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Machiavelli Essay Research Paper When you speak

Machiavelli Essay, Research Paper

When you speak of Fidel Castro, what do you speak of? The Cuban Leader is not

your everyday leader. To fully understand Fidel Castro you must have a firm

foundation with which to work from. I will explore the political ideology of

Fidel Castro by explaining what is in an ideology, Fidel Castro?s background,

and his political position both before the Cuban revolution and presently. An

ideology is a number of action-oriented, materialistic, popular, and simplistic

political theories that were originally developed as an accommodation to the

social and economic conditions created by the Industrial Revolution (Baradat

13). The action can be broken into a five-part definition for idealistic

purposes. To begin, the term ideology can be used in many contexts, but unless

otherwise specified it is proper to give it a political meaning. All ideologies

provide an interpretation of the present and a view of the desired future. This

desirable future is thought to be attainable in a single lifetime. Each ideology

includes a list of specific steps that can be taken to accomplish its goals.

Ideologies are oriented towards the masses, and finally, ideologies are simply

stated and presented in motivational terms. In speaking of Fidel Castro and his

ideologies I will apply these five definitional segments. Many theorists believe

Cuban Leader Fidel Castro was directed in his political thought from an early

age. He was born on May 13, 1927, on his families sugar plantation in the town

of Mayari, Cuba. As a boy, Castro worked on the family plantation, and at age 6

was able to persuade his parents to send him to school. He attended two Jesuit

institutions, eventually entering a Jesuit preparatory school; a member of the

Roman Catholic Society of Jesus founded by Saint Ignatius Loyola in 1534 and

devoted to missionary and educational work. Both through his first hand look at

the oppression of individuals and the importance of education help to shape

Fidel Castro, and differentiate what was right and wrong. Three years later, in

1945 Castro attended the University of Havana Faculty of Law. That same year he

was so fed up with the oppressed working class that he unionized the workers of

his father?s plantation to fight for a voice in exercising their rights. After

graduation from Law School in 1950 be began practicing in Havana with two

partners. As a lawyer he devoted himself to helping the poor. Although very

active in politics throughout his college career, it was in 1952 that Castro

first attempted to run for national politics. Just as Castro intended to

campaign for a parliamentary seat, General Fuligenico Batista overthrew the

government of President Carlos Prio Socarras in a coup and cancelled the

election. Trying to oppose the military dictatorship through peaceful means and

failing led Castro to head an armed attack of 165 men, calling themselves the

26th of July Revolutionary Movement. Failing completely through his violent

attack, Castro and his brother Raul were taken prisoner until May 1955. After

much recruiting, on New Year?s Day in 1959 he succeeded in overthrowing the

dictatorship of Batista. It was one week later that the United States officially

recognized Castro?s new government. It was shortly after this time in 1961,

and now in power, that Fidel Castro announced to the world that he was a Marxist

?Leninist and would remain so until the last day of his life. The question

that arises when you first hear this is what is a Marxist-Leninist ideology and

does Fidel Castro qualify to call himself such a thinker. Many theorists argue

that Fidel Castro isn?t attached to any particular ideology. His only goal is

survival and power. Strong evidence pointing to this fact is that Fidel Castro

survived the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union. In the case of Castro,

however, if you dig enough in search for an underlying ideology, you will find

that his thought and action is closer to that of a Marxist- Leninist than to any

other ideology. It is for certain that he was a young revolutionist in his

preliminary political life. Remember it was he who led the country of Cuba into

a revolution against the political power, President Batista, in 1959, believing

that change would only happen if he burnt down the political system and rebuilt

on its ashes. After the rebellion was over the entire population had to be

radicalized, attitudes changed, traditions destroyed, the popular support

maintained and deepened, viable organizations and institutions created, and

social justice distributed. Fidel Castro in 1967, ?The most difficult task was

not exactly the overthrowing of Batista? the most difficult is the one that we

are engaged in today: the task of building a new country on the basis of an

underdeveloped economy; the task of creating a new conscious, an new man?

(Sutherland 93). Unquestionably a leftist, it is almost certain that he was not

a Marxist during this time in the mountains before his attack on the Batista

government. The opinion a Castro employee had on his ideology in late 1957

suggested ?broadly? that: ?The Fidel Castro I knew in the Sierra

Mountains? was definitely not a Marxist. Nor was he interested to Social

Revolution. He was above all a political opportunist, a man with a firm will and

extraordinary ambition.? (Thomas 1053) At this time Fidel Castro had no

ideology, even if he coveted it privately. All was vague, if heroic. Both he and

the leaders of the 26 July generally had certain general ideas of nationalism

and of social reform, but there was no explicit program. When the revolution had

to be defined it divided. Like all revolutions, its vision of the Utopian

future, where there is a genuine compassion for the masses at the bottom of the

social structure, was sustained by a view of the past. (Thomas 1056) Through his

willpower Fidel Castro was eventually able to move his men together, holding a

common ideology. Castro did not want to organize a movement but rather try to

unite all the existing forces against Batista. He only intended to participate

in this struggle as just one more soldier. It was the leaders of the other

forces that showed they did not have the ability, the resolution, and the

seriousness of the purpose or the means to overthrow Batista. This lack of input

left Fidel Castro worked out a strategy of his own. Before his Revolution

movement in 1959 Castro implied: ?I was a pure revolutionary, but not a

Marxist Revolutionary. I thought that change could be brought about under the

Constitution of 1940 and within a democratic system.? (1052) He was able to

attract members of other forces by his enormous leadership qualities. He has

huge appeal to Cuban patriotism, his traditional appeal to the Cuban poor and

stance against the rich. Overall, Fidel Castro has delivered himself as a Latin

American ?caudillo?- a strongman, a boss. There are two circumstances that

made Fidel Castro a revolutionary, those are the mere vocation, special duty,

tied to being a revolutionary and secondly, the fact that the revolution for

revolutions sake, not any particular revolution. Fidel Castro and his

revolutionaries rejected all forms of human conformity and wanted this profound

change in the political system in a relatively brief period. They regarded most

of societies governmental institutions as mere devices to enslave human spirit,

denying it them of liberty for which they were destined. As a revolutionist

Fidel Castro appealed to all social classes of the Cuban population. For the

unemployed Castro promised livelihood, for both the rural and industrial workers

he promised to put an end to embezzled retirement funds, for peasants he

promised land that they could call their own, and finally for the 10,000/year

young professionals he promised employment. In its early phase, Castro’s

revolutionary regime included moderate politicians and democrats; gradually,

however, its policies became radical and confrontational. Though Castro remained

the unchallenged leader, and the masses–whose living conditions he

improved–rallied behind him. Even shortly after the Revolution, with his social

structure now in disarray, Castro?s political system was a crisis?s, but

still the revolutionaries were celebrities, folk hero?s, and the final hope of

the hopeful. But a Revolutionary party can not rule forever, there comes a time

when they have to adopt a new ideology. This is a controversial time in the

history of Fidel Castro; it is his conversion to Marxism-Leninism after coming

to power that makes him unique. The hostility of the United States government

towards the Castro regime from 1959 to 1961 drove Castro to seek protection of

the Soviet Union and thereby wedding Cuba to the Soviet bloc and expanding

Soviet interests into the Western Hemisphere. These new ties with the Soviet

Union solidified Castro?s Marxist belief. Fidelismo, the adaptation of Marxism

by Fidel Castro, combined dialectic and idealistic rhetoric with anti-Yankee

policies to create the new Cuba (Baradat 312). Under the Socialist ideology

there are three main features, they are, Public ownership of production through

nationalized industries or cooperatives, secondly, a welfare state that assures

the material well-being of the citizens, and finally, the intention to improve

the liberty and well being of all citizens, thus creating a happier, more

tranquil social existence. When the dictatorship of the proletariat had replaced

the bourgeois rulers, a system that rewarded people according to their work

would be established. Through education, material rewards, and the elimination

of the worst dissidents from society, the proletariat would grow until it was

the only economic class to exist in the society. Mike Harrington wrote, ?To

sum up, socialism is more than an economic system. It forces a completely new

relationship among individuals based on a plentiful supply of material goods.

Socialists argue that the elimination of material hardships will relax human

tensions as never before, creating a much more pleasant atmosphere, in which

people can live and develop.? (Baradat —) Despite the fact that Castro?s

regime is still hampered by the United States policies the country has still

achieved some social progress for its people. Abiding the framework of

Marxist-Leninist, based on the assumption that economic factors were the primary

human motivation and that history was propelled by struggle among competing

social classes. Advances in education, public health, and racial equity have

been significant. Fidel Castro?s work within the socialist framework is also

exemplified in the ownership of production. The traditional way to socialize an

economy is by nationalization, thus at the same time making everyone a working

individual, eliminating tensions between social classes. Nationalization occurs

when the government expropriates- takes over the ownership of- an industry. This

was the case in Cuba when Fidel Castro after the 1960 sugar crop was harvested;

over 600 sugar cane co-operatives were set up. Their finances were centrally

organized, with regional headquarters, technical staff accounts, machine repair

shops and so on. The Agrarian Reform Institute usually set up people shops,

where basic goods could be bought at reduced prices, up to 15% cheaper. All

profits that were made from these co-operatives would be distributed (for the

first five years four-fifths of the profits were to be invested into the

schools, housing, roads, and so on). Not only were sugar cane plantations being

turned into co-operatives. By April 1961 there were 266 state farms, covering

over five million acres. Many of these farms were divided into separate parcels

of land. These state-owned farms employed nearly 100,000 workers, and paid $2.11

per day (with free housing, medical care and education). The whole category of

private farmer was ignored by this regime. Banks were also being nationalized,

transport and distribution being disrupted and the INRA given all the

advantages, they found it both hard to get supplies and to deliver their goods.

These difficulties eventually led to food shortages, as well as to the beginning

of the black market. By 1967, 70% of Cuba?s agricultural production, all of

its heavy industry, foreign trade, education and culture were state owned.

(Sutherland 99) Castro?s second example of the Socialist thought is the belief

that the welfare state assures the material well being of the citizens. The

welfare state that can exemplify such a function is one that provides a large

number of social programs for it?s citizens, including social security,

publicly supported education, public assistance for the poor, and public health

services. Castro was extremely proud of the accomplishments that he made in the

area of the welfare state. He gave credit to the elementary measures of justice

that the revolution had to adopt- measures in Castro?s opinion could not be

postponed. Social Security was the first program that Castro claimed as being an

overwhelming success. A total of 320 million pesos were outlayed for social

security in 1970, compared to 114.7 million in 1958, or pre-Revolutionary Cuba.

Likewise, the outlay for public education was 77 million before Castro?s

triumph, and rose to 290.6 million in 1969. Keeping with the welfare state the

health care system also flourished. The outlay for public healthcare service

increases 210 million peso?s in ten years under Castro?s movement. The total

outlay for these three sectors was 213.8 million peso?s in 1958, and rose to

exceed 850 million in 1970. (Bonachea 320) Castro?s final features that he

exemplified were his intention to improve the liberty and wellbeing of all

citizens, thus creating a happier, more tranquil social existence. This was done

through creating equality, making everyone a middle-class worker, or creating a

Utopia state. Equality among the masses was to be eliminated by achieving a

Utopian state. The Utopian State would desire for equity within the society and

from genuine compassion for the masses at the bottom of the social structure.

The lavishing sumptuous wealth on some while allowing other to languish in

squalor was immoral, since the economy produced enough for all to live

comfortably if goods were distributed more evenly. Fidel Castro enacted upon

this equal state shortly after the revolution occurred. It is through the two

previous conditions of socialism that helped Fidel make the Cuban population

relatively equal in most external aspects of life. Through the nationalization

of production, no longer did monopolies exist that were owned by an individual

family. With the nationalization of the means of production all money was

distributed evenly throughout the country. Also, with the implementation of the

welfare state, the population all had free education, medical care, etc. making

it readily available to all, not only the elite. Fidel Castro now in his 70?s

has had to make slight modifications to his political ideology. Since the

collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Castro has had to modify his Soviet-style

socialism. Although one of the final supporters of Marxism-Leninism, Cuba?s

current deep economic crisis and in the light of the developments in the rest of

the Marxist-Leninist world, one wonders how long Castro?s island of communism

can endure blows of this decade?s hurricane of political change. (Baradat 248)

It is thought that Fidel Castro will enjoy political power for one overriding

reason, Canada, who is driven by unadulterated profiteering when it comes to

Cuba. The billions of dollars that Canada invests into Cuba is a lifeline to

Castro, while at the same time being able to thumb their noses at their powerful

and envied neighbor, the United States. I feel that the Marxist-Leninist

ideology that is worked by Fidel Castro has proven to be too reliant. For 30

years Cuba has been very much dependent on the Soviet Union. After the collapse

of the Soviet Union, while in economic despair, Fidel Castro turned to the

United States to blame for his countries economic problems. Many

well-intentioned Cubans still believe Castro?s claims that the country lacks

sugar and oranges because of the U.S. enacted embargo. Tragically, Cubans

believe that any change in policy is good for the country, a victory for


Baradat, L. (1997). Political Ideologies: Their Origin and Impact. New

Jersey; Prentice Hall. Bonachea, R. (1972). Cuba in Revolution. New York; Anchor

Books. Sutherland, E. (1969). The Youngest Revolution. New York; The Dial Press.

Thomas, H. (1971). Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom. New York; Harper & Row


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