My column for today is, Faith, not fear.
It was inspired by questions I’ve been getting and a talk by Randy David (part 1 is up on Inq7.net) that I attended Tuesday evening at the Polo Club. Listening to him triggered a sense of shocking familiarity. David doesn’t read blogs, and so he is generally unaware, I think, of the currents of thought in blogs, but it is comforting, in a sense, to see many ideas I’ve expressed here also appear in his talk:
1. Politics as fundamentally concerned with communication
2. The political class is endangered and desperate
3. The crisis in education is fundamental
4. The change in the citizenry which makes it more discerning
5. The public is upset with both sides of the national leadership
6. The system is unable to heal/rectify itself
As someone who loves history, and finds explanations for what’s happening today in what happened in the past, there is, of course, a conservative, or more accurately, preservationist streak in my attitude towards things. So one’s reformist instincts are tempered by worrying over the tendency of upheavals to destroy more than should be done away with. But there is a larger lesson, which is that precisely the destruction of what should be preserved becomes inevitable, when a society delays reforms.
A documentary I just watched on Fidel Castro (part 1 and part 2 are available online) serves as a cautionary tale of how impeding reforms can doom all hopes of achieving them in the explosion that follows.
When the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista fled his country in January, 1959 with over a hundred of his cronies and a 100 million dollars of loot, Cubans from all walks of life joyously lined up to pay their back taxes. They greeted Castro as a liberator. Castro began bravely: he immediately instituted land reform, and the first plantation to be taken over by the state was his family’s (his mother never forgave him). A broad, united front of oppositionists established a council and Castro became Prime Minister. Then, slowly, the revolution unraveled, a revolt was launched against Castro, who defeated it and turned Cuba into a Communist, totalitarian state. As Castro put it, “The people do not want elections. In the past, they produced bad governments.” Soon after he began the first round of arrests -20,000 people- that continue to this day, 47 years after he came to power.
Click below to download the PDF file of Randy David’s “The National Situation.”