporate profits and rapacity.

Critical Consciousness

Contrary to U.S. power’s long-term support for suppression of human rights and destruction of democracy throughout the hemisphere (and world), our new critical focus, our new commitments and our new actions must include strong support for improved human rights conditions and the growth of meaningful economic and political democracy in the United States and beyond. Here again we can learn from the Cuban example of international solidarity witnessed recently in Cuba’s work to address the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Africa, and also through Cuba’s long-term Operation Miracle that has restored sight to millions of people around the world.

Let it be said too that the new promotion of substantive democracy will support and nurture universal economic and political human rights of the sort promoted in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It empowers civil society and protects and enhances a person’s right to speak freely, peacefully assemble with others without the threat of police-state violence, imprisonment, torture and rendition, or drone strikes. In short, to honestly and legitimately support the ability of people to self-determine and self-realize their future we must work to ensure that material conditions that nurture and nourish the free development of the full-range of human creative potentialities are available to each and all.

Therefore, we are calling for an immediate reduction of Pentagon spending by 90% and the shifting of those funds, roughly $1 trillion dollars per year, to support global struggles for the best possible conditions of human health and well-being across the planet. This is based on the assumption that a necessary precondition for people to meaningfully and creatively produce themselves as subjects in society and as agents of history is not only freedom from subjugation, exploitation, and domination, but also crucially the freedom to live in, through, with, and out of good health, good nutrition, good education, good housing, good work, good water, and much support and solidarity. All of that is fundamental for the production and expansion of substantively participatory democracy in the United States and beyond.

In sum, we are calling for and working toward a reality in which social resources are used to meet social needs in order to promote the social good for social individuals operating within and through a social contract grounded in a socialist consciousness. What we will now be promoting is a form of creative radical participatory democracy that goes to, lives in, and grows out of the interests, needs, concerns, struggles, hopes, and realities of people’s individual and collective daily lives. It will be, on a global scale, a Lincolnesque “of, by, and for the people” social, political, and crucially economic democracy. [Applause]

Revolutionary Goals

To assist in realizing these revolutionary goals, we are calling for the transformation of the Pentagon from the center of global violence and terror to an international people’s education center for the promotion and nurturing of art, music, and theater, as well as global peace, solidarity, environmental sustainability, health and health care, fundamental freedoms and human rights, and organic agriculture. The budget will be increased accordingly to meet needs.

In the short term, this new project will assist in providing humanitarian assistance, extending human rights and extolling freedoms, and expanding the free flow of information necessary to carry forth the longer-term revolutionary changes we will be working to realize.

Ultimately, it will be the people of the world, working in support and solidarity to mobilize the collective intelligence and imagination, courage and commitment, and energy and enthusiasm that will construct the visions, goals, plans, actions, and criticisms that drive the requisite revolutionary economic, social, and political changes. [Applause]

To show good faith in this revolutionary project, I will be traveling next week, along with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Kerry, Hilary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, many bankers, financiers and CEOs, members of Congress, and members of the dominant corporate media, and others, to The Hague, where we will surrender to the International Criminal Court to be tried as war criminals.

As you may know, when Cubans say “socialismo o muerte,” i.e. socialism or death, it means several things; (1) if we lose socialism we lose Cuba, it is the death of Cuba, the death of self-determination; (2) if Cuba loses socialism it will mean death for many Cubans as a result of capitalist exploitation and abuse; and, most importantly for all of us, (3) if the rest of the world does not adapt some form of socialism, some form of participatory economic and political democracy, sooner rather than later, it will be the death of us all, killed by the pestilent and predatory fiend of capital.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, let us remember that change is difficult, but possible — in our own lives, and in the lives of nations.  As noted above, most people in positions of power will vehemently disagree with the ideas and proposals we have shared here today, but we will persevere knowing that our struggle will be absolved by history. Change is even harder when we hide the heavy moral burden of our violent, brutal, traumatizing, and genocidal history in our hearts. We must honestly face our past so as to critically inform our present and construct pathways for building a better future.

For years we have called Cuba a terrorist nation, but truth be told, it is the United States that has been the leading terrorist state in the world.6 We have been engaged in some form of international aggression and violence, directly or indirectly through proxies, 100% of the time since 1950. We have wasted endless material resources, as well as irreplaceable human time and energy in these harrowing assaults, but more devastatingly and unconscionably we have brutalized, traumatized, and destroyed many tens of millions of lives through our often genocidal military and economic policies over those years.

Today we are making these changes because it is the right thing to do, the urgently necessary thing to do. Can we do it? Yes, we can, si se puede!

To realize these changes, we call on the Cuban people, and people from around the world, to help us make this transition toward a new understanding of and commitment to global peace, justice, solidarity, comradeship, and substantive freedom, equality and democracy. It will not be easy, but when it comes to those who support these noble, moral, and rational goals, as the poet Shelley told us “We are many, and they are few.” Let us rise together, unvanquished, to slay the beast of global capital before we are slaughtered and consumed by the savage brute.

So, today, the United States chooses to rise above and move beyond the dehumanizing practices and deplorable institutions of our past so as to reach for and construct in solidarity with others an emancipated new and better future – for the world. [Applause]

As we move forward, let us recall and live through the inspired and inspiring words of Comandante Ché Guevara: “True revolutionaries are motivated by great feelings of love.”7 [Rousing Applause]

Thank you.  Thank you. God bless us and God bless the world as we embark in these times of peril on this historically momentous struggle for transformation.

And, please allow us to humbly end with salutations borrowed from our Cuban sisters and brothers:

Socialismo o muerte!

Venceremos!

Viva la revolucion!

[Applause and standing ovation…]

  1. United Nations (2014). “As General Assembly Demands End to Cuba Blockade for Twenty-Third Consecutive Year, Country’s Foreign Minister Cites Losses Exceeding $1 Trillion.” United Nations. []
  2. See Blum, W. 2014. “The United States punishing Cuba.” Anti-Empire Report #134, Dissident Voice, 19 November 2014. []
  3. Chomsky, N. (2014). “Obama’s Historic Move.” ZNet. []
  4. See Richard Levins. (2010). “How to Visit a Socialist Country.” Monthly Review. []
  5. Cameron, M. (2011). “Cuba: Breaking Corporate Power Allows Sustainable Development.” Green Left Weekly. []
  6. Chomsky, N. (2014). “The Leading Terrorist State.” Truthout. []
  7. Guevara, E. (1965). “Socialism and Man in Cuba.” The Che Reader. Melbourne: Ocean Press. []
Doug Morris, Ph.D., works at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at: dmorrisscott@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Scott.