Main menu


Without Culture, Freedom Is Impossible: 38th Newsletter (2022)

Roberto Matta (Chile), Cuba Es La Capital (“Cuba is the Capital”), 1963.

Dear friend,

Greetings from the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research desk.

In 2002, Cuban President Fidel Castro Luz visited the country’s National Ballet School to launch the 18th Havana International Ballet Festival. was founded in 1948 by Prima Ballerina Assolta According to Alicia Alonso (1920–2019), until the Cuban Revolution decided that ballet, like other art forms, should be made available to everyone and socially funded, schools were financially I was having a hard time. At school in 2002, Castro said that her first festival, held in 1960, was to “enhance Cuba’s cultural profession, identity, and nationality, even under the most adverse circumstances, with grave dangers and threats looming over Cuba.” I remembered that

Ballet, like many cultural forms, was stolen from public participation and enjoyment. The Cuban Revolution wanted to give back to the people this artistic practice as part of their determination to advance human dignity. To bring about a revolution in a country ravaged by colonial barbarism, a new revolutionary process needed to establish national sovereignty and build the dignity of every citizen. This double work is the work of national liberation. “Without culture,” Castro said, “there can be no freedom.”

Enrique Tábara (Ecuador), Coloquio de frívolos (

Enrique Tabara (Ecuador), Collocio de Frivolos (“Flirty Colloquium”), 1982.

In many languages, the word “culture” has at least two meanings. In bourgeois society, culture has come to mean both sophistication and high art. Property of the ruling class, this culture is passed on through the transmission of manners and higher education. Her second meaning of culture is the way of life, including beliefs and practices, of people who are part of a community (from tribe to nation). For example, the democratization of ballet and classical music by the Cuban Revolution was part of an attempt to socialize all forms of human life, from economy to culture. Furthermore, the revolutionary process sought to protect the cultural heritage of Cubans from the harmful effects of colonial culture. For example, the Cuban Revolution adopted baseball. Its roots are in the United States, the very country that has been trying to choke Cuba for 60 years.

The socialist approach to culture therefore includes the democratization of advanced forms of culture, the protection of the cultural heritage of previously colonized peoples, the advancement of the basic elements of cultural literacy, and the culture that emerges from it. Four aspects of domestication of form are necessary. power of colonization.

Violeta Parra (Chile), Untitled (unfinished), 1966. Embroidery on coarse cloth, 136 x 200 cm.

Violetta Parra (Chile). Untitled (Unfinished), 1966.

In July 2022, at the Casa de las Americas in Cuba, the main institution of Havana’s cultural life and the heart of the cultural development from Chile to Mexico, a series of 10 treatises on Marxism and decolonization. gave a lecture. A few days later, Abel Prieto, the director of the Casa, who is also a former Minister of Culture, convened a seminar there to discuss some of these themes, primarily how Cuban society has emerged from both the onslaught of cultural forms of imperialism and their pernicious legacies. We discussed how we had to defend ourselves. of racism and patriarchy. The discussion follows a series of reflections on the process of the National Plan Against Racism and Racial Discrimination announced by President Miguel Diaz-Canel in November 2019 and the process that led to the 2022 Family Law referendum. caused September 25) – His two dynamics with the ability to turn Cuban society in an anti-colonial direction.

Dossier No. 56 (September 2022) Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and Casa de las Américas, Ten Theses on Marxism and Decolonizationcontains an extended version of that lecture, including an introduction by Abel Prieto. To give you a taste of it, here is Thesis 9 on Emotional Battles:

Antonio Berni (Argentina), Juanito Lagunand

Paper 9: Battle of EmotionsFidel Castro sparked controversy in the 1990s over the concept of a battle of ideas. This is a class struggle against the mediocrity of the neoliberal conception of human life. An important part of Fidel’s speech in this era was not just what he said, but how he said it, promising to free mankind from the tentacles of property, privilege, and power. In fact, the battle of ideas is not simply about the idea itself, but rather the “battle of emotions,” the shift in emotional taste from obsession with greed to consideration of empathy and hope. It was also an attempt to shift.

One of the real challenges of our time is that the bourgeoisie uses the cultural industry, educational institutions and institutions of faith to divert attention from substantive discussions of religion. real Problems – and about finding common solutions to social dilemmas – and towards obsessions fantasy problem. In 1935, the Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch called this the “falsification of realization.” This is the sowing of various fantasies to hide unrealizable realizations. Bloch writes that the profits of social production are “reaped by the upper class of big capitalists who adopt Gothic dreams against proletarian reality.” Undermine proletarian culture with the acid of desires that cannot be fulfilled below. But these aspirations are enough to undermine the working-class project.

A society degraded under capitalism creates a social life full of atomization and alienation, devastation and fear, anger and hatred, resentment and failure. These are driven by cultural industries (“You can have it too!”), educational institutions (“Greed is the driving force”), and neo-fascists (“I hate immigrants, LGBT and others”). It is an ugly feeling that is formed and promoted. Others who deny your dreams”). The domination of these feelings over society is almost absolute, and the rise of neo-fascism presupposes this fact.

From the Marxist point of view, culture is not seen as an isolated and timeless aspect of human reality, nor is emotion outside its own world or historical development. Because human experience is defined by the conditions of material life, the idea of ​​destiny persists as long as poverty is a feature of human life. If poverty is transcended, the ideological foundations of fatalism become unsafe, but they are not automatically replaced. Culture is contradictory, bringing together various elements in uneven ways from the social structure of an unequal society that oscillates between reproducing class hierarchies and resisting elements of social hierarchies. The dominant ideology fills the culture through the tentacles of the tidal wave-like ideological apparatus, overwhelming the practical experience of the working class and peasants. After all, it is through the new social formations produced by class struggles and socialist projects that new cultures are created, not merely through wishful thinking.

It is important to remember that in the early days of each revolutionary process, from Russia in 1917 to Cuba in 1959, the flowering of cultures was saturated with feelings of joy and possibility, intense creativity and experimentation. It is this sensibility that provides a window into something other than the fearful feelings of greed and hatred.

Nicholas Gillen honors Alicia Alonso at the Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (“National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba”) in Havana, 1961.

Nicholas Gillen pays tribute to Alicia Alonso at the Cuban National Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC) in Havana, 1961.

In the years after 1959, Cuba trembled with a surge of creativity and experimentation. Nicolas Guillen (1902–1969), the great revolutionary poet who was imprisoned during the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, led a revolution to liberate the Cuban people from the harshness of his life and the misery of hunger and social class. Caught great aspirations for the process. His 1964 poem “Tengo” (“I have”) tells us that the revolutionary new culture was fundamental. It was the feeling of not having to shrug in front of his boss and telling the workers at work that he did too. Comrades, not ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’, enter a hotel as a black man without being told to stop at the door. I am warning you.

I, let’s see,
I learned to read,
learn to write,
and to think,
and laugh.
i yes i have
work place
and earn
what i have to eat
I, let’s see,
I have what I must have

At the end of the document’s preface, Abel Prieto writes, “We must turn the meaning of anti-colonialism into an instinct.” Think about it for a second. Anti-colonialism is not only the demise of formal colonial rule, it is a deeper process that must take root at an instinctive level so that we can build capacity to solve basic needs and hunger. illiteracy, etc.), liberates us, and heightens our attention to the need of a culture that does not confine us to a glitzy world of affordable commodities.



Download as PDF