Having a foreign-born U.S. citizen come on stage at the Republican National Convention to praise the greatness of the Republican view of the American experience is a fantastic idea. It is easy to believe in the religion or state ideology that you are born into, it is another thing entirely to completely change your views and consciously commit to a new set of beliefs as an adult. Essentially, converts tend to be more hardcore, which is a great reason to have this type of person give an impassioned personal speech at your big party gathering. The problem is when the focus of American superiority is so narrowly and specifically honed on low hanging fruit ignoring any and all obvious contradictions it becomes intellectually insulting. And so let’s break down just why having a former Cuban come on to damn Socialism south of the border is not a particularly strong argument.
“I have seen people like this before, I have seen movements like this before, I’ve seen ideas like this before and I am here to tell you that we cannot let them take over our country” These were the powerful words of Cuban-born Maximo Alvarez warning the nation of what is called “creeping Socialism” and implying that he fears a repeat of the red revolutions of the 20th century. Some of today’s rhetoric from the Left does resemble the past but much of the demands of the SJWs, when it comes to non-economic issues, does not. Mr. Alvarez’s goal in his speech was to warn that Socialism doesn’t work because he came from Cuba and feels much better about life in the United States. But in some ways isn’t Cuba really low hanging fruit when Socialism is such a broad term? Is the argument that America will turn into Cuba if you don’t vote for Trump really that valid? It seems as though when it comes to comparing the United States to other countries the Republican Right seems to love to invoke select weaker Central/South American nations ignoring the rest of the world and any deeper insight than, Venezuela is poor, Socialism is bad. So let’s take a deeper dive into this topic.
Cuba where speaker Maximo Alvarez came from, does seem poor on the surface, poor below the surface and definitely checks all the oppressive boxes of any nation that had a Communist Revolution. Wherever there is a revolution there is always death and violence in the beginning followed by a counterrevolution coming later to secure control. This is true regardless of system, but Cubans have gotten to enjoy all the fun of having only one media source, employer, and for many years little opportunity to travel. That is the downside of Communism, but then why exactly is Haiti so impoverished if not noticeably poorer than Cuba. The Haitians had their grande uprising before Communism even came around (debatably) inspired by Enlightenment ideas. This makes Haiti in some ways, at least historically very similar to America and yet getting rid of the French did not create the Haitian Dream. Perhaps the geography of being a single small island in the Caribbean is not a great setup for producing American Middle-class wealth? Maybe there are other factors at play besides setting up a Western Style Democracy?
Venezuela is another country under crushing sanctions and years of pressure from Washington that is obviously failing exclusively due to its Socialist policies. Despite Chavez having some spats with certain businesses, ultimately the “Means of Production” have not been seized by the Working Class in this country. The leadership of the nation does like to evoke Socialist Realism motifs in their movement with plenty of red to go around, but just because something is strawberry flavored does not guarantee that it is made of strawberries.
In fact, isn’t Venezuela very similar to a certain Nanny State European country that also just so happens to have a lot of oil in it? Why does this never get mentioned?
Lots of major oil companies around the world are state owned, one notable nation is Norway which has state-owned organizations playing major roles in its oil production like Equinor. The laundry list of state-owned and partially state-owned entities in Norway is actually very long. Venezuela and Norway have not removed Capitalism, but have heavy handed government influence with state corporations. The devil is in the details but there is some major systemic overlay. Norway has lots of state influence on the economy, crushing taxes to drive their Nanny State and even that sweet oil the produce is not truly “free market” but they are still sitting on a foundation of Capitalism, like Venezuela. So what is the difference?
The difference is that Venezuela proves Republican talking points right, especially when the situation is viewed exclusively from the United States, but the costly high standard of life in Norway does not and so it is quietly swept under the rug. In a biased intellectual vacuum Caracas’s policies are proof the Elephants are right.
The second largest country in the world is ruled by a Communist one-party state that happened to give the population more Economic freedom in the 90’s. By Republican logic anywhere, where there is no Liberty there must be desperate poverty and a doomed nation. We should remember it isn’t that they see Western Style Democracy is better for themselves or having more positives than negatives but as the only possibly legitimate system. China throws a huge monkey wrench in this dogma.
Even if dealing with the police or the party in China may be unpleasant it has become an economic triumph that no amount of mental gymnastics can deny. This could be why China has become such a bitter enemy not just economically but ideologically. The CCP has proved that a certain kind of Communism “does work”. Perhaps it is restrictive and not enjoyable to live under, but it has prospered.
This is why China is only spoken of on the American Right as an enemy and never as an example in arguments. It is the big fat dragon in the room that contradicts many preconceived Right Wing views.
The Republicans sure hate Iran, but oh how well it has survived decades of threats and sanctions. Under the heel of the economic might of the West somehow it keeps going. Despite the government playing a more heavy-handed Socialist role in the nation, its private sector seems to work and is still staying afloat. Again by Enlightenment logic Iran should look like the Stone Age with its strong religious collective identity and social policies that reflect it. Iran is another good nation to demonize but never analyze because it functions without the need for Liberty.
Constructive Criticism from the Right
Reading the above you would assume that I am some sort of Leftie apologist with a secret fetish for Trotsky, but nothing could be further from the truth. Given the two-party system in America, the Republicans, especially under Trump, seem the vastly superior, sane, and far less hateful choice.
The Republican party seems to be changing, drawing in people who believe in the ideas that “Made America Great” in the first place in contrast to the Democrats’ Cultural Marxist Globalist nonsense. I want the Republicans to do well but I cannot tolerate dimwitted jingoism and “proof” that America is great based on an extremely narrow view of the world.
Having lived in former Communist countries gives one the chance, unlike 99.9% of Republicans to actually get to know people who actually lived during Communism that have no particular bias or fear of discussing it now that it is gone and to make a blanket statement that everything that is different from America is wrong.
What does need to be said is that the American system and its ideas work very well for America and thank God that America has the best geopolitical location on the globe. The Right should have foreign people come up and say how much American ideas in America worked for them and that importing foreign ideas won’t work. An American Conservative/Libertarian Right needs to be focused on the experience of its own civilizational history exclusively. Blaming blaming certain hot island nations for being poor as opposed to others just as poor is selective bigotry.
Mr. Alvarez is right to be afraid of some sort of Chavez inspired Socialism coming to America because it is as alien as Anglo-Saxon Enlightenment values are to most of the world. The Cuban or Caracas system will not work in America, but the Republicans needs to open their eyes to the fact that there are “allies” just like them, furthermore there is a certain big evil Capitalist, Welfareless, country with low taxes, lots of Christianity and the freedom to buy an assault shotgun that would be a very strong example of the success of American ideas. But that country is the bad guy so it shall remain nameless.
Republicans of America, I know you love America but you have to grow up and take an honest look at the rest of the world. In order to love your own country you really need to actually understand what other countries are like in comparison.